The Oregon Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal of a Clatsop County woman’s conviction for killing a Newport resident six years ago.
The Daily Astorian reports the state’s highest court declined review of the 2019 murder conviction of Adeen Marilyn Copell, 45, for killing Howard Vinge, 71, in 2016.
Vinge, an itinerant gold panner, was living in a mobile home at Agate Beach RV Park for about three years before his body was found dumped by Highway 30 a few miles east of Astoria in September 2016. Vinge’s RV and a trailer that towed his 1991 Lincoln Continental were found abandoned along Highway 26 near Seaside, and about a week later, Copell and her partner, Christian John Wilkins, were arrested in Arizona driving the Lincoln, and were extradited to Clatsop County.
The investigation determined the couple befriended Vinge in Newport, and he allowed them to live in his RV in exchange for helping make repairs to it and his car.
Neighbors said the three left unannounced one morning for Astoria, and authorities say Wilkins and Copell bludgeoned Vinge to death with a piece of driftwood, wrapped and abandoned his corpse down an embankment, then sold many of his belongings — including his walker — at a pawn shop in Longview, Washington.
At the beginning of the May 2019 trial, Wilkins entered a surprise guilty plea, and Copell took the case to the jury, claiming she was a victim of abuse by her partner and was driving the RV at the time of the killing. She was convicted, and both were sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison for murder, second-degree abuse of a corpse and two counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Copell appealed her conviction on the grounds that her Fifth Amendment rights were violated and prosecutorial misconduct occurred during closing arguments, The Daily Astorian reported.
In February, the Oregon Court Appeals declined review of the case, and Copell petitioned the supreme court, which likewise affirmed her conviction.
Wilkins in currently housed in Snake River Correctional Institution in Malheur County, while Copell is incarcerated at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility near Wilsonville. The Department of Corrections website lists no earliest release date for either.
A neighbor told KOIN News after Vinge’s body was found, while authorities were still seeking leads in his murder, that the 71-year-old loved to pan for gold in Pacific Northwest rivers and described him as a kind, reserved man with health problems who would “do anything for anybody for nothing.”