Trial verdict

Adeena Copell, right, reacts as the verdict is read during her murder trial.

A jury on Thursday unanimously found Adeena Copell guilty of the 2016 murder of a Newport man by aiding and abetting her boyfriend, Christian Wilkins, with the crime.

The jury also found Copell guilty of second-degree abuse of a corpse and two counts of unlawful use of a vehicle. Wilkins pleaded guilty earlier this month to the same charges.

The 12-person jury began deliberations Wednesday morning and returned a verdict late Thursday afternoon in front of Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Cindee Matyas.

Howard Vinge, 71, was beaten to death inside his RV in September 2016. His body was dumped several days later down an embankment along U.S. Highway 30 east of Astoria.

Copell and Wilkins, who had lived with Vinge for about two months before his death, took his RV and a sedan. The couple abandoned the RV after it broke down on U.S. Highway 26 near Hamlet and drove the car to Arizona, where they were arrested.

Copell and Wilkins both face a minimum of 25 years in prison. They will be sentenced in June.

Beau Peterson and Scott McCracken, who are deputy district attorneys, prosecuted the case. The Clatsop County Major Crimes Team investigated.

“Beau and Scott did a great job,” District Attorney Ron Brown said. “They worked really hard.”

Brown also credited the major crimes team for gathering the voluminous amount of evidence that helped lead to the guilty verdict.

Alexander Hamalian, Copell’s attorney, said he will likely appeal.

Copell had an earlier charge of hindering prosecution dismissed. Oregon has no statute for aiding and abetting after the fact, Hamalian said, and a question for the higher courts could be whether the case should have proceeded after the hindering prosecution charge was dropped.

“I would be pretty shocked if there wasn’t an opinion one way or another offered by the Court of Appeals, if not the Supreme Court,” he said.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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