State v. Hinkhouse, 912 P.2d 921 (Or. Ct. App. 1996)

Court and Agency Decisions and Orders (including case law)

Hinkhouse was convicted of ten counts of attempted murder and ten counts of attempted assault after he engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse with a number of women to whom he reportedly failed to disclose his HIV status.

On appeal, Hinkhouse argued that his convictions were based on insufficient evidence. Hinkhouse argued that the State had failed to provide sufficient evidence that he intended to cause serious physical injury or death to the complainants. Rather than demonstrating that Hinkhouse intended to harm or murder the complainants', Hinkhouse argued that the most the State had proven was that he recklessly disregarded the potential consequences of his conduct.

In its opinion, the appeals court noted that in Oregon, in order to be convicted of attempted murder, an actor must have "attempt[ed], without justification or excuse, intentionally to cause the death of another human being." See OR. REV. STAT. § 161.405. (1971); OR. REV. STAT. §163.115, (1995); OR. REV. STAT. § 163.005, (1971). "Intentionally" is defined as acting with "a conscious objective to cause the result or to engage in the conduct so described." OR. REV. STAT. §161.085(7), (1973
However, the appeals court rejected Hinkhouse's arguments. Despite the fact that Hinkhouse had never expressed an intent to harm or murder the complainants, the appeals court found that the State provided evidence sufficient to uphold Hinkhouse's convictions.

During the trial, the State had provided evidence that Hinkhouse was aware of his HIV-positive status and the risk of exposure to the HIV virus that his sexual partners would face. The State offered evidence that Hinkhouse knew of the potentially fatal nature of HIV, and had even indicated to his probation officer that he believed that transmitting HIV was "murder." In addition, Hinkhouse had signed a written agreement that he would not engage in unsupervised contact with women without the approval of his probation officer; sought out sexual partners and engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse with them, at times without his disclosing his HIV status; and had indicated to at least one person that if he were HIV-positive he would not necessarily disclose his status or use condoms with his sexual partners. The court held that in sum that the State provided a sufficient evidentiary basis for the jury to conclude that Hinkhouse intended to cause serious physical injury and death to the complainants.

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