From the June 2008 Idaho Observer:

9th Circuit reverses Hinkson "murder for hire" conviction

SAN FRANCISCO—A three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. District Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the "murder-for-hire" conviction of Grangeville businessman and medical innovator David R. Hinkson, 51. In 2005, Hinkson was sentenced to 35 years in prison for allegedly soliciting Elvin J. Swisher to murder IRS agent Stephen Hines, Assistant U.S. Prosecutor Nancy Cook and Federal Judge Edward Lodge for $10,000.

In a 2-1 decision May 28, 2008, the court ordered a new trial based upon the post-conviction discovery that Swisher, the government’s star witness in the murder solicitation case, had lied to the court about his military experience. Swisher was later found guilty of defrauding the government out of thousands of dollars in veteran’s benefits that were based on forged documents filed with the Veteran’s Administration and combat medals that he did not earn. Swisher was scheduled to be sentenced on his fraud convictions June 26, 2008 (see The IO, April, 2008). Sentencing has been continued until Sept., 2008.

The court ruled that it could not toss the conviction entirely due to the discrediting of the government’s main witness in the alleged plot, hence the order for a new trial. It is, however, unlikely that the U.S. Department of Justice will refile charges against Hinkson as the only evidence against him was the perjured testimony of Swisher.

Hinkson is also serving an additional 10 years for tax and structuring convictions, both of which were decided in Idaho Federal District Court by Washington Federal District Judge Richard Tallman. Tallman also presided over the murder solicitation trial and proceeded to conviction and sentencing even though Hinkson’s attorneys had attempted to produce evidence that Swisher had lied to the court about his military experience—evidence of perjured testimony that was disallowed by Tallman. It was also Tallman who denied Hinkson’s original motion for a new trial based upon Swisher’s fraud which was then appealed to the 9th District appeals court.

"We are really making progress," commented Hinkson’s father Roland Hinkson. "David now realizes that his release is no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’"

Hinkson’s original sentences would have kept him in prison without the possibility of parole for a total of 43 years. With the murder solicitation conviction thrown out, his sentence stands at 10 years, of which he has already served five.