Erika Kienas got into art young.
Her mom, Yvonne Reiner, remembers giving her some crayons before her first birthday. Kienas went for the blue one.
“She drew a sock,” Reiner said. “That’s a major memory. It was all scribbles, but she drew a sock. I ranted and raved about it, how perfect it was.”
Kienas loved to paint as an adult. It helped her deal with anxiety and depression, Reiner said. Sometimes she’d splatter paint all over the house.
One painting stands out in Reiner’s mind.
“It was a three-piece painting of a crow,” she said. “She had it in her living room, and it was on a tree. And it was probably my most favorite. It showed a lot about her, her sorrows. That was her first painting. She was quite good.”
Kienas, 33, was killed Saturday morning in a road rage shooting at the intersection of Francis Avenue and Addison Street in North Spokane.
Birdie Hough and her family say Kienas’ boyfriend, Anthony Olson, cut them off while driving the wrong way down Cozza Drive. Hough, the driver, told police that she then saw Kienas’ white Subaru run a stop sign, and decided to chase the vehicle in order to protect pedestrians and other drivers. When Hough drew even with Kienas’ car, passengers in the two vehicles flipped each other off, according to court documents.
The Houghs say that when the vehicles arrived at the Francis and Addison intersection, Kienas got out and approached their red Jetta. Hough’s son, Richard Hough, 28, got out too, with his .22 revolver strapped to his hip in plain sight.
The two strangers argued. Richard Hough says that Kienas threatened to stab him. He said when he saw her hand move toward her bra, he worried she was reaching for a knife and shot her in the chest. Richard Hough told police that he shot Kienas because he felt he needed to protect his brother and mother. Police did not find a knife at the scene, and Richard Hough told police he never saw a knife. Kienas died at the intersection.
Richard Hough pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder at his first appearance Monday in district court. His bond is set at $750,000. According to court documents, police dispatchers informed on-scene officers that Richard Hough had a concealed pistol license but “had previously been denied a firearm after application.”
Reiner said she still can’t believe Richard Hough shot her daughter.
“I can’t make sense of it,” she said. “I can’t understand how a person could do something like this.”
Her daughter and Richard Hough should have stayed in their cars, Reiner said. But she added that it’s insane Richard Hough fired.
“Are you serious? She wouldn’t hurt anybody,” Reiner said. “I don’t know exactly what happened at that corner, but as far as I’m concerned, that man who killed her is a coward. She was a small woman. How could somebody shoot an innocent woman who had a son? …
“Get over your big bad self.”
Reiner isn’t anti-gun. Still, she said doesn’t think Richard Hough should have had one.
Firearms are for extreme circumstances, like when someone breaks into your house, “not to gun down some young lady with a (10)-year-old child because she looked cross-eyed at you,” Reiner said.
Kienas loved the outdoors, Reiner said, and wasn’t much of a people person. She liked hiking and camping – the family had been planning a camping trip before Kienas’ death – but had a special love for fishing.
“That’s all she ever wanted to do,” Reiner said, choking up.
She often went fishing with her son. Long Lake was one of the family’s favorite spots – “we would build dams, play and have a barbecue” – but Reiner said her daughter would fish just about any little creek she could find.
Until she was 8, Kienas lived in Libby, Montana. She lived the rest of her life in the Spokane area.
Kienas had gotten involved with the “wrong crowd” in recent years, Reiner said. She was currently unemployed and homeless. But she was trying to turn things around.
“She wanted to be a better person; she wanted to have her life back,” Reiner said.
Her son is “quiet and shy just like his mom,” Reiner said, and a “beautiful soul inside and out.” He turned 10 just last week.
Reiner said she hopes Richard Hough will pay for killing Kienas.
“He deserves to be punished,” she said. “When it goes to court, you can bet your sweet bottom dollar I’m going to be there. And I’m going to have a picture of my grandson and I’m going to show it to him (Richard Hough) every time he looks at me.”
But Reiner said her daughter’s death is going to hurt for a long time.
“She was very beautiful. She had crazy red hair and crazy big curls and beautiful blue eyes,” Reiner said. “I’m just trying to pick up the pieces. I can’t make sense of it.”
Editor’s note: Due to incorrect information from a source, the original version of this story incorrectly stated Erika Kienas’ son’s age. He is 10.
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