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Local Officials Irked As California Drops Collins Case

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Local Officials Irked As California Drops Collins Case

By William B. Treml

(News Police Reporter)

Local law enforcement officials are irked over a decision by California authorities to drop a murder case against convicted killer John Norman Collins.

A spokesman 'for Monterey County District Attorney William Curtis said in Salinas, Calif., yesterday that it has been decided “not to pursue” the extradition of Collins in the Roxie Ann Phillips homicide. Miss Phillips, 17, of Milwaukie, Ore., was trangled in June of 1969 and her body tossed on a pile of rubbish near Salinas where she had been visiting.

Michigan State Police helped California authorities put a murder case together against Collins in the Phillips slaying and extradition proceedings were started two years ago.

Collins, a former Eastern Michigan University senior, is in Southern Michigan Prison at Jackson serving a life term for the strangulation slaying of Karen Sue Beineman, 18-year-old EMU freshman, killed a month after the Phillips murder.

The Beineman murder occurred in Ypsilanti and the body was dumped into a ravine in Ann Arbor Township. That was the seventh slaying of young women in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area in a two-year period.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor William F. Delhey, who in a record-setting 1970 trial won a conviction of Collins in the Beineman murder, called the California decision to drop the Phillips murder case “quite surprising.”

“If this was a minor crime, a larceny or something like it, they might be justified. But murder is an entirely different ball game. If nothing else I think their timing is poor,” the prosecuting attorney said.

Delhey said the last official word he had from the Montery County prosecutor’s office which holds the first degree warrant for Collins was that they planned to await a final decision on the appeal now pending in Michigan in the Beineman case.

Collins’ attorney, Neal Fink, has filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals and Delhey’s office will present an answer in mid-January. A decision on the appeal of the conviction is expected in March.

“I think Collins should have his day in court on that and any other charge which might be pending,” Delhey said.

“Apparently they’re balancing a human life against money and the money wins out,” an irritated Washtenaw County Sheriff Douglas J. Harvey said of the dropping of the extradition. “This has been the age-old battle of the bookkeepers and those who want justice done. Justice with a dollar sign is what it is.”

Harvey’s reference to money is connected with the comment by the California district attorney’s office that to bring Collins to the West Coast, try him for murder and then return him to Michigan to complete his life term would cost $100,000.

“They have a strong case against him out there,” the sheriff noted. “But I guess that doesn’t mean anything if it’s going to cost a few dollars.”

Deputy Police Chief Harold E. Olsen said he was “disappointed” in the action by the California law enforcement people. “Murder is not supposed to be taken lightly,” the deputy chief said. “It’s my understanding that their case against Collins was good and if it is there’s no reason why he should not be tried for it. It’s a strange proceeding.”