By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A Fairlawn man convicted of assaulting a deputy and trying to disarm him was sent to jail Thursday to await sentencing in October.
After convicting 46-year-old Russell Wilson Collins, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. inquired as to whether there was a motion to revoke Collins’ bond pending completion of a background report for sentencing. “This (the circumstances of the case) concerns me,” he said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Travis Epps said he was intending to make such a request, especially since the felony assault and battery conviction carries a mandatory six-month sentence.
“I’ll be giving him at least the mandatory sentence,” Judge Long said before revoking the bond.
In trying to urge the judge to let his client remain free on bond, defense attorney Greg Hagar pointed out Collins served a month in jail after being arrested a year ago. He said Collins hasn’t been in any additional trouble, is employed and has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“For some reason that doesn’t do much for me,” Judge Long said in reference to the AA meetings.
It was Collins’ drinking that brought police and rescue personnel to his mother’s home Aug. 17, 2012. The mother said she called 9-1-1 to get her son medical help because “With what he had drank I was fearful he would die.”
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Stuart Nelson said he was dispatched to Pat Collins’ residence to assist REMSI because the defendant was believed to be suffering from alcohol poisoning. He said Collins’ mother indicated the defendant might have consumed more than a gallon of alcohol.
Witnesses on both sides agreed that Collins was refusing to go to the hospital and that Nelson, REMSI medics and the mother tried for 15 to 30 minutes to convince him to go to the hospital to be “checked out.”
Several witnesses testified that the defendant was “belligerent” and most said he was using abusive language or profanity.
Collins was blaming Nelson for medical bills his mother would have to pay if he went to the hospital, according to Nelson. He said Collins also complained that the mother and her friends, as well as others present, are “critical Christians.”
Nelson testified Collins eventually lunged at him, grabbing his holstered firearm and trying to pull it out of the holster. The effort proved unsuccessful due to a safety strap, but Nelson said he had to pry Collins’ hand from the gun. At that point, he said, Collins slugged him in the side of the head with a “haymaker” punch.
“I didn’t even see it coming,” Nelson said of the punch.
Nelson said he was afraid Collins would go after the firearm again, so he hit the man in the chest and took him to the ground, placing him in a headlock. He testified Collins was trying to gouge his eyes until he got the man into a position where medics could help him place Collins in handcuffs.
One prosecution witness and both defense witnesses testified Collins never put his hands on the firearm during the ordeal, so Hagar suggested there was a credibility problem with some of the prosecution’s witnesses. However, Judge Long dismissed that suggestion. He pointed out that Collins’ own mother testified the witnesses had such different vantage points they would have seen different things.
Although the mother testified it was Nelson who started the scuffle, all other witnesses testified it started with Collins pointing, reaching or lunging for the gun.
The mother also accused Nelson of threatening to shoot Collins if he “got rough” and of kicking Collins in the groin. No other witnesses described such actions on Nelson’s behalf. Everyone testified Collins told Nelson at least two times to shoot him (Collins).
Collins chose not to testify.
“This could have been a disaster if he’d gotten hold of that gun” given how intoxicated Collins was, Judge Long said. He convicted the defendant of misdemeanor drunk in public, felony assault and battery and felony attempt to disarm a law enforcement officer.
Each felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.