Edward Odell Collins
Hillsboro – A District Court of Appeals at El Paso found no reversible error in affirming the guilty verdict a Hill County jury handed down in the shotgun murder of a teen-aged girl whose father shot her in a darkened pasture during the terror-filled hours before dawn on July 23, 2012.
Testimony presented at the trial of Edward Odell Collins of Whitney showed he was under the influence of methamphetamines when he and his children fled his rural house at the corner of FM933 and 1713 after he saw what he thought was a gang of people stalking his property with flashlights and heard an object strike the side of the dwelling.
He and his three children drove across the property to a wooded area in his van before alighting and hiding in the brush at a fence line.
When Collins heard a muffled scream behind him, he turned and fired his shotgun in the dark, only to learn the blast killed his daughter Judith, 14, a high school student.
Collins and his two other children hid in the woods until dawn, when they left the child’s body behind and drove to the Sheriff’s Office at Hillsboro. Deputies returned to the property with his son and found Judith’s body and two cell phones with the batteries removed.
An earlier call to the 911 operator brought lawmen to a convenience store named the Hitchin’ Post which was operated by his father. He told them he had no knowledge of a disturbance or a home invasion. The call to the emergency operator had failed due to a dropped signal, according to reports.
Collins drew a 40-year jury sentence for murder in the trial, which he appealed on the grounds that there was “insufficient evidence for a guilty verdict, a lack of jury instructions regarding self defense, defense of third persons, and mistake of fact, and the appointment of a pro tem prosecutor to represent the state” in the case presented against him, according to the appeals court’s opinion.
The panel found no error and affirmed the jurors’ verdict and the sentence they chose.
Testimony revealed that Collins heard gunshots and saw people running around with flashlights. He lost his glasses and admitted that he suffered from poor vision when he fired three shots at the flashlight images, though he saw no persons.
Collins “told the investigator that he heard a yelp, and thought whoever it was with these flashlights, had circled around behind him.”
The shotgun pellets punctured his daughter’s heart and liver; she died within moments, according to a statement given by his son.
Though they returned to the store, he told his children not to mention to his father that he had shot their sister and killed her.