More Notes on Gov. Barbour’s last day pardons: The homicide cases

Victor Collins was convicted of murder. This is a Marshall County case in which Collins was convicted of brutally beating his girlfriend to death. Collins was sentenced to life in prison in 1996. There’s another appearance of Stephen Hayne, this time with a weird wrinkle. On direct exam, Hayne testified that the victim was killed by blunt trauma to the head. Defense counsel (I think wisely) declined cross-examination, and the prosecutor announced that he had more questions for Hayne. Defense counsel, of course, objected, and the trial court allowed further direct examination, saying that the prosecution could “recall” Hayne! Hayne then opined that the victim had been stomped by cowboy boots.

Reading this bit (and knowing the judge involved) I have almost no doubt that defense counsel declined to cross, knowing that Hayne would likely have something bad saved up for the occasion (that was one of his schticks). And when, oops!, the trap wasn’t sprung, the prosecutors were allowed another bite at the apple.

This did not awaken the slumber of our appeals courts.

But, laying aside my defense lawyers outrage at this particular raw deal, reading the opinion, it seems as if Collins was convicted for a terribly brutal crime on a thin but sufficient case; I can’t see what produced the pardon here.