Murder charges dismissed in Benton Harbor shooting case

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Murder charges have been dismissed in Berrien County against a man accused of shooting a man to death in late 2014.

Reginald Collins had been identified by a witness as the killer of Richard Street. Street was found dead in the backyard of a home on 1250 Union Street on the morning of Dec. 9, 2014 with a lone gunshot wound to the back of the head.

The witness’s repeated statements following the shooting caused some concern due to inconsistencies, according to Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic. However, prosecutors believed “his eyewitness account would overcome those issues.”

This week, cell phone records seem to indicate that Collins likely wouldn’t have physically been able to commit the murder in the first place. Cell data initially made it appear Collins was about 35 miles away in South Bend about an hour and a half before the shooting took place.

However, a further examination of the cell tower data in preparation for the Sept. 20 trial showed that, while the tower was in the Eastern time zone in South Bend, it was actually tied to a server in Illinois, which is in the Central time zone.

This would have put Collins in South Bend, 35 miles away, just 38 minutes before the murder took place. The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office notes that, while Collins could have sped on the U.S. 31 Bypass, he still would have had to navigate a lot of city streets, and therefore wouldn’t have likely made it in time to commit the crime.

The prosecutor’s office determined that a jury would “rationally conclude there is reasonable doubt as to Collins’ guilt.”

Collins has been dismissed without prejudice. That means he could still be charged at a later date.

This doesn’t mean Collins is a free man, though. Collins will now likely be sent to Georgia, where he has a probation violation warrant out for his arrest on a drug charge.

RELATED: Police release identity of man found dead in Benton Harbor

 

 

 

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