Man convicted of murder sentenced in Jackson County
JACKSON -- A Jackson man convicted in October 2011 of murdering his brother at the Colonial Manor in Lakefield was sentenced to 25 years Tuesday in Jackson County District Court.
TyRon Louis Collins, who turned 40 last week, will spend two-thirds of the 306-month sentence in prison, with possible supervised release for the final third of the term, depending on his behavior. He is given credit for 573 days served in jail since his arrest.
"I apologize to my family, those who were affected and the community as a whole," TyRon said during the hearing Tuesday afternoon. "If I could undo what I did, I would. I take full responsibility."
He was arrested in June 2010 after attacking and stabbing his brother at the nursing home in Jackson in front of two residents.
The victim, Kenneth Collins, was employed at the home. After TyRon stabbed his brother, he fled, eventually crashing his vehicle in Worthington while being pursued by law enforcement.
The case was slated to go to trial in May in Jackson County District Court, but approximately 130 prospective jurors later, the courts realized they were not going to be able to seat a jury in the area.
A change of venue was ordered, and the case sent up to Blue Earth County District Court in Mankato.
He was found guilty by that jury of second-degree murder with intent-not premeditated, and second-degree murder-felony murder assault.
Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Al Zdrazil and Jackson County Assistant Attorney Sherry Haley had asked the court to sentence Collins to 367 months, the highest sentence under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, while defense attorneys Christina Wietzema and John Scholl had filed a motion for a lesser sentence of 261 months.
During the hearing, Haley read an impact statement by Collins' mother Nora Deberry Johnson, who said she stood by both of her sons --one dead and one locked up.
"An act of the devil brought this on when (TyRon) was not in his right state of mind," Johnson wrote.
A second statement, written by Lynn Wenk, the mother of Kenneth's youngest child, said TyRon had robbed her of the love of her life.
"I will struggle everyday," she said.
She was financially impacted by the murder, she said, because she and Kenneth had both worked at the nursing home, and she was not able to return there after he died.
"Kenneth and TyRon had a love-hate relationship that went too far," she stated.
Before the sentence was handed down by Judge Linda Titus, Zdrazil asked for the higher sentence, based on the fact that TyRon not only murdered his brother, but did so in the presence of two elderly women.
"The defendant could not have known whether the struggle with his brother would harm the two women, and he forced them to witness the act," Zdrazil said.
Wietzema countered the argument by stating the case had been difficult for the entire Collins family, and that his brother's death was not something TyRon took lightly. Letters from family members described TyRon Collins as a "loving, caring person," Wietzema said.
Collins was also ordered to pay restitution of approximately $9,000 to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the Lakefield Police Department and others.
In a news release sent out after the verdict, the Jackson County Attorney's Office thanked the citizens of Jackson County for their honesty and integrity during the jury selection process, and also offered thanks to those who served on the jury in Blue Earth County.
"In a case of this nature, murder, any court system is unable to make the victim or their family whole," the release states. "Justice was served through our American Justice System in this case."