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Collins trial is a no-go in Jackson County

JACKSON -- After more than five days of questioning approximately 130 potential jurors, Jackson County District Court has thrown in the towel, opting Tuesday to stop their attempts to place a local jury for the trial of accused murderer Tyron Collins.

It looks like a change of venue will take place, according to Jackson County Attorney Bob O'Connor. Originally, the prosecution thought the jury selection process in Jackson would take several days, with the prosecution hoping to begin opening arguments by Tuesday.

No new date or place has been set as of yet, but there is a possibility of an October time-frame.

Collins, who was indicted for first-degree murder, allegedly stabbed his brother to death during an altercation at the Colonial Manor, Lakefield, last June.

A plea bargain was in the works last month, but Collins rejected the agreement, holding out for a first-degree manslaughter plea.

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Al Zdrazil stated at the time that allowing a guilty plea to manslaughter had never been a consideration.

He had offered Collins a plea for second-degree murder.

According to O'Connor, only eight jurors had been approved for the jury by Tuesday after going through an original pool of 80 people, then a second pool of almost 50. O'Connor said the Jackson County Court Administrator staff was working to get a third group ready when they received word that one of the defense attorneys had a family emergency.

"We had set a deadline, and said if we weren't able to get a jury set by Thursday we were going to give up," he explained. "(The attorney's) emergency pushed us over that edge. I can almost guarantee, because of the reaction here, we'll go pick a jury in another county."

O'Connor believes the courts will keep the trial in the Fifth Judicial District, which covers 15 counties, and said once a date is set, the judge, prosecutors and defense will have to travel to that court.

"The only thing that will change is the jurors," he added.

Even though the alleged murder took place less than a year ago, O'Connor said there was no reason to delay when a May date was originally set.

"We were interested in getting it done quickly," he stated. "There was no resistance on the other side, and no real cause to delay."

Getting through the days of jury selection was "quite a process," O'Connor said, offering his compliments to the work done at the court administration office.

"The people upstairs were working hard," he stated.