St. James man found guilty of trying to kill pregnant ex-girlfriend

Cowan Collins
Cowan Collins

An Ascension Parish jury has found a St. James Parish man guilty in the attempted slaying of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and their unborn child last year, prosecutors said Friday.

Cowan L. Collins, 28, 1360 Golden Grove, Gramercy, was convicted of attempted second-degree murder and attempted second-degree feticide after one-hour of jury deliberation Thursday at the Ascension Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales.

Jurors handed down the verdict on the first birthday of the child, who had to be delivered by C-section on the day of the shooting — Aug. 14, 2013 — because the mother was shot and later suffered other injuries when she crashed her car at the intersection of La. 621 and Orleans Drive.

The mother, Kenyia Houston, of Gonzales, was just under eight months pregnant at the time — the child was born 6 ½ weeks premature — and tried to drive away to escape the shooting.

She testified at the trial this week that Collins had wanted her to have an abortion but she refused, prosecutors said in a statement Friday.

Houston and her mother also testified that Collins knew where Houston lived and what time she left for work.

When she was leaving for work the morning of Aug. 14, 2013, Collins, dressed in black, approached her and began to shoot at her and hit her in the arm, prosecutors said.

Assistant District Attorney Joni Buquoi said Friday that Collins’ co-defendant, Tiffany A. Victor, 28, 215 Medine Court, LaPlace, also testified against Collins, placing him near the scene of the shooting roughly about the time it occurred.

Buquoi said Victor testified that she was in the car with Collins one street over from Houston’s home when he left for a reason she did not know. He returned some time later. Victor was Collins’ girlfriend at the time and had also been his girlfriend before Collins dated Houston.

Prosecutors had originally charged Victor with the same counts as Collins faced but, in exchange for her testimony against Collins, she pleaded guilty on June 11 to the reduced charge of being an accessory after the fact to attempted second-degree murder.

Judge Thomas J. Kliebert Jr., of 23rd Judicial District Court, sentenced Victor that same day to a suspended five-year prison sentence with credit for time served and five years of probation.

Kliebert also presided over Collins’ trial but deferred his sentencing Thursday so a presentence investigation can be conducted. Sentencing has been set for Dec. 9, prosecutors said.

Kliebert remanded Collins to the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office. Collins was in Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville on Friday.