East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors waited too long to ask a Louisiana judge to revoke Cecil Collins’ probation and send him back to prison, an attorney for the former LSU, McNeese State and Miami Dolphins running back said Monday.
Rodney Baum made those comments outside Louisiana District Judge Mike Caldwell’s courtroom after the judge pushed back Collins’ probation revocation hearing to July 11.
The judge said did so because of legal questions that have arisen regarding a motion Baum filed last week to quash the state’s petition to revoke Collins’ probation.
“It’s a legal issue that we’ll address,” prosecutor Sue Bernie said.
Collins was released May 1 from a Florida prison after serving more than 13 years of a 15-year sentence for a December 1999 burglary in Miami. He was convicted in March 2001 of sneaking into his neighbors’ apartment.
At the time of the burglary and conviction, Collins was on probation for four years in Louisiana — a probation Caldwell imposed on Collins after suspending the five-year prison term he gave Collins.
Collins had pleaded guilty in April 1999 in Baton Rouge to two felony charges of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling and two misdemeanor charges of simple battery.
The charges stemmed from two separate incidents in June and July 1998 when Collins forced his way into apartments of women who lived in the same Nicholson Drive complex as he did. He was accused of fondling the women.
Collins, 36, who is being held without bond at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, wants to return to Florida to live with his wife. He got married more than six years ago, while imprisoned.
“He’s got a sound, good environment to go to. It’s not like he’s being cut loose without anything,” Baum argued Monday outside Caldwell’s courtroom.
Baum maintains the state of Louisiana knew where Collins was all these years.
“They can’t just sit around until his sentence is complete,” he said. “They shouldn’t have waited around for 13 1/2 years.”
Baum’s motion to quash the probation revocation petition acknowledges that the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections issued a warrant in March 2001 based on Collins’ violation of his probation conditions in Louisiana. Those conditions required him to remain arrest and conviction-free, among other things.
“As soon as he finished his time in Florida, we had him brought back to Louisiana in days,” Bernie stressed.
Collins had filed two requests in recent years in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge to plead guilty in absentia to violating his probation, but those requests were denied by state District Judges Todd Hernandez and Don Johnson, Baum said.
Baum said the 15-year term imposed on Collins in Florida was the maximum sentence allowed, and the sentencing judge took Collins’ Louisiana convictions into account.
“He’s already got additional punishment because of his Louisiana conduct,” Baum stated.
Baum contends in his motion that Collins’ probation began April 8, 1999, and was “automatically completed” on April 8, 2003.