Door now open for revocation of ex-LSU player’s probation
The freedom that former LSU, McNeese State University and Miami Dolphins running back Cecil “The Diesel” Collins recently obtained may be short-lived.
Two months after a judge rejected a prosecutor’s request that he revoke Collins’ probation in two 1998 Baton Rouge cases and send him back to prison for up to five years, a state appeals court reversed the judge Monday and sent the matter back to him.
“It means we can proceed with the hearing to revoke Mr. Collins’ probation,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal’s 2-1 ruling.
“We were confident the appellate court would let us proceed, and that is our next step.”
Bernie cannot take that step for at least a month because Collins and his attorney, Rodney Baum, have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling of the 1st Circuit panel.
Baum said Monday the decision already has been made.
“I’m certain that we’re going to (appeal),” he said. “We’re going to ask for it to be reviewed.”
Baum said he will either ask the 1st Circuit to rehear the matter or take it directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Collins, 36, was released on bail in mid-July and is living in Florida under a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He has agreed to waive his right to challenge extradition from Florida if East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors win their appeal.
Collins was released from a Florida prison in May after serving more than 13 years for a December 1999 burglary in Miami while he was on probation in Louisiana.
He was immediately transferred to Baton Rouge and taken into custody for possible revocation of probation in two 1998 cases in which he forced his way into the apartments of two women who lived in a Nicholson Drive complex.
In the Baton Rouge cases, Collins pleaded guilty to two felony counts of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling and two misdemeanor counts of simple battery.
He was accused of fondling a woman in each of the two felony cases.
In those cases, state District Judge Mike Caldwell gave Collins a suspended five-year prison term and put him on probation for four years.
Following Collins’ arrest in Florida, Louisiana authorities issued a warrant for his arrest for violating his probation.
Baum has argued in court filings that Collins’ probation began April 8, 1999, and was automatically completed on April 8, 2003.
The 1st Circuit disagreed Monday with that argument.
“Upon the state’s timely securing of arrest warrants for the defendant’s alleged probation violations, the running of the defendant’s periods of probation ceased,” the appeals court stated.
Collins filed two requests in recent years to plead guilty in absentia to violating his probation, but those requests were denied by state District Judges Todd Hernandez and Don Johnson, court records show.
The 1st Circuit said Monday those requests have no legal bearing in the case.
“Despite the defendant’s filings, which attempted to get the trial court to adjudicate his probation revocation proceedings in his absence, no such procedure exists under Louisiana law,” the appellate court said.
Circuit Judges Page McClendon and Mike McDonald voted to reverse Caldwell’s July 11 ruling in favor of Collins.
Circuit Judge John Pettigrew dissented without offering reasons.