OAKLAND – A 59-year-old man accused of raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl 40 years ago when he was 19 has been sentenced to stand trial, court records show.
Jewel Collins, who was serving a long prison sentence for sexual assault in Nevada at the time of her arrest, faces special circumstances murder charges in the murder of 16-year-old Ameenah “Meenah” Scott. Collins was linked to the crime in 2019, after Nevada authorities entered his DNA into a national database and Oakland investigators linked it to semen found on Scott’s body, police testimony said. .
The charges make Collins eligible for a death sentence, but Alameda County prosecutors will not seek one, according to a minute order filed in court late last month. The date for Collins’ trial has not been set.
During Collins’ preliminary hearing last August, prosecutors called several retired Oakland homicide investigators, as well as the current criminologist, who extracted DNA from swabs taken during the autopsy of Scott. The autopsy showed Scott had been violently raped and stabbed to death, authorities said, although Collins’ attorney argued prosecutors had not definitively proven Collins was responsible for either. crimes.
Scott was killed shortly after leaving her home on the afternoon of December 23, 1981, a day she spent wrapping Christmas presents with her mother. His body was found around 8 a.m. on December 24 in a parking lot between Lowell Middle School and Lowell Park in West Oakland. When her mother warned her against going for a walk that day, Scott said, âYou worry too much for me. God has me, “this newspaper reported at the time.
The one-day preliminary hearing did not disclose whether Collins had any previous contact with Scott or whether authorities suspected he had simply bumped into her that day and decided to attack her. Most of the prosecution’s presentation was devoted to establishing the DNA link.
At the end of the hearing, Collins ‘attorney, Assistant District Attorney Christina Moore, said prosecutors had failed to prove a link between Collins’ DNA and either of the crimes. charged. She suggested that the real rapist and killer could have used a condom after Scott and Collins had consensual sex.
âSimply put, it could be two separate acts. There could have just been consensual sex and then a stab, we don’t know anything about the timeline, âMoore said.
Assistant District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew, who is pursuing the case, said the extent of Scott’s injuries, combined with the presence of Collins’ DNA, proved the rape and homicide took place in the same short time period.
âConsensual sex doesn’t end with being violently stabbed to death,â she said.
Judge C. Don Clay said prosecutors had met the burden of moving the case forward beyond a preliminary hearing, which requires a demonstration of probable cause, not evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, but added: “I am not saying from the point of view of this evidence here that this is sufficient for a conviction.