Prose­cu­tors look at de­fense ev­i­dence in mur­der case

Bates’ hear­ing re­set in hot-tub death

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - TRACY M. NEAL

BEN­TONVILLE — At­tor­neys for a Ben­tonville mur­der sus­pect have turned over ev­i­dence to prose­cu­tors they say may help their client.

James Bates, 31, is charged with first-de­gree mur­der and tam­per­ing with phys­i­cal ev­i­dence. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on $ 350,000 bond.

Bates is ac­cused of killing Vic­tor Collins, 47, of Cen­ter­ton on Nov. 22, 2015. Bates also is ac­cused of tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence by us­ing a gar­den hose to wash away blood from his hot tub and pa­tio area, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Collins was found dead in a hot tub at Bates’ home. Collins died from stran­gu­la­tion with drown­ing as a sec­ondary cause, ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments.

Bates was sched­uled to ap­pear in court Thurs­day af­ter­noon, but prose­cu­tors filed a mo­tion to resched­ule the hear­ing. The mo­tion claims the new ev­i­dence is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, so an­other hear­ing date is nec­es­sary. Ben­ton County Cir­cuit Judge Brad Kar­ren sched­uled a new hear­ing for 10:30 a.m. Sept. 13.

Court doc­u­ments didn’t spec­ify what doc­u­ments the de­fense gave prose­cu­tors.

“It’s in­ap­pro­pri­ate to talk about,” Ben­ton County Pros­e­cu­tor Nathan Smith said. “It is still part of the dis­cov­ery process.”

Kath­leen Zell­ner, one of Bates’ at­tor­neys, couldn’t be reached for com­ment.

Bates told po­lice three men — Collins, Owen Mc­Don­ald and Sean Henry — went to his house Nov. 21 to watch foot­ball. Henry left at 11 p.m., and the other three went to the out­door hot tub where they drank beer and vodka, ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit.

Bates told po­lice he went to bed at 1 a.m. and called 911 at 9:30 a.m. when he found Collins’ body, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. Bates told po­lice Mc- Don­ald and Collins were in the hot tub when he went to bed.

Mc­Don­ald told po­lice he left at 12:30 a.m. to walk home, but a per­son picked him up and gave him a ride, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. Dis­patch records show a 911 call from a nurse who spot­ted a man near South­west Caber­net and South­west Elm Manor and be­cause of the cold went back to pick him up.

Po­lice and medics found Collins, who ap­peared to have a black eye, dead in the hot tub, ac­cord­ing to a prob­a­ble cause af­fi­davit. The rim of the hot tub and con­crete pa­tio ap­peared to have been sprayed re­cently with wa­ter.

Po­lice found Collins’ bro­ken pre­scrip­tion eye­glasses, his wed­ding ring, a bro­ken shot glass and sev­eral jet head cov­ers when they drained the hot tub.

Bates had bruises and scratches on his shoul­der, back and stom­ach, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

The case re­ceived na­tional at­ten­tion ear­lier this year af­ter prose­cu­tors at­tempted to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion from an Ama­zon Echo de­vice in Bates’ home. Ama­zon turned over the in­for­ma­tion af­ter Bates and his at­tor­neys con­sented.

Bates

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