Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

January 17, 2013

Greenup. man charged with judge threat claims insanity

LOUISVILLE — A northeastern Kentucky man described by officials as "very cold" plans to use an insanity defense in response to charges he threatened to kill the federal judge and attorneys involved a child pornography case that landed his father in federal prison.

By filing an insanity defense on behalf of 18-year-old Michael Alexander Collins, defense attorney Willis Coffey is claiming his client is not responsible for his actions due to mental health problems.

Coffey filed a notice of defense Tuesday in federal court, a day after Collins made his initial appearance in federal court. Coffey declined to elaborate on the case beyond what has been filed in court.

U.S. Marshals in Lexington arrested Collins of Greenup County on Friday. Deputy Marshal Rick Kelley wrote in an affidavit that Collins plotted to shoot judge David Bunning and others because they handled the case of his father, who pleaded guilty to a charge of receiving child pornography.

Kelley wrote that Collins never carried out an attack, which he discussed with people at the Appalachian Challenge Academy, a school in Harlan designed for 16- to 18-year-olds who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanley Ingram ordered Collins detained by the U.S. Marshals. Collins was hospitalized from mid-December through Monday.

No one responded immediately to an email sent to the Appalachian Challenge Academy on Wednesday morning. A message left for U.S. Marshal Loren "Squirrel" Carl in Lexington was not immediately returned.

The case grew out of a call made in December by the Greenup County Attorney's office to federal officials. Collins told a residential counselor at the school that upon graduation, he planned to buy a gun and "kill everyone" involved in the prosecution and imprisonment of his father, 53-year-old John Nelson Collins.

The elder Collins is serving an 11-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to a federal charge of receipt of child pornography. He is currently in the federal prison camp in Beaumont, Texas.

Bunning and U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins of Ashland, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Denny and defense attorney Michael J. Curtis of Ashland all handled John Collins' case.

The counselor, who is not identified in the complaint, told investigators that Collins wanted to use three people and had been practicing with friends by firing from an elevated position with different rifles, Kelley wrote. The counselor described Collins as "very cold, calm and did not listen to reason" during their conversation.

"When Collins was told that he would likely be gunned down by law enforcement, he stated he did not care," Kelley wrote.

The counselor's allegations were backed up by a recruiter for the academy, Kelley wrote. The arrest of Collins was delayed at the request of prosecutors, who opted to leave Collins in a treatment center in Hazard after Kelley wrote the complaint.

"Collins is still dangerous, and the government intends to follow through with prosecution upon his release from involuntary commitment," wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Spencer McKinnis.


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