FIRST ON TBEN: A convicted California murderer whose death sentence was revoked this fall by Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has died in prison, according to the victim’s family.
Scott Forrest Collins was 21 when he robbed and shot Fred Rose, a 41-year-old father of three, in January 1992.
Gascon asked a judge early last year to overturn Collins’ death sentence, and he was taken off death row at San Quentin State Prison and transferred to the California Correctional Institution in September.
The death was confirmed Wednesday evening by Rose’s daughter and her lawyer.
He died around Jan. 15, said Heather Scott, who was 12 years old at the time of her father’s murder. Autopsy results were pending and she has not yet learned the cause of Collins’ death.
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California jail records show the killer was no longer listed as being in custody by Wednesday evening. After his death sentence was lifted, he was given life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
State corrections officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The news of Collins’ death comes just days after the murder of another Los Angeles criminal, whose office in Gascon went easy.
A 17-year-old motorist who admitted driving a stolen car the wrong way down a back street and crashing into a mother walking her 8-month-old child in a stroller was shot in Palmdale. He had served a sentence of just a few months in a probation camp last year.
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Collins was on parole for another armed robbery charge when he killed Rose.
He was later charged with attempting to harm and intimidate witnesses and Rose’s family before trial.
Rose’s wife never remarried, Scott previously told TBEN News Digital, saying in February she felt let down by prosecutors when Gascon announced his decision.
“I felt like the detectives and the police were looking for justice, they wanted to know the truth,” she said of law enforcement in the 1990s. “They wanted to make sure they had the right person, and they didn’t stop until they made sure they had him behind bars.”
At the time, she added, the district attorney’s office was her “attorney.”
“They fought for us, as you would fight for your own safety,” she said.
Gascon has long publicly opposed the death penalty, and his office told TBEN News Digital last year it had no plans to seek Collins’ release.
“We are not asking for his release, we are asking that his sentence be commuted to life without the possibility of parole,” Alex Bastian, who was a special adviser to DA Gascon at the time, told TBEN News Digital. “That’s something I think is important to note. We’re not asking that he be sentenced to something that would put him up for parole.”
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On January 23, 1992, Fred Rose left his office in Palmdale for lunch. He never returned. Collins kidnapped him at gunpoint, used his debit card to withdraw $200 just after 4 p.m. in Northbridge, nearly 50 miles away, and shot him once in the head two hours later in North Hollywood.
Three witnesses heard gunshots and saw Rose’s Oldsmobile leave the area. Around 8:45 p.m., a jogger found Rose on the ground near nearby train tracks — but at first thought he was just drunk and didn’t call 911 until he passed him again on the return flight and noticed the blood.
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He died in hospital the next day. By then, Collins was more than 140 miles away in Bakersfield, hanging out at a friend’s house in Rose’s car. Collins and three others used the car in a nearby shootout, but no one was injured. They crashed and were taken into custody. The three others later testified that Collins admitted to the murder.
Police found Rose’s wallet in the car, as well as a bullet matching the one that killed him and an empty shell casing. Collins became a convicted murderer on September 30, 1993, and received the death penalty on November 2 of that year. In 1996 he was again sentenced to death after an appeal, and that was confirmed in 2010 after a further appeal.
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Before killing Rose, Collins’ criminal past stretched back to the mid-1980s, when he was still a juvenile and allegedly started a fire with a Molotov cocktail. Court documents show he was also charged with stabbing a man in the back, carjacking a woman, assaulting a black 15-year-old while brandishing a knife and shouting racial slurs, threatening a cellmate with a razor and kicked deputies who asked about the incident. .