FIRST ON FOX: A convicted California murderer whose death sentence was vacated by Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon this fall has died in prison, according to the victim’s family.
Scott Forrest Collins was 21 when he robbed and shot “execution style” Fred Rose, a 41-year-old father of three, in January 1992.
Gascon asked a judge to overturn Collins’ death sentence early last year, and he was removed from death row at San Quentin State Penitentiary and transferred to California’s Correctional Facility in September.
The death was confirmed by Rose’s daughter and her attorney on Wednesday night.
He died around January 15, said Heather Scott, who was 12 at the time of her father’s murder. The autopsy results are still pending and she has not yet learned the cause of Collins’ death.
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Records from California prisons show the killer was no longer listed as in custody as of Wednesday night. After his death sentence was overturned, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Officials at state correctional facilities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
News of Collins’ death comes just days after the shooting of another Los Angeles criminal whose Gascon office was spared.
A 17-year-old hit-and-run driver who admitted driving the wrong way down a side street in a stolen car and rolling into a mother walking in a pram with her 8-month-old child was gunned down 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 probation for another armed robbery when he killed Rose.
He was later accused of trying to hurt and intimidate witnesses and Rose’s family before the trial.
Rose’s wife never remarried, Scott previously told Fox News Digital, which said in February she felt let down by prosecutors when Gascon announced his decision.
“My feeling was that the detectives and the police wanted 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 were sure they had him behind bars.”
At that time, the public prosecutor’s office was her “lawyer”.
“You 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 Fox News Digital last year that it had no intention of calling for Collins’ release.
“We’re not asking for his release, we’re asking for his sentence to be commuted to life without the possibility of parole,” Alex Bastian, who was DA Gascon’s special counsel at the time, told Fox News Digital. “It’s something I think is important. We are not asking that he be retried for anything that would bring him before a parole board.”
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On January 23, 1992, Fred Rose left his Palmdale office 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 leaving the area. Around 8:45 a.m., a jogger found Rose on the ground near neighborhood train tracks – but at first thought he was just drunk and didn’t call 911 until he passed him again on the return trip and noticed the blood.
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He died in hospital the following day. At this point, Collins was more than 140 miles away in Bakersfield, hanging out with Rose’s car at a friend’s house. Collins and three others used the car in a shooting related to a nearby gang, but no one was hurt. They fell and were taken into custody. The other three later testified that Collins admitted to the murder.
Police found Rose’s wallet in the car, along with a bullet matching the one that killed him and an empty cartridge case. Collins became a convicted murderer on September 30, 1993 and received a death sentence on November 2 of the same year. In 1996 he was again sentenced to death after an appeal, which was confirmed after another appeal in 2010.
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Prior to Rose’s murder, Collins’ criminal history stretched back to the mid-1980s when he was a teenager and allegedly started a fire with a Molotov cocktail. Court documents show he was also charged with stabbing a man in the back, kidnapping a woman, assaulting a black 15-year-old while brandishing a knife and shouting racial slurs, threatening a cellmate with a razor and kicking MPs who asked about the incident.