An Orinda man in custody for the brutal murder of his longtime girlfriend entered a plea of not guilty to the crimes Thursday in Contra Costa County Superior Court -- but is being questioned about the 1986 shooting death of his brother, also in the same home.
James Collin, 62, was arrested on June 26 after a neighbor called police to report a "horrible incident" at the home Collin shared with girlfriend Evangeline Devera, 56, in the 600 block of Moraga Way.
Responding Orinda police officers found Devera's bloodied body face down on the kitchen floor of the home, a machete nearby. As they searched the home they were approached by a disheveled Collin, who allegedly made a spontaneous confession of guilt to the murder.
Collin was arrested without incident but Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox said a review of crime scene evidence prompted her office to file an additional charge of torture -- largely based on the nature of Devera's wounds.
Although the official cause of death was given as "blunt force" trauma and "sharp force injury" to Devera's head Knox said the woman appeared to have been slashed several times with the machete before the killing blow was delivered.
Collin entered a plea of not guilty to the murder/torture charges Thursday, just as Knox revealed that investigators were also looking into the 1986 Halloween death of Collin's younger brother Tim, 32, killed by a shotgun blast to the chest in the same home where Devera was killed.
In that incident, investigators determined that James Collin was walking through the residence cleaning a shotgun which went off -- striking his brother in the chest.
The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office ruled the death an accident, and the case was never forwarded to the district attorney's office, Knox said. Although investigators are reviewing evidence in the 1986 case it has not been officially reopened.
Collin did face legal consequences for a domestic assault on Devera in 2006 when police responded to the residence to find her bloodied after being struck on the head. A judge sentenced Collin to probation after he pleaded no contest
to misdemeanor domestic battery charges.
He is scheduled to return to court to set future court dates on Aug. 20.
Bay City News Service