FIRST ON FOX: A convicted California murderer whose death sentence was dropped 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 41-year-old father-of-three Fred Rose “execution style” 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 Prison and transferred to San Quentin Correctional Facility. California in September.
The death was confirmed by Rose’s daughter and her lawyer on Wednesday evening.
He died around January 15, said Heather Scott, who was 12 at the time of her father’s murder. Autopsy results were pending and she has yet to learn Collins’ cause of death.
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California jail records show the killer was no longer listed as an inmate as of Wednesday night. After his death sentence was overturned, he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
State corrections officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
News of Collins’ death comes just days after the shooting of another Los Angeles felon whose Gascon’s office was easy.
A 17-year-old hit-and-run driver who admitted speeding the wrong way down an alley in a stolen car and hitting a mother carrying her 8-month-old child in a stroller has been shot dead in Palmdale. He had served a few months in a probation camp last year.
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Collins was on parole for another armed robbery when he killed Rose.
He was later charged with attempting to harm and intimidate witnesses and Rose’s family before his trial.
Rose’s wife never remarried, Scott previously told Fox News Digital, who said in February that she felt let down by prosecutors when Gascon announced her decision.
“My feeling was that the detectives and the police department, they were looking for justice, they wanted to know the truth,” she said of law enforcement in the 1990s. “They wanted to make sure that ‘they had the right person, and they didn’t stop until they were sure they had him behind bars.”
At the time, she added, the district attorney’s office was her “attorney.”
“They fought for us, like 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 has 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 at the time was special adviser to DA Gascon, told Fox News Digital. “That’s something that’s important to note. We’re not asking that he be sentenced to anything that would put him in front of a parole board.”
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On January 23, 1992, Fred Rose left his Palmdale office for lunch. He never came back. Collins kidnapped him at gunpoint, used his debit card to withdraw $200 just after 4pm in Northbridge, nearly 80km away, and shot him in the head two hours later at North Hollywood.
Three witnesses heard gunshots and saw Rose’s Oldsmobile leaving the area. Around 8.45am a jogger found Rose on the ground near the neighborhood train tracks – but initially thought he was just drunk and didn’t call 911 until he ran into him again and notice the blood.
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He died the next day in hospital. At the time, Collins was over 140 miles from Bakersfield, hanging out at a friend’s house with Rose’s car. Collins and three other people used the car in a nearby gang-related shootout, but no one was injured. They crashed 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 used to kill him and an empty casing. Collins became a convicted murderer on September 30, 1993, and was sentenced to death on November 2 of that year. In 1996, after an appeal, he was again sentenced to death, and this was upheld after another appeal in 2010.
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Prior to killing Rose, Collins’ criminal history dates back to the mid-1980s, when he was still a minor and allegedly started a fire with a Molotov cocktail. Court documents show he was also charged with stabbing a man in the back, hijacking a woman, attacking a 15-year-old black man by swinging a knife and shouting racial slurs, threatening a cellmate with a razor and kicking deputies who asked about the incident.