NILES — The man who caused an early August accident that killed four people north of Buchanan has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13 in Berrien County Trial Court and faces a maximum penalty of life or any term of years in prison.
Dub Alan Collins, 54, of Buchanan, was in Berrien County Trial Court in Niles on Tuesday to accept a plea deal worked out by his attorney, Carri Briseno, and Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky. Collins had been scheduled to go to trial in Berrien County Trial Court next week.
Under terms of the plea agreement, Collins pleaded no contest to four counts of second-degree murder in exchange for eight other charges being dismissed, along with a charge of being a habitual offender. The four second-degree murder counts will be concurrent sentences and consecutive to any sentence for violating his parole from a 2015 operating a meth lab conviction.
The eight charges dismissed include four counts of drunk driving causing death, one count of drunk driving causing serious injury, one count of third offense drunk driving, one count of second offense driving with a suspended license, and one count of open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
Pleading no contest means a defendant admits no guilt for the crime, but it allows the court to determine the punishment. A no-contest plea cannot be used as an admission of liability in any related civil case.
Vigansky reported Tuesday that Collins admitted to having three or four shots of whiskey that morning before getting in the car with his wife, Heather. Blood tests taken an hour, and then four hours, after the accident put his blood alcohol level at .116 and .075, respectively. The legal limit for drunk driving is .08.
Vigansky said Collins caused the death of four people by acting in a way that created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm to others. According to statements made by Heather Collins, the two were having a marital disagreement in the car and her husband became upset and pressed on the car’s accelerator as they neared the intersection of Miller Road and Main Street.
“He was upset and he told his wife that he was going to show her what he could do and pressed on the accelerator,” Vigansky noted. “He was driving at a high rate of speed at up to 87 miles per hour. He was warned by his wife to slow down but he did not let up or brake or take evasive action. Afterwards, he told his wife that they had to stick together and say the brakes failed.”
Collins was driving a 2007 Ford Fusion on Miller Road in Buchanan Township on Aug. 2 when he blew through the stop sign on Miller Road and struck a 2000 Honda Accord broadside that was traveling south on Main Street. All four occupants of the Honda were killed in the crash and pronounced dead at the scene.
Those who died in the crash were Robert Klint, 66, of Sawyer, his brother-in-law, Kent Williamson, 52, of Virginia, Klint’s wife, Melissa Klint, 60, of Sawyer and their daughter, Landyn Klint, 22, of Sawyer. Robert Klint was the driver of the vehicle. Williamson was Melissa Klint’s brother.