Bail increased for vehicular homicide defendant

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A judge on Friday increased bail to $150,000 for an alleged drunken driver accused of hitting and killing a pedestrian last week on Fourth Plain Boulevard.

James I. Collins, 37, of Vancouver pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run.

At the arraignment, Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle heard new details of what allegedly happened in the May 3 crash that killed Maria Delos-Carrusco Angulo.

Collins was believed to have been driving 74 mph when he hit Angulo, a 25-year-old hair salon employee crossing Fourth Plain in a designated crosswalk between Neals and Rossiter lanes, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday by prosecutors. The speed limit is 30 mph.

Following the collision, the driver sped off, going as fast as 80 mph. Witnesses said they saw the vehicle stop at the intersection of General Anderson Road and drop off a passenger before speeding off, according to the affidavit.

Given the license plate number by witnesses, a police officer went to the registered driver’s home. Questioned by the officer, Collins denied involvement in the crash, but later hinted that he was the driver, saying “that his life was over and that he was sorry and that he should be dead, not her,” according to the affidavit.

A drug recognition expert said Collins smelled strongly of alcohol and showed signs of intoxication, prosecutors said.

As Vancouver police investigated further, the affidavit said, they learned that two other people had seen Collins driving his Honda hatchback recklessly just before the 7:18 p.m. collision.

One witness said she was nearly hit by the suspect’s speeding Honda, and a second witness said she was nearly run off the road while driving on Fourth Plain, according to the affidavit.

“The suspect vehicle was traveling along East Fourth Plain Boulevard at such an excessive speed and in such an egregious manner that the driver was extremely indifferent to the possible injury or death to person or property,” Vancouver police Sgt. Patrick Johns wrote in the affidavit.

Collins’ bail had initially been set at $75,000 last week, but based on the newly filed affidavit and Collins’ fugitive status on prior crimes, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey told the judge Friday that Collins was a public safety risk.

“It’s now $150,000,” Wulle said.

Defense attorney Suzan Clark said there wasn’t a substantial change in facts to warrant such an increase. Wulle told her she can argue bail amount at a later hearing.

The bail increase did little to ease Angulo’s family members and friends, who attended the arraignment. About two dozen in total, the supporters wore black or white T-shirts bearing Angulo’s picture.

“We just believe the bail is too low,” friend Diana Padilla said outside court. “This family is asking for justice. This could be anyone’s mother. This could be anyone’s sister.”

Trial was set for July 2.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.