DOBSON — A Pilot Mountain man charged with second-degree murder remained behind bars Tuesday afternoon despite a Superior Court judge reducing his bond amount to $400,000 secured that morning.
Christopher Vaughn Collins, 41, was initially held under a $2 million bond following his February 2014 arrest in connection with the shooting death of 27-year-old Lynsey Miller Anthony.
A District Court judge reduced that bond to $1 million secured.
In a hearing held about a year ago, a Superior Court judge declined to reduce the defendant’s bond.
State Crime Lab results, which recently were delivered, prompted the most recent bond hearing, which addressed a motion made by defense attorney Christopher Clifton that his client’s bond be reduced to $200,000 secured.
Several members of the victim’s family as well as those in support of the defendant were present in the courtroom.
The defense and the state both dug into competing versions of what happened the day of Anthony’s death.
Clifton, of Winston-Salem, argued that the crime lab analysis corroborated his client’s story that he did not kill his girlfriend.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Miller argued that the forensics Clifton referenced were “meaningless under the circumstances,” providing other factors intended to support the state’s contention that the shooting was intentional.
Though Senior Resident Superior Court Judge A. Moses Massey acknowledged that the strength or weakness of the state’s case is a factor when determining a bond amount, his ruling wasn’t based on that.
“We do not keep people in jail as punishment,” until they are tried and convicted, Massey stated, noting that bond is intended to ensure people appear in court when scheduled.
“The other consideration is the safety of the public,” he continued. Because Collins had no prior criminal record and was not considered a flight risk due to his strong Surry County ties, “I do not understand the magistrate’s departure from the guidelines in this judicial district.”
In Judicial District 17-B, the bond amount for a class B1 felony such as second-degree murder is recommended to fall between $90,000 and $450,000 secured.
Massey noted that “even if the state’s version in this case is the truth, I still don’t understand how the bond could be set so high above the guideline,” he said.
With regards to public safety, “It appears this was a domestic situation,” Massey said. “That would suggest that unless he’s in some new bitter relationship, society in general would not be a target of his.”
The judge modified the bond amount to $400,000 secured and ordered that if released, Collins have no contact with any of the decedent’s immediate family members.
Clifton said he expects the case will go to trial near the end of this year or beginning of next year.
While his client’s family were prepared to post the $200,000 secured bond when he made the request last year, the lawyer wasn’t sure if the family was prepared to post the $400,000.
“I’m hopeful he can get out and help us prepare for the trial,” Clifton said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.