DILLON – Bentley Collins’ probation following his conviction in a 2006 a dog mauling death was suspended Monday at the Dillon County Courthouse.
Collins was convicted in the dog mauling death of a 10-year-old boy 3 years ago, but his conviction was overturned by the South Carolina Court of Appeals earlier this year. Since then the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office has filed an appeal to have the conviction reinstated.
That left Collins in a sort of judicial limbo, so he went to court Monday to request that his probation be suspended until the attorney general’s appeal is granted or denied. The judge granted Collins’ appeal, but with conditions.
Assistant 4th Judicial Circuit Assistant Solicitor Kernard Redmond said Collins will have to pay a $10,000 surety bond and must stipulate that he still cannot own dogs. Redmond said the bond assures that Collins’ will return, from Kentucky where he is currently living, to court if his presence is required.
Collins will be able to quite – at least temporarily – restitution payments and probation fee payments associated with the original verdict.
Redmond said Monday that if the appeals court decides not to reinstate the conviction, the prosectuion might not pursue a new trial.
“This is a bit of an unusual situation because the defendant has already served his time in prison,” Redmond said. “Once the appeals court decides then we’ll have to determine if another trial is something we’d want to pursue.”
Collins was convicted Jan. 30, 2009 by a Dillon County jury of one count of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of owning a dangerous animal in connection with the death of Mathew Davis. Matthew was found dead by his mother Nov. 3, 2006, after six dogs attacked him in the driveway of Collins’ Home Light Road residence in the Emmanuelville community in Dillon County. Collins was sentenced to five years in the case and ordered to pay for the Davis boy’s funeral. The third count of owning a dangerous animal required three years probation.
The appellate court overturned the jury’s verdict in the case last February, saying that Circuit Court Judge Paul Berch erred when he allowed 10 pre-autopsy photos of the child’s partially eaten body to be distributed to jurors.
“Because we find the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the photos, we reverse and remand for a new trial,” wrote Chief Judge John C. Few in the majority opinion. Judges Paula H. Thomas and Aphrodite K. Konduros concurred with the opinion.