SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Thirty years ago, a Los Angeles man was sentenced to death for killing a father of three. Now the district attorney is planning to drop the murderer’s death sentence.
In January 1992, 21-year-old Scott Forrest Collins was sentenced to death for robbing and shooting 41-year-old Fred Rose.
However, in February this year, the victim’s family was told Collins would be resentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole, which means he would never leave prison but also would not be on death row. The district attorney’s office notified them via voicemail.
Heather Scott, Rose’s daughter, who was 12 when Rose died, told NTD Television they are against the decision and it feels like torture again.
“I really had to fight for answers and information. I requested for days to find out who had filed this motion, and they would not tell me,” Scott said.
She was told the decision to reduce the sentencing comes from factoring Collins’s “age at the time, his ADHD diagnosis, traumatic childhood, and good behavior in prison.”
She requested files to review herself but was deflected to a Zoom call for explanation. When she tried looking online for records of the case, she couldn’t find them there anymore, as they had been removed.
“We were told we had months to review the documentation and respond before the DA filed their agreement to commute the sentence. They filed it a few days later without telling us. That’s concerning. We felt betrayed by that,” Scott said.
She said they were specifically requested not to get a hearing, but they want representation and justice.
“It’s not about the death penalty. It’s about where will this stop,” Scott said. “If they can commute the death sentence, they can commute Life Without the Possibility of Parole down the line.”
Scott said they went through therapy while growing up and learned to process grief after losing their father, but “injustice can bring back a feeling, that pain, that hopelessness.”
“When the system fails you like this, you do feel very alone,” Scott said.
They sought help from a private law firm.
In an emailed statement to NTD Television, Kathleen Cady, former prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office representing the victim’s family, said victims have a constitutional right to be heard at any sentencing hearing.
“It appears that [Los Angeles County District Attorney George] Gascon’s surrogate is violating the Constitution and deliberately attempting to silence Mr. Rose’s family and deprive them of their right to be heard regarding any resentencing because of Gascon’s policy against the death penalty. Gascon has been abandoned and is re-traumatizing Mr. Rose’s family.”
Since Gascon took office in December 2020, he has come up with many policies with a goal to remove the death sentence. This includes reviewing existing death sentences.
“We see our victims, and to not be able to say to your victim that I’m going to get you justice, and I’m not going to fight for you 100 percent … and the fact that these victims have to go get their own lawyers to protect their interest, is deeply upsetting to most prosecutors,” Eric Siddal, Vice President of LA Association of Deputy District Attorneys, told NTD Television.
Siddal sees Gascon’s policies as a huge social experiment that needs to end.
Scott said, “Under his bail policies, those [felons with firearms] are getting released immediately, so by the time that the police officer writes the report, that defendant who had a gun, who puts everyone’s life in danger, that defendant is walking out of a police station.”
Gascon’s leniency toward criminals has fueled a movement to recall him. Nearly 98 percent of the LA prosecutors who participated in a vote support the recall of Gascon over his crime policies. Over 80 percent of the lawyers voted, the highest turnout the organization has ever seen.
Siddal said this is the first time the association of district attorneys has tried to recall a district attorney.