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Burlington man faces murder charges

Dereck A.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Dereck A. Collins of Burlington will face arraignment on murder charges in Lawrence County Municipal Court this morning, following the death of a 3-year-old infant on Wednesday.

Collins, 22, of Township Road 1067 (Airlane Court just off County Road 1), was arrested just before 7 a.m. Thursday, charged with one count of murder and one count of child endangering. He remained in jail pending today’s arraignment, where bail will likely be set.

More than seven Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department officers began investigating the death of Brooklyn Hope Peters, 3, on Wednesday evening, when Collins stopped a deputy at Speedway on Wal-Mart way to say she was having trouble breathing, Sheriff Tim Sexton said.

A deputy began CPR, then EMS personnel took the child to Cabell Huntington Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Some officers went to the hospital, while others traveled to the residence, the sheriff said.

They felt there was obvious signs of injury to the girl, especially facial injuries, and that prompted deputies to look into the situation, he said.

"Based on the evidence, witness statements and statements of the suspect, as well as evidence uncovered from an autopsy, there certainly was an act of violence against this child that resulted in her death," Sexton said.

Collins is the boyfriend of the child’s mother, and the couple have known each other since at least October 2000, the sheriff said.

Both have lived at the Airlane Court residence for about one month, he said.

Sexton would not release the mother’s name.

"She’s got enough to go through right now," he said.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr.’s office assisted the sheriff’s department Wednesday. County children’s services workers also responded, removing the victim’s siblings – a brother and sister, both older – from the home, Sexton said.

The West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy Thursday.

Preliminary autopsy results support the sheriff’s department’s action in arresting Collins, Sexton said, but added he would not release details.

It will take two to four weeks until the autopsy report is final, he said.

"Our investigation continues, and certainly everything we compile will be presented to the prosecutor."