Vancouver, Wash. father, son accused of attacking skier appear in court

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by By kgw.com Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 25 at 2:22 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A man and his son, accused of a brutal carjacking on a cross country skier in the Columbia Gorge, are back in Washington state and appeared in court Tuesday.

Bail was set at $2 million each for Michael Collins and his 16-year-old son Tevin, who are charged with attempted murder and robbery. They will both return to court on Thursday for a 9 a.m. arraignment when they will likely enter their pleas.

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Father and son arrive at airport

Monday night, fugitives Michael and Teven Collins landed at the Portland International Airport shortly after 8 p.m., from Mexico, where they were captured. Escorted by members of the Skamania County Sheriff's Office, the pair exited a flight from San Diego in handcuffs and waist shackles.

Michael showed no emotion as he walked down a flight of stairs from the aircraft. His son Teven displayed a brief smile before entering a black sheriff's office sports utility vehicle.

The pair faced a Skamania County judge Tuesday morning for the first time since allegedly attacking cross-country skier Robert Kevin Tracey on Feb. 9.

"It's a situation where it's my job to make sure justice is done," said prosecutor Christopher Lanz.

Lanz cannot discuss the details of the case against the Collins. He did, however, talk to KGW about the process of prosecuting such a high-profile pair. Lanz said he expects to double the prospective jury pool in the event the case goes to trial.

In a normal felony case, a pool of 25 to 30 citizens would be called, according to Lanz. In this case, he anticipates a pool of 50 to 60 may be called.

Though the attack of Tracey and the subsequent escape of the Collins duo has been headline news, Lanz does not expect the case will require a change of venue. He believes an impartial jury could be found within Skamania County.

"They may think, I've heard about this. But, I'm going to keep that our of mind and make my decision based only on what's presented there," Lanz said.

Victim struggling with emotions

Tracey recently told KGW he had just begun to put the attack behind him but now he's feeling a flood of new emotions and realizes he needs to prepare mentally for a trial.

"I was relieved that they werent on the run anymore," he said "Right now I need to focus on being a good witness and making sure the public is not subjected to any more crimes by these two," he said.

A tip from an 'America's Most Wanted' TV show episode led police to 33-year-old Michael and 16-year-old Teven, who were missing since early February.

Police say the Collins' beat Tracey with a wooden club, dragged his body into the woods and stole his black Ford Explorer and wallet.

United States Marshals Service and a film crew from the show ' America's Most Wanted,' interviewed people to recreate the crime in an episode that aired last week.

If Teven Collins had not logged into this Myspace account, investigators would have never known he was in Mexico, according to Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown.

The moment Collins logged in, he left a virtual fingerprint for investigators.

"Myspace would have a record, the ISP he used would have a record, if he used a phone service to get to that ISP they would have a record," Portland State University professor and computer forensic expert Craig Schiller told KGW.

"It's kind of like a jigsaw puzzle together," Skamania Sheriff spokesman Dave Brown said. "This is a huge piece of that puzzle and were going to turn that corner now and hopefully we can get them back here and we can start the processes in the court."

Marshals had been monitoring the MySpace accounts of the father and son and knew they were in Ensenada, Mexico, but not exactly where until a tip came in. Flanked by heavy guards, the two were taken in to custody at a home in Ensenada Wednesday morning and later, across the border.

Michael Collins is a sex offender with an outstanding arrest warrant for failing to meet his requirements to register.

Tracey's vehicle, checkbook, wallet and several credit cards were stolen in the attack, according to Skamania County authorities. Court records suggest the pair used Tracey's Visa card in Washington, Madras, Ore., and Lathrop, Calif.

Police believe the suspects were traveling in Tracey's 1998 black Ford Explorer SUV.

The SUV still has not been found and it's unknown how the pair got into Mexico. Investigators said that logs from the U.S. border show no record of Tracey's SUV crossing into Mexico.

Skamania County Detectives were asking people who may have additional information in the case to contact them at (509) 427-9490.

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