Woman pleads guilty to murder in fatal Lynnwood car chase
Shellie Rose Collins, 42, wiped at her tears with shackled hands Tuesday after she admitted to being responsible for the death of Jerry Robert Bennett. Collins, whose street name is "Shellshock," plowed into Bennett's van May 24 as she tried to outrun police officers.
Bennett, 72, suffered fatal head injuries and died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Prosecutors alleged that Collins was high on crack cocaine and driving 75 mph two seconds before she smashed into Bennett's van in a busy intersection. Police were chasing after Collins after discovering that she and her passenger were both wanted on warrants. The two-mile chase began around Highway 99 and 196th Street SW in Lynnwood.
A camera mounted on the dashboard of the officer's unmarked car captured the chase. The bouncing van is seen swerving into oncoming traffic, running red lights and nearly striking several vehicles, court papers said.
Finally, Collins ran the light at 212th Street and 44th Avenue W. and smashed into Bennett's van as he was driving through the intersection. The impact sent the two vans spinning out of control. Bennett's van was propelled about 180 feet and onto a sidewalk. The other van careened into a pole, knocking the signal flat on the ground.
Collins' passenger, 53, broke his arm in the crash. He told police he tried to get the woman to stop.
Collins initially denied that she was driving, although she kept asking if she hurt anyone.
Prosecutors are expected to recommend a nearly 19-year prison sentence. Collins faces between 14 and 22 years behind bars when she is sentenced on July 25.
She already had four felony convictions and 31 misdemeanor convictions, court papers show. Most of her rap sheet is for drug or driving offenses.
She was sentenced in 2004 to nearly a year in jail for a crash in Clark County. She was drunk when she crossed the center line and struck an oncoming car. She was convicted of vehicular assault. Less than a year later, she was convicted of felony possession of cocaine.
In the most recent case, Collins was charged with murder under the theory that she was attempting to elude police, a felony crime, when she caused Bennett's death.
Collins was the second person charged with murder this year in connection with a police chase that ended in a fatal crash.
Joseph Strange is accused of leading police on a more than 10-mile chase from Lynnwood to Everett before he crashed into Rachael Kamin, a nurse on her way home from work.
Kamin, the mother of two, suffered fatal head injuries.
Strange, 33, is charged with first-degree murder under the theory that he caused Kamin's death "under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life."
Prosecutors allege that Strange rammed a police patrol car and another vehicle before leading officers on a high-speed chase. His flight from the cops came to an end only after Strange crashed into Kamin's car in a north Everett intersection. He is scheduled to go to trial later this year.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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