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KABA NOTE: According to this report, the act of self-defense on February 12, 2002 in East Topeka, Kansas, was "clearly justified".

D.A. rules February shooting death justifiable

Originally ran here as:
"D.A. rules February shooting death justifiable"
by Chris Moon, Staff Writer
Topeka Capital-Journal
April 08, 2002

TOPEKA, KANSAS -- The Feb. 12 shooting death of 33-year-old James Collins was an act of self-defense, according to District Attorney Robert Hecht.

In a memorandum to Topeka Police Chief Ed Klumpp that was made public Monday, Hecht wrote that the shooting of Collins by 24-year-old Braulio DiazCastro was "clearly justified" after Collins broke into an East Topeka home and threatened DiazCastro with a knife. No criminal charges will be filed in the case.

At about 9 a.m. Feb. 12, DiazCastro notified police he had shot Collins at 2324 S.E. Ohio, said Lt. John Sidwell, a police spokesman. Police responded to the home and found Collins lying outside the front door. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

DiazCastro was questioned and released because detectives didn't believe the shooting constituted a crime, Sidwell said.

Sidwell gave the following account of events leading up to the shooting:

Collins' ex-girlfriend, 34-year-old Christine Hockman, lived at 2324 S.E. Ohio with the couple's 4-year-old son. Police had responded a number of times to the home regarding disturbances involving Collins and Hockman.

On Feb. 11, Collins had come to the house wanting to take the boy for visitation but hadn't made prior arrangements. A disturbance ensued, and police were called.

Upon investigation, officers seized a non-functioning gun from the Collins' vehicle. The man wasn't arrested.

Shortly before 9 a.m. Feb. 12, Collins returned to the house and forced open the back door. Hockman, the 4-year-old and DiazCastro -- identified as Hockman's boyfriend -- were in the living room when they heard the intruder. DiazCastro grabbed a handgun and tried to usher the others out of the house when he saw Collins running toward them.

DiazCastro and Hockman then ran out the front door, where Collins grabbed DiazCastro on the front porch. When DiazCastro saw that Collins had a knife, he shot at the man several times.

Police recovered the knife and handgun from the scene, Sidwell said.

According to Hecht, "It was more than reasonable to believe that one or all of them were in danger of death or serious bodily injury and at the hand and by the act of James Collins."

Chris Moon can be reached at 295-1185.

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