Miami man sentenced to 33 years in 2009 Seabrook murder

info@islandpacket.comOctober 24, 2013 

Antonio Collins

SUBMITTED PHOTO

A 36-year-old Miami man was sentenced to 33 years in prison Thursday after he was convicted in the 2009 shooting death of a Seabrook man, according to a news release from the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Antonio Collins was found guilty of murder, first-degree burglary and possession of a weapon during commission of a violent crime by a jury Thursday after a four-day trial, the release said.

Collins was convicted of the murder of Ronald Coleman Jr., 27, who was shot four times during a shootout outside his Seabrook Road home on June 22, 2009.

Collins and another man -- identified Oct. 7 as Beaufort resident Jeremy Levon Murphy, 26 -- were spotted by a neighbor while approaching the back door of Coleman's home. One of the men held a pistol to the neighbor's head and forced him to walk to the front door of the house, where they ordered him to call Coleman outside.

Collins and Murphy didn't wait for the neighbor to act, kicking in the door and starting a shootout with Coleman, the release said. Coleman was hit four times and died at the scene.

Assistant Solicitor Hunter Swanson said Collins was wounded in the shootout and left a trail of bloody footprints from Coleman's front porch down Seabrook Road. Swanson said she believed Collins was the gunman in the shootout with Coleman.

The murder weapon was found near where the footprints ended, a spot on the road where the men got into a Cadillac and drove away, Swanson said.

Information from a 2010 federal drug investigation in Hampton County led investigators to Collins and Murphy. DNA collected from Collins matched the bloody footprints and DNA found on the recovered weapon, the release said.

Swanson said the DNA evidence was key to a strong case by the prosecution.

"I was very confident going into the trial because of the DNA evidence," she said. "You can't argue with DNA."

Collins was extradited to Beaufort County in November 2011 from Miami, where he was in jail on unrelated charges. Collins had a prior conviction for larceny, the release said.

Murphy was arrested Oct. 3 in Jasper County on unrelated charges. He was handed over to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office on Oct. 7 and is being held at the Beaufort County Detention Center.

Judge J. Ernest Kinard presided over Collins' trial and handed down his sentence.

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