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Woman accused in death pleads not guilty

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By Rikki King
Herald Writer
EVERETT -- A woman accused of leading Lynnwood police on a two-mile car chase that ended in the death of an innocent man pleaded not guilty Monday to second-degree murder.
Prosecutors allege that Shellie Rose Collins, 42, was under the influence of crack cocaine when she drove off from a traffic stop in Lynnwood on May 24.
The chase went east along 196th Street SW and then south on 44th Avenue W. before Collins' van collided with another vehicle.
A forensic analysis of computer equipment inside Collins' van later showed the vehicle was driving 75 mph two seconds before it slammed into another van driven by Jerry Robert Bennett, 72, of Lynnwood.
Bennett was rushed to a Seattle trauma center, where he later died.
Collins' passenger, 53, suffered a broken arm in the crash.
The pair had warrants for their arrests before the chase.
Collins' criminal history includes four felony convictions and 31 misdemeanor convictions, court papers show. Most of her convictions involve drugs or driving offenses. Some convictions were as Shellie Becker. Her street name is "Shellshock."
Collins' in 2004 was convicted of vehicular assault in Clark County. She was driving drunk when she crossed the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle, according to court papers.
She was being held Monday on $1 million bail. Her trial is scheduled for later this summer.
The case marks the second time this year that prosecutors have filed a murder charge in connection with a police pursuit that ended in a death.
In May, Rachael Kamin, 40, was killed in downtown Everett as she drove home from her job as a nurse. In that case, officers from Bothell followed a stolen pickup truck from south Snohomish County into downtown Everett where the driver allegedly smashed into her car. She died the next day.
Joseph Strange, 33, has been charged with first-degree murder.
A first-degree murder charge was supported in that case because of the length of the pursuit, and because it involved multiple crashes, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow said Monday.
Strange was charged under the theory that he caused a death "under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life."
"Halfway through Mr. Strange's eluding, he physically rammed a civilian vehicle and then apparently intentionally rammed a patrol car," Darrow said Monday.
Collins had multiple near-misses for serious collisions during her chase before the fatal crash, but she did not ram other vehicles on purpose, Darrow said.
Her case could be amended to a first-degree murder charge later, though, he said.
A person can be convicted of second-degree murder if they cause a death while committing another felony, such as eluding police.
After the crash, Collins denied driving the van but repeatedly asked officers if she'd hurt anyone. Police found "numerous items of drug paraphernalia" in the van, Darrow wrote in court papers.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449;
Story tags » LynnwoodMountlake TerraceCrimePoliceCar accident

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