A judge on Monday declined to remand Zaon Collins back into custody after prosecutors said the former UNLV basketball recruit twice tested positive for methamphetamine.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Chad Lexis had requested for Collins’ bail to be increased after the drug was detected in Collins’ sweat from samples collected May 16 and May 31. Defense attorney Richard Schonfeld said Collins “vehemently denies” using methamphetamine, and expressed doubt at the accuracy of the drug tests.
Collins is accused of driving 88 mph in a 35 mph zone and being impaired by marijuana on Dec. 30, 2020, when he was involved in a crash that killed 52-year-old Eric Echevarria.
Instead of increasing Collins’ bail, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman said Collins would now be subject to random blood tests to check for drugs.
“I’m going to be honest, I understand the state’s concern with the positive tests, but I’m not sure if I remanded him into custody, increased the bail and he posted that and got out, what did we accomplish?” Zimmerman said during a court hearing on Monday morning.
Zimmerman also denied a request for Collins to be allowed to attend college out of state, after his defense attorneys said he was offered a full athletic scholarship to Salt Lake Community College. The college did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
In court records filed last month, Schonfeld and defense attorney David Chesnoff argued that the drug test results “are not reliable and should not be considered as evidence that Mr. Collins violated conditions of his release.”
The attorneys argued that environmental factors could affect the patch used to test someone’s sweat for drugs, and that prosecutors did not report the positive results until over a month after the first patch was collected, court records show.
Lexis said Monday that Collins had also tested positive for amphetamine, which is a metabolite produced when methamphetamine is broken down inside the body.
Zimmerman said it appeared prosecutors were only trying to remand Collins’ bail because it is a high-profile case.
“I’ve got plenty of other cases where people are positive on the SCRAM patch or monitor, and I’m getting no motions from the state regarding those,” Zimmerman said.
Lexis argued that drug test results are frequently brought up during status checks, but he filed a motion in Collins’ case for the judge to rule on it before Collins’ next scheduled court appearance in September.
Eric Echevarria’s wife, Ann Marie Echevarria, stormed out of the courtroom during Monday’s hearing.
“He’s going to kill somebody else; he killed my husband,” she shouted as she left the courtroom.
In a text message to the Review-Journal, she expressed anger at Zimmerman’s decision.
“I would like to add that he is allowed to drive after killing my husband when he was high,” she said. “Now he’s on worse drugs and judge Anne [sic] Zimmerman released him again.”
In June, Collins was released from electronic ankle monitoring after he told Zimmerman he wanted to start attending college. Collins said Monday he is set to start part time at the College of Southern Nevada in August.
After Zimmerman said she wouldn’t allow Collins to attend college in Utah, she told him to enroll full time in CSN.
Las Vegas police have said that at the time of the crash, Collins had 3 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in his system. The legal limit for drivers in Nevada at the time was 2 nanograms per milliliter.
Collins’ lawyers have presented a case to the Nevada Supreme Court arguing that the 2 nanograms limit was arbitrarily set.
They have argued that the level of THC in Collins’ system was so low, it could have been consumed days before the crash.
Further justice court proceedings have been on hold while the high court weighs the issue.