PHOENIX, AZ (September 17, 2012) – Deputy County Attorney Charity Collins is the recipient of the 2012 Felony Prosecutor of the Year award presented by the Arizona State Organization of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Charity accepted the award at the recent MADD DUI Law Enforcement Awards Dinner in Phoenix.
“This award is a fitting honor to Charity’s tireless commitment to seek justice for victims of criminals who make the senseless decision to drive while under the influence,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “The citizens of Maricopa County are safer because of Charity’s efforts and I speak for the entire community in expressing my deepest gratitude and congratulations for her exemplary service,” he added.
Charity has been with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for six-and-a-half years, all but one of those as a prosecutor in the Vehicular Crimes Division. Known for her compassion for crime victims, Charity makes it a priority to meet with victims and guide them through the criminal justice process, assuring them that justice will prevail. Roughly half of the cases she prosecutes involve Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated Assault offenses. The other half are Felony DUI cases. Here are just two recent examples:
State v. Berry Williams: After stealing several 30-packs of beer from a local convenience store, defendant Berry Williams led officers on a high speed chase. At one point, he drove 112 mph on the freeway despite officers dropping back and allowing an air unit to monitor the defendant’s position. The pursuit came to an end when the defendant exited the freeway, ran a red light and collided with another vehicle, killing the driver. Williams, whose blood alcohol level was found to be .121, was found guilty of Felony First Degree Murder, Second Degree Murder, Unlawful Flight from a Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle, Endangerment and Shoplifting. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
State v. Jesus Briseno: Defendant Jesus Briseno made a left turn against a red turn arrow and collided with another vehicle, killing two of the passengers and injuring four others in the car in addition to injuring a passenger in his car. Briseno had an alcohol content of .138. Charity overcame two significant issues at trial: the first was the defendant’s claim that he was not the driver. Using physical evidence along with the defendant’s admissions at the scene, Charity successfully proved that the defendant drove the vehicle. The second issue Charity overcame was the defendant’s claim that he had a green arrow. There were no witnesses to the color of the light. Charity used circumstantial evidence and traffic light sensors so prove that the defendant was not in the turn lane long enough to trigger the green left turn arrow, thus proving the defendant made the left turn against a red arrow. The defendant was found guilty on two counts of Manslaughter and sentenced to 30.75 years in prison.
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents™ to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.