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ORINDA: Collin/Devera Murder Trial Opens

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The murder trial of James Collin, the 65-year-old Miramonte grad and lifelong Orindan who shocked his neighbors and his city after confessing to the savage murder of his live-in girlfriend in June of 2012 is underway this week as shocking details about that day emerge in a Martinez courtroom.

Collin, in custody since the day he approached a neighbor with a bloody machete and intoned “I killed her,” faces life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted of the murder charge against him.

Jurors hearing the case have been warned of its gruesome nature, the first homicide in relatively sleepy Orinda since 2002, and the culmination of a some say stormy relationship between Collin and girlfriend Evangeline Devera, 56.

What is known is that whatever fuel stoked their relationship caught fire on June 26, 2012 when police, summoned by a shocked neighbor after his encounter with Collin, found Devera dead on their kitchen floor – a horrific wound to the back of her head and hand. Officers caught up with Collin near the home he shared with Devera in the 600 block of Moraga Way – and found the bloodied 2 1/2-foot-long machete the neighbor had seen and which Collin allegedly used to kill Devera, nearby.

Early accounts have it that Collin told his neighbor at the time that Devera had attacked him with a butcher knife. The neighbor, who has since died, taped his recounting of events that day with police and those tapes will be replayed for the jury. Police found no evidence of Devera having initiated the attack.

Investigators have peered into the lifestyle of the pair in the leafy home they shared, finding that Collin had been convicted of striking Devera with a phone during an argument there in 2006. They also took a hard look at death of Collin’s brother – killed some 30 years earlier by a shotgun blast in the kitchen where Devera would ultimately be found – finding no evidence to reverse an earlier finding that the shooting was accidental.

The case continues this week.