In the end, jurors rejected Orindan James Collin’s defense that it was he who had been the victim of abuse by companion/paramour Evangeline Devera and found him guilty of savagely attacking her from behind as she ate at the kitchen sink.
Collin, who told the court he remembered little of the June 26, 2012 murder, was found guilty Wednesday after a mere seven hours of deliberation by a jury who heard him say he remembered raising the murder weapon – a machete – but not striking Devera with it as she was at the sink, her back to him, while she ate a slice of watermelon. Collin initially told investigators he acted in response to a knife attack from Devera, but police found nothing to indicate such an attack ever occurred.
Collin, 67, was found guilty of second-degree murder, punishable by a term of 16 years to life in prison. He was acquitted of an accompanying torture charge, levied due to the severity of wounds inflicted on Devera, 56.
The exact nature of the relationship between the pair was at issue, neighbors had said, with some describing it as employer/employee and others saying Collin considered it romantically driven. 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.
Devera’s murder was not the first time the home on Moraga Way had been the scene of an act of violence. Investigators found that Collin had been convicted of striking Devera with a phone during an argument there in 2006 and took a second 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.