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Nickname “Killer” earns killer a new trial

The details of the crime are grisly- kidnapping a man, dousing him with gasoline-then robbing and murdering another man.  In 2006, a jury convicted Marlo Collier.  A judge sentenced him to 50 years to life in prison.

Eight years later, a higher court threw out the verdict because of the use of his nickname in front of the jury.  Nine times during the trial witnesses and prosecutors referred to Collier as killer his street name.

Problem is, he hadnt yet been convicted of a crime.

Youve got to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that hes guilty, said Willie Collier Jr.  He is not a lawyer.  But he knows the law requires that people be presumed innocent.  So when witnesses testified his nephew went by the nickname killer Willie says it allowed jurors to jump to a conclusion.

Its true!  I think he didnt get a fair trial.  You cant just call somebody a killer when hes not, he said.

Marlo Collier was one of four people arrested for robbing and killing Josue Marrero (pronounced Josh) on Lill Street in 2006.  In order to find Marrero, they kidnapped another man, beat him with a pistol, doused him with gasoline and threatened to light him on fire.

You hear this guys name is killer and it suggests that there are other bodies out there for gods sake, said defense attorney Peter Pullano.  It can conjure up a lot of images in the jurors mind.

A higher court agreed- ordering a new trial.

The word wouldnt have been used the first time unless we felt it was capable of being used.  Hindsight is something we all benefit from, said prosecutor Bill Gargan.  Gargan used the nickname five times in his closing arguments in the first trial. 

Now he vows not to say it out loud-not even to a reporter. The fact that they found fault with the nickname is precisely the reason now Im not going to utilize it, he said.

The trial is set to begin August 26th.  A co-defendant with the nick name c-murder was also convicted.  But he will not get a new trial because he took a plea bargain.  A jury never heard his case or rendered a verdict.

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Washington Times