I-Team: Victim’s widow says justice system is failing her

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The widow of a man who died in a crash says the justice system is failing her.  

Eric Echevarria, 52, was killed on December 30, 2020. Zaon Collins, 19, faces charges in connection with the crash, as according to Metro Police, he was driving while high on marijuana and speeding. 

Echevarria’s wife, Ann Marie, says she believes that Collins is getting special treatment because he is a former Bishop Gorman High School basketball star, with a high-powered attorney.

“This is not this poor little 19-year-old boy that plays basketball, and he’s so sorry,” Ann Marie told the I-Team.  “No.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that you’re an idiot and you did this.”

She showed up at the Regional Justice Center in Downtown Las Vegas Thursday morning to see Collins appear in court.  “I want him to see me,” she said, but she quickly learned that she missed his brief moment in court. 

“Nobody let me know that this court case was gonna be held early, and I really wanted to be there, and I’m beyond upset to go in and find out that it was already done,” she said while dressed in a t-shirt honoring her late husband.

The I-Team dug into what happened. 

David Chesnoff, an attorney for Collins, said he filed a motion to be heard at 7:30 a.m.  A Las Vegas Justice Court spokeswoman confirmed this and said typically, this would not appear on a court calendar. According to the justice court’s website, a preliminary hearing, which did not happen Thursday, was set for 8 a.m. Judge Suzan Baucum called the case before that. 

Echevarria said this is another example of how the justice system is failing her. 

The widow is also upset that Collins is not in jail. According to court documents, he is on high electronic monitoring, he must stay out of trouble, and he cannot use drugs, alcohol or drive.

“My son is 14, and Zaon is home with his mommy and his daddy, and my son lost his dad,” Echevarria said.

Collins faces two charges: driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving. When the case was presented to a grand jury, he was indicted on the reckless driving charge. The grand jury did not move forward with the DUI charge. 

Metro investigators said Collins showed signs of impairment and had THC in his system. A forensic toxicologist testified that it is unclear whether Collins used marijuana right before the crash.

The case was back in Las Vegas Justice Court on April 22. The defense team filed a motion to dismiss the case, with Collins’ attorneys pointing to the grand jury’s decision to not indict him on the DUI charge. They also point to the Nevada Legislature, which is currently reviewing laws regarding marijuana use and driving. The lawyers also claim that the crash was Echevarria’s fault.

According to investigators, Collins was speeding at 88 mph, while the speed limit was 35 mph.

Attorneys Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld sent the I-Team a statement on Thursday:

“We look forward to litigating the motions in court and note that the Motion to Dismiss parallels activity presently occurring in our state legislature.”

We reached out to the Clark County District Attorney for an interview. A spokeswoman said he was unavailable. 

Collins’ next court date is set for July 15.

Ann Marie says she is planning a candlelight vigil on April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of Fort Apache and Furnace Gulch, the location of the crash. 

She also tells the I-Team she is also planning to protest how the case against Collins has unfolded. 

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