A Lone Grove man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a toddler in his care, as well as the neglect of a number of children told Special District Judge Carson Brooks Thursday he will exercise his rights to preliminary hearings in both cases.
Conan Collins, appeared in court for a case conference with his attorney, Robert H. Jaques. Preliminary hearing for the babysitter is set for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 7. Jaques, who also represents Collins’ wife, Brittany, also charged in the neglect case requested a continuance of the conference of the 27-year-old. Brooks granted the request resetting the conference for Oct. 27.
Collins and his wife were arrested by Lone Grove police May 12 in connection with the April 20 death of Hoss Eduardo Gonzales, a toddler left in the 34-year-old man’s care and the neglect of the child as well as three other small children who were in Lone grove household at the time.
First Assistant District Attorney Heather Cooper filed formal charges against the couple within days of the arrests. The murder charge accuses Collins of “…stomping and kicking,” the little boy and alleges he was “willful or malicious” using “unreasonable force” against the child.
The neglect charge accuses Collins and his wife of “failing to provide adequate supervision” of the victim and three other children ages 3, 2 and 2-months.
More than 25 witnesses are endorsed by the state in the cases.
Lone Grove Police Chief Robert Oldham said the investigation included members of his department, Carter County Sheriff’s Department, Department of Human Services, District Attorney’s Office and DA investigator, as well as the state Medical Examiner’s Office. Oldham particularly commended Carter County Deputy Rick Batt, who assisted in the inquiry that led to the couple’s arrests.
“Deputy Batt is very knowledgeable and is a crime scene technician with a lot of schools and experience. Without his help I don’t believe we would be where we are today with the charges,” Oldham said.
The case alleges the toddler’s parents, who reside in Springer, dropped him off at Collins’ residence about 6:30 a.m. April 20.  After Collins attacked the child he sought help from his wife who was working at a Lone Grove convenience store. Police and first responders answered an emergency call about 9:15 a.m of an unresponsive toddler at the store.The child was later pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital Ardmore.
Bond has been denied Collins, who remains detained at the Carter County Detention Center pending the outcome of the case. Collins’ wife is free on a $15,000 bond pending the outcome of the case against her.