Friday, August 19, 2011

Man Shot During Burglary Gets Eight Years Behind Bars

SNOW HILL -- Cpl. Katie Edgar pulled into the gravel driveway of Venable's Electric HVAC Inc., responding to call of a burglary in process at the warehouse. She stepped out of her Worcester County Sheriff's patrol car to see a pickup truck headed toward her, backlit by the warehouse lights, its headlights turned off.

With her gun in her right hand and her police dog, Jonka, leashed in her left, she yelled at the driver to turn off the car and get out. Instead, the driver turned on the headlights; he gunned the engine.

What happened next set in motion the events that would lead to the police pursuit and arrest of the truck driver, Matthew Noah Collins, and his eventual trial on charges of assault, burglary and theft.

Circuit Court Judge Dale Cathell sentenced Collins, 28, of Salisbury to eight years in jail, finding him guilty of second-degree assault and fourth-degree burglary. Prosecutors dropped a charge of first-degree assault.

Collins admitted in court on Aug. 18 that he'd gone to the Bishopville warehouse to steal metal that he would later sell for scrap. He was leaving the property with several large air conditioning units packed into his pickup bed when he was caught red-handed.

The junked air conditioning units kept behind that warehouse held valuable copper, aluminum and steel parts. With market prices at the time about $3 a pound, the scrap metal would have been worth between $600-$900, testified company owner Dale Venable.

Edgar stood about six feet from the bumper of Collins' 1983 Ford pickup, yelling for him to get out, when the engine went from idle to racing.

Edgar used her gun in self-defense, firing six times toward the oncoming truck.

"I fired as long as he was a threat to me," she said.

Collins pulled the truck hard to the right and drove off. He had been shot three times: in the upper back, shoulder blades and clean through his left elbow.

Worcester County deputies soon caught up with him, and he pulled over on Route 113 north of Carey Road, where he was arrested.

Judge Cathell said Matthew Collins' criminal history of assault, burglary and shoplifting charges in Maryland and Delaware informed his decision to hand down the maximum allowable prison sentence on the burglary and assault charges.

"It seems like nothing teaches you a lesson. Maybe this will," the judge said.


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