Zaon Collins’ DUI case moves forward, 2 years after crash

A tentative hearing date has been set for former UNLV basketball recruit Zaon Collins’ DUI case.

It has been nearly two years since the December 30, 2020 crash that killed 52-year-old Eric Echevarria. Collins, who was 19 at the time, was driving his 2016 Dodge Challenger at nearly 90 mph in a 35-mph zone when he crashed into Echevarria’s car, police said.

The criminal case was stayed while the Nevada Supreme Court ruled on a petition arguing that the drunk driving charge against Collins was based on an unconstitutional state statute relating to driving under the influence of marijuana.

The Supreme Court rejected the petition last month, with judges saying they did not find the Supreme Court’s “discretionary extraordinary intervention” warranted, although the court did not rule on the merits of the case.

During a court hearing Thursday, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman has set a preliminary hearing in the case for April 6.

Clark County prosecutors continued to pursue charges of DUI and reckless driving against Collins after a grand jury refused to return an indictment of DUI in March 2021. Assistant Assistant District Attorney Eric Bauman said prosecutors are prepared to pursue both charges at a preliminary hearing.

Collins defense attorneys Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff said in an emailed statement Thursday that they were “very disappointed” that the Supreme Court refused to address the merits of the appeal.

“Nonetheless, significant legal issues remain and we will continue to protect the rights of Mr. Collins and all Nevada citizens in this regard,” the attorneys said.

The Supreme Court has also denied a request to review the decision, court filings show.

Previously, attorneys had requested that a lower court dismiss the DUI case, but Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum denied the defense motion in July 2021. In January, District Judge Susan Johnson refused to reverse Baucum’s decision.

Police said Collins had 3 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in his system at the time of the crash. Defense attorneys have argued that the THC levels were so low that Collins could have consumed the marijuana days before the crash. The legal limit for motorists in Nevada at the time of the accident was 2 nanograms per milliliter.

Defense attorneys have argued that a state law enacted in July 2021 that lifted bans on certain amounts of marijuana in a driver’s blood in misdemeanor cases should apply to Collins’ case as the case is still awaiting trial.

The law imposes a limit of 2 nanograms of THC per milliliter in criminal cases, which Collins’ attorneys say is arbitrary and based on the minimum THC level the technology was able to test for in 1999, when the limit was set.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. consequences @k_newberg on twitter.

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