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Baby killed during fight in church

Police say father target in bat attack

David Collins was charged with murder yesterday. David Collins was charged with murder yesterday.
By Steve Karnowski
Associated Press / September 9, 2009

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MINNEAPOLIS - A man accused of killing a 14-month-old girl with a baseball bat in church while trying to settle a score with her father was charged with murdering her yesterday.

David Collins, 50, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of Aundrea Brownlow, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, and one count of second-degree assault. Darryl Kennedy, 42, was charged with one count of second-degree assault. Collins’s bail was set at $750,000, and Kennedy’s was set at $100,000.

Collins and Kennedy, both of Wheaton, were granted public defenders but attorneys were not immediately assigned to their cases. They remained in the Traverse County Jail, where inmates are not allowed to take phone calls, and were otherwise unavailable to comment.

According to police, Collins and Claude Hankins argued last Wednesday over $20 that Hankins owed Collins and over how a washer and dryer would be transferred from Collins’s home to Hankins’s. The Rev. Danny Barnes of the Thy Kingdom Come Church in Wheaton said Saturday that he gave the washer and dryer to Hankins, and that Collins was upset about it. Hankins, 34, had moved to Wheaton from Pensacola, Fla., about eight months ago.

On Thursday, Collins confronted Hankins at a thrift store in Wheaton, a town of about 1,400 near Minnesota’s border with the Dakotas. The two had to be separated, according to a criminal complaint.

Collins then went to Kennedy’s apartment, where Kennedy loaned him a baseball bat, and returned to the church, where Hankins was attending a prayer service for a sick church member, Police Chief Michael Johannsen wrote in the complaint.

Collins confronted Hankins at the back of the church while Hankins was trying to seat his daughter and began swinging the bat over Hankins’s head, Johannsen wrote. Hankins grabbed a metal chair and managed to stave off several blows, but one hit his daughter in the head above her right ear, the complaint states. Collins fled to Kennedy’s, where he threw away the bat, and then to Brookings, S.D., 100 miles away, where Barnes, the pastor, found him hours later at a bar.

“Mr. Barnes reported that Mr. Collins made a full confession to him about swinging the bat with the intent to hit Mr. Hankins, but denied knowing that Mr. Hankins’s 14-month-old daughter was there,’’ the complaint states.

Thy Kingdom Come Church caters partly to people with drug and alcohol addictions. Barnes said both Collins and Kennedy appeared to be under the influence of alcohol when they arrived there Thursday.