Frank Collins, second man convicted in shooting death of Fresnel Atilus, Lake Park ice cream man
Daphne Duret, The Palm Beach Post
8:51 AM, Apr 13, 2013
9:48 AM, Apr 13, 2013
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A jury convicted a Riviera Beach man Friday evening of first degree murder in the 2008 killing of a popular Lake Park ice cream man.
Frank Collins, 21, is the second man convicted in the tragic shooting death of Fresnel Atilus, the beloved 32-year-old married father of seven.
Rescue workers had to pry open the back doors of Atilus' colorful ice cream truck in a desperate attempt to save his life, prosecutors said.
But by then, the five gunshot wounds he suffered had already left him lifeless on the floor of his truck.
During the weeklong trial, Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts said Collins killed Atilus to either "to make a quick buck or to punish" the beloved 32-year-old married father of seven.
"It was brutal, and it was without justification," McRoberts said in opening statements to jurors.
Collins' defense attorney, Stephanie McQueen, told jurors that Atilus' death was indeed a tragedy, but argued that prosecutors didn't have any physical evidence linking Collins to the crime.
McQueen said there were inconsistencies in witness testimony, including an identification from one witness who said he saw Collins leaving the scene but failed to mention at all the pair of tattoos Collins has framing his face.
"In order for justice to be served, they have to have the right person," McQueen said.
Collins is one of three men accused in Atilus' December 2008 fatal shooting. The killing of Atilus, who left behind six children and a then-pregnant wife who couldn't speak English, shocked the community and spurred an outpouring of donations from throughout the country.
In May 2010, a jury convicted 25-year-old Michael Murdock Jr. of first degree murder and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Murdock drove the getaway car after prosecutors say Collins and another unidentified man allegedly approached the service window of Atilus's ice cream truck as if they were going to buy ice cream and then opened fire. Atilus' assailants then ran to a nearby car driven by Murdock and sped off.
A third unidentified man, who police believe participated in the murder, fled to the Bahamas.
Atilus, who started driving the ice cream truck when he was laid off from his construction job, was blocks from his home on Foresteria Drive when he was attacked.
Atilus' widow, Iranaise, had joined her husband from Haiti about a year before the shooting. She and several other relatives sat in court throughout the weeklong trial.