Wife, Daughter Testify Against Accused Mail Bomber
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ The first time 12-year-old Ashley Collins saw her father in more than two years was when she testified against him at his mail bombing trial.
The seventh grader, wearing a dark blue lace dress and patent leather shoes, confidently told a federal jury Friday about trips she made with her father, Robert John Collins, to the home of his friend, Av.
It was at Av’s house, she said, that she saw a box in the garage.
``There were nuts, bolts, some screws, nails, wires, some batteries,″ she said. ``There was what looked like a bunch of wire put together. They were all different colors _ red, blue, yellow.
``I heard them say it was going to be a gift or a present,″ she said.
Prosecutors claim the box was the bomb Collins, 47, and his friend, Avrom Sander Finkel, sent to Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Ken Gager on Sept. 8, 1993, out of revenge because Gager had arrested Collins for a traffic stop two years earlier.
Gager lost his right hand and left eye and suffered burns in the explosion. His wife, Deanna, suffered hearing damage and some shrapnel wounds. The couple’s home was heavily damaged.
Under cross examination by Collins’ defense lawyer Mary Boetsch, Ashley conceded she never actually saw her father work on the box.
Collins’ wife, Jeanne McAllister, testified that after her husband’s arrest, he frequently drove around the neighborhood where Gager lived and monitored police activity on a scanner.
Finkel, the former owner of a Reno gun store, was convicted last year of helping to make and mail the bomb. He is cooperating with authorities and is expected to testify against Collins on Monday.
Ashley said she didn’t tell her mother about visiting Av’s house until after the bombing.
When asked why by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Green, she responded, ``Because my dad said not to tell anybody about Av or anything. He said he’d hurt me and my mom.″