The jury returned a verdict of guilty Thursday against a man accused of failing to get treatment for his son who ingested a deadly dose of methamphetamine in the summer of 2018 in Jackson Circuit Court.
The seven-man, five-woman panel returned with that verdict after deliberations of less than two hours in the case involving a 43-year-old father, Curtis G. Collman II.
Besides a Level 1 felony charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, the jury also found Collman guilty on four additional counts: intimidation with a deadly weapon, a Level 5 felony, possession of methamphetamine between 10 and 28 grams, a Level 4 felony; and Class A misdemeanor charges of theft and pointing a firearm at another person.
During the trial, Collman did not testify about the events of June 21, 2018, that led to the death of his son, Curtis Collman III. Evidence and testimony presented during the trial, which started Monday, showed the younger Collman ingested a lethal dose of meth while staying with his father that day and the night before his death.
At some point during that stay, the boy told his father he was hungry, and his father told him there was no food and returned to sleep, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Police also said meth on a glass plate was found in the home, and one officer said it could have been mistaken for cereal crumbs in the home’s poor lighting, according to court records.
The child ingested the meth and became ill sometime on the morning of June 21, police said.
During closing arguments, Prosectuor Jeff Chalfant said the question is why did the defendant not do what he should have done in getting help for his son.
“We must enter the defendant’s mind,” he said. “We know he had affection for his son and did not want him to die. However, his son’s life was not the most important thing to him.”
Chalfant said methamphetamine is an addiction and its use can change people’s actions.
He said meth users have several things to consider including the next high and how much meth they left.
“They also have to hide it from police and the “good people” who wouldn’t understand,” Chalfant said.
He said a lot of people use drugs and continue to take care of their kids.
“His actions were very selfish,” Chalfant said. “It was unbelievably sad.”
He said evidence showed that Collman had more than $2,000 in his pocket at the time of his son’s death so he could afford the food for the child.
Chalfant said Collman even told investigators he didn’t get help for his son because he didn’t want to go back to jail.
Collman told the detective he didn’t know what to do about his son ingesting meth, and that was three or four days after the incident, Chalfant said.
“This child was 8 years old and entirely reliant on his father,” he said. “A parent’s job is to protect their child.”
“This is neglect stacked upon neglect,” Chalfant said.
Collman’s court-appointed attorney Brian Chastian said Curtis did a lot for his son and loved him.
“He spent time with his son,” he said.
He also contended Collman did get help for his son, but it’s a parent’s choice when to take their child to the hospital, and Collman didn’t initially know what was wrong with his son.
“He’s not a doctor,” Chastain said.
During rebuttal to Chastain’s closing argument, Chalfant said another question that needs to be asked is why the defendant did not just ask his son what he had eaten.
Chastain also said Collman did reach out for help by calling a friend who testified and then took the boy to the home of his mother and brother to seek help and asked them to call 911.
He reminded the jury the state had the burden to prove Curtis Collman II did something wrong beyond a reasonable doubt.
“This is a tragedy and nobody wishes this boy was dead,” Chastain said.
He said people died in accidents, homicides and suicides every day.
After the jury returned with the verdict, they were also asked to determine if Collman was guilty of being an habitual offender since he had prior convictions for sexual misconduct with a minor in August 2009 and dealing in cocaine or narcotic drugs in February 2011.
They returned with a guilty verdict on that offense, which means Collman could get a sentence of up to 60 years, Chalfant said.
“We are glad the victim’s family will be able to get some closure, but it’s the most tragic case I have ever worked,” he said. “It’s just horrible.”
He also credited the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with doing a very thorough job investigating the case.
Lt. Adam Nicholson, who served as the advising witness during trial, said the case has been difficult and emotional for many people.
“I’d like to say I’m glad to put it behind me, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen,” he said. “I don’t think many officers work a case involving a methamphetamine overdose of an 8-year-old child so I’m sure I’ll remember this one forever.”
“The prosecutor worked very hard on preparing for this trial and it showed in the courtroom. My thoughts and prayers are with “baby” Curtis’s family. I can’t begin to imagine what they have been through the past two years and then having to relive some of that the past four days.”
Collman’s sentencing hearing is set for 9 a.m. Nov. 5.