Los Angeles’ woke District Attorney George Gascon is seeking to commute the death penalty sentence of a career criminal who kidnapped, robbed and shot ‘execution-style’ a father-of-three in 1992.
Scott Forrest Collins, now 51, kidnapped 41-year-old Fred Rose and held him at gunpoint as he left his work office in Palmdale for a lunch break three decades ago.
Collins used Rose’s debit card to withdraw $200, shot him in the head and dumped his body in North Hollywood, where he was later found by a jogger.
Rose died a day later at a hospital, and Collins went on to use Rose’s car to participate in a gang-related shooting before crashing and being arrested and charged with murder.
Now Gascon, a fierce opponent of the death penalty, who is also facing a second recall attempt from opponents who have criticized his soft-on-crime approach, is seeking to reduce Collins’ sentence from the death penalty to life without the possibility of parole.
Rose’s family claims they were blind-sided by Gascon’s push and accused the embattled prosecutor of ‘fighting for the murderer.’
Heather Scott, the victim’s daughter, said her family had only been notified about the push to re-sentence Collins as a formality, and they had been kept out of the loop about plans to commute his death penalty sentence.
Shelan Joseph, Gascon’s deputy DA, reportedly reached out with the family the rationale behind the push to re-sentence Collins.
‘She went over lists and lists of good behavior that he had had in prison, which is wonderful, anyone wants redemption for someone like him,’ Rose’s daughter, Heather Scott, told Fox.
‘But it was an inappropriate place to communicate that information to our family, and she had already filed her decision when she was trying to convince me of this. It was finished. We’re just political pawns,’ Scott, who was 12 when she was left fatherless by Collins, added.
Scott argued that the process would further exacerbate the sorrow and pain her family has experienced since Rose’s tragic and violent death.
Before Rose’s killing, Collins had a lengthy criminal history, despite only being 21 at the time. He reportedly started a fire, stabbed a man in the back, carjacked a woman, and threatened a black teenager with a knife while yelling slurs before being jailed for Rose’s murder, Fox reported.
Fred Rose, 41, was robbed and killed in 1992. Now his killer might have his death penalty sentence commuted. Above, Rose with his wife and children, Julian. Amy and Heather
Scott Collins, 21, kidnapped and killed Rose in 1992. Collins (pictured in 2007) used Rose’s debit card to withdraw $200, shot him in the head and dumped his body in North Hollywood, where he was later found by a jogger
LA District Attorney George Gascon was slammed by the family of 41-year-old father-of-three Fred Rose, who was shot ‘execution-style’ in 1992 as he is seeking to have his death penalty sentence commuted
‘My feeling was that the detectives and the police department, they sought justice, they wanted to know the truth,’ Scott said.
‘They wanted to make sure they had the right person, and they didn’t stop until they felt confident that they had him behind bars.’
Gascon’s office argues that Collins’ good behavior, lack of ‘serious rule violations in more than 20 years’, and the fact that his crime only had ‘one victim,’ should grant him the opportunity to avoid the death penalty.
‘There were so many victims,’ Scott, whose mother never remarried, told Fox. ‘My whole family, we’re a family of victims.’
Scott also said Collins was on parole at the time he killed her father and that the convicted killer attempted to intimidate her family ahead of the trial in 1993.
Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Fox that Gascon’s push would traumatize Rose’s family and have little practical effect, as Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions in California in 2019.
Gascon, a 67-year-old former assistant chief of Los Angeles Police Department, took over as district attorney in the heavily-Democrat city in December 2020 and immediately embarked on a progressive justice reform agenda – eliminating the use of sentencing enhancements for gang membership, certain uses of guns, and for prior convictions.
An undated picture of Fred Rose and his family before he was killed ‘execution-style’ in 1992 by Collins
The family’s attorneys, Former LA County DA and open Gascon critic Steve Cooley (pictured) and Kathy Cady, filed a notice of on behalf of their client’s rights
The family’s attorneys, Former LA County DA and open Gascon critic Steve Cooley and Kathy Cady, filed a notice on behalf of their client’s rights.
‘The criminal justice system is designed to be an adversary system requiring a prosecutor and a defense attorney,’ the notice wrote. ‘The system does not work if there are two defense attorneys and no prosecutor.’
But Gascon’s office has contended that they are not seeking to release Collins, just to avoid his death penalty sentence goes through.
‘We’re not asking for his release, we’re asking that his sentence be commuted to life without the possibility of parole,’ Special Adviser to Gascon Alex Bastian told Fox in a statement.
‘That is something that is I think important to note. We are not asking that he be resentenced to something that would put him in front of a parole board.’
‘If that was the intention there would have been something different than the commutation to life without the possibility of parole,’ Bastian added.
‘The reason the petition here is for life without the possibility of parole is because we believe that would be the appropriate outcome.’
He added that the Rose’s family deserved the ‘utmost respect and compassion,’ and that Gascon’s office would continue to support victims.
Rose’s body was found by a jogger in an early morning in 1992. He was taken to the hospital but did not survive the head injuries caused by Collins.
Collins was later arrested after crashing Rose’s car in Bakersfield along with other three passengers, who told police he admitted to killing Rose.
Collins was convicted September 30, 1992, and sentenced to the death penalty. He has appealed twice and has been denied a re-sentencing.
As LA battles rising crime, critics are blaming Gascon’s ‘soft’ policies, and an effort to recall him is underway – which on Friday saw a former LAPD chief who previously endorsed him rescind his support.
Amid growing frustration with the progressive prosecutor, more than 600 deputy district attorneys throughout LA county endorsed his recall Tuesday during an Association of Deputy District Attorneys meeting.
Gascón was sworn in as LA County’s 43rd district attorney in December 2020, and critics have blamed him for a spike in violent crime in the region.
Los Angeles has seen a 54 percent increase in murders since 2019, a rise in the number of street shootings since 2020, and an increase in the number of armed holdups.
The city has also been shocked by the broad daylight murder of Brianna Kupfer on January 13 by a mentally ill man who stabbed her at random while she worked in an upscale furniture store.
About 98 percent of prosecutors participating in the vote supported Gascón’s ousting after he declined an invitation to meet with them and defend his controversial policies. There was a record-high 83 percent turnout in the more than 800-member union who voted.
‘This vote is by those who are intimately familiar with how Mr. Gascón’s policies actually play out on a day-to-day basis,’ said ADDA president Michele Hanisee.
‘We believe the vote of our members will resonate with the voters of Los Angeles as they decide whether to recall Gascón from office and restore public safety as the priority of the District Attorney’s office.’
Since being sworn into office, Gascón has refused to meet with prosecutors to explain the logic behind his policies, the union said.
Union Vice President Eric Siddall likened the DA to a failed experiment.
‘Over a year ago, Gascón began a massive social experiment by redirecting prosecutorial resources away from enforcing the law while simultaneously ignoring large portions of the penal code,’ Siddall said. ‘The result is an emboldened criminal element that knows the DA will not hold criminals accountable. This experiment needs to end.’
DA GEORGE GASCON’S FULL STATEMENT ON POLICY CHANGES
DA George Gascon on Friday backtracked on policies of not pursuing sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, and not prosecuting juveniles accused of serious offenses as adults
‘I want to address some policy changes that we are making in our office, which made the news earlier this week. I want to reaffirm my commitment to the core values I expressed when I took office. We do not believe that children should be tried as adults. We should treat kids like kids and give them every opportunity to grow and change. We also do not believe people should be sentenced to death in prison. People change and evolve – most often, for the better. For too long, our system operated without recognizing this fact, ignoring entirely the capacity people have for change. We must restore that underlying value into our justice system. While we maintain our commitment to these principles and will continue working to improve our system, there are some cases and situations that require a different response. We have made some adjustments to our policies to account for these exceptions.
Like every responsible office, we learn as we go, take feedback from the community, and make necessary adjustments based on our experiences and the complex nature of this work. That is the responsible way to govern. I have always been open to learning and growing in this work. When I started in policing 40 years ago, I believed that arresting and jailing people would bring us safety. However, after several decades of work, it was clear to me that we needed a more nuanced approach. The same is true now. While I remain committed to the core values of our policies, I have seen a small number of cases that presented real challenges. As a result, we are making minor adjustments to our policies on juveniles and LWOP to allow for exceptions in the most extraordinary of cases.
Specifically, we learned a lot from the Hannah Tubbs case about the need for a policy safety valve. Rather than the usual case where a child is arrested close in time to their crime, police arrested Ms. Tubbs at 26 for a crime she committed as a juvenile. Ms. Tubbs had several charges in other counties after the juvenile offense but never received any services which both her past behavior and that subsequent to her arrest demonstrates she clearly needs. After her sentencing in our case, I became aware of extremely troubling statements she made about her case, the resolution of it and the young girl that she harmed.
Unfortunately, our juvenile system in its current iteration does not provide adequate support to help someone at 26 with this level of challenges except through the adult system. While for most people several years of jail time is adequate, it may not be for Ms. Tubbs. If we knew about her disregard for the harm she caused we would have handled this case differently. The complex issues and facts of her particular case were unusual, and I should have treated them that way. This change in policy will allow us the space to do that moving forward.
We have now implemented policies to create a different pathway for outlier cases, while simultaneously creating protections to prevent these exceptions from becoming the rule. Any time a prosecutor wants to deviate from our core principles, they must put a request in writing. That request will then go to a committee, staffed by my most trusted advisors, who must evaluate the case and approve any requests to pursue an exception. This process ensures that only in the rarest of cases, where our system has failed, will we diverge from our principles.
We do not always get it right, as no one can, but we do believe that our fundamental beliefs are the right ones. Kids should be treated like kids. People should be given an opportunity to grow and change. Victims and survivors should be given support, and we should always provide every opportunity for all people in the criminal legal system to receive what they need to heal. We will continue to uphold these values.’