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The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is considering adding a torture charge against a man suspected of murdering his girlfriend at their Orinda home last month, a prosecutor said today. Prosecutors believe 62-year-old James Collin brutally tortured his live-in girlfriend, Evangeline Devera, 56, before killing her the afternoon of June 26, Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox said.
At about 12:20 p.m. that day, officers found Devera lying facedown in a pool of blood in the kitchen of the couple’s shared home in the 600 block of Moraga Way. Collin confessed to arriving officers that he was responsible for her death and was arrested and charged with murder. The Contra Costa County coroner’s office listed Devera’s official cause of death as “blunt force” and a “sharp force injury” to the head.
But evidence suggests that the Orinda man also tortured his victim, almost completely cutting off one of her hands and hacking the victim with a machete multiple times in addition to striking her on the back of the head with the weapon, Knox said. “Its clear from the position of her body…that some of the blows were delivered prior to her ending in that position,” she said.
Photos of the crime scene show deep gashes on Devera’s forearm and on one of her ankles, and one hand that was nearly severed from her body. Also found at the crime scene was the machete used in the slaying, covered with blood, hair and brain matter.
In addition, court documents show that this isn’t the first time Devera’s alleged killer and longtime boyfriend has faced consequences for attacking her. In 2006, Collin was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery for assaulting Devera, Knox said. He pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to probation. Knox said today that prosecutors hope to reach a decision on the torture charge next week. Collin is scheduled to enter a plea to the murder charge in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez next Thursday.
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