The first day of 2017 would tragically be the last for a 32-year-old Montana mom who prosecutors say was hit in the head with a cast iron frying pan before her husband dragged her body into the shower and slit her throat.
"He showed Crystal Collins absolutely no mercy," Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert said, according to Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Jake Collins, 32, was sentenced Monday to 105 years in the Montana State Prison for the death of his wife, Crystal Collins. He allegedly told investigators he committed the murder because his wife threatened to leave him for being a bad father, the Associated Press reports.
The couple had been out at a New Year's Eve party before the killing, and Jake Collins reported drinking 17 beers and a shot of whiskey that night. He also admitted to smoking marijuana.
When the two returned to their Bozeman trailer home, where five children were staying at the time, things took a violent turn.
While defense attorney Greg Jackson argued for a 50-year prison sentence, claiming his client just "snapped" and was "a man worth salvaging," the judge opted for a longer sentence after calling the crime calculated and outrageous.
"The defendant knew what he was doing and knew that it was wrong," Judge Holly Brown told the court, according to the Daily Chronicle.
Collins pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in August, the Associated Press reported at the time.
Before the sentence was handed down, Crystal Collins' family was given the opportunity to address the court. Each spoke while a silver urn containing her ashes sat on the witness stand.
"This is what I have left of my daughter," said mother Margie McGivern, who brought the remains, the Daily Chronicle reports. "I will probably always hate your guts."
The victim's young daughters also took the stand to speak of the void their mother's death had left behind, the paper reports.
"She was my whole life," one said. "She always knew what to do."
Another talked of an upcoming first dance that her mother would never see her go to.
"Jake took that away from me," she said, according to the Daily Chronicle.
The victim’s family urged the judge to hand down the maximum sentence, but Jake Collins' family asked for mercy and said they believed his behavior had been an anomaly.
"He was kind," his mother Linda Carson said, according to the paper. "He's been an open and easy, not just son, but friend."
But in her decision, Brown said that after hitting his wife with the frying pan, Collins could have chosen to get help, but instead he cut her neck in the shower.
Brown also acknowledged that Jake Collins had also initially lied to the children, Crystal's family and investigators about his role in the crime.
[Photo: Gallatin County Sheriff's Office]
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