Randy Collins told police investigators in 2014 that Marissa Cohen not only asked for kerosene, but offered him $5,000 to burn down her trailer.
What nobody knew — and police say the suspects in an arson/murder were not aware — was that Cohen’s 12-year-old son was home when the fire started.
Dave Coombs died in the blaze. Police say the boy was at a birthday party that day and was told not to return to the trailer. The family was living at another location, but it was raining so the boy went to the trailer closer to the party.
“She comes to me and says I need you to do something,” Collins told police investigators in a taped interview. “’I’ll give you $5,000.’ I thought about it and said, ‘Nah, I ain’t doing that.’”
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Police then asked Collins to confirm that Cohen offered him $5,000 to burn the trailer.
“That’s right,” he says.
“I’m telling you the truth. I ain’t going to lie to you,” Collins later says.
Cohen took out an insurance policy on the trailer and bought kerosene just ahead of the blaze, investigators say.
Four years later, Collins faces trial in Georgetown in connection to Coombs’ death and the fire. Cohen could also soon face trial on similar charges.
Video of a police interview with Collins was played in court Tuesday ahead of evidence being presented to the jury. There were questions as to whether the statement could be used during the trial. Collins said from the witness stand that he was not aware of his rights when he gave the statement.
Collins told the investigators that he told his nephew, James Miller, about Cohen’s request to destroy the trailer.
Miller and Collins drove to the Andrews trailer, Collins told the investigators. Miller lit a piece of paper on fire and threw it through a window. Hours later they learned the 12-year-old boy was inside.
Miller also was initially charged in connection to the fire and death. But he was found dead in 2015. Cohen’s other son pleaded guilty to killing Miller.
Collins told police he was trying to help them solve the crime and that he didn’t want to be involved in the incident.
“I didn’t do it,” Collins said as the interview concluded.