LAS VEGAS (AP) — A star UNLV basketball recruit was charged Thursday with driving under the influence of marijuana in a high-speed crash that killed a 52-year-old Las Vegas school custodian.
Attorneys for Zaon Collins appeared on his behalf before a Las Vegas judge who let him remain free from jail with electronic monitoring but banned him from using drugs or alcohol pending a Feb. 17 preliminary hearing of evidence.
"Zaon maintains his innocence and is entitled to a fair and just court process in determining all of the circumstances of the accident," his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, said in a statement. They referred to "media speculation" and "emotional reactions" to the case.
Combined, the charges against the 19-year-old Collins, including reckless driving, could have him face up to 26 years in state prison.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said blood tests showed Collins had 50% more marijuana metabolite in his system than allowed and police determined the 2016 Dodge Challenger he was driving was traveling 85 mph (137 kph) in a 35 mph (56 kph) residential area before the Dec. 30 crash killed Eric Echevarria of Las Vegas.
Police said Echevarria was making a left turn when his 2016 Hyundai Accent was struck by Collins' car.
Echevarria's death drew an outpouring of grief from family members and friends. He grew up in the Bronx, New York, and was an Army and National Guard veteran who worked as an elementary school custodian, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. He is survived by his wife, a teenage son, four adult stepchildren and several grandchildren.
Collins was a star player at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas and was a top college prospect when he committed to UNLV.