Crime & Courts

Two in stolen SUV in fatal Wichita crash are both convicted felons, records show

A woman and man in the stolen BMW SUV that slammed into a family’s car during a police pursuit downtown on Sunday afternoon — killing two people — are both convicted felons who were recently ordered to serve the remainder of their sentences in the community.

Mia Collins, the 24-year-old Douglass woman in the SUV’s driver’s seat, is on probation, Sedgwick County District Court records show.

Her passenger, 38-year-old Christopher English of Wichita, is on parole, according to a check of prison records.

Because of their pasts, both likely would’ve gotten into trouble had they been caught with the stolen BMW leading up to the fatal crash:

A judge in January placed Collins on probation for year after she pleaded guilty to stealing a handgun from an Oaklawn address last July. She also was accused of stealing a car, a 2010 Nissan Cube, but the car theft charge was dismissed by prosecutors in exchange for her plea, according to court records.

She was in court last week to answer a probation violation allegation, records show. Sedgwick County Judge Stephen Ternes at that time opted to extend her probation for a year and sent her to jail for three days for punishment rather than revoking her probation. A note in her court file Monday says she is now wanted on a $100,000 bench warrant.

English was released from prison in February after serving a sentence for fleeing or eluding law enforcement in Sedgwick County two years ago, online Kansas Department of Corrections records show. His criminal history stretches back to childhood, and he has been in out and of prison repeatedly, according to court records.

Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay said during a Monday afternoon news conference that his department plans to ask prosecutors to charge both Collins and English in connection with Sunday’s deadly crash. Asked what might have caused the pair to flee, Ramsay said both have criminal pasts and may have used methamphetamine at some point during the day.

The collision killed 70-year-old Maria Wood and her 12-year-old granddaughter, Robinson Middle School student Rosemary McElroy. Wood’s 36-year-old daughter, local musician Jenny Wood, and 65-year-old Alfred Angel of Wichita were hospitalized.

Collins and English were hurt, too, but have non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Ramsay said the pair will be booked into jail after they’re well enough to leave the hospital.

Collins, who identified herself on court papers as a nursing facility worker, has prior misdemeanor convictions for theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while suspended in addition to last year’s felony theft, according to court records. Her probation in the felony theft case carries an underlying prison sentence of six months, meaning she could go to prison for that length of time if she breaks any rules while she’s on probation.

The offense that led to a judge extending her probation for a year was failing to report in person to the probation office on Feb. 5, court records show. Her latest probation violation warrant, issued Monday, accuses her failing to obey laws, committing a hit and run on Sunday.

English’s earliest conviction, a child sex crime, came in 1992 when he was just 11 years old, according to court records. Before he was an adult, he was twice convicted of battering a law enforcement officer and twice convicted of marijuana possession.

In 2000, after he reached adulthood, a federal judge ordered him to serve seven years in federal prison for brandishing a firearm during a violent crime. The three years of post release supervision that came after was riddled with rule violations that include drug use and failure to participate in substance abuse treatment, court records show.

He committed his next series of crimes — multiple instances of driving while suspended, driving without proof of insurance, hit and run, misdemeanor evading or eluding law enforcement, felony weapons violations and drug possession — in 2009, 2011 and 2016.

The crime that he’s on parole for, fleeing or attempting to elude an officer, happened on Aug. 25, 2017.

In a written plea for leniency in that case, English told the court that he is a high-school dropout and father of two who suffers from “multiple different ailments” including lupus and an epileptic seizure disorder. He also said in the document that he struggled with an “addictive history since age 17,” including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin addiction and intravenous drug use. He promised to seek treatment if the judge placed him on probation.

Ultimately, Judge David Kaufman ordered English to serve 11 months in prison. He was released on Feb. 15, KDOC records show.

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Amy Renee Leiker has been reporting for The Wichita Eagle since 2010. She covers crime, courts and breaking news and updates the newspaper’s online databases. You can reach her at 316-268-6644. She’s an avid reader and mom of three in her non-work time.