After a scare back in January when the Louisiana Supreme Court gave clearance for prosecutors to again give it their best shot to try to encourage a Louisiana state judge to revoke his probation, former Miami Dolphin Cecil “The Diesel” Collins finally won his freedom.
Collins had already served over thirteen years in prison after being convicted for a felony burglary charge that took place in Davie Florida on March 27, 2001 at the Palm Trace Landings apartment complex where he also lived.
Collins pleaded guilty to breaking into the apartment of Ronald and Tina Nolte, a married couple who lived in the gated community by climbing through their bedroom window at five o’clock in the morning. Before the incident occurred he apparently persistently stalked Mrs. Nolte, frequently asking her out on dates even though he knew she was married.
As his defense for the break-in, Collins was quoted as saying he only “wanted to watch her sleep.” After being arrested shortly after the incident occurred he told reporters “I just made a mistake.” He was released on $10,000 bond pending trial.
At trial, it didn’t take long. After being convicted of the crime he was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The sentence was handed down less than two hours after the jury completed deliberations and convicted him of the crime. He spent most of his sentence at South Bay Correctional Institute, a two story building surrounded by the everglades.
In an interview with the Associated Press which he reluctantly agreed to, Collins said he granted it because he craved it to be known that “the Diesel is still alive.” He apparently had adjusted as well as possible during his stay at the prison. He showed up for daily therapy sessions, lifts weights, views many sporting events on TV and is involved in competitions in the recreation yard with other inmates. His overall appearance has drastically changed from the cornrowed hairstyle he sported during his trial to a crew cut and well-groomed goatee. He blames his criminal past on “bad choices” triggered mostly by his bad temper and substantial abuse of alcohol.
Collins has been free on $25,000 bond since July, 2013 when Louisiana State District Judge Mike Caldwell wouldn’t go along with a prosecutorial appeal to revoke Collins’ probation in Baton Rouge which originated from a similar but separate case that occurred in Louisiana in April 1999.
In that case, Collins was charged with forcing his way into the apartments of two women who lived in a local housing complex. He pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling, both felonies as well as two counts of simple battery which are misdemeanors. The women both accused Collins of fondling them.
At sentencing for those two cases, Judge Caldwell handed down a suspended five-year prison term and basically a slap on the wrist by placing Collins on probation for a term of four years. The case concluded in 1998 but when he violated his probation in South Florida within the designated period he became subject to an additional five years of imprisonment based on the terms of his probationary sentence.
After thirteen and a half years of incarceration he was released from DeSoto Correctional Annex in Arcadia, Florida but immediately extradited to Baton Rouge to face the probation violation charge. But Judge Caldwell declined to revoke his probation apparently agreeing with Collins’ lawyer that his client had already been “significantly punished,” as Collins stood by listening with tears in his eyes. He was placed on three years’ probation and told that he could move freely back to the South Florida area if he chose to do so. He will also be subject to random drug testing and must regularly check in with an assigned parole officer.