A man who murdered a business owner in Santa Cruz in 2011 after mistakenly being released from prison made an appearance in court Tuesday for a resentencing hearing.

Charles Anthony Edwards, 55, was convicted of killing Camouflage owner Shannon Collins as she walked down Broadway Street. He was sentenced to 88 years to life in prison.


He was hoping Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann would agree to reduce his sentence by 12 years by voiding two one-year prison prior enhancements, as well as and two five-year enhancements for prior strikes.

While Volkmann did agree to take off the two years, he said he saw a “clear risk to public safety” if he was ever released, and that the nature of the crime disqualifies him for further reductions.

“Mr. Edwards found a complete stranger, in broad daylight, stabbed her 14 times and allowed her to die right there in the street,” Volkmann said. “I think he is distinctly a danger to the public at large. I think he is a danger from a clear and convincing perspective, no matter when he is released from custody. As long as he can move and carry a weapon.”

Edwards, who was known to suffer from Schizophrenia, was serving time in Atascadero State Hospital when employees said a “clerical glitch” allowed him to be released without supervision.

His new sentence of 86 years to life reflects that adjustment.

He is eligible for parole in 2037.

Edwards is one of thousands of inmates across the state hoping for help from new laws allowing parts of their sentences that were based solely on enhancements to be stricken. This includes one-year enhancements for prison priors and 3-year drug prior enhancements, among others.

In explaining his ruling, Volkmann said that the legislators who crafted the new resentencing laws for some crimes likely would not have wanted them to apply to cases like Edward’s.

“I don’t believe the legislature, nor the appellate courts, want to place any judges in the state of California in a position where we are speculating as to how vibrant or vital someone will be when they are released from prison,” he said. 

Santa Cruz County Public Defender Michelle Lipperd said that Edwards suffers from severe mental health issues, was abused as a young person and spent the majority of his life in mental hospitals.

In addition, he was released from prison days before the murder without his medication.

She said that reducing his sentence to 75 years to life would still require him to go to a parole board and prove he is not a danger.

Outside court, Lipperd said that the higher reduction would have made Edwards eligible for parole in his 80s.

“This would give him a realistic opportunity to at least have a parole hearing,” she said.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA. https://pajaronian.com/r-p-reporter-honored-by-csba/



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