Gruesome new details have emerged about a 2017 triple homicide involving an Arkansas mother and her two young children, including how one of their attackers allegedly forced the woman to watch as he butchered her son and daughter, before knifing her to death.
The disturbing information was presented to Little Rocks jurors on Wednesday during opening statements in the trial of 26-year-old Michael Collins.
Collins and his brother, 23-year-old William Alexander, have been charged with capital murder and aggravated robbery in the stabbing deaths of Mariah Cunningham, five-year-old A’Layliah Fisher and four-year-old Elijah Fisher during the December 2017 home invasion.
Michael Collins, 26 (left), is on trial Arkansas for the 2017 savage killings of A’Layliah Fisher, 5, her brother, Elijah Fisher, 4 (right), and their mother
Mariah Cunningham was forced to watch her children being stabbed and decapitated before she was knifed to death more than 30 times
Senior deputy prosecutor Barbara Mariani recounted in court how Collins had his brother hold Cunningham down and made her sit through her children’s sadistic murders, reported ArkansasOnline.com.
According to the prosecutor, the defendant first stabbed A’Laylaih more than 20 times, then tried to saw off her head.
He then switched to her younger brother, stabbing Elijah 14 times before separating his head from his body.
After putting the mother through the agony of witnessing her children’s slaughter, Collins allegedly stabbed her more than 30 times, killing her.
Collins’ brother, 23-year-old William Alexander, is facing charges for allegedly holding Cunningham down and taking part in a robbery
Mariani told the jurors that based on surveillance video, it took 20 minutes to ‘annihilate’ the mother and children.
Cunningham’s grandmother, Sheba, found her granddaughter and two great-grandchildren dead in the family’s Little Rock home on December 5, 2017.
Cunningham’s other daughter, Cheyanne, who was eight at the time, was not home that day and was spared.
Investigators found traces of bleach on the bodies and discovered a steak knife believed to have been used in the murders in the bathtub.
According to the prosecution, the savage killings were committed in the course of a robbery, which netted Collins and his brother a television, an Xbox game console and Cunningham’s old Honda, which the suspects then quickly ditched.
Mariani said Collins was under the erroneous impression that Cunningham had money in her possession. When the mother failed to produce the cash, he punished her by torturing and killing her children ‘to cause the most unimaginable terror,’ the prosecutor sad.
Collins was arrested five days after the murders when US Marshals tracked him down to an address in Chicago.
Collins’ former cellmate-turned-witness told investigators the suspect confessed to the killings, saying that Cunningham (pictured) was haunting his dreams
Mariani said in court that when law enforcement officials found him, Collins was asleep on a couch.
His Adidas sneakers splattered with the blood of Cunningham and her children stood on the floor next to him.
After being taken into custody, Collins allegedly confessed to the triple homicide in conversations with his cellmate, bank robber Marino Bernard Scott.
Scott, who later became a cooperating witness, told investigators that Collins shared with him details of the violent home invasion that were divulged to the media, and that only the killer could have known.
The witness claimed that Collins opened up to him because his dreams were being haunted by Mariah Cunningham.
Prosecutors indicated in April that they would seek the lethal injection for Collins, making it the first death penalty request the county has pursued in a decade.
His younger brother, William Alexander, is scheduled to go to stand trial for his role in the killings in November.