Judge: Hot Tub Wrongful Death Case to Go Before Jury

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UPDATE:  A Benton County judge determined a wrongful death case will go before a jury.  James Bates, from Bentonville, was tried — but never charged — for the murder of Victor Collins.  Collins drowned in a hot tub at Bates’ home in November 2015.  

Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren ruled Thursday, January 10, a jury will determine whether Bates is liable for damages in Collins’ death, which would be paid to Collins’ widow Kristine Homan, according to court documents.

The trial is scheduled to begin November 6 in Benton County Court.  A pre-trial date is October 21.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A Bentonville man accused of murder may have to pay the victim’s widow.

James Bates missed a response deadline in December stemming from a wrongful death lawsuit filed in November.

Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren ordered a default judgment in the case after the missed deadline.

Bates was charged but never tried for the 2016 death of Victor Collins in a story earning national attention regarding the prosecution’s request for information from Bates’ Amazon Echo device.

Karren will hold a hearing this Thursday.

If the default judgment stands, a jury will determine compensation for Collins’ widow, Kristine Homan.

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