In a diversion from policies implemented when George Gascón took office, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday it has added a special-circumstance allegation against a man charged with killing his girlfriend in South Los Angeles, opening him to a possible life-without-parole prison term.
Darryl Lamar Collins, 51, of Baldwin Park, is accused of killing his 53-year-old girlfriend, Fatima Johnson, who was found in July 2021 by her daughters — bound, gagged and wrapped in a blanket — in her apartment in the 7600 block of South Western Avenue.
Her family called paramedics, who pronounced her dead at the scene.
Collins was charged with murder, with the case including only allegations that he had two prior convictions — one in 1992 for attempted robbery and one in 1998 for a double murder. According to prosecutors, Collins was granted parole in the double-murder case roughly one year before he allegedly killed Johnson.
The case is one of several that have been cited by organizers of a recall effort against Gascón, who announced when he took office that he would no longer file special-circumstance allegations that can lead to life-without-parole prison terms or death sentences. Critics said the lack of such an allegation meant that Collins would again be eligible for eventual parole if convicted.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, however, a review of the case by an Alternative Charging Evaluation Committee prompted prosecutors to amend the case against Collins, adding a special-circumstance allegation of a previous first-degree murder conviction.
Collins is scheduled to be arraigned on the amended complaint Thursday in downtown Los Angeles.
Adding the allegation means Collins is now facing a possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“An internal committee of experienced attorneys with diverse backgrounds has reviewed the facts of this case and determined that, in this extremely rare instance, a policy deviation was warranted and approved the filing of a special circumstance allegation,” Gascón said in a statement announcing the move. “The facts of this case are extraordinary and demanded further review based on our charging policies.”
Organizers of the effort to recall Gascón announced Wednesday they have surpassed the 566,857 petition signatures needed to force a recall vote. The signature-collecting effort will continue, with organizers planning to gather as many as 700,000 by the July 6 deadline, to ensure the petitions have the required number of valid signatures.