July 26. 2013 9:46PM

Past conviction may be used against man charged in 2001 murder in Auburn

Union Leader Correspondent

BRENTWOOD — Prior to becoming the lone murder suspect in the 2001 killing of George Jodoin, Arthur Collins briefly played the role of cooperating witness when detectives with the state’s Cold Case Unit reopened the investigation more than a decade later, according to prosecutors. “The defendant went so far as to place two recorded telephone calls to (another suspect) regarding (his) alleged criminal acts in an effort to allegedly assist the investigation,” state prosecutor Stacey Coughlin said in a court motion.

That event could be among the facts laid out to a jury if Collins, 44, of Manchester decides to testify in his own defense at his upcoming murder trial in Rockingham County Superior Court.

Prosecutors relayed the tidbit about Collins’ alleged deception while asking a judge permission to admit evidence about his 2002 conviction for making a false report to law enforcement.

It is unknown whether Collins has decided whether to testify in his own defense.

The state wants to use Collins’ conviction to cross examine him if he takes the witness stand in his own defense, but that decision will be left to a judge.

Collins is accused of shooting Jodoin, a Manchester businessman, several times in the head at his Auburn farm house on the night of Dec. 26, 2001. The body of Jodoin, 50, was found in bed with bullet wounds riddled along his head and neck, according to police.

Collins has pleaded not guilty to charges of first- and second-degree murder and remains held without bail at the Rockingham County jail in Brentwood.

Prosecutors suggested in court papers that Collins’ account of the murder — especially if he testifies — could be a key aspect of the trial.

“His testimony would be crucial as he would be asking the jury to take his word on the central issue at trial: whether and under which circumstances he committed murder,” Coughlin said in her request.

Collins eventually admitted to investigators in April 2012 that he shot and killed Jodoin, claiming that Jodoin pulled him into the bedroom and attempted to sexually assault him, prosecutors said. Collins told police he went into the kitchen, retrieved Jodoin’s handgun and killed him.

Prosecutors said Collins fled from Jodoin’s home and put the gun in a tire well in the trunk of a junk car, filled it with scrap metal and brought it to a Manchester junk yard to be crushed.

Collins was arrested for Jodoin’s murder in May 2012 -- four months after a pair of investigators with the state’s Cold Case Unit reopened the investigation.

He was interviewed by police on three occasions in the days following the 2001 murder, and denied any role in the Jodoin’s death, according to Coughlin.

At the time, he worked a handyman for Jodoin, who owned Mr. I Buy And Sell Everything located on Manchester’s west side.

During his initial interviews with police, Collins claimed he never saw Jodoin’s handgun when he was at his Auburn home earlier in the day.

“He stated that he did not see a handgun, holster or gun-belt during the time he was at Jodoin’s home,” Coughlin said in the motion. “He also claimed that he did not know about the murder until the following day.” A judge recently approved the state’s request to use a similar Ruger Redhawk .44 magnum handgun used in the murder to show the jury during trial. Jury selection is expected to begin in October.