A hearing for a former student who was involved in an on-campus aggravated assault was rescheduled after he requested a court-appointed defender on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
Former student JoaQuin Collins was denied when requesting a court-appointed defender, as of time of publication. According to the Daily Citizen, Judge Robert Edwards of White County Circuit Court said that if he could afford to pay for college, he could afford a lawyer.
According to the Arkansas Judiciary Rule 8.2 Appointment of Counsel, when a person is charged with a criminal offense, and he or she is unable to afford an attorney and unknowingly refrains from hiring a defender, the court is to appoint counsel for representation.
Collins said he is unsure why he is being denied an attorney but is working and searching for one.
“I had an orphan scholarship, financial aid and Pell money that actually helped me pay for school, so I was telling (the judge) that I don’t have that anymore,” Collins said. “It’s not like I have parents that are paying for me to go to school, and I said ‘I can’t afford an attorney,’ but he still didn’t appoint me one.”
Edwards reset Collins’ hearing for Feb. 7 and said he would need to be his own lawyer if he did not hire an attorney. Edwards declined to comment specifics about the case.
Collins was charged with aggravated assault after a conflict with former students Sept. 20, 2016. According to the affidavit, Collins approached two former students as they were leaving the cafeteria. One of the students involved had a ripped shirt and said he was hit by Collins. A knife was found on the scene by a bystander.
“I take responsibility for my reaction during the incident,” Collins said. “Since then, I’ve never had the chance to really tell my side of the story.”
According to Collins, he was to visit with an advisor the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, when he saw the two former students. During the time of the incident, Collins was taking classes at Arkansas State University Beebe. He was taking a semester break from Harding and was planning to return spring 2017 to complete his social work degree.
Collins said the fight was fueled by anger stored from broken relationships and inaccurate accusations between the three people involved.
“This is what I will say to the Harding community: I love that school,” Collins said. “I love the people who helped me, people who have been there for me, people who pray for me, and if I never publicly said it, I would say that I am really sorry to the people who I did disappoint and let down because of this incident … Even though I was betrayed and lied to by people who are close to me, because I love Jesus, I forgive you.”