The trial for the accused killer of “Lake Park’s Ice Cream Man” began today. I remember when this senseless murder took place, the horror of our community was palpable. As a community, led by former Mayor Desca Dubois, and then Town Manager Maria Davis, we worked to provide some sense of comfort for this family. Hopefully this trial will bring final resolution.
Today, Ms. Atilus and her children remain in Lake Park, they are productive and active members of our community. I wish blessings on this family and peace to them as they move through this trial and the court process.
Below is the Palm Beach Post account of today’s trial proceedings…
Accused killer wanted ‘to make a quick buck or to punish’ beloved Lake Park ice cream man, prosecutors say
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
WEST PALM BEACH —
Rescue workers had to pry open the back doors of Fresnel Atilus’ colorful ice cream truck in a desperate attempt to save his life, prosecutors said.
But by then, the five gunshot wounds he suffered had already left him lifeless on the floor of his truck.
This morning, in the first degree murder trial of Fresnel’s accused shooter, Frank Collins, Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts said Collins killed the popular Lake Park ice cream man in 2008 either “to make a quick buck or to punish” the beloved 32-year-old married father of seven.
“It was brutal, and it was without justification,” McRoberts said in opening statements to jurors this morning.
Collins’ defense attorney, Stephanie McQueen, told jurors that Atilus’ death was indeed a tragedy, but she says prosecutors don’t have any physical evidence linking Collins to the crime.
McQueen said that testimony during the trial will show inconsistencies in witness testimony, including an identification from one witness who said he saw Collins leaving the scene but failed to mention at all the pair of tattoos Collins has framing his face.
“In order for justice to be served, they have to have the right person,” McQueen said.
Collins is one of three men accused in Atilus’ December 2008 fatal shooting. The killing of Atilus, who left behind six children and a then-pregnant wife who couldn’t speak English, shocked the community and spurred an outpouring of donations from throughout the country.
In May 2010, a jury convicted 25-year-old Michael Murdock Jr. of first degree murder and attempted robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Murdock drove the getaway car after prosecutors say Collins and another unidentified man allegedly approached the service window of Atilus’s ice cream truck as if they were going to buy ice cream and then opened fire. Atilus’ assailants then ran to a nearby car driven by Murdock and sped off.
A third unidentified man, who police believe participated in the murder, fled to the Bahamas.
Atilus, who started driving the ice cream truck when he was laid off from his construction job, was blocks from his home on Foresteria Drive when he was attacked.
Atilus’ widow, Iranaise, had joined her husband from Haiti about a year before the shooting. She and several other relatives sat in court this morning as prosecutors called their first witnesses in the case.
A key prosecution witness is expected to be Frederick Cobia, a jailhouse lawyer who himself pleaded guilty to murder charges. Prosecutors say Cobia briefly worked on Collins’ behalf while at the Palm Beach County Jail, and is expected to bring out information linking Collins to the crime.
If convicted, Collins faces life in prison.