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Rockford Man Found Guilty of 2018 Naperville Murder/Armed Robbery

September 29, 2023

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin announced today that a jury has found a former Rockford man guilty in the murder of Naperville resident Michael Armendariz in January 2018. The jury returned their guilty verdicts against Ernest Collins, 27 (d.o.b. 4/22/1996) after approximately one and one half hours of deliberations following a four-day-long trial in front of Judge Michael Reidy. Additionally, the jury also found Collins guilty of Armed Robbery with a Firearm, a Class X Felony. On February 9, 2019, Collins appeared in Bond Court where the Court granted the State’s motion to deny bond. He has remained in custody at the DuPage County Jail since that time. Collins is one of three individuals charged with the murder.

On January 18, 2018, Naperville police officers responded to a call on Whispering Hills Drive regarding a missing Naperville resident, Michael Armendariz who was last seen at approximately 9:30 p.m., January 14, 2018. Following an investigation, it is alleged that Armendariz received a Snapchat message from one of Collins’ co-defendants, Cassandra Green, 26 (d.o.b. 7/18/1997) of Rockford, at approximately 9:11 p.m. on January 14, 2019. It is alleged that shortly after receiving the message, Armendariz left his apartment and got into a black, 1999 Ford Explorer driven by Green in the parking lot of the apartment complex. It is alleged that Green then drove out of the parking lot with Armendariz in the vehicle. It is further alleged that approximately five minutes later, Collins emerged from hiding in the back of the Explorer and shot Armendariz twice in the back of the head. It is alleged that the duo then traveled to the residence of Collins’ second co-defendant and mother, Candice Jones, 43 (d.o.b. 5/31/1980) in Chicago and, with Jones’ help, placed Armendariz’s body in a garbage can and then put the garbage can in Jones’ garage. At some point in time, the garbage can was moved to the garage of the vacant house next to Jones’ home. It is further alleged that Collins and Green took Armendariz’s apartment keys and burglarized his apartment the following day. Armendariz’s body was discovered several months later and an investigation was undertaken by the Chicago and Naperville Police Departments. The investigation ultimately led to the apprehension of all three defendants. Collins and Green were taken into custody on February 4 in Rockford and Jones was taken into custody on February 6 in Chicago.

“This afternoon, a jury found Ernest Collins guilty of firing two bullets into the back of Michael Armendariz’s head, killing him execution style,” Berlin said. “This senseless murder left Michael’s family and friends with just his memory as they continued their lives without him. While nothing can be done to bring Michael back to those who loved him, perhaps today’s guilty verdicts will bring some measure of solace knowing the man responsible for his murder will be held accountable. I thank Judge Reidy for ensuring a fair trial for both sides as well as the jury for their service. I also thank Assistant State’s Attorneys Helen Kapas, Amanda Meindl and Michael Paup for their efforts in holding Mr. Collins responsible for the murder of Michael Armendariz.” 

Collin’s next court appearance is scheduled for November 29, 2023, for return of the Pre-sentence Report and post-trial motions.

Jones’ next court appearance is scheduled for October 19, 2023, while Green’s next appearance is scheduled for October 16, 2023. Both Jones’ and Green’s cases are in front of Judge Reidy. Collins faces a penalty of up to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Members of the public are reminded that this complaint contains only charges and is not proof of the defendants’ guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Collins, Ernest

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