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Man who killed girl at Wheaton church gets 20 years in prison

A man who crushed the skull of a 14-month-old girl while he was trying to beat up her father in a church in Wheaton was sentenced on Thursday to a 20-year stint in prison.

Judge Gerald Seibel said the toddler's death, caused by an errant swing of a baseball bat by David Eric Collins, was the most tragic case he had ever presided over, said Matt Franzese, Traverse County Attorney.

Franzese said Seibel also encouraged Collins to use his time behind bars to preach against violence.

"Hopefully, he can change at least one person's heart and keep them from going down the same road he did," the prosecutor recalled Seibel saying.

Collins accidentally hit Aundrea Brownlow as he attacked her father Claude Hankins with a bat on Sept. 3, 2009, in Thy Kingdom Come church in Wheaton. The men had butted heads over a $20 debt and a used washer and dryer, an argument that escalated to a fistfight earlier in the day.

Franzese said with time served and a good record in prison, Collins will likely serve about 12½ years.