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story.lead_photo.caption James Bates

BENTONVILLE -- A man who accused police of plotting to frame him for murder withdrew his lawsuit, according to a court documents filed Wednesday.

James Bates decided to withdraw his federal lawsuit based on depositions and research done in preparation for trial, according to a statement from the law firm in Downers Grove, Ill., representing him.

"Negligence and/or incompetence if proven is not sufficient to prevail on a civil rights case for a wrongful prosecution," the statement said.

Kathleen Zellner, attorney for Bates, filed a motion requesting the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

The lawsuit, filed in 2019 in federal court in Fayetteville, named Bentonville, Police Chief Jon Simpson, several detectives, Kristine Collins Homan and Dr. Charles Kokes.

Homan was married to Victor Collins, who died at Bates' home, and Kokes is an Arkansas Crime Laboratory pathologist.

Bates was charged with first-degree murder and tampering in connection with Collins' death. Prosecutors dismissed the charges, and the case didn't go to trial.

The case gained national attention when prosecutors and police asked Amazon to turn over any information from an Echo device in Bates' home the night of Collins' death.

Bates' lawsuit claims an intoxicated Collins and others went to his home Nov. 21, 2015, to watch a football game. Bates and his guests were in a hot tub watching the game. Bates and one guest got out of the hot tub at 11 p.m. and one man left the home, according to the lawsuit. Owen McDonald and Collins were in the hot tub when Bates went to bed, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claimed Homan told detectives she was concerned about being deprived of any insurance money because her husband's death was his own fault. The lawsuit alleges Homan and the detectives determined a solution to her financial issues was to blame Bates for causing Collins' death.

Police detectives were accused in the lawsuit of providing false information to Kokes, who joined the conspiracy, and fabricated the results of his autopsy. Kokes determined Collins drowned as a result of strangulation and the manner of death was homicide.

The lawsuit described the criminal case against Bates as a malicious prosecution.

Thomas Kieklak, the attorney for Simpson and his officers, said they are grateful the case is over. Kieklak said the dismissal with prejudice is rare and a full and complete vindication of the police officers and leadership of the Bentonville Police Department.

There was no settlement of the case nor was there an attempt to settle the lawsuit, and there was no money paid to Bates or his attorney, Kieklak said.

Homan won a wrongful death lawsuit she filed against Bates.

Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren found Bates in default in Homan's lawsuit after he didn't respond to the suit within 30 days of being served. The judge granted a default judgment, which means Bates could be held financially responsible in connection with Collins' death. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Karren's ruling is being appealed to a higher court.

Tracy M. Neal can be reached by email at or Twitter @NWATracy.


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