Minn. girl killed in church bat attack rememberedWHEATON, Minn. (AP) — A 14-month-old girl who was fatally struck by a baseball bat during an attack on her father at a church was remembered Wednesday as a bright and bubbly, as the church pastor used the occasion to rail against the evils of alcohol addiction.
WHEATON, Minn. (AP) — A 14-month-old girl who was fatally struck by a baseball bat during an attack on her father at a church was remembered Wednesday as a bright and bubbly, as the church pastor used the occasion to rail against the evils of alcohol addiction.
About 50 people gathered at Thy Kingdom Come World Ministries to mourn Aundrea Brownlow, who died of a blow to her head from a bat that was aimed at her father, Claude Hankins.
David Collins, 50, of Wheaton, was charged Tuesday with two counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the attack last week, which prosecutors said was over $20 Hankins owed Collins and a dispute over a washer and dryer.
Investigators have not said whether Collins had been drinking before the attack last Thursday, but the girl’s father and the pastor at the church, the Rev. Danny Barnes, both said it appeared Collins was drunk. Barnes, who found Collins after the attack in a bar about 100 miles away in Brookings, S.D., told mourners he blamed the attack on alcohol.
“The (evil) spirit in this particular case was alcohol,” Barnes told mourners.
Barnes, 53, started the church five years and touts its yearlong program to help people, especially those battling addiction, clean up their lives. He said there are about 70 registered members, many of whom were referred to the church by shelters, jails, hospitals, treatment programs and other agencies.
Barnes has said his own rap sheet includes arrests in at least five states, making him qualified to help others who make mistakes. But he declined to elaborate on his crimes.
Aundrea’s mother, Sherry Hankins, told mourners her daughter used to greet churchgoers at the door, and she loved to listen to her dad sing.
“She was sure he was singing just to her,” she said.
Claude Hankins, who has said he forgives Collins, told congregants his daughter could usually be found in the kitchen eating.
“She was just a little ray of sunshine,” he said.
Toys Aundrea played with were spread on the floor in the front of the church, and several children played with them. A slide show accompanied by Christian rock music beforehand showed pictures of Aundrea playing in a pool.
At the end of the 45-minute service, Barnes and his congregation chanted “hoo-rah” several times.
Another man, 42-year-old Darryl Kennedy of Wheaton, is charged with second-degree assault in the attack. Authorities said Kennedy lent Collins the bat and showed up at the church later Thursday and swung at Hankins with a two-by-four.
Collins and Kennedy were due to be arraigned Thursday in Traverse County District Court. They remain jailed on bond.
Both men have been assigned public defenders, but their lawyers did not immediately respond to phone messages Wednesday seeking comment.
Collins’ wife, Melissa Collins, said Tuesday night that her husband had no comment.