Collett murder trial underway in Spalding County Superior Court

Shane Clifton Collett is seen in Spalding County Court during his trial for the Dec. 21, 2012 murder of nine-year-old Skylar Dials. Photo credit: Sheila A. Mathews

Shane Clifton Collett is seen in Spalding County Court during his trial for the Dec. 21, 2012 murder of nine-year-old Skylar Dials. Photo credit: Sheila A. Mathews


The murder trial of Shane Clifton Collett, who stands accused of two counts of malice murder and one count each of felony murder, aggravated assault, first degree cruelty to children and concealing the death of another, in connection to the asphyxiation death of nine-year-old Skylar Dials on Dec. 21, 2012, is underway in Spalding County Superior Court.

Opening arguments were presented to the jury with Spalding County Assistant District Attorney Marie Broder showing jurors a framed photo of a smiling Dials and asking them to remember she is what the trial is about.

“I remember Dec. 21, 2012. I remember it was cold. I remember getting ready for Christmas. I remember frantically searching for gifts. My memories of Dec. 21 are very different from those of Skylar Dials’ family,” Broder said, describing the young girl as a “happy, talkative, lively child who died too soon.

She made an impassioned plea to the jury saying, “Listen for her. She will speak to you through the testimony. She will speak to you through the physical evidence. She will be here throughout this trial. Listen for her.”

Collett’s lead counsel, George Weldon, of the Spalding County Public Defender’s Office, addressed the jury by acknowledging some of the state’s assertions are correct.

“What the state said? Partially true. It’s a tragedy whenever a child dies. It’s a tragedy for the family; for the foster family; it’s a tragedy for the community,” Weldon said. “You’re probably going to get angry with my client; you’re going to be upset.”

He said Collett was present when Dials died, but contended the girl’s death was unintentional – a tragic accident.

“He carried her to a burn pile and placed her in there. She probably died around noon and her body wasn’t found until around 2 a.m.,” he said. “He left her there and went back home – a tragedy in itself. What I want you to do is divide what happened after death.”
Weldon then told jurors Dials entered the bedroom of his Yarborough Mill Road residence as he was sleeping.

“She came into his bedroom. He startled, he stumbled and they fell to the floor of his bedroom,” he said.

Weldon also acknowledged Collett “lied repeatedly” to Investigator Tim Davis, of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, the case agent in the investigation of Dials’ disappearance and homicide. Weldon said those deceptions, as well as his response following Dials’ death, are attributable to his client being a “slow person.”

“Three doctors will tell you what a person of Shane’s intelligence level will do in such a situation. School records will show that Shane Collett has always been identified as a ‘slow person,’” he said. “Is the death an accident or a murder? You’ll have to make your choice, but I think you’ll agree with us.”

Publisher’s note: An article detailing the state’s case will be posted Thursday, Jan. 29.


  1. Thanks, these updates are as good as being there!!! Slow??? Why does everyone want to claim a mental disorder when they KNOW they are guilty???

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