Catawba Jury Finds Hickory Man Guilty Of Attempted Murder

A Hickory man will spend at least 45 years in prison after a Catawba County jury found him guilty of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

Kevin Maurice Linder, 46, was given an active prison term of 45 to 56 years for the stabbing of Keisha Collins after the jury deliberated approximately five and a half hours before reaching its verdict on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Catawba County Superior Court.

The Honorable Justin N. Davis, Superior Court Judge from Gaston County, imposed the prison sentence following the jury’s decision to convict Linder of the August 17, 2021, offenses that led to serious stab wounds to the stomach and a neck laceration for the victim. He also was found guilty of a domestic violence protective order violation involving a deadly weapon.

The offenses, deemed “heinous and atrocious acts” by Prosecutor Howard Wellons, were sentenced in the aggravated range because the defendant was on pre-trial release for another charge at the time they were committed.

The defendant will serve his period of incarceration in the custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections.

The trial lasted six days, starting with jury selection on Tuesday, May 30. Following evidence presentation from the State – including testimony by the victim – and defense, both sides gave closing arguments on Monday, June 5 before the case went to the jury for deliberations that started the morning of Tuesday, June 6 and culminated with the verdict around 3:30 p.m.

The defendant and victim had been in a relationship for several years. Investigation shows that on August 17, 2021, Collins and Linder were in her vehicle together when he struck her in the face.

The victim tried to defend herself, and a struggle ensued. During that struggle, the defendant threatened to kill Collins and used a knife to stab and cut her several times. The depth and severity of the wounds required emergency surgery and would have been life-threatening if not given immediate medical attention, according to testimony by a resident surgeon from Frye Regional Medical Center.

Recorded jail phone calls from the defendant to the victim also provided more evidence of veiled threats he made to harm her.

Collins expressed her gratitude for Linder’s conviction.

“I am thankful for everyone who has fought for justice for me,” she said. “I hope this opens eyes to other crimes that happen in the community to show people you can’t just commit a crime and walk free.” 

The case was investigated by Shanna Hudson of Hickory Police Department. Assistant District Attorney Howard Wellons handled prosecution for the State with aid from Legal Assistant Amy Bishoff.