An Arkansas woman accused of killing her close friend, a state senator, was allegedly motivated by both money and a desire to evade arrest for a financial crime.
The decomposing body of former Republican lawmaker Linda Collins-Smith, 57, was found outside of her Pocahontas home in June of 2019. She had been shot. Her close friend Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell, 49, who once campaigned for her, was arrested the same month and charged with capital murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been held on no bond since.
In new court filings, obtained this week by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, prosecutors revealed why O’Donnell may have allegedly killed her former friend. Special prosecutor Robert Dittrich wrote in the filing that the murder “was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing an arrest” and “for pecuniary gain.” The details of why an arrest would be feared are not exactly clear. O'Donnell's fiancé, Tim Loggains, told KATV last June that Collins-Smith granted him power of attorney after her divorce. He has not been charged with any crime and he has maintained that O’Donnell is "not capable of this."
He told “Good Morning America” last year that to his fiancée, Collins-Smith “was like a sister.” He maintained that O’Donnell is innocent.
“Either she is the best actress in the world and a sociopath and has totally fooled me, or there's not a chance she did this,” he said.
In addition to being accused of killing her friend, O’Donnell is accused of trying to recruit county jail inmates to help her get Collins-Smith's ex-husband and his new wife killed following her arrest. She's also accused of trying to get a judge and prosecutor once assigned to her case killed, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
O'Donnell's attorney, Lee Short, previously called those allegations “outlandish,” the outlet reports. O’Donnell faces charges of committing capital murder and solicitation to tamper with evidence for those alleged plots.
Prosecutors have announced that they are seeking the death penalty for O’Donnell.
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