Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus Elections Cooking 🔵 Covid Classroom Families Core values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
story.lead_photo.caption FILE — Rebecca O'Donnell is escorted through the Randolph County courthouse after a hearing on July 30. ( John Moritz)

New charges were filed Tuesday against the woman accused of killing former Arkansas Sen. Linda Collins. The charges, filed in Jackson County, allege that Rebecca O'Donnell attempted to solicit the killing of Collins' ex-husband while being held in the county jail.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed on Tuesday, O'Donnell spoke to four different inmates at the county jail about arranging to kill Phil Smith, Collins' ex-husband, and have the death look like a suicide. O'Donnell is also alleged to have solicited an attempt to blow up her car to "destroy any evidence that may be in the vehicle," according to the affidavit.

O'Donnell was a friend and former campaign aide to Collins. She was arrested and charged in the lawmaker's death last June, and has pleaded innocent to capital murder.

[DOCUMENT: Read affidavit detailing new charges »]

Several women with whom Collins spoke at the jail later spoke to investigators with State Police, the affidavit said.

Authorities wrote that two of the women also told police that O'Donnell wanted to arrange the killing of the former prosecutor of her murder case, Henry Boyce. One said O'Donnell wanted to have a judge in Randolph County, Harold Erwin, killed, and another said O'Donnell solicited the murder of Phil Smith's new wife, Mary Smith, according to the affidavit.

O’Donnell’s attorney, Lee Short, on Tuesday said that the "outlandish" allegations included in the affidavit were likely the result of women at the jail attempting to get favorable plea deals by agreeing to testify about made-up claims.

"Having handled high-profile homicides before, this happens in almost every single one of them," Short said.

O'Donnell was charged with two counts each of solicitation to commit capital murder and solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence.

Boyce, the former prosecutor, withdrew from Collins' murder case last year along with a judge who had previously been assigned to the matter. A new prosecutor, Robert Dittrich, has been assigned to handle the case.

No initial court date has been scheduled on the new charges against O'Donnell.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

This story was originally published at 11:29 a.m.


Sponsor Content

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with the Democrat-Gazette commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. The Democrat-Gazette commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.