Death penalty sought for woman accused of killing ex-senator

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Prosecutors said Tuesday they plan to seek the death penalty against a woman charged in the killing of a former Arkansas lawmaker who investigators say was found dead from multiple stab wounds outside her home.

An arrest affidavit for Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell released Tuesday said O'Donnell was caught on video May 28 removing security cameras from inside the home of former state Sen. Linda Collins the last day Collins was seen alive.

O'Donnell has been charged with capital murder in the death of Collins, who went by Collins-Smith in the Legislature. She was found dead June 4 outside her home in Pocahontas, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock. O'Donnell also faces abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence charges.

She pleaded not guilty Tuesday at a hearing in Pocahontas.

O'Donnell worked on Collins' unsuccessful re-election campaign last year and was a witness in the former lawmaker's divorce proceedings. Collins divorced retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith last year.

Prosecutors announced their plans to seek the death penalty Tuesday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported . There are currently no women on death row in Arkansas.

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Linda Collins murder
FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, speaks at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Prosecutors say they plan to seek the death penalty against Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell, charged with killing former lawmaker Collins-Smith, who was found dead June 4, 2019 outside her own home. Prosecutor Henry Boyce on Tuesday, July 30 told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette his office would formally announce its plans at an arraignment and plea hearing for O'Donnell, who's been charged with capital murder. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)
Tim Loggains told ABC News that he and his fiance, Becky Lynn O'Donnell, have no idea why she was arrested for the murder of her friend Linda Collins-Smith.
Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell is charged in the death of former Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins Smith, who was found shot to death on June 4.
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, file photo, Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, listens to testimony at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Authorities on Friday, June 14, 2019, said they've arrested an Arkansas woman in connection with the killing of former state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, who was found dead outside her own home, on June 4. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)
Linda Collins-Smith's colleague and close friend has been arrested in connection with her murder; Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell is expected to enter a plea in court on Monday.
Ken Yang, former communications director for former state Sen. Linda Collins, speaks at an event remembering Collins at the state Capitol Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Little Rock, Ark. Collins, who went by Collins-Smith in the Legislature, was found dead at her home in northeast Arkansas on June 4 and her death is being investigated as a homicide.(AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)
Linda Collins-Smith headshot, former Arkansas state Senator, graphic element on gray
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The redacted arrest affidavit was released after Judge David Goodson lifted an order sealing documents and statements obtained by police during the investigation. The affidavit said Collins' son and father found her body wrapped in a blanket under a tarp in her driveway.

Investigators determined that Collins was last seen alive on May 28. Video footage from Collins' security system showed O'Donnell removing security cameras from inside the residence, according to the affidavit.

Collins served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. But she switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, the year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature. She was elected to the state Senate in 2014 and was one of the most conservative lawmakers in the majority-GOP chamber.

 

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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