Rebecca O’Donnell pleads not guilty to criminal solicitation to commit capital murder & other charges

Affidavit: Murder suspect offers 'gold and silver’ to kill victim’s ex-husband, ex-judge, ex-prosecutor
Updated: Jan. 29, 2020 at 1:20 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The woman accused of killing former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins appeared in court Wednesday to face charges from Jackson County.

The court hearing also addressed a ruling on releasing more information about the case to the public.

Judge John N. Fogleman ruled Wednesday morning, modified the gag order to lift the order barring disclosure on the medical examiner’s office, the Arkansas state crime lab, and the Arkansas FBI information about the case to the public.

Fogleman was assigned the case back in December, serving as the third judge assigned to this case.

O’Donnell and her attorney, Lee Short, pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony criminal solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of solicitation to commit tampering with evidence, a misdemeanor.

On Jan. 14, a judge found probable cause to charge Rebecca O’Donnell with those charges after court documents the allege O’Donnell attempted to hire several Jackson County Jail inmates to kill Collins’s former husband, Phil Smith, former prosecutor Henry Boyce, and former judge Harold Erwin.

According to the court documents, the alleged incidents took place on or about June 15 and Dec. 1, 2019.

The affidavit stated that O’Donnell attempted to hire several Jackson County Jail inmates to kill Collins’s former husband, Phil Smith.

One of the inmates told investigators that “O’Donnell wanted the death of Phil Smith to look like a suicide.”

She also, according to the affidavit, wanted the women to kill Smith’s wife Mary and leave a “suicide note.”

The inmate was “supposed to shoot or hang Mr. Smith, causing his death, and then she is supposed to pack a bag so it looks like Mary was in the process of leaving Mr. Smith.”

O’Donnell reportedly told the woman to steal the Smiths’ gold and silver “as payment for killing” them.

O’Donnell also wanted the women to travel to the Randolph County Jail where her car was being held, and “blow it up to destroy any evidence.”

Not only did O’Donnell want the women to kill Phil Smith, investigators allege she also asked them to kill Judge Harold Erwin and the case’s prosecutor, Henry Boyce.

O’Donnell reportedly told one of the women Smith had “set her up” and that he needed to be killed.

At one point, O’Donnell asked one of the women “if she knew any ‘Mexican people’ that would be willing to kill Phil.”

To read the full 8-page affidavit, click here.

Meanwhile, those connected to the case are starting to react.

Collins’ family released a statement Wednesday morning about the new developments.

Tim Loggains, O’Donnell’s fiance, released a statement on Jan. 14 said the following:

“My family’s faith in Becky is unwavering. We cannot imagine the evidence will actually substantiate these allegations. The allegations defy believability. I won’t even comment on the informant’s extensive criminal history but instead will wait to see if the State produces credible evidence at trial.”

In a previous interview with ABC News, Loggains said there’s “no way” she is guilty in Collins’ murder.

Region 8 News also spoke with Lee Short, Rebecca O’Donnell’s defense attorney. He cast doubt on the inmate’s accusations made during the investigation. He said he’s worked cases were inmates made allegations that proved to be not true.

Locals in Pocahontas gave their input Tuesday to the accusations.

“It changes up everybody’s viewpoints, I’m sure. It forces more thought," a resident says. “There’s a lot more to the story that’s still yet to unfold, I believe.”

“A can of worms got opened today. A whole lot happened. It’s hard to make heads or tails of it but that’s a whole lot of stuff that got brought to the table today, that should change the whole situation if any of it’s true.”

Collins’s body was found outside her Pocahontas home on June 4.

Investigators arrested O’Donnell as she was on her way to a visitation service for Collins on June 14.

Sheriff David Lucas tells Region 8 News Arkansas State Police are investigating these latest charges.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for O’Donnell, who is charged with capital murder and criminal solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence.

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