Money, avoiding arrest were motive in Collins murder case, prosecutors allege in court filing

Money a motive in Linda Collins murder case

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - A Randolph County woman accused of capital murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence in the death of former State Sen. Linda Collins committed the murder for monetary gain, a prosecutor alleged in a court filing in April.

According to online court documents at Arkansas Court Connect, Special Prosecuting Attorney Robert Dittrich filed the notice for aggravated circumstances April 30 in the Rebecca O’Donnell case.

O’Donnell was arrested in 2019 in connection with Collins’ death in Randolph County.

O’Donnell was also arrested earlier this year on suspicion of two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder after reportedly trying to solicit inmates at the Jackson County jail to kill Collins’ former husband, Phil Smith, Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce and Circuit Judge Harold Erwin.

COURT FILING

In the one-page filing, Dittrich said prosecutors plan to show evidence at the trial to give the circumstances.

“(Prosecutors) gives notice to the defendant that it will, during the course of the trial in this matter, introduce proof and argument seeking to establish the following aggravating circumstances: (1) The Capital murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing an arrest or effecting an escape from custody; and (2) the Capital murder was committed for pecuniary gain,” Dittrich said in the filing.

Officials also announced this week that a search warrant was issued April 10 by Circuit Judge John Fogleman to allow authorities to search a 2011 Ford Focus, owned by O’Donnell’s mother, Sandra Gipson; and that a search warrant was issued April 27 by Fogleman to allow authorities to search computer towers, computers and storage devices owned by Collins and/or Rock & Roll Highway 67 Inn/Zenas Hospitality Corporation.

O’Donnell is set to appear in court Sept. 18 in the Randolph County case for a pre-trial hearing; and Dec. 14 in the Jackson County case.

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