POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - The defense attorneys for a Randolph County woman accused of killing a former state Senator in 2019 is asking for details as to why prosecutors are requesting information like phone, bank and electronic records in the case.
According to an eight-page filing from Arkansas Court Connect, attorneys Lee D. Short and Katherine S. Streett filed the motion for Rebecca O’Donnell.
O’Donnell was arrested in 2019 on suspicion of capital murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence in the death of former State Sen. Linda Collins. O’Donnell was also arrested in early 2020 on suspicion of solicitation to commit capital murder after prosecutors alleged in court documents O’Donnell tried to hire several Jackson County inmates to kill Collins’ former husband, Phil Smith; prosecuting attorney Henry Boyce and Circuit Judge Harold Erwin.
Prosecutors have alleged that Collins’ murder was done for pecuniary gain.
In the filing, defense attorneys say the requests for information would involve 'interactions total a significant amount of hours."
“Needless to say, the investigation has produced an uncharacteristic amount of information in various forms that to digest every single piece of would take years. The State’s notice of ‘pecuniary gain’ fails to point the defense to the direction counsel will need to investigate and defend,” defense attorneys said in the motion. “It is unclear from the discovery, pleadings, statements in court, etc., what the State alleges that Defendant was seeking as pecuniary gain. There are almost endless possibilities that would all call for significant investigation and potential expert witnesses to be retained."
While not alleging specific details, the defense said in the motion that “pecuniary gain” could cover everything from a trade secret and insider information; a particular item in Collins’ home, on her person or at her business; or from the business owned by Collins.
The defense attorneys said in the filing that a lack of information in the case could hurt their client.
“The right to effective representation, U.S. Constitution, Amend. VI, the inability to effectively represent Defendant would be pronounced and highly prejudicial if defense counsel cannot interview witnesses, subpoena individuals and documents, and even more basically know where to look in the substantial number of records, interviews and files compiled by law enforcement in an effort to defend against the State’s allegation,” the filing noted. “As it stands, Defendant does not have sufficient notice to prepare a defense and meet the State’s allegations.”
The motion was one of nearly a dozen filed by Short and Streett May 27 in the case, according to Arkansas Court Connect.
O’Donnell’s attorneys also asked that the charge of capital murder be dismissed and that the death penalty be removed, stating that it is “cruel and unusual punishment.”
They also filed a motion to prohibit photographic evidence, including photos of the deceased and pictures taken of the crime scene or during the autopsy.
A pre-trial hearing is set for June 12 in the case, while O’Donnell is set to go on trial Oct. 19.