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Campaign aide admits to killing Arkansas Senator Linda Collins

Campaign aide, 49, admits to killing Arkansas Senator Linda Collins before trying to recruit fellow inmates in murder-for-hire plot against victim’s ex-husband, a judge and prosecutor

  • Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 49, pleaded guilty on Thursday to first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in the June 2019 death of Linda Collins 
  • She also pleaded no contest in a separate case where she was charged with asking fellow inmates to kill Collins’ ex-husband and two others while in jail 
  • O’Donnell was sentenced to 50 years in prison under a deal with prosecutors 
  • The former Arkansas Senator was found stabbed to death last year outside her home in Pocahontas last year
  • Prosecutors in April said O’Donnell killed Collins for money 
  • O’Donnell had worked on Collins’ unsuccessful reelection campaign in 2018 and was a witness in the former lawmaker’s divorce proceedings 

A campaign aide has pleaded guilty to killing former Arkansas Senator Linda Collins before trying to recruit female inmates to kill the victim’s ex-husband, as well as a judge and prosecutor linked to the murder trial. 

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 49, pleaded guilty on Thursday to first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in the June 2019 death of Collins.

O’Donnell also pleaded no contest to two counts of criminal solicitation in a separate case where she was charged with asking fellow inmates to kill Collins’ ex-husband and two others while she was in jail.

She was sentenced to 50 years in prison under a deal with prosecutors. 

Former Arkansas Senator Linda Collins

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 49, (left) pleaded guilty on Thursday to first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in the June 2019 death of former Arkansas Senator Linda Collins (right)

Collins, who went by Collins-Smith in the Legislature, was found stabbed to death last year outside her home in Pocahontas, which is about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock. 

The victim’s son and father found her body wrapped in a blanket under a tarp in her driveway. 

Prosecutors in April said O’Donnell killed Collins for money. 

O’Donnell was originally charged with capital murder and prosecutors last year said they planned to seek the death penalty.

She initially pleaded not guilty but changed her plea during the court hearing on Thursday before being sentenced.  

O’Donnell admitted to intentionally killing her friend and then hiding her body.  

She had worked on Collins’ unsuccessful reelection campaign in 2018 and was a witness in the former lawmaker’s divorce proceedings. 

Collins divorced retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith in 2018.

O’Donnell and Collins were known to be friends before the slaying. 

O'Donnell on Thursday admitted to intentionally killing her friend and then hiding her body. She had worked on Collins' unsuccessful reelection campaign in 2018 and was a witness in the former lawmaker's divorce proceedings

O’Donnell on Thursday admitted to intentionally killing her friend and then hiding her body. She had worked on Collins’ unsuccessful reelection campaign in 2018 and was a witness in the former lawmaker’s divorce proceedings

Video footage from Collins' security system showed O'Donnell (above) removing security cameras from inside the former lawmaker's residence on May 28 - the day she was last seen alive

Video footage from Collins’ security system showed O’Donnell (above) removing security cameras from inside the former lawmaker’s residence on May 28 – the day she was last seen alive

After Collins’ body was discovered, investigators determined that she had last been seen alive on May 28 – just days before she was found.  

Video footage from Collins’ security system showed O’Donnell removing security cameras from inside the former lawmaker’s residence that same day. 

After O’Donnell was arrested and jailed, she was accused of trying to recruit female inmates at her prison to help kill prosecutor Henry Boyce and judge Harold Erwin. 

After O'Donnell (above in a mugshot) was arrested and jailed, she was accused of trying to recruit female inmates at her prison to help kill prosecutor Henry Boyce and judge Harold Erwin

After O’Donnell (above in a mugshot) was arrested and jailed, she was accused of trying to recruit female inmates at her prison to help kill prosecutor Henry Boyce and judge Harold Erwin

Boyce and Erwin had been overseeing the trial but both recused themselves from the case.   

‘No amount of punishment will ever fill that void that Rebecca O’Donnell made in our lives the day she killed our mother,’ Tate Williams, Collins’ daughter, said after the hearing. 

‘Today we find some shred of peace that Rebecca O’Donnell will be put away in prison for a very long time, unable to hurt anyone else.’

Collins’ son, Butch Smith, who found his mother’s body outside her home, said: ‘The plea deal was not what my first choice would have been, but at least we do have a guaranteed amount of time that she will be imprisoned for and we will have the ability as the victim’s family to argue against her release at her parole hearings.’

Collins served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. 

She switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, a 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. 

Collins served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. She switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, a year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature

Collins served one term in the state House and was originally elected as a Democrat in 2010. She switched parties and became a Republican in 2011, a year before the GOP won control of both chambers of the Legislature

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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