Ex-Arkansas State Senator’s Campaign Staffer, ‘Friend’ Charged in Politician’s Murder

The former campaign staffer and “friend” suspected in the slaying of ex-Arkansas state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was charged Monday with capital murder — potentially putting the death penalty in play if she’s convicted.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, 48, was also charged Monday with abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence and ordered held without bond. She was arrested Friday in connection with Collins-Smith’s death. . .

But beyond those basic facts, most elements of the case remain undisclosed by authorities. It’s not clear when or how officials believe she died or what O’Donnell’s motive may have been. Further clouding the case, a judge sided with prosecutors and ordered police documents sealed. Prosecutors had argued the files could prejudice public opinion prior to a trial and also stressed the release of the information at the current time could harm the ongoing investigation into Collins-Smith’s death.

A former Collins-Smith spokesperson described the relationship between the victim and O’Donnell as that of two friends. Court documents revealed O’Donnell was a witness in Collins-Smith’s divorce proceedings from retired Circuit Judge Philip Smith last year.

Robin Emis, an attorney for Collins during her divorce, said she didn’t believe O’Donnell was capable of the crime and described the woman as a close confidante of the ex-lawmaker. (Read more from “Ex-Arkansas State Senator’s Campaign Staffer, ‘Friend’ Charged in Politician’s Murder” HERE)

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