Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell switched her plea in the murder of her close friend and former Arkansas lawmaker Linda Collins. She admitted guilty in a hearing on Thursday, according to KATV.
“I went to Linda’s house and I intentionally killed her and then hid the body,” she said.
Prosecutors have said the motive was financial. The victim’s son said he discovered his mother’s discomposed body under a tarp and wrapped in an old comforter that had belonged to him.
“The last memory of her that I have was of me making the 911 call and trying not to vomit all over at the sight and smell of my mother’s body,” he said. “The plea deal is not what my first choice would have been, but at least we have a guaranteed amount of time that she will be imprisoned for.”
He said he believed the murder happened after his mother discovered the defendant stealing money from her.
O’Donnell originally faced the death penalty. She pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and abuse of a corpse. This admitted killer was sentenced to 40, and 3 years in prison respectively. She also pleaded no contest to two counts of solicitation to commit capital murder, in an allegation that she tried to hire other jail inmates to kill Collins ‘s ex-husband and others, and make it look like suicide. The defendant received 7-year sentences that were concurrent with one another. Her attorney Lee Short told THV11 she received a 50-year sentence: the murder charge, abuse of a corpse charge, and the solicitation charges were to be served consecutively. O’Donnell would be eligible for parole in about 30 years, Short said.
In a surprise twist to a baffling Southern murder mystery, the main suspect in the June 2019 murder of former Arkansas Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, will spend 54 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder in court this morning. https://t.co/uo3NKBT0v0
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 6, 2020
Judge John Fogleman ordered that case documents not under seal be made available online, and said documents would be up a week from then.
Perhaps this would better explain how and why O’Donnell–who did not explain her motive at the hearing–killed Collins, a former Republican state senator. The defendant didn’t just work for the victim as a campaign aide. They were, by all accounts, close friends. So how do they go from that to Collins being found dead outside her home on June 4, 2019? The defendant’s fiancé Tim Loggains initially voiced skepticism, telling ABC News in 2019 that O’Donnell wasn’t “capable of this. Either she is the best actress in the world and completely fooled me or there’s not a chance she did this.”
Now he said he acknowledges the defendant’s guilty. He called Collins a “beautiful soul and a dead dear friend” to him.
“Initially, for various reasons, I believed with all my heart that Becky was innocent,” he said in a statement. “No one wants to believe anyone close to them is capable of doing something so heinous. My heart at that time would not let me believe what I later learned to be true – that Becky murdered Linda. That realization was one of the most difficult of my life. To accept that I lived with someone so deviant, someone who could not only take a life but the life of someone who helped her in so many ways, without any indication of the darkness in her heart, was heartbreaking.”
[Mugshot via Randolph County Sheriff’s Office]
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