State Watch

Former aide confesses to killing state senator in Arkansas

An Arkansas woman has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and confessed in the stabbing death of a former state senator earlier this year.

Rebecca O’Donnell said in a Randolph County, Ark., court last Thursday that she “intentionally killed” former state Sen. Linda Collins (R) and hid her body. O’Donnell also pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse, according to a Little Rock-area ABC affiliate.

O’Donnell, who worked for Collins, was arrested 10 days after the discovery of the former state lawmaker’s body on June 4. The court sentenced O’Donnell to 40 years on the murder charge and another three years on the abuse of a corpse charge.

Collins’s son said his mother discovered O’Donnell had been stealing money from her, and that O’Donnell “snapped” when confronted. 

“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 in a statement. “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.”

“Today our family has found swift justice by way of a plea deal,” Collins’s daughter said in another statement. “No amount of punishment will ever fill that void that Rebecca O’Donnell made in our lives the day she killed our mother. Today we find some shred of peace that O’Donnell will be put away in prison for a very long time, unable to hurt anyone else.”

O’Donnell also pleaded no contest to two counts of soliciting capital murder. A probable cause affidavit alleges she tried to hire fellow inmates to kill Collins’s ex-husband and make it appear to be a suicide. She was sentenced to seven years on both counts, with the sentences set to run concurrently, according to the ABC affiliate.

Collins served as a state representative from 2011-2013 and as a state senator from 2015-2019.

Tags Arkansas Linda Collins Murder Rebecca O'Donnell

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