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Woman charged in former lawmaker’s death faces new charges

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A woman charged with killing a former Arkansas state lawmaker faced new charges Tuesday alleging that she asked fellow inmates to kill the victim’s ex-husband.

Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, who has pleaded not guilty to capital murder in the killing of former state Sen. Linda Collins, was charged with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of criminal solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence.

Four inmates told State Police that O’Donnell had talked with them about killing Collins’ ex-husband, Phil Smith, and arranging to have the death look like suicide, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday. O’Donnell also talked with inmates about blowing up her vehicle, which is being held at the Randolph County jail, “to destroy any evidence that may be in the vehicle,” the affidavit states.

Two inmates said O’Donnell also sought the killing of the prosecutor who had been handling her case, while another said she wanted Smith’s current wife killed. That prosecutor unexpectedly recused himself from the case late last year.

O’Donnell’s lawyer, Lee Short, didn’t immediately reply to a phone message seeking comment.

Collins, who went by Collins-Smith in the Legislature, was found dead June 4 outside her home in Pocahontas, which is about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock.

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