Judge finds probable cause to charge suspect in Collins case, prosecutor also releases new statement

Image credit: KAIT-TV/Miranda Reynolds

A suspect in the slaying of former State Sen. Linda Collins was arraigned today on a capital murder charge by a judge who found probable cause for her to be held

Miranda Reynolds at KAIT-TV reports the judge ordered Becky Lynn O’Donnell, 48, of Pocahontas, remain in custody without a bond, and that O’Donnell has been charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. (For the KAIT-TV report, click here.)

O’Donnell, a friend of Collins, was arrested by Randolph County Sheriff Kevin Bell, Friday, June 14.

Arkansas Times reports O’Donnell was arrested en route to the visitation of Collins. O’Donnell was apparently with her boyfriend at the time, Tim Loggains. The Little Rock newspaper’s Max Brantley also has more on the relationship between O’Donnell, Collins, and Loggains, including information that O’Donnell was a corroborating witness in Collins’ divorce from retired Circuit Judge Phil Smith and that Loggains had Collins’ power of attorney. Brantley also notes Loggains “…had cashed, or attempted to cash, almost $500,000 in state and federal income tax refund checks made out jointly to Collins and her husband.” (For the Arkansas Times article, click here.)

Collins-Smith, O' DonnellCollins (left) and O’Donnell in a photo posted to O’Donnell’s Facebook page

Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce also released a statement today regarding the investigation.

In the release, Boyce noted when the body was discovered, it was in such an advanced state of decomposition that it took two days for officials at the Arkansas Crime Lab Medical Examiner’s office to positively identify the body with dental records.

The prosecutor also elaborated on his office’s order to seal documentary evidence necessary to pursue the investigation without continuous interruption by the public. Boyce noted the order to seal is not a “gag” order, but “… a judicial option available under the law in order to protect sensitive information necessary to lead to the discovery of evidence which in this case has led to the arrest of an individual for her alleged involvement in the crime.”

“The biggest threat to the successful prosecution of any criminal case is the premature release of information which has the tendency, as with this case, to become distorted and ultimately has the effect of prejudicing the potential jurors who may eventually be chosen to hear the case at trial,” Boyce noted.

“It is my hope that in the coming weeks the media will be patient until the authorities charged with gathering evidence in this case can complete their task of gathering evidence in order to bring this case to justice.”

Boyce’s statement in full is below.

Boyce Release.jpg Funeral services for Collins were Saturday at Sutton Free Will Baptist Church on Highway 62 West in Pocahontas.

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