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New twist in case of woman accused of killing former Arkansas state senator

Arrest made in death of Arkansas politician
Arrest made in death of Arkansas politician 03:00

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-Smith, was charged with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of criminal solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence.

Former Arkansas State Senator Linda Collins-Smith, left, and Rebecca O'Donnell, right, the woman charged in her death. KTVH-TV

Four inmates told State Police that O'Donnell had talked with them about killing Collins-Smith's 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.

One inmate said O'Donnell "told her that Phil Smith needed to be killed and a 'suicide note' was to be left so the 'charges would be dropped off her,'" according to the affidavit. Three inmates said O'Donnell told them they could take a bag of gold and silver at Phil Smith's home as payment. Another inmate gave the investigator handwritten "suicide notes" she said O'Donnell had written, the affidavit said.

CBS affiliate KTHV reports two inmates said O'Donnell also sought the killing of Henry Boyce, the prosecutor who had been handling her case, while another said she wanted Smith's current wife killed to make it look like she was in the process of leaving Smith, according to the affidavit. That prosecutor unexpectedly recused himself from the case late last year. One inmate told investigators O'Donnell also wanted her to kill a judge who had initially presided over her case before recusing last summer.

Lee Short, O'Donnell's attorney, denied the claims and questioned whether the inmates were accusing his client in the hopes of striking deals in their own cases.

"This happens so incredibly often on homicide cases with any level of publicity," he said.

A hearing date had not been set yet for O'Donnell on the new charges.

Collins-Smith was found dead June 4  outside her home in Pocahontas, which is about 130 miles northeast of Little Rock. O'Donnell is scheduled to go to trial in October. Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty.

Police have said Collins was stabbed to death and O'Donnell was captured on video removing security cameras inside the former lawmaker's home. 

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