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Aide Confesses to Senator’s Murder

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Men's Hands in Handcuffs | Aide Confesses to Senator’s Murder | Featured

The former aide of State Senator Linda Collins-Smith has pleaded guilty to her murder, closing a roughly year-old case. Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, her former aide, was also a close friend. The Arkansas senator was found dead last year near her state’s capital of Little Rock. Authorities tagged O’Donnell as a suspect from the very beginning, and police arrested her shortly after discovering the senator’s body.

Guilty Plea

As part of the plea agreement, O’Donnell had to appear before a judge and confess to the senator’s murder.

“I went to Linda’s house, and I intentionally killed her and then hid the body,”
said O’Donnell in court.

The family of Senator Collins-Smith expressed their comfort in knowing that justice would be served. In a statement, Smith’s children said, “Our family has found swift justice by way of a plea deal. 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.”

Additional Attempted Murder

O’Donnell, perhaps fearing that he had incriminating information on her, also sought the murder of Smith’s ex-husband.  While in jail, O’Donnell tried to convince her fellow prisoners to carry out the hit. Her goal was to make the murder look like the suicide, likely in order to rule out her involvement.

As part of her plea deal, O’Donnell also had to serve time for this heinous plot to murder Smith’s ex-husband. She pleaded no-contest to solicitation to commit capital murder, as well as solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence. The charges added an additional 14 years to her sentence, for a total of 50 years.

Though O’Donnell will be eligible for parole at some point in her jail sentence, Smith’s family has indicated their intention to oppose it. Regardless of whether she ever walks free again, nothing can replace the person she took from the Smith’s family and the state of Arkansas.

Linda’s Legacy

Senator Collins-Smith’s murder was unfortunately one of her most widely publicized events, but it preceded a storied career as a public servant and entrepreneur. She dedicated her life to bettering her home state of Arkansas.

Ms. Smith grew up very poor in rural Arkansas; she didn’t have running water until she was a teenager. She began her professional life a real estate agent, where she become one of the most successful in Pocahontas, Arkansas. Smith later owned and operated a Days Inn, which she continued to own until her tragic death.

Smith later decided to enter the political arena, running for the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2011 on the Democratic ticket. Shortly after winning office, she became a Republican, the banner she would work under for the rest of her career. In 2014, Smith ran for the Arkansas Senate, and won her second election.

Smith’s unusual decision to switch parties shortly after taking office, as well as her conservative positions on gender identity largely distinguished her legacy. Her tragic murder at the hands of a trusted aide cut short a promising career in politics.

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