Suspect in Collins-Smith case charged with attempting to murder victim’s ex-husband and former judge

by George Jared ([email protected]) 849 views 

A woman charged with capital murder in the death of former State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith is facing new charges after she allegedly tried to hire inmates at the Jackson County Detention Center to murder several other people connected to the case, including Collins-Smith’s ex-husband and former judge Phil Smith and Prosecutor Henry Boyce.

Rebecca Lynn (Becky) O’Donnell, 48, has been charged with two counts of solicitation to commit murder and two counts of attempting to tamper with evidence, all felonies. O’Donnell is already facing the death penalty in Collins-Smith’s case.

O’Donnell approached another inmate, Shana Hembrey, and asked her if she would kill Phil Smith and his wife Mary Smith, according to a probable cause affadavit. O’Donnell instructed Hembrey and other inmates that she spoke with to make it look like a suicide and that he should be hung or shot. The inmates were instructed to pack a bag to make it look like Mary Smith was leaving Phil Smith and she should be killed, too. At one point she asked multiple inmates if they could find some “Mexican people” to commit the crimes.

To pay for the “hit,” O’Donnell told them they needed to steal the up to $30,000 in gold and silver in Phil Smith’s possession. O’Donnell also composed the phony suicide note and placed it with another inmate on Nov. 5.

Hembrey was told to drive to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department and blow up O’Donnell’s 2005 Honda Civic that is being held in evidence. She said Phil Smith set her up for the murder of his former wife, and that there was evidence planted in her car. During her incarceration she has also discussed having Prosecutor Henry Boyce, and Circuit Court Judge Harold Erwin killed, the affidavit states.

Sen. Linda Collins-Smith

Collin-Smith’s body was found at her Pocahontas-area home in early June after she had been missing for several days. O’Donnell had reportedly been a campaign aide and business manager for the victim.

Authorities have released few details in the high-profile case, which has also been under a judicial gag order. Collins-Smith, a former state representative and senator, had been married to former Judge Phil Smith. The couple was involved in a divorce at the time of the murder. Several judges and Boyce, who all had worked with Judge Smith in some capacity, have been removed from the case.

O’Donnell’s trial is slated to begin Oct. 19, 2020.

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