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She was charged in the death of a former state senator. Now she's accused of plotting to kill victim's ex-husband

Updated 1:22 PM ET, Wed January 15, 2020

(CNN) - A woman arrested in the killing of a former Arkansas state senator is facing new charges after she attempted to hire inmates to kill her victim's ex-husband, authorities said.

Sen. Linda Collins-Smith was found dead in her Randolph County home on June 4.

Weeks later, state police arrested her former aide, Rebecca Lynn O'Donnell, of Pocahontas, Arkansas. The suspect was charged with capital murder, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence in Collins-Smith's case, CNN affiliate KATV reported.

Jailhouse informants provide new information

Now authorities say after she went to jail, she attempted to hire her cellmates at different times to kill Phil Smith and his wife, according to a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday. It described Smith as the victim's ex-husband.

In October, she told one of the inmates she wanted Smith's death to look like a suicide complete with a note, according to the affidavit. And instead of getting payment from her, she told the inmates to steal gold and silver from the couple's home, the affidavit said. One of the inmates was the suspect's cellmate for three months, the affidavit states.

O'Donnell told the inmates she was targeting Smith because he had set her up. She also asked the inmates to find her car in police custody and burn it to eliminate evidence that she claimed was planted, the affidavit states.

A series of new charges have been filed against her based on information from the jailhouse informants.

Charges after former senator's death

In the murder-for-hire plot, O'Donnell was charged with solicitation to commit capital murder, and solicitation to commit tampering with physical evidence while in custody of the Jackson County Jail, according to court documents.

Her family said it's standing by her and does not believe the latest accusations. In a statement, her fiance said his faith in her is "unwavering," according to the affiliate.

"We cannot imagine the evidence will actually substantiate these allegations. The allegations defy believability," the statement said. "I won't even comment on the informant's extensive criminal history but instead will wait to see if the State produces credible evidence at trial."


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