Fogleman assigned high-profile murder case
Judge will hear case of slain former legislator post-retirement next year
Judge John Fogleman of Marion, who serves as Circuit Judge for Division 8 of the Arkansas 2nd Circuit, has been tapped by Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp to handle the case of Rebecca Lynn O’Donnell, who faces capital murder and other charges in relation to the murder of former state Sen. Linda Collins earlier this year.
Fogleman, who was appointed last week, is the fourth judge assigned to the case against the Randolph County woman well ahead of a trial set for next year. He replaces Judge David Goodson, who asked to be removed from the case recently for unknown reasons.
Fogleman, who represents northeast Arkansas’ 2nd Judicial District, which borders the four-county 3rd Circuit that includes Randolph County, sent a letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson saying that he will retire effective Dec. 31, but has said the O’Donnell case is the only one he has so far agreed to take up post-retirement.
Maintaining a presiding judge on the case has proved difficult. Goodson, a former judge on the 2nd Circuit, was similarly pulled out of retirement in June to take on the O’Donnell case. Before his assignment, two different judges on the 3rd Circuit bench heard preliminary matters, such as a gag order placed on investigative documents and O’Donnell’s first court appearance.
The judges, Harold Erwin and Tom Garner, later recused, along with every other judge in the circuit.
Collins’s ex-husband, Philip Smith, had been a judge on the circuit court.
In one of his final matters before removing himself from the case, Goodson set the case for trial starting on Oct. 19. The trial is expected to last two weeks and is scheduled through Oct. 30.
Prosecutors have not unveiled a possible motive in the case ,but have said that O’Donnell was filmed removing security cameras from Collins’s home in Pocahontas on the day Collins was last seen alive.
Collins was found on June 4 stabbed to death in her
O’Donnell has pleaded innocent and has been ordered held without bail.
Collins was known as an outspoken conservative lawmaker and opponent of gun control.
Since Collins’s death there have been numerous unsubstantiated rumors about the case posted on social media. O’Donnell was a friend and former campaign aide of Collins.
In addition to a capital murder charge, O’Donnell faces one count each of abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.