Collins’ murder suspect to appear in court Friday

Motion for access to sealed records denied

POCAHONTAS—Rebecca O’Donnell, charged with murdering former Arkansas State Representative and Senator Linda Collins, will appear in Randolph County Circuit Court Friday at 10:30 a.m. for her next scheduled hearing. The hearing will be O’Donnell’s first since her Sept. 19 pre-trial hearing, in which she and her legal team were granted a 60-day continuance.

On Monday, Nov. 18, a motion made by the Arkansas Press Association (APA) and ABC, Inc. (ABC News) for intervention and access to sealed court filings and related relief was denied by special-appointed to the case, Judge David Goodson.

According to their motion, filed Oct. 15, the APA and ABC challenged the orders that sealed court records and gagged individuals from making public comments about the case, as presented by APA and ABC attorneys John E. Tull, Vincent Chadick, and Christoph Keller. According to the motion, the gag order is unconstitutional and violates both the First Amendment and common law.

The Court’s June 5 order sealing all materials was followed by an order, filed July 30, barring disclosure. It said, based upon the motions and arguments of counsel, the sealing was necessary in order to protect the defendant’s right to a fair trial. The order specifically prohibited “any statements to agents and employees of any newspapers, television stations or networks, radio stations, internet websites, or any other print, audio, or visual media, either directly or indirectly.”



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