Retired Circuit Judge David Goodson’s appointment as special judge in the capital murder case against Rebecca O’Donnell, charged in the slaying of former Sen. Linda Collins, has been terminated at his request.
Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Dan Kemp issued an order yesterday terminating the assignment and assigning Second District Circuit Judge John Fogleman to hear the Third District case. Kemp’s order said the assignment was made at the request of Third District Judge Harold Erwin.
The signed orders don’t indicate why Goodson asked that his assignment be terminated. He made the request in a letter to Kemp Tuesday.
Goodson had presided at a pre-trial hearing in Randolph County last week. The public portion of the hearing was routine, though attorneys reportedly met with Goodson for a time in chambers. A status review and motions hearing is set Feb. 28 in Pocahontas and a trial is currently set for Oct. 19-30, 2020.
Goodson declined to comment. I’ve been unable to reach Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce or O’Donnell’s lawyers for comment on the change.
Fogleman, a former prosecutor, has experience in hearing criminal cases. He’s scheduled to retire at the end of this year, contrary to something I wrote earlier on the point.
Goodson was appointed to the case in June. His appointment meant the presiding judge came from outside the circuit. Collins’ former husband, Phil Smith, is a retired judge in the district.
Collins’ body was found outside her home June 4. Police would later reveal she died of stab wounds. O’Donnell, a friend and former campaigner for Collins, was charged in part based on evidence from security camera footage in Collins’ home. An arrest affidavit said the footage showed O’Donnell removing security cameras from the home.