As has already been reported last week an individual has been arrested by authorities in connection with her alleged involvement in the death of former State Senator Linda Collins. The investigation began on June 4th when her body was discovered at her residence in an advanced state of decomposition. It took investigators collaborating with the Arkansas Crime Lab Medical Examiner’s office two days to positively identify the body with dental records.
Public interest in this case immediately began generating news reports and social media activity which became a distraction to law enforcement within hours of the discovery of the body. We sought an order to seal documentary evidence necessary to pursue the investigation without continuous interruption by the public. The order to seal is not a “gag” order as has been reported in the press. It is a judicial option available under the law in order to protect sensitive information necessary to lead to the discovery of evidence which in this case has led to the arrest of an individual for her alleged involvement in the crime.
The rules of professional conduct for Prosecuting Attorneys dictate that we discourage members of the law enforcement community from making statements of a public nature which may have the effect of jeopardizing the accused’s right to a fair trial. The biggest threat to the successful prosecution of any criminal case is the premature release of information which has the tendency, as with this case, to become distorted and ultimately has the effect of prejudicing the potential jurors who may eventually be chosen to hear the case at trial.
It is my hope that in the coming weeks the media will be patient until the authorities charged with gathering evidence in this case can complete their task of gathering evidence in order to bring this case to justice.