by Karen Sherrell
SHARP COUNTY — A woman has been found competent to proceed to trial, according to recent findings in her fitness to proceed and criminal responsibility examinations.
Jennifer Lea Collins, age 55, was charged with murder second degree, after the death of an elderly woman in her care in May. She had been incarcerated at the Sharp County Jail since the crime on May 11. Following an autopsy of the victim, a change in charges, from battery first degree to murder second degree, was filed on Collins on August 16. She was released on a $100,000 bond, after her court appearance before Judge Mark Johnson.
Collins, according to the affidavit of arrest in the case, had attacked 92 year old Jane Sandefur, at her home in Cherokee Village. Collins had been hired as a caregiver for Sandefur. The victim sustained serious injuries to her face, arms, legs and chest, all from being bitten. Collins smelled of alcohol, according to the affidavit, and was not making any sense in answering questions or making statements to officers.
According to court orders, Collins, through her attorney, requested simultaneous fitness to proceed and criminal responsibility examinations. Examination results were filed with the Sharp County Clerk’s office on November 20, and summarize that Collins has the capacity to understand her charges, and is competent to stand trial, which could be in January.
Bond restrictions on Collins, who shows her address as just doors down from her victim’s home on Mixtec Drive in Cherokee Village, are to have no contact with Sandefur’s family, nor go within one mile of the family members, residences or places of employment.
Collins is facing a minimum six years up to 30 years on the charge of second degree murder. She was additionally charged with abuse of endangered or impaired person, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Attorney R.T. Starken of Cherokee Village is representing Collins in the case.

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