by Karen Sherrell
Charges have been upgraded on Jennifer Lea Collins for the second time in three months, following an autopsy of her victim.
According to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Garner, charges have been upgraded from battery first degree to murder second degree, in the case of an elderly woman being attacked by her caregiver, Collins, and subsequently dying.
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.
Collins has additionally been charged with abuse of endangered or impaired person, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. Charges were filed on August 16.
Collins, age 55 of Mammoth Spring, has been incarcerated at the Sharp County Jail since the crime on May 11. According to court orders, Collins, through her attorney, has requested simultaneous fitness to proceed and criminal responsibility examinations. The Director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services of the DHS will determine who will examine Collins, who intends to rely on the defense of mental disease or defect.
Collins is facing a minimum six years up to 30 years on the charge of second degree murder.
Attorney R.T. Starken of Cherokee Village is representing Collins in the case.
Proseucting Attorney Henry Boyce stated, “After carefully reviewing the evidence in this case including a review of the autopsy and consultation with the Crime Lab Medical Examiner, I decided that the upgrade in charges was warranted.”

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