by Karen Sherrell
A Sharp County woman charged with murder in the second degree has once again been found competent to proceed to trial.
Jennifer Lea Collins, age 56, was charged with murder in the second degree, after the death of an elderly woman in her care in May of 2017.
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.
The state official account reads, “Collins would not cooperate with law enforcement or paramedics at the scene, and became belligerent and violent when officers attempted to take her into custody.” Collins was transported to White River Emergency Center for a blood test and the “available information indicates that Collins registered a blood alcohol level of .29, more than three times the legal limit for intoxication.”
Sandefur died seven days after the attack. She was able to tell Officer Phillip Dunlap at the scene that Collins “had bit and beat her.” The autopsy lists death as “aspiration pneumonia due to blunt force injuries and human bites.”
Initially charged with battery first degree, Collins’ charges were upgraded on August 16, 2017. She was then released on a $100,000 bond, after her court appearance before Judge Mark Johnson.
Collins, through her attorney, R. T Starken, requested simultaneous fitness to proceed and criminal responsibility examinations. Examination results were filed with the Sharp County Clerk’s office on November 20, 2017, and the results summarized that Collins had the capacity to understand her charges, and was competent to stand trial.
One month later, a commitment order was filed for Collins to undergo additional evaluations citing insufficiencies in the first exam. On December 12, 2017, she was ordered to receive care, treatment and evaluations through the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
Records indicate Collins was seen by Debra Alberts, LCSW, for individual therapy December 2017 through May of this year. Records also indicate that Collins was married this past March.
The results from the second evaluation were filed May 23 in Sharp County Circuit Court.
Michael J. Simon, Ph.D., Supervising Forensic Psychologist, Arkansas State Hospital, conducted the clinical interview on May 10. According to his report: at the time of the examination Collins does not have a mental disease or defect; has the capacity to understand the proceedings against her; and is functioning in the average range of intelligence. Simons’ summary opinion reads: at the time of the alleged conduct and in regards to her charge of murder in the second degree, “Collins did not lack the capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct; did not lack the capacity to conform her conduct to the requirement of the law; and did not lack capacity to engage ‘knowing’ conduct.’”
Simon additionally reported, “Ms. Collins has a long history abusing alcohol and thus meets criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder; however, substance dependence or intoxication is not considered a mental disease or defect under Arkansas statutory law.” His report continued, “There is significant evidence that her actions were the result of voluntary intoxication which cannot be used as an affirmative defense.”
Collins denied any memory of the alleged offenses to Simon, but was able to provide a detailed description of the events leading up to the alleged crimes, as stated in his official report.
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.
A trial date has not been set at this time.

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