by Karen Sherrell
SHARP COUNTY — Following an autopsy of her victim, a change in charges, from battery first degree to murder second degree, were filed on Jennifer Lea Collins on August 16. Collins was released on $100,000 bond the following day, after her court appearance before Judge Mark Johnson.
According to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Garner in August, charges were upgraded 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, age 55, had been incarcerated at the Sharp County Jail since the crime on May 11. According to court orders, Collins, through her attorney, requested simultaneous fitness to proceed and criminal responsibility examinations. The Director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services of the DHS was to determine who will examine Collins, who intends to rely on the defense of mental disease or defect.
According to the Sharp County Clerk’s office, no examination results have been filed as of November 14.
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.
Proseucting Attorney Henry Boyce stated in August, “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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