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.

ASH FLAT – According to the Sharp County Sheriff’s Office, three inmates assaulted a jailer and then escaped the county jail early Sunday morning, October 30.
According to reports, the three inmates escaped at 12:12 a.m. and then were taken into custody at 5:30 a.m. at the Water Department in Ash Flat, approximately two miles south of the jail.
All three subjects were taken into custody without incident by the North Central Unit Chase Team and Highland Police Chief Shane Russell.
Deputies say Jeffery “Major” Harris, 26; Dylan Cole Thompson, 20; and Joshua Keith Ray, 25; beat a jailer who went back to do a jail check. There were four inmates in the cell, and those three managed to get out. Harris was in jail on felony drug charges. Thompson was being held on felony drug charges and battery. Ray was being held on felony drug charges and parole bond.
According to Sgt. Aaron Presser, CID, the three stole a phone, clothes, water and food from the sewer treatment facility. Presser stated that nothing was stolen from the jail, no weapons were involved.
The jailer, Jonathan Trivitt, escaped the incident with only minor injuries.
All three men were formally charged on October 31 with escape, aggravated assault on a police officer, commercial burglary, and theft of property.
Assisting in the search were the Sharp County Sheriff’s Department, Ash Flat Police Department, Highland Police Department, Cherokee Village Police Department, Izard County Sheriff’s Department, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, Hardy Police Department, Ravenden Police Department, North Central Unit Chase Team and the Grimes Unit Chase Team.

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