No court dates set in murder and rape case

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No preliminary hearing dates have been set for the two men accused of raping and murdering a 9-year-old Stella girl.

Judge Victor Head is waiting for attorneys to submit conflict dates before setting preliminary hearing dates for David Wesley Spears, of Stella, and Chris Collings, of Wheaton. The men have been formally charged with first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in connection with the brutal murder of Rowan Ford, Spears' stepdaughter, on Nov. 2.

Spears and Collings are being held without bond in the Barry County Jail. During their arraignment on Nov. 13, Judge Head entered pleas of not guilty on their behalf because neither man was represented by an attorney.

On Nov. 26, Michael C. King filed an entry of appearance in Barry County Circuit Court to represent Spears. King is an assistant public defender from Carthage.

Collings has also filed for assistance from the public defender's office, but to date, he has not been assigned an attorney.

Another murder case

A preliminary date has been set in the case of the State vs. Michael Roy Huggins. The 26-year-old Springfield man has been charged with second degree murder in connection with the beating death of Joshua Utter on Sept. 24.

The murder allegedly took place at Stubblefield Access along Flat Creek in Barry County. Utter's badly beaten body was discovered there by a conservation agent on Sept. 25.

Huggins' preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Monday, March 24, 2008, at 8 a.m. in Barry County Circuit Court. He is being represented by Brian Smith, an assistant public defender from Monett.

Huggins is being held in Barry County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond.

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