Spears waives preliminary

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Accused murderer, rapist makes Barry County court appearance

By Lisa Schlichtman

David Spears, one of two men accused of raping and murdering 9-year-old Rowan Ford, was in Barry County Court on Tuesday morning where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing and will now face arraignment in Barry County Circuit Court on Jan. 22.

Spears appeared with his attorney Michael King and voiced his decision to bypass a preliminary hearing and proceed to the next stage of the judicial process. After Spears is arraigned on charges of first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape next week, dates for a jury trial can be set.

Spears, 25, of Stella, is currently being held without bond in the Barry County Jail. He has been a county inmate since his arrest on Nov. 9, 2007, which occurred a week after Ford was reported missing from her home in Stella and the same day her body was discovered in a sink hole near Powell.

Spears, who was Ford's stepfather, is accused of participating in her rape and murder with fellow defendant Chris Collings, 32, of Wheaton.

According to the Barry County Sheriff's Department, Collings took Ford from her home and took her to his trailer in Wheaton. Once there, he allegedly had sexual intercourse with her and then strangled her to death outside his home.

Spears also confessed to officers that he also sexually assaulted Ford after catching Collings in the act of raping her. Spears also told officers that he wrapped a cord around his stepdaughter's neck and choked her until she died.

Collings allegedly admitted that he took Ford's body and dumped it in a sinkhole while Spears claims that he and Collings together took Ford's body to a cave where Collings disposed of the body.

After a week-long search for Ford's body, both Collings and Spears ended up confessing their crimes to area law enforcement at about the same time.

Collings' confession was made to Wheaton Police Chief Clint Clark and Spears confessed to FBI agents and Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly.

The two men made their first court appearance together on Nov. 13, 2007. At their arraignment before Barry County Associate Circuit Court Judge Victor Head, both men entered pleas of not guilty.

Collings, who is also being held without bond in Barry County Jail, was back in court on Dec. 21, 2007, at which time he also waived his preliminary hearing and now awaits arraignment in Barry County Circuit Court on Jan. 22.

Another murder case

On Monday, Jan. 14, Luke Anthony Trottier was also back in Barry County Court almost two years after he was arrested for the murder of a Golden liquor store owner.

Trottier waived his right to a preliminary hearing and is set to be arraigned on first degree murder charges and armed criminal action in Barry County Circuit Court on Feb. 19.

The 39-year-old Marlborough, Mass., man is accused of murdering John Robinson, the 58-year-old owner of Golden Package Store, on Jan. 24, 2006.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case, Trottier entered the Golden Package store on the night of Jan. 24, 2006, and shot Robinson at least twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. The shooting followed an altercation between the two men earlier in the day.

Robinson was found dead in his store by an area resident who went by to check on the business owner and found him shot and lying on the ground.

On Jan. 27, 2006, Trottier pleaded not guilty to the charges of first degree murder and armed criminal action. The case against Trottier was stalled after his defense attorney, Shara Martin, successfully argued that a mental exam be performed on Trottier.

On May 24, 2006, Trottier was committed to Fulton State Hospital for a mental evaluation. On July 31, 2007, a Barry County Associate Circuit Court Judge Carr Woods signed an order declaring Trottier competent to proceed and the case was set for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 14.

Once Trottier is arraigned in Barry County Circuit Court, dates can be set for a jury trial.

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