Murder trial to be moved

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A second change of venue has been granted in the Rowan Ford murder case. Based on ruling made by Barry County Circuit Judge Robert Wiley last Wednesday, Christopher Collings' trial will be held in Phelps County.

Collings stands charged with first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory sodomy. Specifically, the 32-year-old man from Wheaton is accused of taking 9-year-old Ford from her home in Stella, sexually assaulting her, strangling her and then dumping her partially clothed body in a sink hole in McDonald County.

According to law enforcement authorities, Collings did not act alone. Ford's stepfather, David W. Spears, 25, of Stella, is also charged with the little girl's rape and murder. Spears' case has been transferred to Pulaski County.

Both Spears and Collings are being held in Barry County Jail. The pair have been inmates since their arrest on Nov. 9, 2007, which was six days after Ford was first reported missing from her home.

The murder case originates in Barry County, because the actual criminal act allegedly occurred at Collings' trailer, which is located in Wheaton. Both Spears and Collings are being represented by different attorneys from the State Public Defender's Office.

Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox is seeking the death penalty for both men. He is being assisted in the prosecution by Elizabeth Bock with the Attorney General's Office.

Trial dates have not yet been set.

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