A trial date has been set for a Stella man charged with raping and murdering his 9-year-old stepdaughter in Barry County last November.
David Wesley Spears, 26, will stand trial in July of 2010. Although the murder occurred in Barry County, the trial will take place in Pulaski County on a change of venue.
The trial for Spears' co-defendant in the case, Christopher Collings, 33, of Wheaton, is scheduled for March 2010 in Phelps County.
On Dec. 3, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tracy Storie ordered Spears to submit to a hair sample for DNA testing. The sample will be compared to hairs found on the body of Rowan Ford.
Spears has been behind bars for over a year. He was first arrested on Nov. 9, 2007, 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 Collings.
According to law enforcement reports, 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 to different law enforcement agencies.