Trial of accused child murderer postponed

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The trial for one of the men accused of raping and killing 9-year-old Rowan Ford, of Stella, has been postponed.

According to Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox, Christopher Collings' defense attorneys filed a motion for continuance in January, and a judge in Phelps County, where the case has been transferred on a change of venue, granted the motion.

A reappearance date has been set for March 4 in Phelps County Circuit Court.

"On that day hopefully, a new trial date will be set," said Cox. "It's likely it won't be until the end of the year."

Collings' trial was originally scheduled to begin in March. Collings and David Spears have both been charged with first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in connection with Ford's death.

Both men were arrested on Nov. 9, 2007, one week after Ford was first reported missing and the day Ford's body was discovered in a sinkhole near Powell in McDonald County.

The actual rape and murder allegedly took place on the night of Nov. 2, 2007, in a trailer in Wheaton owned by Collings. Both Collings and Spears confessed to the crime, but there are conflicting statements in their confessions.

Collings said he took Ford from her home in Stella and brought her to his trailer in Wheaton where he raped her and then strangled her. He also admitted to disposing of Ford's body in a sinkhole.

Spears said he arrived at Collings' home to find Collings' raping his stepdaughter. Spears said he participated in the sexual assault and then strangled Ford. According to Spears' confession, he and Collings transported Ford's body to a cave.

Collings and Spears are being represented by the Missouri State Public Defenders Office. Cox will be assisted in the prosecution of the case by Elizabeth Bock, assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri.

Cox is seeking the death penalty against both Collings and Spears.

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