Collings' murder trial set to begin

Thursday, April 21, 2011

After a lengthy postponement and last minute delays, it appears the murder trial of Christopher Collings will begin this morning (Wednesday) in the Phelps County Courthouse in Rolla.

Collings, a 35-year-old man from Wheaton, will be tried for first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory sodomy for the Nov. 2, 2007, death of 9-year-old Rowan Ford.

According to Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox, jury selection will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning and continue through Friday. It is expected that the jury pool will include over 250 people. Cox said opening statements would be offered on Monday.

The trial is expected to last around three weeks.

Collings was 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. Ford's rape and murder took place on the night of Nov. 2, 2007, in a trailer in Wheaton owned by Collings.

Ford's stepfather, David Spears, has also been charged with the little girl's rape and murder. Collings and Spears both confessed to the crime, and the judges in their cases recently ruled that those confessions can be used as evidence during the men's trials.

Spears' murder trial is scheduled to be held at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville beginning in August.

Cox is seeking the death penalty in both cases.

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