Murder trial is delayed another 10 months
It will be another 10 months before Christopher Collings stands trial for the murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford back in November 2007.
Last Tuesday, Phelps County Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield set Feb. 27, 2012, as the starting date for Collings' trial. This marks the third trial delay and the first action in the case since the trial was derailed by a mistrial ruling on April 23.
The judge granted the mistrial after it was determined a jury could not be chosen from the pool of Rolla area jurors selected for jury duty. The action followed three and a half days of jury selection.
Judge Sheffield also decided that the next jury will be selected from Platte County. The trial will be held in Rolla, and jurors from the Kansas City area will be brought to Phelps County for the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.
Collings, 35, of Wheaton, is charged with first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in connection with the death of Ford. Collings confessed to the crime on the day that Ford's body was found in a sinkhole near Powell in McDonald County. He said he took Ford from her home in Stella and then raped and strangled her in his trailer in Wheaton.
Ford's stepfather, David Spears, has also been charged with his stepdaughter's rape and murder. Spears' trial is scheduled to begin in August at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville on a change of venue.
A pre-trial hearing for Spears is scheduled for June. It is expected that the circumstances surrounding attempts to try Collings could affect Spears' case as well.
Both Collings and Spears are facing the death penalty.