Spears makes court appearance

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jurors in the Christopher Collings' murder trial will not hear testimony from David Spears, the stepfather of Rowan Ford who confessed to participating with Collings in Rowan's rape and murder -- a fact that Collings' vehemently denies. Both Collings and Spears have been charged with first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape but are being tried separately

The defense was able to put Spears on the stand this Saturday even though the prosecution has not yet rested its case. Spears' appearance in Phelps County Circuit Court in Rolla came the day after jurors heard a videotaped interview with Collings where officers told Collings for the first time that Spears had confessed to participating with Collings in the rape and murder of Rowan Ford. In that tape, Collings tells officers repeatedly that he acted alone.

Spears, 29, of Stella, was brought into the courtroom when the jury was not present, and he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than answering the defense's questions.

Judge Mary Sheffield ruled that Spears was "unavailable" as a witness, and Spears, who was dressed in street clothes and appeared clean shaven, was escorted by deputies out the courtroom.

Testimony on Saturday concluded at noon.

During the first five days of the trial, the prosecution has systematically offered the testimony of FBI agents who were members of an evidence response team that collected items of physical evidence from the David and Colleen Spears' home in Stella, from Fox Cave where Rowan's body was discovered, from vehicles owned by Spears and by Collings and from Collings' property in Wheaton.

The purpose of this testimony is to establish a complete chain of custody to prove the evidence collected in the capital murder case is untainted.

On Monday, the prosecution is expected to call a number of crime lab technicians and pathologists to the stand. Dr. Keith Norton, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Rowan Ford, will also testify.

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