Jury deliberations could begin as early as this evening in the Christopher Collings' capital murder trial.
This morning, on the eighth day of testimony in the trial, Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox called one witness to the stand, and at the conclusion of the witness' testimony, he announced that the state was resting its case.
A brief recess was called, at which time Phelps County Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield overruled a defense motion for acquital. She also questioned Collings directly about his intention to testify. When asked if he was not going to testify, Collins answered "Yes, maam."
When the jury was called back into the courtroom, the defense rested its case without introducing any additional evidence.
Right now (10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20), Judge Sheffield is meeting with Cox, Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bock and defense attorneys Jan Zembles and Charles Moreland to formulate jury instructions.
According to a statement made by Sheffield before the court entered into an extended recess, she expects the jury instruction process to take about two hours. Lunch will then be taken, and closing arguments could begin early this afternoon.
A jury of five men and seven women from the Kansas City area, who have been sequestered since the start of the trial, will be deciding Collings' fate. The 37-year-old man from Wheaton is charged with first degree murder, first degree rape and statutory rape in connection with the death of 9-year-old Rowan Ford on Nov. 3, 2007.
If the jury returns a verdict of guilty, the trial will enter a "death penalty" phase where additional testimony will be offered.