The stepfather of 9-year-old murder victim, Rowen Ford, was sentenced this morning to 11 years in prison after reaching a plea agreement with Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox.
The charges of murder in the first degree, forcible rape and statutory rape against David Spears, 29, of Stella, were dismissed during a specially scheduled hearing at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville.
Citing a lack of evidence to support Spears' confession that he raped and strangled Rowen on the night of Nov. 2, 2007, Cox explained in a three-page press release that the physical evidence collected and analyzed by three different crime labs failed to implicate Spears.
According to Cox, the evidence was inconsistent with the statements that Spears made to the Newton and Barry County Sheriff's Offices.
The evidence was consistent with the confession of Christopher Collings, who was sentenced to death for Rowen's murder following a weeklong trial last spring.
"I don't know why David Spears told law enforcement that he was involved," stated Cox. "I do know that Christopher Collings adamantly denied David Spears' involvement. And I do know that there isn't any physical evidence to support David Spears' version of what happened.
"I cannot in good conscience ask a jury to convict a person of murder in the first degree and ask that he be put to death if I am uncertain of his involvement."
A full story will be published in the next print edition of the Cassville Democrat. The story will also be updated online.