Jury selection begins in Collings' murder trial

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The capital murder case against a Wheaton man accused of raping and murdering 9-year-old Rowan Ford began Monday with jury selection in the Platte County Circuit Courthouse.

Christopher Collings faces the death penalty on charges of first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in connection with Ford's death.

Collings and David Spears, Ford's stepfather, are accused of sexually assaulting and raping Ford in Collings' trailer house in Wheaton and then murdering her on Nov. 2, 2007. Ford's body was found in a sinkhole in McDonald County a week after her mother and Spears reported her missing. Both Spears and Collings have confessed to the crime.

This week, attorneys will be selecting jury members from a pool of individuals in Platte County in northern Kansas City. Once the jury is selected, jury members will be bused to the trial, which will take place in the Phelps County Circuit Courthouse in Rolla on a change of venue from Barry County.

This will the second attempt for jury selection in the Collings' case. Last April, Phelps County Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield decided the pool of jurors was not large enough to select a jury and declared a mistrial after three days of jury selection.

Following Judge Sheffield's decision, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tracy Storie postponed Spears' trial until October over jury selection concerns. Spears will be tried in the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville with potential jurors bused in from Clay County near Kansas City.

Collings and Spears are being represented by the Missouri State Public Defenders Office. Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elizabeth Bock, assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri.

Cox is seeking the death penalty against both Collings and Spears.

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