Supreme Court rejects death penalty appeal

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Collings' conviction upheld for 2007 rape, murder of young Stella girl

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Christopher Collings, upholding a death penalty conviction in the 2007 rape and murder of a 9-year-old Stella Girl.

Collings, 39, was convicted for the crimes against Rowan Ford, and he appealed his death penalty sentence on the grounds that confessing to a police officer he knew, photographs of Rowan shown in court and some physical evidence was not relevant to the case.

"Collings only accepted full responsibility for the murder after he disposed of [Ford's] body, destroyed incriminating evidence, and spent a week lying and misdirecting law enforcement's efforts to locate Rowan," said Judge George W. Draper III in his ruling.

The physical evidence collected in the case supported Collings' story of what happened on the night of Nov. 2, 2007, when he took Rowan from her home in Stella, drove her to his trailer in Wheaton and raped and murdered her before dumping her body in a cave near Powell.

Ford's stepfather, David Spears, 31, of Stella, was originally charged with murder and rape as well, but later pleaded guilty to reduced charges of child endangerment and hindering prosecution after Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox said physical evidence in the case, analyzed by the FBI and Missouri State Highway Patrol crime labs, did not support his confession that he participated in the rape and murder of the girl.

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