Mo. Supreme Court Upholds Christopher Collings Conviction

By KOLR10 News , Matt Lupoli |

Published 08/19 2014 05:17PM

Updated 08/19 2014 10:24PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s Supreme Court upheld the death penalty punishment of a man convicted of the rape and murder of a young girl.

Christopher Collings was convicted in 2012 for the 2007 crimes against 9-year-old Rowan Ford in Stella, Mo.

Collings appealed his death penalty sentence saying his confession to a police officer he knew, photographs of Rowan Ford's lifeless body shown in court and some physical evidence are not relevant to the case.

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

Collings and his attorneys also say the evidence presented to the court confused jurors and caused them to make an emotional rather than a legal decision in choosing the death penalty.

The Missouri Supreme Court’s decision says the trial court did not make abuse its discretion in the case.

Earlier in the year, Collings' defense argued that a videotaped conversation between Collings and Wheaton Police Chief Clint Clark were a violation of his rights.

They also argued that impairment due to marijuana played a role in the crime.

"This impairment did not prevent Collings from deliberating with respect to the planning, execution, and cover up of Rowan's rape and murder," Draper wrote.

The defense also cited other cases to argue that life in prison is a more fitting sentence for Collings, but the justices found case law of their own to support upholding the death penalty.

"Collings' death sentence is consistent with the punishment imposed in other cases in which the defendant abducted a young victim and then sexually abused and murdered the victim," Draper wrote.

According to court documents, Collings was a family friend and he took Ford from her home after a night of drinking with Ford’s stepfather, David Spears. Investigators say Collings took the girl to his home near Wheaton, where he raped and killed her. Searchers found her body a week later in a sinkhole named Fox Cave.

Spears was originally charged with rape and murder alongside Collings, but prosecutors say there was no physical evidence to tie him to the crimes. Spears eventually pleaded guilty to reduced charges of endangering the welfare of a child and hindering prosecution for leaving the girl alone at their home and opening an opportunity for the crime to occur.

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