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Collings Appeals His Death Penalty Sentence

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Convicted murderer Christopher Collings and his attorney's want the death penalty punishment dropped against him.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Convicted murderer Christopher Collings and his attorney's want the death penalty punishment dropped against him.

Collings was convicted in 2012 for the 2007 rape and murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford in Stella Missouri. During the penalty phase of the 2012 trial, the jurors gave Collings the death penalty.

Attorneys from the State Public Defender's Office and the Office of the Missouri Attorney General argued their case Wednesday in front of the Missouri Supreme Court.

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

Much of the days arguments centered around a video taped conversation Wheaton Police Chief Clint Clark had with Collings days before Collings confessed to him about the rape and murder of 9-year-old Rowan Ford.

"This was an extensive relationship,” says Rosemary Percival, from the State Public Defender’s Office.

Percival says a videotape conversation with Chief Clark, an officer that Collings had a friendship with, violated his rights.


"It so clearly and vividly shows what Clark does to pressure and the tactics that he uses, the 'good old boy', the "you can trust me", I'm acting in your best interest, all that,” says Percival.

Percival argued that Clark used his friendship to pressure Collings into giving information.

"He's less likely to invoke his right to counsel or to remain silent,” says Percival.

Each attorney was questioned by the seven Missouri Supreme Court Justices

"It was the defendant who initiated the contact with Clark and the defendant had the ability to leave the area by the bridge at any point,” says Chief Justice Mary Russell.

An attorney from the Office of the Missouri Attorney General argued that because of Collings’ confession, subsequent conversations were more relevant to the case against Rowan Fords stepfather, David Spears.
"Chief Clark is not pursuing evidence against Christopher Collings at this point,” says Richard Starnes of the Missouri Attorney General's Office. “They have all the evidence they need to convict Christopher Collings based on Christopher Collings’ statement on the 9th. On the 14th they are trying to make their case against David Spears."

"In the guilt phase counsel admitted that he committed the acts charged?" asked Justice Paul C Wilson.

Several justices noted that Collings repeatedly sought out Clark by tracking him around town or by asking for him.

The state also argued for the majority of the conversations between Collings and Clark, Collings dictated where and when the conversations would take place.

Now the Supreme Court Justices will weigh this appeal in what will likely be one of many appeals in this case.

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