The death penalty trial for the stepfather of Rowan Ford and his friend Christopher Collings who were charged with the little girls rape and murder could be postponed as a judge decides how to proceed with a potential violation of attorney/client privilege.
David W. Spears (Rowan's stepfather)
Lawyers for David Spears and Christopher Collings say that their confidential conversations with their clients inside the Barry County jail were recorded. They also allege that conversations between the men and family members were recorded too.
Public defenders say they believe their clients right to a fair trial may have been violated. Below is part of the motion that was heard today (03-04-10) in Phelps County.
2. MOTION FOR SANCTIONS HEARD. COURT TAKES POSSESSION OF CD'S . MR COX SEALS SAME. COURT ORDERS NO OTHER RECORDINGS OR COPIES TO BE MADE AND THE STATE AND BARRY COUNTY SHERIFF TO NOT RECORD ANY TELEPHONE CALLS BETWEEN MR. COLLINGS AND COUNSEL. COUNSEL WILL PROVIDE BARRY COUNTY WITH ANY PHONE NUMBERS USED IN COMMUNICATION WITH MR. COLLINGS. HARD DRIVES TO NOT BE DESTROYED AND ENCARTEL TO BE INFORMED BY TEHE STATE TO RETAIN ANY RECORDINGS IN THEIR POSSESSION AND NOT LISTEN TO SAME. STATE ORDERED TO CONTACT COUNSEL FOR DAVID SPEARS TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL MASTER. COURT TAKES ISSUE OF SPECIAL MASTER UNDER ADVISEMENT.
Public defenders say they believe their clients right to a fair trial may have been violated. Below is part of the motion that was heard today in Phelps County.
An area sheriff says the problem could be something as simple as the Barry County Sheriff's Office "not plugging in the proper phone number to the attorney's to block those calls from being recorded."
The court has confiscated the CD recordings and placed them under seal in a locked safe in the Phelps County Circuit Clerks office and has appointed a "special master," a retired judge, to listen to the recordings, separate them and route them to lawyers who represent each man.
KSPR reports that court documents reveal that it was attorney's for Spears who told Collings attorney's that there were confidential recordings between their clients and those who represent each man. An email sent from Barry County prosecutor Johnnie Cox says that while he was listening to the conversations he recognized the phone number for Spears' attorney and says he did not listen to those converstations.
Christopher L. Collings
In November of 2007 the 9 year-old little girs was kidnapped from her bed in Stella. Her stepfather said that when he left his home that night the little girl was asleep in her bed. Spears' mother, who was "babysitting" the little girl, told authorities she didn't check on Rowan at all during her the seven hours she was at the house.
Several days after Rowan went missing her body was found in a sinkhole in rural McDonald County on a hunch by a sheriffs deputy on his way to work.
In the probable cause statements filed against Spears and Collings, each of them claimed responsibility for Rowan Fords murder. One of them said that the little girl was killed in Barry County inside of Collings trailer (a.) the other said that Ford was tied to a fence that held goats outside the trailer and killed there.
Spears trial is scheduled to begin on July 12th in Pulaski County where it was moved on a change of venue.
Collings, has been ordered to undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is fit to stand trial, which is scheduled for January of 2011.