|Christopher l. "Chris" Collings (mug shot BCSO)|
Jury selection is scheduled to begin tomorrow for a man accused of raping and killing nine year-old Rowan Ford in November of 2007.
Barry County prosecutor Johnnie Cox says Christopher Leroy Collings, 35, kidnapped the girl from her bedroom in Newton County and took her to his trailer in Barry County where he and Rowan's stepfather, David Spears, raped and killed the child.
|Rowan Ford was just 9 years-old when she was murdered|
|David Spears (mug shot BCSO)|
Several days after Rowan went missing her body was found in a sinkhole in rural McDonald County by a sheriff's deputy who followed a hunch on his way to work. Before the little girl's body was found, Spears tearfully appealed for the return of his stepdaughter to several news outlets.
|Collings trailer where Rowan Ford was allegedly murdered|
Collings underwent a mental evaluation in 2010 and lawyers for both men say their clients rights were violated when private phone calls between them and their clients were taped while they were being held in the Barry County jail. Lawyers also wanted taped confessions from the men thrown out.
Before jury selection begins tomorrow in Phelps County (where Collings' trial was moved,) Judge Mary Sheffield will rule on a motion by defense attorney's to either continue the trial or take the death penalty off the table. It also appears that defense attorney's have requested that another jury decide the punishment for Collings.
Cox says he it will take at least a week to seat a jury and believes jurors will begin to hear testimony on April 17th.
Spears' trial is scheduled to be held in Pulaski County later this year.
Judge Sheffield has denied the defense's request that separate juries. Defense attorney's wanted one jury to hear trial testimony and another to render punishment.
Judge Sheffield also granted a continuance. The trial is now scheduled to begin on April 20th.