6:29 PM
The jury says Collings should die for Rowan Ford's 2007 murder

The jury has recommended the death penalty for Chris Collings after finding him guilty of first-degree murder earlier this week for the 2007 murder of nine year-old Rowan Ford.

It took the jury about 45 minutes to make the unanimous decision. Under Missouri law, if any juror had been opposed to sentence, the jury would have been forced to sentence Collings to life without parole.

The jury found Rowan Ford's death involved torture and happened because she was a witness to her own rape and could have identified Collings as her rapist.

Rowan Ford was 9 years-old at the time of her murder

It took jurors about four hours on Tuesday (03-20-12) to decide that the state proved that Collings kidnapped Ford from her bedroom in Stella and took her to his trailer near Wheaton where he raped and strangled the fourth grader before dumping her body in a cave in McDonald County.

Ford went missing on November 2nd and her body was found in Fox cave on November 9th, 2007.

Ford’s stepfather, David Spears, is also facing capital murder charges connected to the little girl’s death. He is scheduled to stand trial in November in Pulaski County where the case was moved on a change of venue.

Just because the jury has recommended the sentence does not mean the judge has to abide by their decision.
When someone is placed on death row they receive an automatic appeal to their sentence and post-trial appeals in a death penalty case normally take years. There are currently forty six prisoners on death row in Missouri, with one prisoner's case dating back to 1982. Of the sixty eight cases of men executed in the sate since 1989 it took between six and fourteen years from sentencing for them to receive the lethal injection.
Collings is scheduled to be sentenced on May 11th.