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Collings Appeals Death Sentence and Conviction in Murder of 9 Ye - KOAM TV 7

Collings Appeals Death Sentence and Conviction in Murder of 9 Year Old Rowan Ford

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STELLA, MO -

Today marked the second Missouri Supreme court appeal for Christopher Collings. He was earlier convicted and sentenced to death for the 2007 rape and  murder of nine-year-old Rowan Ford.
                    An attorney from the public defenders office in Columbia  offered arguments today before Missouri Supreme court justices asking them to prevent Collings execution and overturn his conviction.
          Collings
attorney said his conviction was based on two legal fictions that went unchallenged by his previous counsel.  One, that he was sober when committing the crime and the second that his brain was able to form accurate memories to offer a confession considering his history of substance abuse including the night of Fords murder.  
Because it is  a death penalty case Collings had a previous direct appeal to the state
s high court. That appeal was denied.

The new appeal comes just one day before the tenth anniversary of the discovery of Rowan Ford's body on November 9th, 2007.
          Her body had been  thrown into a hole in the ground in McDonald county known as Fox Cave.
          The appeal and the anniversary bring up raw emotions for everyone in Rowan’s hometown of Stella, Missouri. Some there say the crime put the town on the map for all the wrong reasons and they long for justice.

Becca Hance said, "It hits you hard especially when its one of your own. And this  magnitude of tragedy, it's something you never forget."
Hance walked Rowan home from the Stella Baptist church Wednesday nights. It
s what she called a safe place for Rowan who arrived before everyone else and sat on the steps. Ten years later she said the hurt doesn't stop.
Hance explained, "Until justice has been one hundred percent served, I don
t think it will ever go away." Becca and others arent happy with the second supreme court appeal for  convicted killer Chris Collings.
She said, 
No amount  of punishment will  every justify  what happened to Rowan and he shouldnt get the option to change his sentencing."

Nine year old Rowan was taken from her Stella home the night of November 2nd, 2007.  Collings confessed  to  raping and strangling  her and then dumping her body  in McDonald county. 

Newton county Sheriff Chris Jennings said,
In all my years of law enforcement, thats probably the most horrendous crime, not just because it was a child that was murdered, but how she was murdered. So, yes, Ive never forgotten about it."  Jennings was then Chief deputy on the case and keeps Rowans photo id in his card case.
He said, "I
ve carried it , like I said every day since she first disappeared."   

Ken Copeland  was sheriff at the time of the case  which he still finds upsetting. He said  Collings got a fair trial with two top notch public defenders. He says it
s a shame there are so many appeals when Rowan didnt have  a chance to appeal for her life.

Tracey Welch shares his sentiment,
She had no chance. The things those men or that man did to her were unthinkable." 
Welch was principal at Tri-way elementary, Rowans school and says Collings took  the life of an innocent child.
Welch elaborated, "Who had nothing but goodness and joy in her heart. And he stole that  from her violently and brutally with no thought of what she was  going through, none, none at all. And he  killed her because
Oh my God! She might have known who I was.   I have no sympathy for that." 


The community is not just upset about Collings and the appeal . But that Rowan
s stepfather, David Spears who was another  suspect, is now out of jail having plead guilty to a lesser charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Becca Hance lamented,
Hes living life freelyChris has an appeal and Rowan, her life was cut short at nine and thats just not, just not fair."

Attorneys for Collings also dispute his confession because Spears also confessed. Public defender's say attorneys during trial should have called attention to differences in those confessions and the fact that k9 officers pointed to a vehicle Spears borrowed from his mother.


Rowan's mother said in ten years nothings changed. She said Rowan hasn't been vindicated. She hopes the high court denies Collings appeal a second time.
          Rowan was killed after Collings,Spears and another man had a night of drinking and smoking marijuana. Intoxication and substance abuse are  part of the basis of Collings appeal.


Audio of today's supreme court arguments can be heard online. Click here to listen.
         

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