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Judges rule to allow murder confessions

Friday, February 18, 2011

The prosecution received welcome news this week when the judges in the David Spears and Christopher Collings' murder cases denied the defense's motions to suppress the two men's confessions.

Spears and Collings are accused of raping and murdering 9-year-old, Rowan Ford, in November 2007 at Collings' trailer in Wheaton.

A series of pre-trial hearings have been held in recent months to determine whether or not Spear's audiotaped statement and Collings' videotaped statements were admissable in court. Defense attorneys want the confessions thrown out, claiming the men were tricked into confessing. The prosecution argued that the statements was given voluntarily and with a clear understanding of the defendants' Miranda rights.

According to Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox, Pulaski County Judge Tracy L. Story denied the defense's motion to suppress Spears' statement, and Phelps County Judge Mary W. Sheffield denied motions to suppress Collings' statement as well as to suppress searches of Collings' property.

"The court has ruled their statements to police are admissable and the search of Collings' property and the evidence found there during the search is also admissable," explained Cox. "This means we can introduce this evidence at trial."

As a result of the prolonged court proceedings, Spears trial was postponed until August

Collings and Spears have both been charged with first degree murder, forcible rape and statutory rape in connection with Ford's death.

The men were arrested on Nov. 9, 2007, one week after Ford was first reported missing and the day Ford's body was discovered in a sinkhole near Powell in McDonald County.

The actual rape and murder allegedly took place on the night of Nov. 2, 2007, in a trailer in Wheaton owned by Collings. Both Collings and Spears confessed to the crime on the day they were arrested, but there are conflicting statements in their confessions.

Collings said he took Ford from her home in Stella and brought her to his trailer in Wheaton where he raped her and then strangled her. He also admitted to disposing of Ford's body in a sinkhole.

Spears said he arrived at Collings' home to find Collings' raping his stepdaughter. Spears said he participated in the sexual assault and then strangled Ford. According to Spears' confession, he and Collings transported Ford's body to a cave.

Collings and Spears are being represented by the Missouri State Public Defenders Office. Cox will be assisted in the prosecution of the case by Elizabeth Bock, assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri.

Cox is seeking the death penalty against both Collings and Spears.

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