Southwest Missouri Murder Case in Penalty Phase
ROLLA (AP) - A jury weighing the fate of a southwest Missouri man who confessed to raping and killing a friend's young stepdaughter has heard from friends, relatives and teachers of the child.
The jury convicted 37-year-old Christopher Collings late Tuesday of first-degree murder for the November 2007 strangulation of 9-year-old Rowan Ford, who was kidnapped from her home in Stella.
Collings faces either the death penalty or life in prison.
The penalty phase began Wednesday with prosecution witnesses describing a studious child who loved to ride her bicycle and go to church. An older sister recalled Rowan as "a bundle of love."
The defense will present its case for a life sentence Thursday. A defense lawyer will emphasize what she called Collings' chaotic upbringing.
The trial was moved to Phelps County from Barry County.
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