Missouri Supreme Court upholds conviction, death penalty for killing of 9-year-old girl

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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — The state Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence for a southwest Missouri man who admitted raping and killing a 9-year-old girl.

The court on Tuesday rejected numerous arguments in Christopher Collings' appeal for the November 2007 death of Rowan Ford.

The girl was taken from her home in Stella and found a week later in a sinkhole in McDonald County. Her stepfather, David Spears, was also charged with murder and rape but pleaded guilty to reduced charges of child endangerment and hindering prosecution. Prosecutors said there was no physical evidence tying Spears to the killing.

Collings' lawyers argued among other things that the trial court should have excluded his confession. Collings had said he "freaked out" and strangled Rowan because she looked at him while being raped.

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