Hailey Owens killer is appealing his death conviction to the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday (4/9).
51-year-old Craig Michael Wood is currently on death row in Potosi. Wood was convicted of first degree murder for the 2014 kidnapping and killing of 10-year-old Hailey Owens in Springfield.
Defense attorneys admitted in court in August 2017 that Wood kidnapped, raped and killed Owens. Defense attorney Patrick Berrigan argued during the trial that there was substantial evidence of the lack of planning and preparation, saying it was not premeditated.
Wood’s attorney, Rosemary Percival, filed a 136-page brief with the Missouri Supreme Court. In it, she argues that Missouri is one of only two states that allow a judge to impose a death sentence after jurors could not. Indiana is the other state.
In this case, jurors were not unanimous about the death sentence. Ten voted in favor of death, two voted for life in prison without parole, and Greene County Circuit Judge Thomas Mountjoy sentenced Wood to death.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office has responded with a 106-page brief, which says Missouri’s statute allowing a judge to impose a death sentence when the jury deadlocks is constitutional. The attorney general’s office writes that the Missouri Supreme Court “has repeatedly found that procedure to be constitutional.”
Hailey Owens was abducted on the afternoon of February 18, 2014, as she was walking home on West Lombard Street in Springfield.
Springfield Police found her body in a plastic tub in Craig Wood’s basement. The court documents say Hailey Owens died from a gunshot wound to the back of her neck.
Wood will not be in the Jefferson City courtroom on Tuesday.
Currently, Missouri lawmakers are working on legislation known as “Hailey’s Law”, which involves Missouri’s Amber Alert System Oversight Committee.
While the Missouri House and Senate have approved different versions of the bill, State Rep. Curtis Trent of Springfield believes it’s on track for final passage by May.
There are currently no meeting requirements for the Amber Alert System Oversight Committee. The legislation would require the committee to meet at least annually to discuss potential improvements to the system.
State Sen. Eric Burlison of Springfield, is handling the Senate version. Burlison’s bill would require the committee to submit a report to the Legislature by January 2020 and annually after that.