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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Police say they have found child pornography at the southwest Missouri home of a middle-school football coach accused in the kidnapping and killing of a 10-year-old girl.

Search warrants released Friday by Springfield police say they found a three-ring binder containing pornographic photos of young children at the home of 45-year-old Craig Michael Wood.

Officers also seized computers, cameras, 15 guns, 30 video recordings and a hat believed to have been worn by fourth-grader Hailey Owens.

Wood is accused of snatching the child as she walked home from her best friend's house this week. Neighbors said they watched in horror and unsuccessfully gave chase as Hailey was pulled into a pickup truck that quickly sped away.

At his brief Friday morning arraignment, public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in the fourth-grader's death.

Wood appeared via video from the Greene County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

Published in Local News

St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - A man accused of taking part in a deadly robbery in the Central West End, is set to appear in court today.

 

Johnathan Perkins is charged with second-degree murder connected to the shooting death of Megan Boken. Keith Esters pleaded guilty in November and was given life in prison.

 

Prosecutors say the two tried to steal Boken's cell phone in 2012 and ended up shooting and killing her.

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The lawyer for a middle-school football coach who's accused of kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old girl in Missouri says Craig Wood is planning to plead not guilty. The public defender's announcement came during a brief hearing today.
 
Wood is accused of snatching Hailey Owens as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday evening in Springfield. Court records indicate her body was found in Wood's basement. Prosecutors say she was shot in the back of the head and that she had ligature marks on her wrists, suggesting she was tied up.
 
Public defender Chris Hatley said Wood plans to contest the charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action.
 
Wood appeared by video from a jail where he is being held without bond. He spoke only briefly to answer several questions from the judge. Hailey's parents, older brother and five other family members attended the hearing.
 
A prosecutor challenged Wood's use of a public defender, saying police found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood's name. He said, "I think he can afford his own attorney." The defense attorney replied that "it's frankly none of his business." The judge said he would consider the matter.
Published in Local News
   ST. LOUIS (AP) — Neighbors watched in horror as a 10-year-old southwest Missouri girl was snatched off the street just blocks from her home.
   Some had spotted a man in a gold Ford Ranger pickup truck driving down the road in Springfield several times before taking off with the girl, investigators said. The residents even called 911 to report the truck's license number.
   But the vehicle moved too quickly. And Hailey Owens was gone.
   Now prosecutors have charged Craig Michael Wood with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action. In filing the charges Wednesday, they alleged that the 45-year-old middle school football coach and teacher's aide abducted Hailey as she walked home from a friend's house Tuesday.
   A probable cause statement said the fourth-grader's body was found stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of Wood's Springfield home. She had been shot in the head, according to Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson.
   The basement floor was still damp from bleach, according to the probable cause statement.
   Authorities won't officially confirm that the body is Hailey's until after an autopsy, but Springfield Police Paul Williams said "we have a high degree of confidence" in the preliminary identification, which indicates that it is the girl.
   According to the probable cause statement, resident Michelle Edwards told police she and her husband were in their garage when saw a pickup truck approach the girl, who was holding a cellphone. She said the driver asked the girl for directions before he grabbed her with one hand and threw her into the truck "like a rag doll."
   Another resident, Ricky Riggins, told the Springfield News-Leader that he chased the fleeing pickup in his car after a neighbor tried to pull the girl away.
   "I couldn't keep up," Riggins said. "He was probably five to six cars ahead of me. ... It was so fast."
   Wood was inside a truck parked outside his home when police arrested him Tuesday night. The probable cause statement said he was holding a roll of duct tape when officers arrived.
   The truck is registered to Wood's father, Jim Wood, who told police he loaned the vehicle to his son. The father, who lives in nearby Ash Grove, declined an interview request from The Associated Press.
   He and the girl apparently didn't know each other. Hailey attended Westport Elementary School; Wood worked at Pleasant View School.
   "There's no connection that we've been able to determine at this time between the victim and the suspect," Williams said.
   Springfield school officials said Wood is a seventh-grade football coach and teacher's aide who supervises in-school suspensions at Pleasant View, which has students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
   Norm Ridder, the Springfield district's superintendent, said in a statement Wednesday that Wood began working for the district in August 1998. He said Wood has been suspended since his arrest.
   Wood was initially hired as a temporary employee who worked as a substitute teacher before he was hired full time in 2006, school district spokeswoman Teresa Bledsoe said later Wednesday. He has coached football at Pleasant View since 1998 and was also an assistant boys' basketball coach.
   "He met all of our qualifications for employment," Bledsoe said, noting that the Springfield district has a more rigorous background check requirement than state law, with an additional screening designed to detect substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect as well as any past criminal violations.
   Online court records show Wood had little criminal history. He pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance in 1990 in Greene County and was fined $100. Wood also was convicted in 2001 for illegal taking of wildlife, a misdemeanor.
   Williams said police have no idea of a motive for the killing. He said Wood has not talked to investigators since his arrest.
   Joe Bridges, a local music promoter who organized a candlelight vigil for Hailey scheduled for Saturday, told The Associated Press that residents in the city of 162,000 are collectively mourning the child's abduction and death.
   "The community is walking around right now with a very heavy heart," said Bridges, who described himself as a distant relative of Hailey but said he didn't know her well. "Everybody is just speechless."
Published in Local News

A total of three people are in custody connected the murder of Belleville man.

 

Anthony Allen and Amanda Kent are charged with first degree murder, and another suspect, Brittney Moore is accused of lying to investigators. On Sunday, police were called to a Belleville apartment and found Darrin Hayes with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

 

Police say a tip about a getaway vehicle, and they found Moore driving the car. Police say the killing wasn't random, but would not release additional details on the investigation.

Published in Local News
Investigators are now treating the death of 1-year-old child, who was found unconcious in a north St. Louis  home Tuesday morning, a homicide.
 
Detectives say that Jabria Phillips died of blunt force trauma. Emergency crews were called to the home around 3:30 this morning. They found Jabria with no vital signs. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police say the girl had been displaying signs of illness throughout the day Monday.
 
Jabria's grandmother, Brenda Baker learned of the girl's death through news reports. She told Fox 2 that Jabria's father, her son, died last year.
Published in Local News
Monday, 10 February 2014 13:34

Convicted killer of wife, 2 sons appeals

MOUNT VERNON, Ill. (AP) - A man serving life in prison for the 2009 killings of his wife and their two young sons in southwestern Illinois is asking for his convictions to be tossed on claims that decisions by the trial judge prejudiced jurors against him.
 
An attorney for Christopher Coleman argues in a petition with the Mount Vernon-based 5th District Appellate Court that jurors were wrongly allowed to see videos and photographs of Coleman and his lover.
 
Coleman's appeal also argues that prosecutors didn't sufficiently prove their case.
 
Thirty-seven-year-old Coleman was convicted of strangling his wife and sons at the Coleman's Columbia home in 2009.
 
He is serving his life sentences at a prison outside of Illinois.
 
The state appellate prosecutor's office has until March 31 to file a response to the appeal.
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Springfield man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing his roommate so he could steal his heroin.

The Springfield News-Leader reports 40-year-old Jarrod Sirois was found guilty in December of first-degree murder in the beating death of 45-year-old Robert Pugh.

Judge Calvin Holden sentenced Sirois on Friday after denying his motion for a new trial.

Sirois told authorities he killed Pugh so he could steal his drugs, with the intention of overdosing on it, July 6, 2012.

Sirois admitted using a metal pipe to hit Pugh in the head three or four times while Pugh was asleep on the couch.

He told police he was only trying to knock Pugh out.

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 12:43

Woodworth prosecutor seeks removal

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A local prosecutor who inherited the case of a Chillicothe man facing a third murder trial in his neighbor's shooting death wants to be removed because of social media postings suggesting he has a conflict of interest.
 
Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren was appointed to the case last week after a northwest Missouri judge barred the state Attorney General from again prosecuting Mark Woodworth in Cathy Robertson's 1990 death.
 
The judge said that a private investigator's "secret investigation" on behalf of the county tainted evidence used to twice convict Woodworth.
 
The Associated Press obtained a written request filed by Warren on Monday in Platte County Circuit Court, citing a "social media position which may cast a prejudgment claim" on his ability to independently review the evidence against Woodworth.
Published in Local News
FLORENCE, Italy (AP) - An appeals court in Florence on Thursday upheld the guilty verdict against U.S. student Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend for the 2007 murder of her British roommate. Knox was sentenced to 28 1/2 years in prison, raising the specter of a long legal battle over her extradition.
 
After nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the court reinstated the guilty verdict first handed down against Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in 2009. The verdict had been overturned in 2011 and the pair freed from prison, but Italy's supreme court vacated that decision and sent the case back for a third trial in Florence.
 
Sollecito, whose lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, was sentenced to 25 years. Reached by telephone, Knox's father, Curt Knox, said he had no comment.
 
While Sollecito was in court Thursday morning, he didn't return for the verdict, and the 26-year-old Knox was home in Seattle awaiting the decision with, in her own words, `'my heart in my throat."
 
Sollecito's lawyers said they were stunned and would take their appeal to Italy's top court.  "There isn't a shred of proof," said attorney Luca Maori said.
 
Presiding Judge Alessando Nencini ordered the 29-year-old Sollecito's passport revoked but made no requests for Knox's movements to be limited, saying she was "justifiably abroad."
 
Knox's defense team gave its last round of rebuttals earlier in the day, ending four months of arguments in Knox's and Sollecito's third trial for the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in the Italian university town of Perugia.
 
Knox's lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova,  had told the court he was "serene" about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is "the innocence of Amanda Knox."
 
"It is not possible to convict a person because it is probable that she is guilty," Dalla Vedova said. "The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty."
 
Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done to Knox when they held her overnight for questioning without legal representation and without advising her that she was a suspect.
 
Knox had returned to Seattle after spending four years in jail before being acquitted in 2011. In an email to this court, Knox wrote that she feared a wrongful conviction.
 
She told Italian state TV in an interview earlier this month that she would wait for the verdict at her mother's house "with my heart in my throat."
 
Knox's absence didn't formally hurt her case since she was freed by a court and defendants in Italy are not required to appear at their trials. However, Nencini reacted sternly to her emailed statement, noting that defendants have a right to be heard if they appear in person.
 
Sollecito, on the other hand, had made frequent court appearances, always in a purple sweater, the color of the local Florentine soccer club. He was in court again Thursday morning, accompanied by his father and other relatives and said he would return for the verdict. But he didn't come for the verdict.
Published in National News
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