The government filed briefs with the court describing the case and refuting Collings' attorneys' arguments.
The Collings brief, which was filed earlier, indicated that he had been used by Wheaton police officer Clinton Clark, who was supposedly acting as his friend while leading him into confessing his role in the murder. The government's brief says that was not the case. Clark not only had been a longtime friend of Collings, but until Collings confessed, thought that Rowan Ford's stepfather, David Spears, was the killer.
The statement of facts in the brief differs in many ways from the statement included in the Collings brief.
That statement is printed below:
Appellant, Christopher Collings, was charged in the Circuit Court of Barry County with murder in the first degree1 (L.F. 61). The State later filed a notice of aggravating circumstances alleging three aggravating
circumstances: that the murder was outrageously wanton and vile involving torture or depravity of mind; that the murder was committed while Appellant was involved in the perpetration of rape; and that the victim was a potential witness in a pending investigation related to Appellant‘s rape of her (L.F. 227). Following a change of venue to Pettis County, this cause went to trial on February 27, 2012, the Honorable Mary W. Sheffield presiding (L.F. 54).
The sufficiency of the evidence as to deliberation is at issue in this appeal. Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the following evidence was adduced: The victim, nine-year-old Rowan Ford, was the
daughter and youngest child of Colleen Munson2 (Tr. 3618). In November 2007, they lived at their two-story home in Stella, Missouri, with Munson‘s husband, David Spears (Tr. 3621-3626). Appellant, a friend of Spears, had stayed with the family for about a six-week period shortly before November (Tr. 3627). The victim slept in her own room, often on the floor, and Appellant slept on a couch in the basement (Tr. 3628-3629, 3631).
According to Appellant, the victim called him ―Uncle Chris‖ (Tr. 3882). On the evening of November 2, 2007,3 Appellant and Spears were working at a local farm when their friend, Nathan Mahurin, arrived to meet them and spend the evening together (Tr. 3706-3709). After work, Appellant had to pick up a goat he had purchased, and, after doing so, they then went to Appellant‘s family‘s property near Wheaton in Barry County to drop off the goat (Tr. 3709-3710). At the property, Mahurin saw an old ―double-wide-
looking trailer,‖ a camper, and several old vehicles (Tr. 3713). Appellant said that the camper was his (Tr. 3713). After leaving the goat, the three stopped at a residential living center to see Appellant‘s father, then went to a nearby liquor store to buy 2-3 six-packs of a malt liquor beverage (Tr. 3716-3718). They then went to Spears‘s house to drink and play pool (Tr. 3720). In addition to the malt liquor, Appellant and Spears were drinking a ―clear liquid‖ (Tr. 3717-3718).
Munson, Rowan, and Spears‘s mother Myrna were also at the Spears residence that night (Tr. 3647). Munson left for her overnight shift at work at 8:30 p.m.; as it was a Friday night, the victim was still awake (Tr. 3647-3648). Myrna also left the house at some point, and Spears was supposed to stay home with the victim overnight while Munson was at work (Tr. 3649, 3723).
During the evening, Appellant and Mahurin went to a convenience store in Stella for more alcohol, bringing it back to the house where the three men continued to drink (Tr. 3721-3723). At some point, Appellant asked Mahurin to drive him home (Tr. 3724). Mahurin and Appellant convinced Spears to go with them; Mahurin did not remember if the victim was still awake and did not check on her, although he was ―pretty sure‖ Spears did (Tr. 3724). The three stopped in Wheaton for more alcohol, then went to Appellant‘s property, where Spears and Mahurin drank and all three smoked marijuana (Tr. 3726-3727). After about an hour, Mahurin and Spears left sometime between 11:00 and 11:30 p.m. because Mahurin needed to get home
(Tr. 3727, 3729-3730). Because Mahurin was intoxicated, he decided to take back roads ―fairly slowly‖ back to Spears‘s house in Stella instead of the faster, more direct highway route (Tr. 3728-3729, 3734). Mahurin dropped Spears off between 10-20 minutes after leaving Appellant‘s and was home by midnight (Tr. 3734-3735).
Munson got home around 9:00 the next morning (Tr. 3650). Spears was asleep on a couch (Tr. 3650). The victim would typically meet Munson outside or in the bathroom when Munson arrived home from work, but did not do so this morning (Tr. 3650). Munson looked around for the victim, but could not find her (Tr. 3650-3651). She woke Spears and asked where the victim was, and Spears said that the victim had gone to a friend‘s house (Tr. 3560-3651). Spears could not identify the friend, however, and the victim had not taken her bike as she would typically do (Tr. 3652-3653). Munson started walking around the neighborhood to see if she could find the victim, including going by the church the victim went to, but could not find her (Tr. 3653). Munson wanted to call the police, but Spears initially resisted, insisting the victim
was at a friend‘s house (Tr. 3653). But, as evening approached, Spears eventually called the Newton County Sheriff‘s Department (Tr. 3654-3655). Spears also called Mahurin and left him a message about the victim being missing (Tr. 3738-3739).
Deputies took the report of the victim‘s disappearance and started a search for her, including contacting school children to discover the friend‖ Spears had mentioned, taking statements from family members, and sending out search teams (Tr. 3655, 3763-3765). During this time, Munson discovered Spears had left the victim home alone that night; she kicked him out of the house (Tr. 3657-3658). Overnight, deputies learned of Appellant‘s name as one of the last people to be at the house when the victim was last seen (Tr.
The next morning, Sunday, November 4, deputies made contact with Appellant and set up a meeting in the parking lot of a local restaurant (Tr. 3769). Appellant arrived in his white Dodge pickup truck and remained
inside as the deputies gathered around to speak to Appellant (Tr. 3771-3772). His account of the evening was generally consistent with Mahurin‘s account, although he did not mention smoking marijuana and said that Spears and Mahurin left because Appellant was feeling tired (Tr. 3772-3773). He said he had not talked to Spears since that night and had no idea what had been going on (Tr. 3773). Appellant was cooperative, polite, and apparently concerned, acting as if he wanted to help find the victim (Tr. 3773, 3859, 3873).
Later, Appellant went to the Spears residence and briefly spoke with Munson (Tr. 3658, 3661-3664). Appellant said that he had spoken to a deputy that day and would be willing to do what he could to help, including looking for the victim (Tr. 3664-3665). He said he would check in on Munson again
The next day, Monday, November 5, FBI personnel started arriving to assist in the search for the victim (Tr. 3783). FBI evidence technicians seized and searched a pickup truck belonging to Spears (Tr. 4904, 4995). Law enforcement had also looked at a Suburban at Myrna‘s residence that she said she had loaned to Spears on the night in question (Tr. 3903-3905). Meanwhile, Newton County deputies asked to speak with Appellant again, and Appellant said that he would be ―glad to‖ do so, so he voluntarily drove himself to the sheriff‘s office to give a statement (Tr. 3875-3878). Appellant was again apparently ―very forthcoming‖ and very helpful‖ and gave a version of events generally consistent with his earlier statement (Tr. 3878-3881). He said that after Spears and Mahurin left his property, he did not leave the property again that night because he had to get up early (Tr. 3881). He said he did not have any knowledge of the victim‘s whereabouts or what happened to her (Tr. 3881-3882).
Later, Wheaton Chief of Police Clinton Clark was on patrol just west of Wheaton when he passed Appellant driving the other way (Tr. 4515-4516). Appellant flagged Clark down, so Clark, who had known Appellant for about 17 years, pulled into a parking lot and Appellant pulled beside him. Appellant said he had been in Newton County all day trying to help law enforcement find the victim (Tr. 4517-4518). Clark told Appellant it was good for him to help and that he needed to keep doing whatever he could to help (Tr. 4518). Clark noticed that Appellant was not his normal self; he appeared excited and a little upset (Tr. 4519).
That night, Appellant went back to Munson‘s house (Tr. 3666). He was there when FBI agents arrived at the house, and one of the agents asked Appellant to speak to him, which Appellant was ―more than willing to do‖ (Tr. 3928). Appellant said he had talked to Newton County officials and volunteered that he had ―been talking‖ to Chief Clark about the case (Tr. 3930-3931). He told the agent about his relationship with Spears and talked about the night of the disappearance (Tr. 3931-3940). He again claimed he had stayed home that night after Spears and Mahurin left (Tr. 3941). He claimed that he had spoken to Spears the morning of November 4 and had asked Spears, ―What did you do? Where did you go?‖ (Tr. 3944). Appellant said that he believed Spears was involved in the victim‘s disappearance and offered to wear a wire to help in the investigation (Tr. 3944-3945). He recommended that the police look for the victim at Jolly Mill (where Appellant and Spears used to hang out) or Longview (where Spears grew up) (Tr. 3945).
The next day, Tuesday, November 6, as the search for the victim continued, law enforcement were focusing their investigation on Spears, interviewing him, taking him out for a car ride around the area, doing a thorough search of the Spears home, and seizing and searching Myrna‘s Suburban (Tr. 3905, 3946, 3955, 4905-4909, 4966). Also on that day, on his own initiative, Appellant went to Clark‘s office to speak about the case (Tr. 4520, 4522). Appellant again said he had been to Newton County to help authorities find Appellant (Tr. 4520). Clark told Appellant that if he knew about anything that could help find the victim he needed to provide that help (Tr. 4523). Appellant said that he did not know what happened to the victim,
that he had always loved her, and that he would not have done anything to hurt her (Tr. 4521-4523). Clark sensed that ―something wasn‘t right‖ with Appellant and that he appeared ―apprehensive,‖ but wanted to tell Clark something (Tr. 4524, 4640-4641). It seemed that something was bothering Appellant, as he would not make eye contact, which was unusual (Tr. 4638-4639). Clark told Appellant that Appellant knew where he was if there was anything Clark could do to help him (Tr. 4523). After this conversation, Clark contacted the FBI and told them that Appellant had been making contact with him and that Clark was willing to do anything they needed to help.
On Wednesday, November 7, FBI agents again interviewed Appellant (Tr. 3946-3948, 3967). Appellant drove himself to the interview and was cooperative (Tr. 3976). The agents also took Appellant to lunch during the meeting (Tr. 3976). Appellant gave consent to search his property and a safe he had at the Spears house, and voluntarily provided a buccal DNA sample (Tr. 3948-3950, 3970-3975, 4457-4461). Appellant gave the same general details as before (Tr. 3951). They asked about some information Spears had given to provide an alibi, but Appellant said that information was not true (Tr. 3951, 3979, 3985). As the conversation progressed, however, Appellant became ―more emotional, more tense, more nervous‖ when asked about the victim (Tr. 3984). He denied that he had enough time to have left his property
and gotten to the Spears residence before Mahurin and Spears got home (Tr. 3980). When he was asked if he had any involvement in the disappearance, he clearly‖ became more upset and again denied any involvement or knowledge (Tr. 3984). He said if they were accusing him of having anything to do with the disappearance, he was not going to talk to them anymore (Tr. 3959, 3984). This ended the interview (Tr. 3963-3964).
Law enforcement subsequently searched Appellant‘s property and adjacent property that evening (Tr. 4072-4075, 4158-4178, 4910, 4996-4997). They also searched property adjacent to Myrna‘s residence
Meanwhile, Appellant went to see Clark again (Tr. 4525-4526). Appellant was upset because of the earlier interview and said he was going to dummy up‖ on other law enforcement officers (Tr. 4527, 4645-4646). He said, [I]f I have anything else to say, I‘ll talk to you‖ (Tr. 4646). Even though Appellant was not in custody, Clark believed Appellant should be advised of his rights, so he gave Appellant a rights form and had Appellant read it and ask if there was anything he did not understand (Tr. 4527-4528). He told
Appellant that Appellant did not have to speak to Clark unless he wanted to (Tr. 4528). Appellant signed the form and agreed to speak to Clark (Tr. 4529). Clark told Appellant that he felt there was something on Appellant‘s mind and asked if he knew anything about the victim‘s disappearance (Tr. 4530). Clark said that he did not know what was going on or how deep Appellant was involved, but that he felt like there was something Appellant needed to tell him (Tr. 4655). Appellant dropped his head and his eyes started to water (Tr. 4655-4656). At that point, however, someone else came into the police department, interrupting them (Tr. 4531). Appellant stood up, said he had to go give his father a shot, and left (Tr. 4531). Clark then contacted the FBI, telling them that he believed Appellant was near a ―breaking point‖ for providing information and advised them that they should not question Appellant the next day (Tr. 4531).
On Thursday, November 8, law enforcement continued to do field searches, re-interviewed Spears, and searched Myrna‘s house (Tr. 3954, 4042-4043, 4180-4181, 4911). They searched the area between Myrna‘s house and Longview, one of the locations Appellant had earlier suggested (Tr. 3945, 4042). That afternoon, they got some information about a sinkhole known as Fox Cave in McDonald County near Powell, and wanted to search it (Tr. 4043-4044, 4911). An FBI agent and firefighter were unable to find the sinkhole that evening (Tr. 4912-4913).
The next morning, Friday, November 9, two McDonald County deputies went to the sinkhole (Tr. 4045). The hole was 20-30 feet from the road in a heavily wooded area, and there was a ―log or old tree‖ lying across the majority of it (Tr. 4188-4190). Using ropes, one of the deputies entered the hole, stood on a ledge inside the hole, and, looking down into the hole with a flashlight, saw what he believed to be the victim‘s body (Tr. 4051-4055). Law enforcement responded to the scene and went down into the hole, which opened up into a limestone cave (Tr. 4044, 4083-4093). The victim was at the bottom of the cave, but not directly below the hole; her body was almost against one of the walls, as if it had slid behind some rock outcroppings (Tr. 4228, 4230). The victim was nude from the waist down except for a sock (Tr.
4101, 4238-4239). She had a ligature mark around her neck and trauma, blood, and tissue damage to her vaginal area (Tr. 4100, 4231-4233, 4239, 4244). Her face was covered with leaves (Tr. 4239). When the victim was rolled onto a body bag, her back and buttocks could be seen (Tr. 4095-4097,
4238). The leaves on her face fell off, but many remained stuck to her body (Tr. 4251). There was blood, potential tissue damage, and possible fecal matter on her buttocks and the back of her thighs (Tr. 4238, 4255). After the victim was secured in the body bag, her body was lifted out of the hole by rope and taken to Cox South Hospital in Springfield to be secured until the autopsy could be conducted (Tr. 4097, 4869-4870).
Chief Clark heard the news that morning that the victim had been found (Tr. 4533). Around 1:00 p.m., Clark was notified by his office that Appellant and Appellant‘s father were going ―all over town‖ trying to find
Clark (Tr. 4535). Clark went to the office to get his patrol car, looked around town for Appellant, then went out to Appellant‘s property, but could not find Appellant (Tr. 4536-4540). As he was heading back to the highway, he got a call from Appellant asking where he was (Tr. 4540). Appellant said that somebody had been following him ―all over everywhere in a gray minivan‖ and that he had been ―all over the area…trying to shake it‖ (Tr. 4541). He asked if it was ―some of you guys,‖ and Clark said he had no idea who it was
(Tr. 4541). Clark was concerned someone was ―after‖ Appellant and told Appellant to go straight his office, but Appellant said he was close to the property and would meet Clark there (Tr. 4541-4542).
When Appellant arrived, Appellant again asked about the minivan; Clark said that, as far as he knew, no one in law enforcement had a gray minivan (Tr. 4542). Clark told Appellant that they needed to go to the office
and offered to have Appellant followed him, but Appellant said he wanted to ride with Clark (Tr. 4543). There was little or no conversation on the short drive to the office (Tr. 4544). When they arrived, Clark had Appellant have a seat at his desk (Tr. 4544). Appellant looked ―really upset‖ and ―emotional‖ (Tr. 4544). Clark told Appellant, ―[W]e need to talk. There‘s [sic] some things that you need to tell me. There‘s [sic] some things I need to know‖ (Tr. 4545).
But, before asking any more questions, Clark used a rights form (different than the one from two days earlier) to again advise Appellant of his rights (Tr. 4545). Appellant indicated that he understood his rights and agreed to talk (Tr. 4545-5456). Appellant was not in custody, not restrained, and had not been told he was under arrest (Tr. 4546).
Clark told Appellant, ―[W]ell, son, it‘s over….We found Rowan‘s body this morning‖ (Tr. 4547). Appellant dropped his head and his eyes started to water (Tr. 4547). Clark, believing that Spears had ―done something‖ with the victim and that Appellant knew what had happened, said, ―[T]here is something in your heart and on your mind that you need to tell me, Chris. You can‘t live with this. You need to tell me what happened‖ (Tr. 4547).
Appellant ―kind of‖ shook his head affirmatively (Tr. 4547). After again saying that law enforcement had the body, Clark said, ―You need to tell me what David‘s done with Rowan‖ (Tr. 4548). Appellant ―rose up‖ in his seat as if surprised and looked at Clark ―kind of funny‖ (Tr. 4548). Then, because the office was busy with other people around doing business, Appellant said he could not talk there (Tr. 4547-4548). Clark recommended they go somewhere else, and Appellant recommended going to the Muncie Bridge (Tr. 4549).
Clark agreed (Tr. 4549). As Appellant stood up, he held out his arms as if to allow Clark to handcuff him; Clark told him he did not need to do that (Tr. 4554-4555). Clark contacted the Barry County Sheriff‘s Department to tell them he and Appellant were going to the bridge and told them to go to his office in Wheaton (Tr. 4550-4551). The two then went to the bridge in Clark‘s patrol car (Tr. 4551-4554).
At the bridge, Appellant again stuck out his hands as if he wanted Clark to handcuff him (Tr. 4554). Clark again refused, saying that there ―may come a time when I‘ll have to do that, but I don‘t think that‘s necessary right now‖ (Tr. 4554). Appellant said something to the effect of, ―[W]ell, for what I‘m about to tell you, you will‖ (Tr. 4554). Clark asked if Appellant wanted him to ask questions or just to tell it in his own words; Appellant chose the latter (Tr. 4555).
Appellant, tearful, told Clark of the events leading up to getting to his property consistently with his earlier statements (Tr. 4555-4558). Appellant said that they went to his property because they wanted to smoke marijuana and he had some there (Tr. 4559). When he said they all got ―pretty F‘ed up,‖ Clark asked, ―[O]n one little joint?‖ (Tr. 4560). Appellant said, ―[O]h, hell no…. I rolled a hog log,‖ referring to a very large marijuana cigarette (Tr. 4560). After they ―really got messed up on that,‖ Mahurin said his wife would get mad at him for staying out so late, so he and Spears were going to leave (Tr. 4560). But Mahurin told Appellant that he was going to ―back-road‖ a little because he was afraid to come through town where Clark was on duty, and would drink the rest of the alcohol and smoke a little more pot (Tr. 4560). After they left, Appellant said that he knew that, if he hurried, he could get to the Spears house and get the victim ―out of there‖ before Mahurin and Spears got there (Tr. 4561). He got in his pickup and took the direct highway route to the Spears house (Tr. 4561-4562).
Appellant entered the house, used the downstairs bathroom, then went to the victim‘s bedroom (Tr. 4562). She was sleeping on the floor under a blanket (Tr. 4562). He took the blanket off of her, picked her up, and carried her to his truck (Tr. 4562). He said that the victim did not wake up during this (Tr. 4562). He drove her back to his property (Tr. 4562-4563).
Appellant said that, at the farm, he took the victim out of the truck and into his camper trailer, where he laid her on the bed still asleep (Tr. 4563). He removed her pants and panties, leaving her top clothed (Tr. 4567, 4570). He then said, ―I had sex with her‖ in the ―missionary position‖ and also ―used my finger a little bit‖ (Tr. 4563-4564). While the victim struggled a little at first, she soon stopped (Tr. 4564).
After he was done, Appellant grabbed the victim by the arms and held her in front of him facing away from him (Tr. 4564). He walked her outside, where there was enough moonlight that he could see a little bit (Tr. 4565). As they got outside, the victim looked over her shoulder back at Appellant, and he believed she recognized him (Tr. 4565). There was an old truck sitting nearby with a coil of ―chicken house rope‖ in the bed (Tr. 4565). He then said he unspooled some of the cord, looped it around her neck, and ―pulled it
tight,‖ demonstrating for Clark with his fists clenched pulling his arms away from each other (Tr. 4565, 4575). The victim struggled a little then fell to the ground; Appellant stayed with her, keeping the rope tight until she stopped moving (Tr. 4566). He said that he then picked up her body and laid her in the back of his truck (Tr. 4566).
He said that he planned on dumping the victim off of the Muncie Bridge, but then thought that someone would find her too quickly (Tr. 4568). So he drove to Fox Church Hill, knowing there were caves around there (Tr. 4569). He parked by one of the caves and threw the victim‘s body in (Tr. 4569). He tried to cover the hole with branches and limbs, but they kept falling in (Tr. 4570). He then got back into his truck and drove back to his property (Tr. 4570).
At the property, he burned the victim‘s pants and panties and the rope he had used to kill her in a stove sitting in the yard (Tr. 4570). He went in the camper and turned on the light, finding blood all over his foam mattress and his clothes, which he said he had kept on during the rape, as he just unzipped my pants, pulled it out of my boxers and…went at it‖ (Tr. 4570-4571). He changed into fresh clothes and planned to burn the mattress and clothes in a burn barrel near a calf barn (Tr. 4571). Afraid that someone would see the flame, he dragged the burn barrel into the building then burnt the evidence in the barrel (Tr. 4571). He said he then went back into the trailer, laid on the floor, and stared at the ceiling until dawn (Tr. 4572).
After Appellant finished confessing, Clark told him they needed to go back to town (Tr. 4572-4573). Clark allowed Appellant to sit in the front of his patrol car and smoke while going back into town (Tr. 4572-4573). Clark told Appellant he would have to tell others his statement, and Appellant said, ―I know‖ (Tr. 4573). Clark contacted Barry County detectives and the FBI and told them to come to Wheaton (Tr. 4574).
At the station, deputies from Barry County and Newton County and an FBI agent listened as Appellant retold his statement after again being advised of his rights (Tr. 3787-3788, 4573-4574, 4715, 4810, 4815). Appellant appeared sober and aware of his surroundings and was ―downcast,‖ looking down at the table as he spoke (Tr. 3860-3861). Appellant also signed a consent form to search his property (Tr. 3854, 4778-4780, 4817-4818).
Afterwards, Clark took Appellant to the Barry County Sheriff‘s Office, where Appellant gave a videotaped statement (Tr. 4575-4576, 4821-4828; St. Exh. 94). Appellant‘s confession was surprising because all of the law enforcement officers had been operating under the assumption that Appellant was going to say that Spears had killed the victim and that Appellant only knew about it (Tr. 4689-4690). But at no point during the interviews had Appellant said that Spears had anything to do with the crimes (Tr. 3855).
Newton County deputies subsequently re-interviewed Spears, who apparently implicated himself in the crimes (Tr. 3856, 4830, 4852; Def. Exh. 748). Upon learning about this, Barry County deputies and Clark again interviewed Appellant, who denied any involvement by Spears (Tr. 4784-4786: Def. Exh. 748).
While Appellant was being interviewed, evidence technicians were searching Appellant‘s property (Tr. 4263-4265). Among the many pieces of evidence located and/or seized were a metal spool in the bed of a silver pickup truck and some white cord or twine on and in the truck (Tr. 4265-4272, 4490-4492). More rope or wire was found in the bed of Appellant‘s white truck (Tr. 4290). There was a 55-gallon drum converted into a cooking stove outside with ashes in it, another 55-gallon burn barrel in the calf barn with
unidentifiable burnt remnants in it, and an open area burn pile with a piece of ―string or cordage‖ in it (Tr. 4294-4302, 4321-4334, 4923-4925). Items were seized from the bed and cab of Appellant‘s white truck and both the bed and cab were vacuumed to collect the remaining evidence (Tr. 5000-5006, 5025-5037).
The autopsy of the victim revealed that she was killed by ligature strangulation—something flexible had been put around her neck, cutting off blood flow to the brain (Tr. 5222). The ligature wound wrapped around her
neck, stopping only at one portion in the back consistent with her ponytail being in the way of the rope (Tr. 5200, 5212-5221, 5225-5228). With enough pressure, the victim would have lost consciousness in roughly‖ ten seconds, would have quit breathing in 2-3 minutes, and would have been irretrievably brain damaged and therefore brain dead in twelve minutes (Tr. 5224). The victim also suffered a ―very painful‖ laceration, inflicted while alive, of about 3/4‖ from the back of her vagina almost all the way to her anus, consistent with blunt force trauma caused by an adult male penis, which resulted in significant bleeding (Tr. 5209-5212). The victim had additional small injuries to her face and arm inflicted prior to death and significant facial trauma
likely inflicted after death caused by being thrown into the cave (Tr. 5196-5202). The victim had signs of decomposition consistent with her body having been in moisture (Tr. 5266-5269). The only clothes the victim was wearing was a shirt and socks (Tr. 5271). During the autopsy, a rape kit was collected, including vaginal swabs, blood samples, and tape lifts from the victim‘s pubic area (Tr. 5231, 5244-5249).
Some hairs that appeared suitable for DNA testing were found in the evidence from Appellant‘s white truck (Tr. 5389-5406, 5444). DNA tests on one of those hairs produced a partial DNA profile consistent with the victim‘s DNA (Tr. 5438-5440, 5444). Only 1 in 328,700 Caucasian people would have the same partial DNA profile (Tr. 5443). Additionally, two hairs found in one of the pubic area tape lifts from the rape kit appeared to be a Caucasian pubic region hair‖ which were microscopically similar‖ to Appellant‘s pubic
hair (Tr. 5526).
Appellant presented no guilt-phase witnesses (Tr. 5548).
Appellant was found guilty of first-degree murder (L.F. 680). During the penalty phase, the State presented victim impact testimony from six witnesses (Tr. 5731-5838). One of those witnesses, the victim‘s older sister, also testified that, while she was under the age of 18 and both she and Appellant were living at the Spears‘ home, Appellant repeatedly rubbed against her, grabbed her buttocks and breasts, and made sexual comments, including comments about ―waiting ‘til [she] was a certain age‖ (Tr. 5814-5816, 5821).
Appellant presented two witnesses to suggest residual doubt about David Spears‘s possible involvement in the murder (Tr. 5886-5933). He presented five background witnesses and an expert in human development
to posit that Appellant suffered from severe disorganized disassociative attachment disorder‖ and intermittent explosive personality disorders‖ (Tr. 6128-6130, 6162, 6274). The expert attributed these developmental disorders to Appellant‘s life experiences, including ―severe emotional neglect‖ before birth and during the first six months of his life and later confusion in his connections with other people‖ (Tr. 6274). The background evidence also showed that Appellant was bullying and assaultive from a young age, often
targeting those younger than him (Tr. 6244, 6255, 6334-6336. 6341-6342).
While in a juvenile facility, he was verbally aggressive and threatening towards staff (Tr. 6340). He also had repeatedly sexually assaulted his younger stepsister (starting when she was age 11) and had ―sexual fantasies about young females‖ (Tr. 6263, 6298-6300, 6367).
The jury found two aggravating circumstances (that the murder was outrageously wanton and vile involving torture and that the victim was a potential witness to Appellant‘s rape of her) and recommended a sentence of death (L.F. 696; Tr. 6508-6510). The court followed this recommendation and
sentenced Appellant to death (L.F. 769-770). This appeal followed.