Hailey Owens Craig Wood

Former football coach & convicted child killer rapist who sexually assaulted a little girl and shot her in the head demands a new trial

A former Missouri middle school football coach who kidnapped, raped, and killed a 10-year-old little girl is demanding a new trial or an acquittal, stating he didn’t receive a fair trial last month.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, 49-year-old Craig Wood was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of Hailey Owens, a 10-year-old that he abducted on Feb. 18, 2014, off of the 3200 block of West Lombard Street in Springfield. Court documents indicate that Wood pulled the little girl into his truck, hid her in his basement, then raped and killed her. A witness who saw Wood take Hailey wrote down his license plate number and called the police.

Wood is currently awaiting sentencing, but in the meantime, his lawyers filed an appeal, claiming there were mistakes in both courtroom procedure and jury selection that hindered him from receiving a fair trial, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

Wood’s lawyers claim that several jury member approved of the death penalty. They also claimed the presiding judge allowed “too much evidence” to be presented at the trial, and that witnesses were essentially over-dramatic for the news cameras allowed in the courtroom, which ultimately swayed opinions. Some of the other alleged errors that the lawyers added in the motion include:

  • Camera shutters causing distractions during the trial
  • The judge allowing information regarding Wood’s 18 guns
  • Photos of Hailey using her phone on the day of the murder
  • Abundance of autopsy photos allowed during the trial
  • Wood’s interrogation video allowed during the trial
  • Witness testimonies about the impact the little girl’s death made on the community
  • Prosecutors allowed to intentionally draw out emotional outbursts
  • Denial of Wood to make a plea with jury without being cross-examined by the prosecution

“Mr. Wood prays that this court enter in his case a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict, or, in the alternative, an order granting him a new trial,” the new motion read.

The gruesome details of the crime left a community shocked after they learned Wood bound the little girl’s hands together and shot her in the head after raping her. He then wrapped her in garbage bags, put her in a storage container and hid her inside his basement, in his home off of East Stanford Street.

Hours later, authorities searched his home and found her, thanks to the witness who caught his license plate number as he drove away. Further, other witnesses told detectives they saw someone matching Wood’s description yanking Hailey into a truck.

Wood’s lawyers aren’t disputing the fact that their client is guilty. They did, however, push for second-degree murder, stating that his actions weren’t premeditated, but instead, fueled by meth use that made him act on a whim. They’re also currently fighting to keep him from receiving the death penalty. The jury agreed that Wood was indeed guilty, but they couldn’t come to unanimous decision as to whether he should receive life in prison or the death sentence, resulting in a deadlock.

In Missouri, a judge has the authority to decide the sentencing in the event of a hung jury. Instead of ruling on life or death for the convict next month, the presiding Greene County judge will have to rule on the motion.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo Hailey Owen/Family Handout/ Craig Wood/Police Handout]