A former Missouri middle school football coach, who recently tried to get his guilty verdict thrown out, was sentenced to death on Thursday, for the 2013 death of a little girl in Springfield.
Kansas City Star reports that Craig Wood, 49, was was convicted of murdering 11-year-old Hailey Owens in Nov., but the jury couldn’t decide whether to sentence the convict to life in prison or death. When Wood learned his fate this week, he took a sip of water before authorities led him out of the courtroom.
Craig Wood sentenced to death penalty for killing Hailey Owens https://t.co/Bnjmy7dHbO
— News-Leader (@springfieldNL) January 11, 2018
According to Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson, Wood’s crimes are considered the “worst of the worst,” and the sentence serves as a “measure of justice” to young Hailey and her loved ones.
“God bless you, your honor,” Hailey’s step-grandfather said after learning Wood received the sentence.
Hailey’s mother, Stacey Herman, leaned on the shoulder of an investigator for support. The investigator put his arm around her as they led her daughter’s killer out of the courtroom.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, on Feb. 18, 2014, Wood kidnapped Hailey off of the 3200 block of West Lombard Street in Springfield. Court documents indicate that Wood pulled the little girl into his truck and drove away. He later 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.
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 after her abduction, authorities searched Wood’s home and found Hailey’s lifeless body, 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.
Prosecutors later said that Hailey was “essentially tortured” for the last 45 minutes of her young life.
“People can’t believe this would happen. It’s just the fact that she wasn’t far from her home, then instantly, poof, she’s gone,” local resident Joe Bridges told the Kansas City Star in 2014.
Wood, who worked as a paraprofessional and football coach at Pleasant View Middle School, never married and had no children of his own. Neighbors reported he rarely socialized. He had previous convictions of possession of a controlled substance and illegal taking of wildlife.