Craig Michael Wood sentenced to death penalty for murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 11, 2018 at 10:13 PM
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Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A Missouri judge Thursday sentenced a former middle school coach to death for the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.

Judge Tom Mountjoy ruled in favor of sentencing 49-year-old Craig Michael Wood to the death penalty at 4 p.m. after Wood was convicted of abducting and killing Hailey Owens in November.

Jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on a sentence for Wood, leaving the choice to Mountjoy.

Mountjoy also had the option of sentencing Wood to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but instead selected the death penalty.

Prior to the sentencing Mountjoy denied a pair of motions filed by Wood's defense attorneys, one asking for a new trial and the other calling judge-imposed death sentences unconstitutional.

A jury found Wood guilty of first-degree murder in November. He abducted Hailey as she walked home from school Feb. 18, 2014, raped her, then fatally shot her with a .22-caliber rifle.

Wood didn't deny killing Hailey but his lawyer argued his actions were influenced by his use of methamphetamine, which was found in his Springfield, Mo., home after the murder.

Mountjoy referred to the "death of innocence" when delivering his verdict, not only in the loss of Hailye's life but also the Springfield community.

"It is an exceptional case, an extreme case, I think, in all regards," Mountjoy said.

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