SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– A death sentence has been issued for Craig Wood, the man convicted late last year in the the kidnapping, rape and murder of Springfield 10-year-old Hailey Owens.
Moments before the sentence was announced, defense attorney Patrick Berrigan argued harder than ever the constitutionality of this decision resting solely on the shoulders of judge Thomas Mountjoy.
“Did the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances?” argued Berrigan. “You sit here. Not knowing the answer to that and you’re being asked to render a sentence of death? How does that work?”
“Are you really going to decide whether Craig lives or dies without independently coming to some factual conclusions?,” argued defense attorney Thomas Jacquinot. “It’s incomprehensible. It’s illogical.”
Despite those arguments, the judge rendered a sentence.
“This court assesses and declares the punishment to be death, for the murder of Hailey Owens,” the judge announced just before 4 pm Thursday.
Those were the words Hailey Owens’ mom Stacey Herman said she’d been waiting three and a half years to hear. She had her attorney read a statement to KOLR10.
“Knowing Craig Wood will never get out and never hurt another child is my satisfaction,” read David Ransin, Herman’s attorney.
It’s a decision Judge Mountjoy says is based on the unusual and extreme nature of this crime.
“I think there was, in this case, a factor of the death of innocence, for a neighborhood, for a community, for a family,” Judge Mountjoy.
Prosecuting attorney Dan Patterson agrees.
“Our children should feel free to walk around their own neighborhood without worrying about the boogieman stealing them off the street, doing unspeakable things and then killing them,” the prosecutor said.
Even though the death sentence now facing Craig Wood is one that will likely be appealed by his defense team.
“In every case like this there’s appeals,” Patterson said.
It’s a penalty Patterson says will stand despite the appellate process.
“My family will have to move on but will never be the same,” Stacey Herman’s attorney continued reading.
Either way, while Wood waits and fights the fate handed to him Thursday, Stacey says she’ll move forward.
“I’m going to try and get Hailey’s law passed,” Herman said. “I’m not going to stop I’m going to keep on pushing. I’m stubborn like that.”
Missourinet media partner KOLR TV contributed this story