Penalty phase of Greene County murder trial will begin Friday

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. It took the jury about an hour to hand down a guilty verdict in the murder trial of a former Springfield teacher's aide and coach.

Craig Wood has been convicted for killing 10 year-old Hailey Owens in 2014.

This was no surprise considering the defense never argued Wood didn't kill Owens, but said he did it because he was on drugs.

This is just the first part of the trial. The second part, the penalty phase, will take just as long, if not longer than the first part.

The jury of eight women and four men made their decision after last minute arguments for and against the conviction.

The state says that Hailey's murder was planned.

"The defendant purposely killed Hailey Owens by shooting her in the back of the head, and he did so after deliberation because he had to get rid of her, because he had sexually abused her," said Greene County Prosecutor, Dan Patterson.

The defense claimed that Wood was suppressing demons for years and finally snapped after using meth.

Defense attorney, Pat Berrigan said, "If this is the plan, grab a little girl and rape and sodomize her and kill her, what are you doing at Walmart buying bleach and duct tape and laundry bags afterwards?"

Prosecutors tried to drive their point home to the jury before they deliberated.

"Hailey struggled, Hailey fought, Hailey didn't want to have sex with defendant. Then he packages her for disposal and treats her like trash, just like he did her clothes," said Patterson.

Owens mother, Stacey Herman, shared her reaction to the verdict through her attorney, David Ransin.

"Basically a big relief. It's been 3 and a half years and she's been looking for the end of the tunnel and she's almost there," he said.

Herman has reconsidered the possibility that Wood may be put to death.

"Stacy's position is that she trusts the jurors to do the right thing. She trusts the system. She's been patient and asks everyone to do the same," Ransin said.

Before jurors decide Wood's fate, they will hear more opening arguments, victim impact statements and people speaking on his behalf to spare his life.

The judge will decide on if the jury will be allowed to consider the impact this crime had on our community before the penalty phase starts.

Defense attorneys don't want them to see video footage of the candlelight vigil held for Owens after she was killed. They say it violates Wood's constitutional rights.

Prosecutors say every aspect of this crime should be considered.

If Wood doesn't get the death penalty, he will spend his life in jail without any chance of getting out.

A final decision is expected sometime next week.