Hailey Owens' killer could learn his fate Thursday

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. A convicted child killer back in court Thursday to learn his fate for killing a little girl.

Springfield teaching assistant and coach, Craig Wood murdered 9 year-old Hailey Owens nearly 4 years ago.

A jury convicted Wood of first degree murder more than 2 months ago. They weren't able to decide on if he should be put to death or if he should spend his life locked up.

Now that's up to the judge.

"It's difficult for them," said David Ransin, attorney for Hailey Owens' mother, Stacy Herman.

Herman is anxious for all this to end.

"She's doing better. It's a slow process. She sounded the best I had ever heard talking to her lately," he said.

Wood is responsible for kidnapping, raping, sodomizing and murdering her child.

Ransin explains that while it may seem slow, the judicial process is moving forward.

"It's not really being dragged out. It's part of the process. Before there can be an appeal, there's a process you go through after the trial to give the judge the opportunity to change things," he said.

The judge has been reviewing the case since the murder trial ended in November.

"Each of these stages are conclusions. The trial was a conclusion. Now we have the after trial process which will come to a conclusion and then most likely there will be an appeal, that then has to come to a conclusion," explained Ransin.

Thursday, Wood could find out if the judge grants a new trial or moves forward by making a decision on his punishment.

"Sentencing, maybe, maybe not. Three things are going to be taken up. A motion for a new trial which lays the foundation for an appeal. Secondly, a challenge to the constitutionality of the punishment. Third, the sentencing," said Ransin.

This may finally bring closure for Owens' family.

"They're looking forward to getting their lives back together as close to normal as possible," said Ransin.

Even if the judge decides Wood's fate Thursday, he still has the right to appeal the conviction.

The hearing starts at 2:30 p.m. at the Greene County Justice Center.

We'll be closely following this tomorrow and will bring you updates online and our newscasts.