Craig Wood's mugshot
Craig Wood was transported from Potosi Correctional Center to the Greene County jail on March 22, 2024. (Booking photo by Greene County Sheriff's Office)

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The man convicted of raping and killing 10-year-old Hailey Owens in 2014 was transported from Potosi Correctional Center's death row to the Greene County Jail on March 22 so that he can participate in an evidentiary hearing set to begin March 25 in a Greene County courtroom.

Craig Wood, now 55, was sentenced to death in January 2018 by Greene County Circuit Judge Thomas Mountjoy, who has since retired.

Wood — who was a stranger to Owens — abducted the Westport Elementary fourth-grader off the 3200 block of West Lombard Street on Feb. 18, 2014, and drove her to his home. He raped her and then shot her in the back of the head.

He was convicted of first-degree murder by a jury in November 2017. But because the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on punishment, the decision went to Judge Mountjoy.

Hailey Owens
Hailey Owens was 10 when she was raped and murdered in 2014. (Photo from Springfield Police Department's Facebook)

According to online court records, the evidentiary hearing this week is expected to take three days.

The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed Woods’ conviction and death sentence in July 2019, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

In November 2019, Wood filed a motion pro se — without an attorney — asking the court to vacate, set aside or correct the judgment of his conviction. This document is six pages long.

On March 26, 2020 and with the assistance of an attorney, Wood filed a 231-page amended motion that contains 22 claims. According to this amended motion, Wood’s legal team intends to call 17 witnesses, including three experts, to testify at the evidentiary hearing scheduled to begin March 25. 

An estimated 10,000 people gathered on Commercial Street in 2014 to remember Hailey Owens. (Photo by Jackie Rehwald)

In this motion, Wood claims he had ineffective assistance of counsel for numerous reasons, including that his trial attorney failed to call to testify at least 10 people who knew Wood. The motion claims his due process rights were violated and prosecutorial misconduct occurred when the state “falsely claimed that with a death verdict, the jury spoke for Hailey and her family” during the penalty phase.

Wood’s motion also claims Judge Mountjoy had a conflict of interest which “precluded him from being a fair and impartial sentencer” and that Wood’s trial attorney should have objected and moved for the recusal of Mountjoy after the jury was unable to agree on punishment.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Hauxeda. She covers public safety, the courts, homelessness, domestic violence and other social issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald