Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed in the unique setup — common for cases that receive extensive media attention — but according to the Springfield News-Leader, the Missouri Supreme Court will have to issue a formal order because the jury will be from more than one county away. Platte County officials will not have any direct role in the trial.
“We will all work to be good hosts, assisting colleagues from another part of the state as they work to obtain justice in the case,” Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd said. Greene County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Craig Wood, 45, charged with murder, kidnapping, rape, sodomy and armed criminal action in the death of Hailey Owens this past February. Authorities found the 10-year-old’s body wrapped in garbage bags in the basement of Wood’s home in nearby Ash Grove, Mo., shortly after she disappeared while walking home from school in Springfield.
Wood is a former teaching assistant and coach at Pleasant View Middle School in the Springfield School District.
Greene County prosecutors will come to Platte County for the jury selection process, and those selected will go to Springfield and be sequestrated in a local hotel for the trial’s duration. Potential jurors will be made aware of the travel requirements and potential length of the proceedings, which could be extremely time consuming for a case with a lot of evidence.
Those with conflicting schedules are generally released from service, according to Zahnd.
A call to the Greene County Prosecutor’s office was not returned Tuesday afternoon seeking more information on the case’s timeline. The order from the supreme court has not been received, and according to court records, no upcoming hearings are currently scheduled.