Attorneys for a man accused of killing a 10-year-old Springfield girl are arguing that evidence that could connect him to handwritten stories about child rape and sodomy should not be allowed as evidence in his trial.
Craig Michael Wood, 46, is charged with murder, kidnapping, rape, sodomy and armed criminal action in the death of fourth-grader Hailey Owens in February. She was found dead in Wood’s basement after witnesses said he forced her into his pickup truck as she walked home. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Prosecutors had previously filed a motion to force Wood to provide a handwriting sample to try and match his writing with those on the child pornography stories that officers found in his home after his arrest. They also used a search warrant to seize a letter Wood wrote from jail, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
Wood’s attorney, Patrick Berrigan, said in a response filed last week that the seizure of Wood’s letter was improper, arguing that handwriting comparison science is not trustworthy.
“Questioned document examination is not science,” Berrigan wrote. “It’s is completely subjective. It does not utilize scientific principles, and, like many non-scientific forensic fields, it is arguably as much a self-perpetuating myth as a valid methodology.”
Prosecutors want to link the stories to Wood to show that he targeted Hailey. They allege one of the stories included the name “Hailey.” The stories detailed the rape and sodomy of a 13-year-old girl, according to police documents. Prosecutors introduced the stories as evidence during Wood’s preliminary hearing.
Judge Dan Conklin, who will preside over the case, will decide if the stories are permissible if the case goes to trial.