The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 22, 2012

Chris Collings’ father: ‘No matter what happens, I love my son’

Defense offers details of family’s alcoholism

ROLLA, Mo. — The birth father of Chris Collings took the witness stand this morning in the penalty phase of his son’s murder trial.

Collings, 37, Wheaton, was found guilty of first-degree murder earlier this week in connection with the November, 2007 killing of Rowan Ford, 9, Stella.

Defense attorneys called Dale Pickett, of England, Ark., to testify in an effort to convince jurors not to give Collings the death penalty.

The defense is offering intimate details of Collings life as mitigating circumstances in his crime.

Much of Pickett’s testiony concerned his own alcoholism as well as that of Collings’ mother.

The picture that emerged from his testimony was of a home life where Collings and his siblings were largely left to their own devices while their parents drank and fought.

“She couldn’t stand me drunk and I couldn’t stand her sober,” Pickett told the court.

He said he was arrested for shooting another man in Rogers, Ark., six months after Collings was born.  He explained that he had gone after the ex-husband of Collings’ mother for “messing around” with her, but wound up shooting the wrong man. But, he told the court that man also had been having an affair with the defendant’s mother.

The father was sent to prison and did not see Collings again until he was let out for a special visit when the boy was 6-years-old. Pickett went on to describe efforts he made to continue to have contact with his son when he got out on parole and when he was finally released after being sent back to prison for a parole violation.

When asked about his thoughts on his son facing the death penalty, Pickett responded: “I know my son made a serious mistake, but mistakes are something everyone makes. No matter what happens I love my son. I know a man can change. Everybody can change. I have changed.”

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