Chris Collings 1.jpg

Christopher Collings, right, is led into the courtroom during a break in his trial for first-degree murder in the Phelps County Circuit Court in Rolla, Monday, March 12, 2012.

Special to the Globe/ Mark Schiefelbein
Globe file

The prosecution in the Chris Collings murder trial rested its case this morning, after presenting a final trace evidence witness.

The completion of the state’s case today came as a surprise, since prosecutors had indicated on Friday that they thought their case would last throughout the day.

The time frame for the trial appeared to be shortened when the defense announced a few minutes later they would not be presenting any evidence or testimony.

The announcement of that strategy by defense attorneys Janice Zembles and Charles Moreland was followed by an inquiry of the defendant by Circuit Judge Mary Sheffield regarding his concurrence with the advice of his attorneys not to testify.

Collings, of Wheaton, responded that he was in agreement.

The case would appear to be headed to jury deliberation either later this morning or early this afternoon.

If the defendant is convicted, a punishment phase of the trial would follow.

Collings is charged with forcible and statuary rape and first-degree murder in connection with the death of 9-year-old Rowan Ford, Stella.

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