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Coach Who Raped, Murdered 10-Year-Old Sentenced To Die

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A former middle school football coach and school employee has been sentenced to death for the 2014 kidnapping, rape and murder of 10-year-old Hailey Owens.

Craig Wood, 49, was convicted unanimously in November 2017 for the crime, but the jury could not decide whether he should receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole, according to The Kansas City Star.

The crime drew national attention for its random brazenness. One day while Hailey was walking home from school, Wood pulled over, beckoned her to his car, and pulled her inside in broad daylight, speeding away as stunned onlookers tried to give chase.

The following day, police showed up at Wood's home in Springfield, Missouri, after tracing his vehicle registration based on information gathered where Hailey was abducted.

Once there, they detected a strong bleach odor in the basement, where they soon made a gruesome discovery.

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Hailey's body was wrapped in plastic and lying in a tub. She had been shot in the back of the head.

Wood's own clothing was found at a local laundromat.

During sentencing, Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson pointed out that "the death penalty should be reserved for the worst of the worst. This is that case."

Judge Thomas Mountjoy referred to the "death of innocence" as he imposed the sentence on Wood.

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Wood's attorneys requested a new trial and argued that the death penalties imposed by judges were unconstitutional. According to The Kansas City Star, the only defense was that they contend the murder was not premeditated.

During the trial, prosecutors characterized Wood as "an impulsive pedophile who kept handwritten stories of sexual fantasies [that] included children in his basement," according to the Daily Mail.

During the November 2017 trial, jurors viewed photographs of Hailey's bruised body.

Carlos and Michelle Edwards, who witnessed the kidnapping, also testified.

When Carlos saw Woods pull Hailey into his car, he pursued but could not catch up to the vehicle. He testified that he then knocked on doors, alerting neighbors to what had just happened while Michelle called 911.

Prosecutors said Wood raped Hailey before taking her to the basement and shooting her.

Wood had 18 guns on the premises when he was arrested, one of which was the murder weapon, according to Daily Mail.

Hailey's 2014 death galvanized the community when the news first surfaced.

Thousands of people participated in a march and candlelight vigil in Springfield, with the procession ending at a footbridge covered in purple lights -- Hailey's favorite color.

Sources: The Kansas City Star, Daily Mail / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Facebook via Daily Mail, AP via Daily Mail

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