ROLLA, Mo. (AP) — A jury has recommended the death penalty for a southwest Missouri man who confessed to raping and killing a friend’s 9-year-old stepdaughter.

KYTV reports ( ) the jury took less than an hour Friday evening to decide between a life sentence or death for 37-year-old Wheaton resident Christopher Collings. The judge is not bound by the jury’s recommendation.

Platte County jurors hearing the case in Rolla convicted him Tuesday of first-degree murder in the 2007 death of 9-year-old Rowan Ford, of Stella. Her stepfather, David Spears, is awaiting trial.

During closing arguments Friday afternoon, the prosecution recapped grisly details of the crime and said Collings didn’t deserve mercy because he gave Rowan none.

But the defense urged a life sentence, recounting that Collings was neglected and sexually abused as a child.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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