The mother of Hailey Owens said this week she does not want to sit through a trial.
The News-Leader reported earlier this year that Craig Wood — the man accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering 10-year-old Hailey in 2014 — is willing to spend the rest of his life in prison if, in exchange, the Greene County prosecutor drops his pursuit of the death penalty.
Stacey Barfield, Hailey's mom, told the News-Leader on Tuesday she wants prosecutors to take that deal.
"I don't want to go through the trial because I don't want to relive the nightmare," Barfield said. "I'm never going to be over it, but just re-seeing it is going to make it 10 times worse."
Wood is accused of snatching Hailey off the street in west Springfield on Feb. 18, 2014. Her body was allegedly found hours later wrapped up in his basement.
Sitting through even the routine pretrial court appearances over the last three years has been tough for Barfield.
"It's hard enough to sit there and have to look at him," Barfield said. "He doesn't have no emotion. He just sits there with a blank face."
Barfield sent a letter to Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson on April 1 asking him to accept a plea deal.
"I am writing to request your mercy," Barfield wrote. "Mercy for me, for my family, and for the memory of my daughter, Hailey Owens."
"You have the power to end my suffering," she continued. "Please accept a plea deal for life without the possibility of parole in Craig Wood's case. Then, I can focus on rebuilding my life."
Barfield said Tuesday she had not heard back from Patterson on the letter.
Patterson has said ethics rules prohibit him from publicly discussing possible plea negotiations.
He told the News-Leader in February he has a number of factors to weigh in death penalty cases including input from the victim's family, the facts of the case, the defendant and the interests of the community and the state.
Barfield had deferred to her husband Jeff to make public comments for much of the last three years, but she is now taking on that role after separating from Jeff — who was indicted in February on a federal child porn charge unrelated to Hailey's case.
"I'm usually quiet," Barfield said. "But now I am in a position where I have to speak."
She said the state legislature is close to passing Hailey's Law, which would streamline the Amber Alert process, and she expects to reach a settlement soon in her civil lawsuit against Wood.
The criminal case, which is set for trial in October, is what gives Stacey Barfield the most anxiety at this point.
"I get frustrated because I want Hailey to get justice, but yet I want it to be done right," Barfield said. "I don't want no kinks in the road."
Barfield said if Wood is sentenced to death, it would likely mean years of appeals and more time spent in court, which is something she would rather avoid.
"I would be happy just to get justice for Hailey and just say 'OK, it’s a done deal' and I don’t have to sit in court no more and look at him," Barfield said.
Asked what justice would mean, Barfield said: "I want Craig Wood to not be able to see sunlight, to not be able to go out into public."
Barfield said she will never be able to forgive Wood, but she wants to focus on the joy of Hailey's life instead of her tragic death.
Wood, 49, has been charged with kidnapping, rape and murder in connection with Hailey’s death on Feb. 18, 2014.
Springfield police say the girl's body was found wrapped in garbage bags in Wood's basement, hours after witnesses saw someone matching Wood’s description grab Hailey off the street near her home.
Many others in Springfield left their porch lights on in memory of Hailey and donated to her memorial fund.
Wood took the stand briefly during a pretrial court appearance last year, and during cross-examination, he said he was high on meth during the time frame in which he is accused of abducting and killing Hailey.
Much of the recent court proceedings in the case have dealt with mental evaluations for Wood, and what rights prosecutors have to see notes from psychologists and to have their own psychologist interview Wood.
In Jefferson City, Stacey Barfield has teamed up with Wood's parents, Jim and Regina Wood, to advocate for legislation that would speed up Missouri’s Amber Alerts, which are issued for abducted children.
Craig Wood had a court appearance scheduled for Thursday. It has now been rescheduled to May 25.