A Greene County prosecutor challenged Craig Michael Wood's request for a public defender after he said police found evidence Wood has a $1 million trust in his name.
During a video arraignment Wood was formally charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping in the death of 10-year-old Hailey Owens. Hailey was abducted and killed Tuesday evening in Springfield. Eight of Hailey's family members attended the arraignment in Judge Dan Imhoff's courtroom, though they did not speak.
Wood, seen in a video monitor wearing a large black vest, had asked for a public defender to represent him. But prosecutor Todd Myers said authorities had found evidence of a $1 million trust in Wood's home, where Hailey's body also was discovered.
Myers said Wood "clearly had the means" to pay for his own defense and that it would be an "inappropriate use of public funds" for Wood to be granted a public defender.
Wood has been assigned public defender Chris Hatley who told the court "While I appreciate Mr. Myers' concern for my client's rights, it's frankly none of his business."
Hatley said Wood had followed the appropriate procedures to apply for a public defender.
The question of whether Wood is eligible for a public defender will be addressed in a court hearing at 9 a.m. on March 19.
What kind of trust is at issue in the case is unclear. There are many kinds. In general, a trust is a way for a trustee to hold assets for the benefit of a beneficiary.
Wood spoke only once, saying "I'm not sure I understand" when Imhoff asked whether Wood wanted the charges read aloud. When Imhoff read the charge of armed criminal action involving a deadly weapon, Wood appeared to display a look of significant surprise, raising both eyebrows as the charge was read.
The murder shocked the Springfield and has sparked an outpouring of support across the country.
A candlelight march in memory of Hailey is scheduled for Saturday on Commercial Street. Nearly 5,000 people are attending, according to a Facebook page for the event.
Originally organized by community members, the event has been sanctioned by the city of Springfield. People are asked to gather at the intersection of Campbell Avenue and Commercial Street on the west side of Commercial Street at 8 p.m., according to a release from the city.
A moment of silence will be held at the end of the march.
The Council of Churches of the Ozarks also has invited all places of worship in the Springfield area to observe a community-wide, unified period of mourning this weekend.
In a statement released this morning, the Council of Churches of the Ozarks indicated the period of mourning "can be an occasion for healing and human transformation."
"During this time of shared mourning in our community, we encourage observances that acknowledge our human loss," the Council stated. "Meaningful practices that allow grieving to occur may vary from faith tradition to faith tradition. We pray that our shared mourning will be an occasion for greater unity and peace."