Ex-stepfather of murdered, raped 10-year-old pleads guilty to child porn

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The former stepfather of a Springfield girl who was killed in a high-profile murder and rape case has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.

39-year-old Jeffrey Barfield, who pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday, is the ex-stepfather of Hailey Owens, who was abducted from a street near her home in February of 2014.

Craig Wood was convicted of first-degree murder in Owen’s death during a widely covered trial in Springfield last October and was sentenced to death in January.

Related story: Craig Wood sentenced to death

Barfield and then wife Stacey, Hailey’s mother, had traveled to Jefferson City in 2017 to advocate for legislation that would speed up Missouri’s Amber Alerts, which are issued for abducted children.  At the time, they had teamed up with Craig Wood’s parents to support legislation which was dubbed Hailey’s Law.

An investigator in the case against Barfield had previously said Hailey, who was 10 years old at the time of her murder, was not a victim of Barfield’s child pornography activity. The investigator also noted there was nothing to suggest a connection between Barfield’s activities and Hailey’s abduction.

Federal prosecutors say he posted child pornography photos in March 2016. Barfield could face up to 20 years in federal prison where there is no chance for parole.

The bipartisan Hailey’s Law legislation has still not cleared the state legislature after three years of efforts from Republican lawmakers from Springfield.

The measure actually passed both the House and Senate in 2017 but was sidelined because it was approved in each chamber under different pieces of legislation.  Any bill must be approved in the exact same form in both bodies in order to advance to the governor’s desk.

Hailey’s Law would accomplish two things. First, it calls for AMBER Alerts to be integrated with the state Highway Patrol communications service (MULES).  The service interacts with all law enforcement agencies, and the region’s criminal justice database (REJIS).

Secondly, the bill would require Missouri’s AMBER Alert Oversight Committee to meet on a regular basis.  The current state law has no frequency requirements. When Hailey Owens was abducted in 2014, there was a two-hour delay before an AMBER Alert was issued statewide.

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