Mo. opposes ruling critical of murder conviction
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The state of Missouri wants a man twice convicted in the 1990 slaying of a Chillicothe farm wife to remain behind bars for life despite a recent ruling that sharply criticized his conviction, the state attorney general's office said Thursday.
The office filed a protest with the state Supreme Court in the case of Mark Woodworth, who was convicted in 1995 in the death of his neighbor, Cathy Robertson, and again in 1999 following an appeal. Robertson's husband, Lyndel, who survived the shooting, was a business partner of Woodworth's father.
The Missouri Supreme Court appointed Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler in 2010 to review the case. Oxenhandler ruled May 1 that Woodworth was the victim of "a manifest injustice" who should either be freed or receive a new trial. The state filed its objections to Oxenhandler's ruling, legally known as exceptions, on the final day of its 30-day deadline to respond.
The judge can choose whether to amend his report based on the state's concerns or take no action. The next step in the case would be a hearing before Missouri's high court.
Woodworth was 16 years old when Cathy Robertson was fatally shot as she slept in her rural home outside Chillicothe, a farming community 90 miles north of Kansas City. Lyndel Robertson was shot four times but survived the attack and later testified against Woodworth, who was charged with the killing three years later.
Oxenhandler determined state prosecutors failed to provide Woodworth's attorneys with copies of letters that could cast doubt on Woodworth's guilt. The letters were between a Livingston County judge, state and local prosecutors and Lyndel Robertson.
But Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster responded that Woodworth's previous attorneys, including one who is now a presiding circuit judge in Cass County, "not only saw the letter but ... actually used that letter at trial."
"A conviction should not be overturned based on the inability to remember something when there is demonstrative proof that the same individual forgot seeing something similar," the state wrote.
Oxenhandler said it was "inexcusable" that the county sheriff allowed a private investigator hired by Lyndel Robertson to lead the murder inquiry, and that the judge who oversaw grand jury proceedings acted like a prosecutor. He also noted that an attorney who represented Woodworth early in the case had represented the judge and Robertson's daughter in other legal matters.
News Photo Galleriesview all
- 36901Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 36295Oklahoma tornadoes: 'It took it all'
- 32626Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 8549Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 5487OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins
- 4132Oklahoma City Thunder: What could Serge Ibaka learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?
- 4021Oklahoma State football: Limiting Wes Lunt's transfer options makes Mike Gundy look bad