User Login    
 + Register
News : Judge's Ruling Bars Chillicothe Man From Being Prosecuted For 3rd Time
Posted by Randy on 2014/1/30 4:30:00 (1410 reads) News by the same author

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A northwest Missouri judge on Wednesday barred the state Attorney General's Office from prosecuting for a third time a Chillicothe man convicted of fatally shooting a neighbor more than two decades ago.
Click to see original Image in a new window

Platte County Circuit Judge Owens Lee Hull Jr. ruled that previous prosecutorial missteps that contributed to Mark Woodworth's first two convictions require "an independent review of this case by a prosecutor unburdened by past participation." He also elaborated on the earlier criticisms of a Boone County judge assigned by the state Supreme Court to review the case, citing a "secret investigation" of Woodworth by a private investigator working for the Livingston County sheriff that "permeated, tainted and stained the evidence in this case."

"From the inception of the 'secret investigation' in 1991 through two trials, the concept of due process of law for defendant Woodworth took flight and did not reappear until approximately 2009," Hull wrote. "Given the history of this case, there is absolutely no reason the Office of the Attorney General should prosecute this case."

The ruling means that prosecution in a third murder trial set for July now reverts to Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren. But a Warren predecessor originally refused to file charges against Woodworth, citing concerns about the strength of the evidence, which led to the appointment of the Missouri attorney general.

Woodworth, 39, has been free on bail for nearly one year after the Missouri Supreme Court overturned his second conviction in Cathy Robertson's death, saying prosecutors failed to share evidence that could have helped his defense. The evidence was a series of letters shared among Robertson's husband who survived the shooting and initially identified another suspect, a former Livingston judge, and ex-prosecutor Doug Roberts. It was Roberts' reticence to file charges that led to Lyndel Robertson complaining to a judge who removed the local prosecutor and instead summoned a team of special prosecutors from Jefferson City.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster said the office does not plan to appeal the ruling. Warren said he will undertake his own review of the state's evidence before making a decision, hopefully within 30 days.

"I'll make my own determination," Warren said.

Defense attorney Robert Ramsey called the ruling a major step forward.

"This is significant," he said. "It's what we wanted all along."

Woodworth was 16 when Cathy Robertson was shot and killed Nov. 13, 1990, in a farm home outside Chillicothe, about 90 miles northeast of Kansas City. Lyndel Robertson was a business partner of Woodworth's father, but the two families had a falling out after the shooting.

Woodworth was first convicted in the death in 1995. That conviction was overturned on appeal, but a second jury found Woodworth guilty four years later and sentenced him to life in prison.
Hull's call for a fresh review of the case follows a similar conclusion in 2012 by Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler, who also recommended a review by an independent prosecutor and called Woodworth's earlier convictions a "manifest injustice."

The Platte County judge has also tossed out key ballistics evidence that was used to implicate Woodworth at his previous trials, ruling that the bullet and weapon could have been tainted by private investigator Terry Deister and a British ballistics expert hired to aid prosecutors. The Missouri Court of Appeals' Western District upheld Hull's ruling that the suspected murder weapon and the bullet surgically removed from Lyndel Robertson's liver two years later may have been improperly handled.

Rhonda Robertson Oesch, the daughter of Cathy Robertson, said in a statement that the family plans to ask Warren to withdraw from the case since the part-time prosecutor has also done legal work for the Robertsons in his private practice.

"The criminal justice system has failed our family once again," she said.

Printer Friendly Page Send this Story to a Friend Create a PDF from the article


Other articles
2015/4/1 7:50:00 - Mizzou's Eye Appears Thursday Night On ESPN
2015/4/1 7:48:37 - Grundy County Absentee Balloting Open Saturday Morning
2015/4/1 7:44:59 - Grundy County Seeks To Improve "Low-Water Crossings"
2015/4/1 7:41:55 - Debris Falls On Power Line, Causing Trenton Power Failure
2015/4/1 7:40:00 - Brookfield Catholic Organization To Host "Foot Care Clinic" Later This Month
2015/4/1 7:28:55 - Culvert Replacement to Close Grundy County Route J Today
2015/4/1 7:25:09 - Chillicothe Police Department Announces New Hire
2015/4/1 7:10:00 - Senator McCaskill In Chillicothe This Morning For "Senior Listening Tour"
2015/4/1 6:40:00 - Accidents Reported Near Green City And Carrollton
2015/3/30 13:20:00 - Amber Alert Issued For 13-Year Old, Missing From Henry County
2015/3/30 12:00:00 - Trenton Municipal Utilities Sets Budget For Fiscal Year
2015/3/30 11:50:34 - Princeton's Schoonover Receives High Score In Percussion Solo
2015/3/30 11:00:00 - Trenton HS Instrumental Music Department Earns Ten "1's" At Districts
2015/3/30 11:00:00 - THS Vocalists Excel In Districts
2015/3/30 10:32:27 - Area Teens Injured In Truck Accident
2015/3/28 5:50:29 - Harrison County Accident Injures Ridgeway Woman
2015/3/27 16:19:18 - Milan Blisters Putnam County To Open Baseball Season
2015/3/27 16:15:35 - Trenton Kiwanis To Host Easter Egg Hunt At Moberly Park
2015/3/27 16:08:33 - Pershing Boyhood Home To Host Easter Egg Hunt
2015/3/27 15:59:31 - Michigan Wolverines End Mizzou's Season In WNIT's Third Round
2015/3/27 15:52:45 - Royals Right Fielder Out With Jammed Thumb
2015/3/27 15:40:00 - Royals Lose Young Right-Hander On Waivers To San Diego
2015/3/27 14:20:00 - Trenton Bulldogs Sweep Early Bird Relays
2015/3/27 13:30:00 - NCMC Softball Routs Graceland's JV, Runs Winning Streak To 11
2015/3/27 11:40:00 - MBCA Announces All-State Academic Basketball Team
2015/3/27 11:32:48 - Highway 65 Accident Injures Three
2015/3/27 11:21:58 - Trenton Family Aquatics Center To Hold Lifeguarding Course
2015/3/27 11:07:22 - Chillicothe City Council Scheduled To Meet Monday Night
2015/3/27 9:40:00 - MBCA Announces All-State Basketball Team
2015/3/27 9:00:09 - Malta Bend Man Catches Record-Breaking Catfish In the Missouri River



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Listen to KTTN-FM