JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Platte County Judge Owens Lee Hull ruled Monday ballistics evidence cannot be used by state prosecutors seeking a third murder conviction for Mark Woodworth, the Associated Press reported.
The judge ruled a bullet recovered from the body of Lyndel Robertson was mishandled by a private investigator, the AP said.
In early January, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Woodworth, who was convicted and sentenced in the 1990 shooting death of one of his neighbors, Catherine Robertson, in Chillicothe. Robertson’s husband, Lyndel, was wounded in the shooting.
“It’s been really hard of us to keep going over and over and over this,” said Ronda Oesch, daughter of the victim on Friday. “But we are resolved to see this through the third trial.”
Woodworth, who was just 16 years old at the time of the killing, was first convicted in 1995. He was briefly released on an appeal, but was convicted by another jury in 1999 and was serving life in prison.
The court ruled in January that prosecutors withheld evidence which could have been used in Mark Woodworth’s defense, saying prosecutors “withheld material, favorable evidence from the defense” which could have helped Woodworth defend himself against accusations he killed Robertson.
Woodworth’s attorneys argued his conviction was “tainted” by prosecutors’ failure to turn over copies of letters that “cast doubt on his guilt.” They also said there was “other evidence” which would have helped the defense.
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In the January ruling, the court ordered Woodworth to be released in the next two months, unless prosecutors decided to retry him, which prosecutors plan to do. Until the trial, he will be out of prison on this $50,000 bond.
When FOX 4’s Rob Low asked Woodworth if he thought the third time would be the charm, Woodworth replied, “I do. I think it will.”
The victim’s family still believes Woodworth is guilty.
“This is a life sentence for us,” Oesch said. “We are determined to be there for our mother’s sake… and make sure that she’s remembered in it all.”
Chillicothe in Livingston County is about one and a half hours northeast of Kansas City.