Mark Woodworth given July date for third murder trial

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PLATTE CITY, Mo.-- A Platte County judge picked July 21st for the third murder trial of Mark Woodworth during a motion hearing on Friday. The Chillicothe man has been convicted twice of murdering his neighbor in 1990, only to have both convictions overturned.

Woodworth walked out of court on Friday a newlywed. The man freed in 2013 after serving 17 years for the murder of his neighbor, Cathy Robertson, got married three weeks ago.

Woodworth and his attorney decided not to speak after a strong hint from the judge at Friday’s hearing. But Woodworth's newest supporter, Ryan Ferguson, who had his murder conviction vacated in November of 2013, spoke plenty.

"We're just happy to be here and support him and his family, cause what they're dealing with, we feel that pain, we feel that struggle," Ferguson said.

Ferguson was freed after serving 10 years in prison for the murder of Columbia Daily Tribune newspaper editor Kent Heitholt. Now he's making prosecutorial misconduct a personal cause.

"Anytime we see injustice, we have to fight against that. We have to stop people from going in. You see what it takes to get them out, it costs hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars," Ferguson said.

Rhonda Oesch is the daughter of Cathy Robertson and remains convinced Mark Woodworth is guilty. She says Ryan Ferguson is supporting the wrong guy.

"Ryan probably feels like he's looked at all the documents involved, but he's being force-fed them by the defense," Oesch said.

Ferguson disagrees and said that he doesn't believe the state has been forthright.

"To me it's sad that the state is dragging them through this, because in my opinion, they're not getting the full truth from the state," Ferguson said.

Woodworth's defense team is asking the judge to kick the Missouri Attorney General's Office off the case and appoint a new prosecutor because of what the defense called, "years of withholding evidence."

In the meantime, the attorney general's team said the judge needs to bus a jury in from a distant county because of pre-trial publicity.

"I feel like that would be the best thing, because after all, that's what everyone wants is an unbiased jury," Oesch said.

The judge will make his decision about the jury and disqualifying state prosecutors next week. He's already decided to dismiss ballistics evidence against Woodworth. If the state doesn't get that evidence reintroduced, the big question will be if they still try Woodworth for a third time.

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    • L R

      You can tried as many times as needed. Once you’re acquitted, you cannot be tried again. Woodworth was never acquitted. The verdicts were overturned. I just watched Paula Zahn’s take on the case and I’m floored he was convicted based on fingerprint that theoretically could have gotten there any time.

  • Susan

    What happened to his confession? (A very un-remorseful confession at that) Wasn’t it accompanied by a lie-detector test? Everyone wants to vote for the underdog…and so do I…but make sure you know all aspects/facts before pointing fingers (this goes for both sides).

  • Brenda Evans

    For Rhonda Oesch to say Ryan ferguson was “force-fed,” regarding the the evidence for Mark , is an insult to Ryan’s intelligence! Many of us have read many documents which includes the Master File. Anyone can see the wrong doing of many in the law enforcement. For more information get one “The innocence project for Mark Woodworth,” read for yourself, you can find the legal documents, and judge for yourself.

  • Ric

    What is being withheld about this? The 5th Amendment guarantees protection against double jeopardy. And this guy is going to be tried a 3rd time for the same murder? What’s up with this???

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