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Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO
  • Woodworth lawyer wants AG removed from case

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  • The state of Missouri has filed a motion with the Missouri Supreme Court to retry Mark Woodworth, who currently is serving four life sentences after being convicted of the 1990 shooting death of Catherine Robertson and the criminal assault on her husband, Lyndel.
    However, just prior to the state filing the petition, Woodworth's attorney filed a motion of intent for a rehearing, asking the Supreme Court to appoint an independent prosecutor, which was something Boone County Judge and Special Master to the case Gary M. Oxenhandler had recommended; or, as an alternative, send the case back to Livingston County.
    The state now has until noon tomorrow (Thursday) to file suggestions in response to Woodworth's motion for a rehearing.
    Woodworth's attorney, Robert Ramsey, in his motion for a rehearing, emphasized that the special master had recommended that Woodworth's conviction be set aside and that the case be reviewed by an independent prosecutor before any decision is made as to a retrial.
    The Missouri Supreme Court earlier this month ruled that prosecutors failed to share evidence that could have benefitted Woodworth's defense. The high court also ruled that Woodworth be released within 60 days of its decision, unless the state petitions to retry Woodworth. A request to set bail for Woodworth currently is pending.
    Ramsey states that the court adopted the master's 'recommendation' but apparently overlooked that portion of recommendation calling for the appointment of an independent prosecutor before any decision is made as to retrial.
    He stated that the attorney general's office is the inappropriate authority to make a decision on whether to retry Woodworth for several reasons. The petition states that the attorney general is not properly or statutorily authorized to act on behalf of the county, and cites misconduct by the attorney general's office.
    The attorney general's office became involved when then-Prosecuting Attorney Douglas Roberts disqualified himself from the case in 1993. The petition states that the court's opinion suggests that Roberts' self disqualification resulted from wrongful actions of the judge, which were prompted by the ex parte urgings of the alleged victim, Lyndel Robertson, to have Roberts removed from the case so that Woodworth could be prosecuted.
    The petition maintains that Roberts disqualified only himself and not the office of the county prosecuting attorney.
    The petition also states that the record contains no indication that any prosecutor for the attorney general's office made any reasonable inquiry of investigators whether there was exculpatory Brady material which needed to be produced to the defense, and that the special master noted that the record was "replete" with Brady violations.
    He also stated the prosecutor made false arguments to the jury to the effect that the Robertsons had nothing to fear from another potential suspect, "when they knew or should have known" that this other suspect had threatened to cause physical harm to the victim.
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