Man convicted in farm murder seeks release

PLATTSBURG, Mo. (AP) — A Chillicothe man whose murder conviction in the 1990 slaying of a neighbor was recently overturned could learn Friday whether he will be released from prison as the state seeks a new trial.

Mark Woodworth is seeking to be freed on bond after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in January that prosecutors failed to share evidence that could have helped his defense. The ruling followed a similar conclusion by a Boone County judge who also recommended review by an independent prosecutor.

Woodworth appeared in Clinton County Circuit Court for a brief hearing on Wednesday, joined by dozens of friends and family members. Circuit Judge Owens Lee Hull Jr. said he expects to rule on the bond motion by Friday.

Woodworth, 38, is serving a life sentence in the fatal shooting of Cathy Robertson. Woodworth was 16 when the wife of his father’s business partner was killed in her sleep. Her husband, Lyndel Robertson, was shot several times but survived the attack.

Woodworth was first convicted in 1995. He was then briefly released on appeal but convicted by a second jury four years later. After the state Supreme Court’s ruling, Attorney General Chris Koster quickly announced he would try Woodworth a third time.

Defense attorney Bob Ramsey asked the judge to release Woodworth on his own recognizance or set a low bond amount. Assistant Attorney General Ted Bruce said the state does not oppose Woodworth’s release pending trial but suggested a $500,000 bond.

Lyndel Robertson initially told friends and police that he suspected his oldest daughter’s ex-boyfriend as the shooter. He later testified that he never actually identified the shooter.

At Roberston’s urging, Livingston County’s presiding judge asked the state to prosecute Woodworth after the county prosecutor declined to pursue the case. The state appointed special prosecutor Kenny Hulshof, an assistant attorney general who would later serve six terms in Congress and win the Republican nomination for governor but whose courtroom conduct has been cited in several cases in which murder inmates were freed from prison.

A series of letters outlining Robertson’s concerns were among the potentially exculpatory documents the Supreme Court said were never shared with Woodworth.

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