The Evidence Presented to the Jury that Convicted Mark Woodworth
After the murder, a box of .22-caliber shell casings was open and shells were lying out on the workbench in a shed behind the Robertson home that was primarily used for Lyndel Robertson's personal equipment and was not the main shop/work area of the joint farming operation. When Lyndel Robertson closed the shed the evening before the shootings, everything was put away and the shell casings were hidden in their usual location behind cigar boxes on the workbench.
The open shell boxes were dusted for fingerprints and two partial prints and one nearly complete print were revealed. Those prints were compared to two potential suspects and there was not a match. They were eventually matched to Mark Woodworth.
Ballistics experts identified that the box of bullets on the workbench had a mark consistent with a manufacturing defect that matched a similar manufacturing mark on the bullet recovered from Lyndel Robertson.
Conflicting Stories by Mark Woodworth
Mark Woodworth’s Access to the Shed - During interviews by investigators, Mark Woodworth gave multiple and conflicting answers about his access to the shed. He initially stated he had never been inside the shed. Then said he may have been in the shed a time or two. Then he said he was in the shed prior to the murder. Then he claimed he could not have been in the shed because he was in school. Mark Woodworth also denied he had ever seen any .22-caliber shells in the shed, and said he never touched any of the shells. Mark’s fingerprint was found on the shell box inside the shed right after the murder.
Mark Woodworth’s Feelings about Lyndel Robertson - Mark Woodworth stated to investigators that he thought Lyndel Roberson was an asshole. Yet, later in the interview, he said he didn’t have anything against Mr. Robertson and stated that the shootings might have happened because someone was mad at Lyndel or did it for fun.
Mark Woodworth’s Knowledge of the Business Partnership Difficulties - When Mark was asked by investigators about the difficulties in the business partnership between Lyndel Robertson and Mark Woodworth’s father Claude, he first stated he knew nothing of problems in the partnership and then stated he knew his father wanted to terminate the partnership. Then he stated he learned of the partnership problems only after the shootings.
Mark Woodworth’s Acknowledgement that he Shot the Robertsons - When a member of the Missouri State Highway Patrol questioned Mark in 1994, he stated to Mark that they both knew that Mark had shot the Robertsons. Mark Woodworth responded by nodding his head in an affirmative motion. Later Mark maintained he did not shoot the Robertsons. Then the investigator told Mark Woodworth that if he was the cold-blooded murder and found guilty of capital murder, he could be executed. But if Cathy Robertson’s death was an accident, it was an entirely different matter. Mark Woodworth replied “we all have to die someday.”
Mark Woodworth’s Conflicting Stories about the Murder Weapon - Mark gave conflicting stories about using his father’s pistol (the murder weapon) during target practice and when and where he was shooting the weapon.
During the 1992 interview with investigators and at trial in 1993, Mark Woodworth changed his story about where the murder weapon was kept in his parents’ bedroom. And, there were conflicting stories by his parents about where the weapon was kept in the bedroom.
The Woodworth’s had an insurance policy on Lyndel Robertson for over $100,000. Mark Woodworth had hoped to earn $6,000 for working the fields, and a dispute between Mark and Lyndel resulted in Mark not receiving the money. Mark Woodworth wanted to buy a truck with the money. People have been shot for less than $6,000 or a truck.
Claude Woodworth and Lyndel Robertson both had Ruger revolvers.
A firearms expert deployed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab examined the Robertson’s .22-caliber Ruger revolver and compared test firings from that gun to the bullet fragments recovered from the Robertson’s bodies. Mr. Robertson’s gun was eliminated as the murder weapon.
Two weapons experts matched bullets from the Robertson’s bodies to the Woodworth’s revolver and identified the Woodworth’s gun as the murder weapon. During the second trial, a videotape of the interior of the barrel of the Woodworth’s revolver was shown to the jury that linked the Woodworth’s gun to the bullets from the bodies. Three of the bullets recovered from the Robertsons had individual characteristics that matched individual characteristics of bullets test fired from the Woodworth’s revolver.
Claims that the murder weapon did not have Mark Woodworth’s fingerprints on it were irrelevant. It is rare for guns to have fingerprints because of the type of material used.
The fact remains that only three adults had access to the murder weapon — Mark Woodworth and his parents.
Lyndel Robertson’s Statements about a Potential Suspect
Despite claims that Lyndel changed his story about who shot him, law enforcement officers and a member of the Woodworth family testified that Lyndel never indicated that he saw who shot him, expressing instead, who he thought might want to shoot him. It is very common for victims to provide information to investigators about potential suspects.
All Leads Were Investigated
Despite allegations, all leads were investigated at the time of the murder. When the second special prosecutor took over the case, an entirely new investigation was conducted and all leads were re-investigated. A friend of Mark Woodworth’s family, Sherriff Cox has also stated that he has been investigating the murder since 1990, and he too has been unable to produce evidence that contradicts the jury’s decision.
Despite emotional allegations, Brandon’s alibi for the night of the murder was verified by his mother, sister, his wrestling coach and kids at school. He lived 90 minutes away from the Robertson’s and did not have access to a car. The night of the murder, he received a phone call at his home from one of the Robertson daughters. The next morning, he got a ride to Chillicothe. He was investigated for years for his possible involvement in the crime.
Any references to Grand Jury are irrelevant. It is the 1999 sentence and judgment after the second trial, not the indictment, or the first trial judgment that is the cause of Mark Woodworth’s current incarceration.
Steve Cox is not an unbiased party. His campaign for Sheriff was largely funded by the Woodworths.
Mark’s claims that police failed to investigate certain leads or certain witnesses is really a claim attacking the quality of his trial attorneys. If Mark Woodworth’s attorneys really believed the police investigation was faulty, it was the responsibility of his trial counsel to investigate those leads, and note the shortcomings to the jury. But, that responsibility exists only if the trial attorneys believe it is strategically appropriate to do so. The attorneys who represented Mark Woodworth during both trials are all well respected and experienced. The law presumes there were reasons why Mark Woodworth’s lawyers did not call certain witnesses at trial.
While Mark Woodworth claims he is actually innocent and that the State has been “withholding the truth” for many years, the evidence he has presented to date fails to substantiate either claim. Unlike cases where relief has been granted based on the discovery that the State withheld evidence or presented false evidence, in this case Mark Woodworth presented no evidence that the State’s case proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt was suspect or in doubt. Instead, almost the entirety of Mark Woodworth’s claims focused on his desire to strengthen his allegation that Brandon Hagan was the true shooter. Yet Mark Woodworth made no significant attack on the evidence presented by the State proving his guilt.
Attacking the shortcoming in his defense’s latest attempt to implicate Brandon Hagan in the Murder, remains the same – the evidence that the gun used to shoot the Robertsons belonged to Claude Woodworth. It is that conclusion by the jury, rather than Brandon Hagan’s checkered past, which clearly resulted in Mark Woodworth’s conviction. Mark Woodworth presented no evidence to erode the quality of that proof by the State. Coupled with
Mark Woodworth’s inconsistent explanations and his derogatory attitude towards the victims the State persuaded the jury that it was he, and not Brandon Hagan, who committed the shootings.
The defense has
presented no new evidence in this trial. There is no evidence to prove that the
prosecution in either trial withheld evidence.
The defense has presented conflicting testimony of witnesses after more
than 20 years. That is very common, and
the reason why testimony at the time of trial trumps a recollection 20 years
later. Memories fade, people can be