In January we reported on the Mark Woodworth case – yet another troubling conviction won by former prosecutor-turned-Congressman Kenny Hulshof, who has multiple findings of prosecutorial misconduct against him. In January, the Supreme Court of Missouri adopted the findings of a district court judge who ruled in May 2012 that Hulshof and his prosecutorial team withheld exculpatory evidence from Woodsworth.
After Mr. Woodworth’s conviction was vacated, the state filed notice of its intent to try him for a third time. In the lead up to trial, prosecutors recently asked that one of the state experts in ballistics be deemed “unavailable” by the trial court because they had been unable to locate him (meaning the expert’s testimony from a previous trial would be re-read into the record without defense counsel being able to cross-examine the witness.)
According to the Kansas Star, the witness is a British ballistics expert who:… in previous trial testimony linked a gun owned by Woodworth’s father to the killing of Cathy Robertson and the wounding of her husband in their farm home outside Chillicothe, Mo… Prosecutors asked the British expert to examine the gun and bullet evidence after two local experts could not conclusively make a link between the gun and a bullet surgically recovered from the body of Cathy Robertson’s husband, Lyndel Robertson, in 1992.
Much of the ballistics evidence has already been thrown out by the trial judge, who cited the prosecution’s “disregard for properly handling and documenting the evidence.”
The latest controversy in the case came about on Monday, when Woodworth’s lawyers contended that the ballistics expert was in fact very easy to reach and the prosecution had misled the Court. More from the Kansas Star:
The Attorney General’s Office, who is also appealing the judge’s previous ruling on the excluded ballistics evidence, said it will respond to these allegations in writing.
But Woodworth’s attorneys are pushing the issue, calling for the judge to dismiss the case against Woodworth because of the state’s unethical conduct both now and in the past.
We will keep you updated when the state responds and the judge rules.