CHILLICOTHE, Mo— A year after the release of an innocent man, a small northwest Missouri town is still struggling to find answers to a murder and assault
from more than two decades ago. Click play below to listen to KMZU’s Ashley Johnson speak with Mark Woodworth:
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Mark Woodworth was twice convicted in the murder of Cathy Robertson and the assault of her surviving husband, Lyndel Robertson. After a deeper look into the cases Woodworth stood trial in, the Missouri Supreme Court found reason to vacate him of the crimes, based on purely circumstantial evidence and no solid, fact driven data.
Now, one year after his release from the Department of Corrections system, Woodworth is trying to live a normal life and catch up on all the things he missed out on.
Rodeos, birthdays, family get-togethers, holidays, and so much more were taken from him at the beginning of adulthood, at the young age of 19.
A recollection of the 22 year fight for justice and freedom seemed like nothing more than a bad memory for Woodworth. Even then, the inclination that he murdered Cathy Robertson is a bewildering thought for him to conceive.
In late 1990, someone broke into the Robertson home and shot Cathy dead and wounded her husband, Lyndel while they were sleeping.
After the shooting occurred, Mr. Robertson had stated that the assailant was a man by the name of Brandon Thomure [birth right name, Hagan] that had shot him. Reports indicate multiple witnesses recalled verifying Robertson’s initial accusations.
To this day, Woodworth believes Hagan is responsible for the crime and tragedies that occurred that November night, so long ago.
“The victim, Mr. Robertson, said just a few hours after the shooting,” Woodworth recalled. “He said Brandon Thomure shot me. He was the eye witness that seen it, he’s the one that said that he shot him. Then, there’s a bunch of neighbors around here and their employees and stuff went down to the hospital in Kansas City and seen him and he told them that he’s the one that shot him.”
Even with an eye witness placing another man in his home as the shooter, three years after the crime was committed, Woodworth was arrested on charges of murder, assault, armed criminal action and burglary. Just two years after first being taken into custody, a jury convicted him of said crimes.
Shortly after his first conviction in 1995, Woodworth appealed the case and was released for a brief stint until a second jury found him guilty again in 1999. He would spend the next 15 years behind bars.
In 2012 the Honorable Judge Gary Oxenhandler of Boone County and the Missouri Supreme Court, released findings in the prior cases.
After picking through thousands of pages related to previous trials, it was found that all evidence presented was purely circumstantial. Furthermore, it was established that a Brady violation (Brady violation- the defense did not do anything wrong: the State did something wrong and did not know about it until a later date) was found to have been relevant and true in both Woodward trails.
On March 21, 2013, Mark Woodworth was released from the Missouri Department of Corrections on bond. Two days later he would meet Katie Reeter who would eventually become his wife.
The 15th of July, 2014 was the day Woodworth was truly vacated of his convictions and finally able to re-start his life. He and Katie have since married, celebrated an anniversary, and are now planning on starting their own family.
“I got a great wife and we were blessed with a nice house on five acres of property,” Woodworth described his life now. “I just have to continue working and just… what some people call living the dream. Of course I’m excited to be a dad soon, whenever that day comes. I can’t wait for that day. I want to have my own, of course I get to play with my little niece and nephews and stuff like that, so that’s fun. It’ll be funner yet to have your own where you can take them fishing and take them places.”
Trying to live as much of a normal life as possible, Woodworth is still fighting for his justice after all these years and is currently in a civil suit with multiple entities involved in his convictions.
Woodworth believes justice for Roberston needs to be done as well.
Two and a half decades have passed since Cathy Robertson was murdered. That means that for two and a half decades a murderer has been loose not paying for the atrocities committed and the heart break felt by not only the Robertsons’ and Woodworths’ but by the city and state that were once rocked by the story.
“It’s my understanding, from what my attorney told me,” Woodworth explained the scenario, “The Sheriff’s Office, they’re ready to go after the person but the Prosecutor here in town won’t do nothing. That’s kind of what I was told and of course on a murder case there’s no statute of limitations or anything so if Mr. Warren leaves and they get another Prosecutor elected in there, I mean it could possibly something happen then.”
The Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney, Adam Warren’s office was contacted by KMZU. A request for comment/response has not been answered.
For now though, Woodworth said he will continue living his life and just “keep on, keeping on.”