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New prosecutor is sought in Mark Woodworth murder case

Updated: 2014-02-06T04:13:50Z

By TONY RIZZO

The Kansas City Star

The county official recently appointed to replace the Missouri attorney general’s office in prosecuting a 1990 murder case is asking to be replaced by a special prosecutor.

Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Warren was appointed Jan. 29 to handle the case against Mark Woodworth, who is facing trial for the third time in the killing of Cathy Robertson outside Chillicothe, Mo.

The day after Warren’s appointment, members of the Robertson family wrote a letter to Warren asking him to recuse himself.

Among reasons listed by the family was Warren’s social media account having been added to a Facebook group that “prejudges the case in Mark Woodworth’s favor.”

Warren subsequently filed the motion for appointment of a special prosecutor, stating that he has a conflict of interest because of “a social media position which may cast a prejudgment claim on the prosecutor’s review of the guilt of the defendant and the evidence against him.”

On Wednesday, attorneys for Woodworth filed a motion opposing Warren’s request. They alleged that the Robertson family inappropriately was trying to influence the case.

“Warren has no conflict of interest, and there is no plausible evidence to suggest any type of bias,” the defense attorneys wrote.

The judge scheduled a Feb. 14 hearing for arguments on the motions.

The attorney general’s office was appointed to prosecute Woodworth in 1993. A previous Livingston County prosecutor had asked to be disqualified after Robertson’s husband, who was wounded in the same incident, sought his removal.

Lawyers for the attorney general’s office handled Woodworth’s two trials, both of which ended with him being convicted of murder. But both convictions were overturned on appeal.

Woodworth’s attorneys sought the removal of the attorney general’s office in the pending litigation because of what they argued was a pattern of violating court rules pertaining to sharing evidence with the defense.

“Whatever happens in this case, we do not want to see any future decision attacked for appearances of impropriety by the prosecution,” the Robertson family said in its letter to Warren.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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