A judge’s order excluding key evidence in the longstanding murder case against a northern Missouri man will stand for now, after a ruling Tuesday by a Missouri Court of Appeals panel.
The three-judge panel dis- missed the state’s appeal in the case of Mark Woodworth, who is accused in the 1990 killing of a neighbor outside Chillicothe, Mo.
“The state’s disagreement with the trial court’s order does not make the order appealable,” the court wrote in Tuesday’s decision.
Tuesday’s ruling focused on the type of appeal the state filed. It did not address the merits of the issues that led to the evidence exclusion.
The state still has legal options available to challenge the exclusion of evidence, including seeking a hearing from the Missouri Supreme Court. A spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said staff members were reviewing Tuesday’s ruling.
As the case now stands, the state’s effort to try Woodworth for the third time in the shooting death of Cathy Robertson and the wounding of her husband, Lyndel Robertson, would not include bullet and gun evidence presented in his previous trials. Woodworth’s convictions in those cases were overturned on appeal. He is free on bond pending a third trial.
Woodworth, who was 16 at the time of the killing, lived with his parents across the road from the Robertsons. Lyndel Robertson and Woodworth’s father were partners in a farming operation.
In April, the Platte County judge presiding over the case barred the state from presenting evidence and testimony about a bullet removed from the body of Lyndel Robertson, and the revolver owned by Woodworth’s father, which prosecutors alleged fired the bullet.
Judge Owens Lee Hull Jr. based his ruling on concerns about how a private investigator hired by the Robertson family had been allowed access to investigative files and was allowed to take the gun and bullet out of the country for laboratory testing.
Robert Ramsey, one of Woodworth’s lawyers, said Tuesday he thought the state’s appeal was a tactic to “delay the inevitable end of the case.”
“The state wasted a whole lot of everybody’s time,” he said.
The Robertson family issued a statement that the decision would not deter them from seeking justice.
“The Appellate Court ruling today was nothing more than a decision denying the procedure used to appeal the trial court’s order. This is not a victory for the defense,” they said. “We continue to believe that when the third jury sees the evidence against Mark Woodworth, they too will convict him of murder, just like two other juries have.”
A trial date has not been scheduled.