Decision on prosecutor in Mark Woodworth murder case is expected soon

02/14/2014 4:43 PM

02/14/2014 4:43 PM

A judge said Friday that he expects to announce next week if he will replace the prosecutor recently appointed to try a Missouri man for the third time in the 1990 killing of a neighbor near Chillicothe.

Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Warren was appointed Jan. 29 to handle the case against Mark Woodworth after the judge removed the Missouri attorney general’s office from the case.

But Warren filed a motion seeking to withdraw after members of the family of the victim, Cathy Robertson, asked him to withdraw.

At a hearing Friday in Platte County Circuit Court, Warren explained that the family was concerned that his picture and profile had been included on the page of a Facebook group that appeared to be favorable to Woodworth’s cause.

Warren said he was unaware of that until the family told him about it. After looking into it, he found someone he didn’t know had invited him to join the group. Warren said he never responded and never posted anything to the page.

Warren said he has never expressed an opinion to anyone on Woodworth’s guilt or innocence, but he still was concerned that the Facebook connection could give an appearance of a conflict of interest.

Attorneys for Woodworth opposed Warren’s motion to withdraw. They presented an affidavit from the Facebook page’s creator. He reiterated the same chain of events mentioned by Warren.

An attorney representing the Robertson family said they do not question Warren’s ability to be fair, but because he is a member of a small community that has been roiled by the case, they would like to see an outside private attorney or prosecutor from another county handle the case as a special prosecutor.

Kathleen Fisher said the family wants to ensure that the trial be fair to everyone involved.

Woodworth has been tried and convicted twice of murder in the shooting death of Robertson. Both convictions were thrown out on appeal.

Lawyers for the attorney general’s office handled Woodworth’s previous trials, but his attorneys sought the removal of the attorney general’s office in the pending case because of what they argued was a pattern of violating court rules pertaining to sharing evidence with the defense.

Platte County Circuit Judge Owens Lee Hull Jr., who is presiding over the case, appointed Warren after he granted the defense request. He said Friday that he would try to rule on Warren’s motion next week.

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