Lawyer wants attorney general removed from Missouri murder case

A Missouri man whose murder conviction was thrown out this month by the state Supreme Court is asking the court to disqualify the attorney general’s office from pursuing a new trial.

Any decision to retry Mark Woodworth in the 1990 killing of a woman near Chillicothe, Mo., should be made by an independent prosecutor or the current county prosecutor, attorney Robert Ramsey argued in court documents filed Tuesday on Woodworth’s behalf.

In a separate action, the attorney general’s office filed official notice Tuesday stating that it intended to retry Woodworth.

Woodworth, 38, was accused as a teen in the killing of a neighbor, Cathy Robertson, and the wounding of her husband.

Two juries convicted him of murder, but both convictions were thrown out on appeal. Lawyers from the attorney general’s office handled both prosecutions after the Livingston County prosecutor asked to be removed from the case.

That removal no longer applies to the current prosecutor, Ramsey argued in Tuesday’s motion. That leaves the attorney general without authority to proceed, Ramsey maintained.

In this month’s decision to throw out Woodworth’s second conviction, the Supreme Court adopted the recommendation of a judge it had appointed to look into the case. That judge found that Woodworth’s rights were violated because prosecutors failed to turn over some evidence to the defense before trial.

That judge recommended that an independent prosecutor review the case to determine if there should be a retrial. The court did not address that recommendation in its ruling. Ramsey asked that it be included as part of the court’s decision.

The court gave the attorney general’s office until noon Thursday to file its response to Woodworth’s motion.

Woodworth remains incarcerated pending the court’s decision on whether bond should be set.