Feb. 25, 1981: "I'm in jail while (her) murderer is walking the streets ... My Social Status in society is below you but I think everyone is entitled to justice don't you?"It turns out this was more than a wrongful conviction: Illegally withheld evidence probably caused a man who will be exonerated today to spend more time behind bars than anyone in the country cleared by DNA, the Dallas County district attorney's office and the Innocence Project of Texas said Monday.
June 24, 1984: "I don't know your `philosophy' of life, but I assume you wouldn't take a man's freedom just because you can. That's why I keep sending these letters to you in hope that you will realize that a grave misjustice has been done to me ... I've been locked up 3 1/2 years now and it's been really `frustrating,' but I won't allow anything to prevent me from obtaining what God gave me at birth and what is rightfully mine, my freedom."
How do you we a man 27 years back? How do we prevent this from happening again? What if he had been sentenced to die?
Mr. Woodard, 55, was sentenced to life in prison in 1981 for the strangulation and rape of his 21-year-old girlfriend, Beverly Ann Jones.
But information that Ms. Jones was with three men – including two later convicted of unrelated sexual assaults – around the time of her death was not disclosed to the defense nor was it thoroughly investigated, said prosecutor Mike Ware, who oversees the Dallas County district attorney's office conviction integrity unit.
Evidence that could benefit a defendant is required by law to be turned over to a defendant, though there is no criminal punishment for not doing so.
Mr. Ware said Mr. Woodard received a "fundamentally unfair" trial. He said he believes the evidence is something that prosecutors at the time should have investigated, "or at least turn it over so the defense could investigate."
Before the district attorney's office agreed that the DNA that exonerated Mr. Woodard of the rape also exonerated him of the murder – in itself an unusual step – a forensic pathologist examined the file and concluded that Ms. Jones was killed about the same time she was raped.