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Lewis scoffed that Roberts had "boycotted" the grand jury proceedings, even though the prosecutor had already recused himself. Lewis also referred to the statute of limitations that would soon run out: "I felt we could wait no longer for Mr. Roberts to act."
In his review of the case, Judge Oxenhandler wrote a stinging rebuke of Lewis, noting that the judge had "lost sight of his judicial sense of fairness. In effect, he became a prosecutor."
Dale Whiteside has no doubt about Woodworth's innocence.
"That boy didn't do nothing," says Whiteside, 83, a Republican who represented Livingston County in the Missouri Legislature for a decade.
Since Woodworth's first conviction in 1995, Whiteside has been an advocate, insisting that Woodworth was "railroaded."
In the winter of 1996, Whiteside visited Woodworth often at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, also known as "the Walls." (The state closed the crumbling prison in 2004.)
In his cell, Woodworth would wake up to find a layer of ice formed inside the toilet and cockroaches scurrying across the cold floor.
"That was not a happy place to be," Whiteside says. "You could see it on Mark's face. He never talked about it, but I think he was real scared in there."
John Quinn, who visited Lyndel Robertson in the hospital the morning after the crime and eventually succeeded Whiteside in the Statehouse, joined Whiteside on visits to the Walls.
"Many of us just couldn't believe it when they arrested him," Quinn says. "We just felt like justice would be done in court."
Whiteside contacted St. Louis lawyer Robert Ramsey. "Look, I can't find anybody else to help this guy, but I've got all these people in town who insist he's innocent," Ramsey recalls Whiteside telling him.
Soon, Ramsey began visiting Woodworth in prison. "Dale was convinced this kid was innocent," Ramsey says. "And when a guy like Dale says something like that, you listen."
Ramsey filed a series of unsuccessful post-conviction appeals in the following years, and by 2008 the case had stalled.
Around 2008, Associated Press reporter Alan Zagier began digging into the prosecutorial record of Hulshof, who was running for governor. Zagier reviewed several cases prosecuted by Hulshof, including Woodworth's.
In an August 2, 2009, story on Woodworth's case, Zagier unearthed letters written among Lyndel Robertson, Judge Lewis and a local prosecutor, who were discussing whether to indict Woodworth. Woodworth's attorneys claimed that they'd never seen the letters.
Ramsey insisted that the letters were Brady material. (Under the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors must turn over any evidence that could be considered exculpatory or favorable to defendants. Failure to do so is a breach of the constitutional right to due process.)
In his appeal, Ramsey argued the letters bolstered claims that Thomure was the most likely suspect in Robertson's killing, and that, if used properly by the defense, the letters could have changed not just Woodworth's first trial but also the entire trajectory of the case against him.
The Missouri Supreme Court appointed Judge Oxenhandler to review the case in 2011. While he did not conclude that Hulshof intentionally concealed evidence, Oxenhandler wrote that the letters constituted Brady material the defense never saw.
In his review, Oxenhandler outlined a host of other problems. Woodworth's first defense attorney was also representing a small-time crook who brokered a lighter prison sentence by providing information in Woodworth's case. Even though the information was never used by prosecutors, the situation presented a stunning conflict of interest, Oxenhandler wrote. Reports that Thomure violated the Robertsons' protective order were never entered into the criminal case file and, therefore, never made it to the defense, even though Thomure was both a key suspect in the homicide and central to Woodworth's defense. Oxenhandler questioned why investigators ignored some witnesses, and why information challenging Thomure's alibi was never explored.