Canada Convicted killer David Woods to make fresh evidence application

06:21  13 september  2017
06:21  13 september  2017 Source:   Leader Post

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The evidence of a knot expert and a DNA report were at the centre of an application by convicted killer David Neil Woods , who plans to ask the province’s highest court to overturn his conviction and order a new trial.

Convicted killer David Woods to make fresh evidence application . The evidence of a knot expert and a DNA report were at the centre of an application by convicted killer David Neil Woods , who plans to ask the province's highest

061217-no_object-David_Woods-W.jpg © Greg Pender 061217-no_object-David_Woods-W.jpg

The evidence of a knot expert and a DNA report were at the centre of an application by convicted killer David Neil Woods, who plans to ask the province’s highest court to overturn his conviction and order a new trial.

Woods, 55, was present at the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Regina on Tuesday when his new lawyer, James Streeton, asked the court to grant an amendment to Woods’s existing appeal — a request opposed by Crown prosecutor Dean Sinclair.

After briefly considering the matter, Justices Maurice Herauf, Peter Whitmore and Lian Schwann opted to grant the amendment.

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The full appeal was supposed to be heard Tuesday, and Sinclair argued against the requested amendment, given it would cause a further delay. Sinclair laid out the appeal’s tortured past, which has seen five separate sets of lawyers brought onboard during the three years the appeal has been before the court.

Woods was found guilty in May 2014 of first-degree murder in the November 2011 strangling death of his wife Dorothy. A search for the missing woman ended on Jan. 4, 2012, when police, having placed a GPS tracking device on Woods’s truck, found her body in a culvert near Blackstrap Lake.

Woods appealed, listing a variety of grounds, including a claim the trial judge failed to provide a balanced charge to the jury and failed to provide limiting instruction to the jury on the Crown’s theory by ruling it had “an air of reality.”

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On Tuesday, Woods was allowed to add to his appeal, alleging incompetent counsel and seeking to launch a fresh evidence application.

Streeton argued Woods’s trial lawyer failed to properly represent his client in a number of ways, including by not putting certain “compelling evidence” before the jury, such as that of a knot expert. Streeton told the court the expert looked at ropes found around Dorothy’s wrists and neck and compared them to those used to tie down the couple’s pool tarp. Streeton said the expert looked at the level of expertise needed to tie the knots and whether they would have been tied by a right or left-handed person — evidence he said could have been compelling at trial.

Streeton also referred to swabs taken from Dorothy, the lawyer arguing the presence of semen suggested the woman met someone that night — a detail that should have been brought forward at trial.

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But Sinclair took a different view, arguing the knot expert was not called by either Crown or defence at trial since his evidence didn’t advance the case either way. Sinclair said the appearance of the knots could have been impacted by “which direction (Woods) was facing his incapacitated wife when he tied the knot around her wrists or neck.”

Sinclair also pointed out that while a “presumptive test” indicated the presence of semen, it didn’t confirm its presence, nor did testing turn up DNA.

Sinclair added the overall strength of the Crown’s case should be considered — a case he termed “overwhelming.”

“This wasn’t a close call,” he said.

In allowing the amendment, the court acknowledged Sinclair’s concerns about the length of time the appeal is taking, telling Woods that if he fires Streeton as he has previous counsel, he is on his own for his appeal.

hpolischuk@postmedia.com

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