Defendant in Korey Kauffman murder case makes first Modesto court appearance

03/14/2014 10:49 AM

03/14/2014 10:17 PM

Friends and family of homicide victim Korey Kauffman attended the court hearing of his accused killer Friday.

Kauffman’s father, Tony Kauffman, said he will be at every hearing involving his son’s case. And he anticipates more arrests.

Robert Lee Woody, 38, pleaded not guilty on charges of murder and conspiracy and denied a special enhancement for lying in wait.

“It’s still early,” Tony Kauffman said, adding of Woody, “He’s just a small fry.”

In the criminal complaint against Woody, the conspiracy charge is supported by four allegations of involvement with three co-conspirators, who are listed only as B, C and D.

“Every single person who had anything to do with it, I hope they catch them, and I hope they never, never let them go,” said Korey Kauffman’s brother, Shadow Pickett. “I want everybody to go away for as long as absolutely possible.”

Pickett said he’s frustrated by recent demonstrations at the Turlock Police Department and Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office held by two brothers who own the Pop N Cork Liquors in Turlock. He said his brother went to the store on East Street almost daily, and he doesn’t believe that Baljit and Daljit Athwal are being forthcoming.

The Athwals said they did not know Kauffman, though he might have frequented the store. Baljit Athwal said Woody would do odd jobs for them on occasion, but he cut ties with him seven months ago.

The brothers claim they have been unjustly treated by law enforcement, having endured repeated interrogations and multiple searches.

Pickett said missing-person posters for his brother even hung in the Pop N Cork stores for a few months after he went missing in 2012 but eventually were taken down.

Hunters discovered Kauffman’s body in an isolated area of Mariposa County in August, a year and a half after he went missing.

Pickett believes his brother’s disappearance and death might have been a result of the way he made his living, scrapping metal, which sometimes was stolen.

“But he has never hurt anyone for it. He has asked plenty of people for the metal, he’s went to farmers and asked them for the metal,” Pickett said. “Everybody wants to get back at someone stealing from them, but you don’t kill nobody for that.”

Woody appeared only briefly in court Friday for a pretrial hearing. His attorney from the Public Defender’s Office said she’d reviewed the witness list from prosecutors and determined she had a conflict of interest in the case.

Judge Ricardo Córdova continued the hearing to Tuesday, when Woody will have a new attorney.

Córdova also said the court will continue to pursue an out-of-county judge to oversee the case, but he did not indicate why.

Woody remains incarcerated without bail. He is being held at an undisclosed location for his safety, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Tony Kauffman said after two years of waiting, he is pleased an arrest has been made, but is biding his time until everyone involved in his son’s slaying has been charged.

Kauffman described his family’s life since Korey disappeared as a “ride from hell.”

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