Prosecutors not seeking death penalty in Turlock murder case

The Modesto Bee

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against a defendant charged in the death of a Turlock man who was missing for more than a year before his body was found in Mariposa County.

Robert Lee Woody is accused of murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of Korey Kauffman, 26, who went missing in late March 2012. His body was discovered by hunters in an isolated area of Mariposa County in August.

The defendant appeared in court Thursday morning for a pretrial hearing when Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris told the judge the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office would not be seeking the ultimate punishment against Woody.

In a criminal complaint against Woody filed March 4, prosecutors listed three other people as co-conspirators B, C and D but have not revealed their names. Woody, however, remains the only person charged or identified as a suspect in Kauffman’s death.

Woody has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his preliminary hearing has not been scheduled. His defense attorney, Bruce Perry, told the judge he needed more time to look into Kauffman’s death and to review the case.

Superior Court Judge Ricardo Córdova scheduled the defendant to return to court July 25 for another pretrial hearing. The judge set Woody’s bail at $2 million.

Sheriff’s records indicate Woody, 39, of Turlock was booked at the Stanislaus County jail April 24.

Woody was arrested in early March, but initially was not held at the jail. Prosecutors at the time would say only that the defendant was being held at an undisclosed location for his safety.

Woody remained in custody at the jail Thursday afternoon.