Robert Lee Woody, a key prosecution witness, on Monday afternoon testified that he lied while questioned about Korey Kauffman’s death during a polygraph exam in April 2014.
Defense attorney Robert Forkner asked Woody what he lied about. “Where the body was, who did it,” Woody answered.
Woody’s cross-examination continued Monday in a preliminary hearing for Frank Carson and five others charged in Kauffman’s slaying. The prosecution believes Carson, a prominent Modesto criminal defense attorney, led a conspiracy to stop thieves from repeatedly stealing antiques and scrap metal from his property. He is accused of recruiting people to send a violent message, which led to Kauffman’s death.
Prosecutors have agreed to a plea deal with Woody in exchange for his testimony. If he testifies truthfully, he will be sentenced to seven years and four months in prison instead of facing a maximum sentence of life behind bars.
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The defense has requested a copy of a transcript of the questions and answers during the polygraph test. On Monday afternoon, Forkner asked Woody about how long it took him to cut off Kauffman’s fingers and toes.
“I didn’t do it to a stopwatch ... about 10 minutes,” Woody answered.
The witness has testified that he cut off Kauffman’s fingers and toes with a wallboard knife before burying his body near the Pop-N-Cork liquor store in Turlock owned by brothers Baljit Athwal and Daljit Atwal. Woody claims the brothers were fighting with Kauffman on Carson’s property when Kauffman was shot to death. He says he then helped the brothers hide Kauffman’s body.
The prosecution says Kauffman, 26, was last seen alive March 30, 2012, leaving Michael Cooley’s home and heading to Carson’s neighboring property to steal irrigation pipes. Woody says he helped unearth Kauffman’s body from the liquor store makeshift grave a few weeks after the shooting and dump the body in a remote area.
Forkner asked Woody about a February 2014 conversation he had with his then-girlfriend, Miranda Dykes, during which she secretly recorded him. Woody testified that he lied during that conversation about removing Kauffman’s teeth and burning his hair. He has said he was drunk and high on drugs during that conversation.
Woody testified that he lied numerous times in a March 2014 interview shortly after his arrest. Forkner asked Woody if prosecution investigators were pressuring him during the interrogation. “Well, it’s no different than how you’re speaking to me,” he told the defense attorney.
Forkner also asked Woody about his criminal past. The witness has said he used to steal vehicles. He has testified about one incident when he led authorities in a pursuit as he sped away in a stolen undercover police pickup. He said the chase ended when authorities placed a spike strip on the road to deflate the tires.
Woody testified Monday that his brother had the key to start the pickup, and that he was only supposed to drive the stolen pickup home, before he was spotted and the pursuit ensued.
The witness’s cross-examination is expected to continue this week in Stanislaus Superior Court.