Victims of the State

St. Clair County, IL 

Rodney Woidtke

June 19, 1988 (Belleville)

Rodney Woidtke was convicted of the rape and murder of Audrey Cardenas. He suffered from mental illness and confessed to crime in part because he did not want police or anyone else to think he might be homosexual. Woidtke was acquitted at a 2001 retrial. The victim's mother, Billie Fowler, suspected from the start that the confession was false. She said the retrial “had nothing to do with finding out the truth, finding out what happened to my daughter,” but rather was “all about making sure that they convinced the public that they didn't make a mistake. But, guess what? They did make a mistake—and they got caught.”  (CWC) (JD)  [1/06]

Camden County, MO 

Danny Wolfe

Feb 23, 1997

Danny Wolfe was convicted of murdering Leonard and Lena Walters and sentenced to death. The conviction based on the testimony of eyewitness Jessica Cox. Hair evidence thought at trial to belong to Wolfe has been determined to belong to Cox, a fact that supports the defense argument that Cox was framing Wolfe. Robert Morgan, a friend of Leonard Walters, claimed to have had coffee with Walters after Cox claimed he was dead. Morgan's statement is more consistent with autopsy results. Wolfe's conviction was overturned in 2003, but he was reconvicted at a retrial in 2006.  (AP News) (Missourian)  [11/05]

Montgomery County, AL

Clarence Womack

Feb 2, 1981

Clarence Womack was convicted of murdering Arthur D. Bullock, the proprietor of the City Curb Market in Montgomery. Bullock was shot with a pistol during a robbery of his store. Womack was sentenced to death. The conviction was based on perjured testimony, the withholding of exculpatory evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel. Womack was cleared in 1988.  [7/05]

Clinton County, NY 

David Wong

Mar 12, 1986

David Wong, a busboy in Manhattan's Chinatown, was arrested for participating with co-workers in an armed robbery of his employer's Long Island home in 1983. While serving his sentence upstate at Clinton Correctional Facility, he was charged with and convicted of murdering inmate Tyrone Julius.

In March 1999, a New York Times article quoted former prison employees who stated that Wong's innocence was “common knowledge” at the prison. Fellow inmates understood that Nelson Gutierrez, a long-time rival of Julius, had killed him, but they were afraid to speak up at the time. Gutierrez was paroled in 1994 and returned to the Dominican Republic where he died of an apparent drug overdose in May 2000. By 2002, almost a dozen former inmates had signed affidavits supporting Wong's innocence. Wong was denied a new trial, but the decision was reversed on appeal and all charges against Wong were dropped in 2004.

Wong, an undocumented alien, remained held by immigration authorities until Aug 2005, when they deported him to Hong Kong.  (NAM)  [11/05]

Cabell County, WV 

Glen Woodall


Glen Woodall was convicted of kidnapping, raping, and robbing two separate victims. He was sentenced to 2 life terms plus 203 to 335 years. DNA tests exonerated him in 1992. Woodall was the first person to be exonerated after being convicted due to testimony by Fred Zain. He was awarded $1 million for his wrongful imprisonment and for the fraud committed by Zain.  (IP) (CBJ)  [10/05]

 Dallas County, TX

James Lee Woodard

Dec 29, 1980

James Lee Woodard was convicted of the murder of Beverly Ann Jones, 21, a woman he had dated for 7 months. Jones's stepfather said Woodard had come to their home in the early morning of the day of her disappearance. Neighbors said they had heard the couple fighting. Several days before Woodard's trial, authorities learned of three other witnesses had seen Jones shortly before she died. The witnesses, Ed Mosley, Theodore Blaylock and Eddie Woodard, told investigators she had gotten into a car with several men at a 7-Eleven. Mosley and Blaylock couldn't identify the men or their car. It was the last time Jones was seen alive. This information was withheld from Woodard's defense. Jones's body was found in the Trinity River bottoms in south Dallas. She had been sexually assaulted.

In Dec. 2007, DNA test results cleared Woodard. Jones's stepfather was re-interviewed and recanted his trial testimony that Woodard had come to his house. Woodard was set free in Apr. 2008, after serving 27 years in prison. Woodard is the longest serving inmate in the United States to be released as a result of DNA testing.  (Archives)  [5/08]

St. Louis City, MO 

Anthony Woods

Oct 10, 1983

Anthony D. Woods was convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl. The victim was sure Woods raped her, even though she initially described her assailant as four years older, four inches shorter, and skinnier than Woods. She also had said her assailant had a beard, but Woods had no hair between his mustache and “chin fuzz.” Woods' attorney noted that the girl did not pick Woods out of a book of hundreds of photographs that police showed her after she was raped. Instead, she picked the first unknown man to walk by her house that day. DNA tests exonerated Woods in 2005.  (IP)  [6/05]

Walter Woodward - See Pompano Boys

Livingston County, MO 

Mark Woodworth

Nov 13, 1990

Mark Woodworth was convicted of the murder of Catherine Robertson and the attempted murder of her husband, Lydel Robertson.  (JD)

Gordon County, GA 

Worcester & Butler

1831 (New Echota)

Samuel Austin Worcester and Elihu Butler were missionaries who in 1831 were sentenced to four years at hard labor for residing in the Cherokee Nation without a license. The license law was enacted to try to stop the two from protesting the state's seizure of Cherokee land in northwest Georgia. Until 1828, the Cherokee Nation was considered a sovereign foreign country, with its land off limits to settlers. But in 1829, gold was discovered in Dahlonega and Georgia seized much of the land and abolished Cherokee sovereignty.

Worcester and Butler, who lived at the Cherokee capital of New Echota, attracted national attention to the American Indians' cause. To muzzle them, the state required all white men living on Cherokee land to obtain a state license. Worcester and Butler refused and were convicted of “high misdemeanor.” The missionaries appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1832, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Georgia had no constitutional right to extend any state laws over the Cherokee, including seizing their land, and that they must release the missionaries. But Georgia ignored the ruling. The missionaries spent 16 months doing hard labor as part of a chain gang.

The two were released in time to join the Trail of Tears, when Georgia forced up to 17,000 Cherokees to move west. Thousands died of cold and starvation during the march, but the missionaries made it to Oklahoma and continued their work among the Cherokee there. The state repealed its Cherokee laws in 1979, and posthumously pardoned the two missionaries in 1992.  (News Article) (1832 Appeal)  [2/07]

Shelby County, TN 

Phillip Workman

Aug 5, 1981 (Memphis)

Phillip Workman robbed a Wendy's restaurant with a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. On leaving, police officers gave chase and Workman tripped on a curb. He yelled, “I give up!” and tried to pull his gun from his pants to give to officers. As he tried to surrender his weapon, he was hit on the head with a flashlight. At that moment his pistol went off, aimed straight up at the sky. Suddenly he was surrounded by gunfire, and he tried to run again, but tripped and his gun went off, firing another shot into the air. Workman escaped the immediate melee, but a civilian found him hiding under a truck. He was covered with blood from his head wound, and had a shotgun wound to his buttocks.

At the scene of the shootout, a police officer, Lt. Ronald Oliver, lay dying from a bullet that passed completely through his body. Oliver would soon be dead. Workman was convicted of Oliver's murder and sentenced to death. In 1990, exculpatory ballistic evidence was discovered that showed that Oliver was not shot by a bullet from Workman's gun. Instead, Oliver must have been killed by “friendly fire.” An eyewitness at trial, Harold Davis, recanted testimony that he had seen the shooting. The police report on the crime scene never noted Davis's presence and five other people near the scene do not remember seeing Davis.

A civilian eyewitness, Steve Craig, who never testified at trial, said he saw Officer Parker fire a shotgun at Workman. Craig also stated that police told him, “There was no need to talk about this ... unless it was with someone from the department.” In the trial transcript, Officers Stoddard and Parker repeatedly testified that only two people fired guns, Workman and Oliver. Ballistics and Craig's statements imply Officers Stoddard and Parker committed perjury. The new evidence caused Workman's scheduled execution date to be postponed several times. Workman was executed by lethal injection on May 9, 2007.  (Justice: Denied)  [1/07]

 Dallas County, TX

Michael Anthony Woten

Apr 16, 1982 (Dallas)

Michael Anthony Woten was convicted of the armed robbery of a Safeway supermarket at Northwest Highway near Plano Road. The store was robbed of $5200. Woten was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Five witnesses testified that he was one of two men who had robbed that store and another grocery. Woten, however, insisted he was hitchhiking from Dallas to St. Louis at the time of the robbery. He said he had got a ride with a trucker he could identify only as Don and as Kangaroo, the trucker's nickname on citizens' band radio. An inmate Woten later met by chance, Russell Everett Chamberlain, gave a statement that he committed the robbery with another man. The Dallas Times Herald then launched a search for Kangaroo, and found him. He turned out to be Don Fainter of Claycomo, MO. Fainter told authorities that he did indeed give Woten a ride on the day of the robbery. Gov. Clements pardoned Woten in Feb. 1990. Woten died eight months later after his pickup truck went out of control and overturned on a highway embankment.  (NY Times) (Archives)  [5/08]

Mobile County, AL

Freddie Lee Wright

Dec 1, 1977 (Mount Vernon)

On Dec 1, 1977, Warren and Lois Green were murdered during a robbery of the Western Auto store that they owned and operated in Mount Vernon. Shortly before the murders, a customer, Mary Johnson, noticed a man entering the store as she was leaving. After she heard about the murders, she identified Theodore Otis Roberts from a police photo spread as the man she saw entering along with his blue car that she saw parked outside.
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Los Angeles County, CA

Patricia Wright

Sept 19, 1981

Patricia Gordy Wright was convicted in 1999 of the 1981 murder of her ex-husband, Willie Jerome Scott. Jerome was found stabbed to death in his motor home while it was parked in a bad area in downtown Los Angeles. Jerome's homosexual lifestyle led to the dissolution of the couple's marriage. It also led him to some unsavory partners and placed him in some dangerous situations. No physical or forensic evidence connects Wright to the crime.
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Macomb County, MI 

Kenneth Wyniemko

Apr 30, 1994 (Clinton Twp)

Kenneth Wyniemko was convicted of repeatedly raping a 28-year-old woman over a four hour period and stealing about $3,000 from her. Police officers apparently coached a jailhouse informant to falsely testify against Wyniemko. DNA tests freed Wyniemko from his 60-year sentence in 2003. In 2005, the 54-year-old Wyniemko was awarded $1.8 million plus $6,409 per month for the rest of his life. The monthly payment will increase 3% per year and is payable for a minimum of 20 years, so the total award will exceed $3.8 million.  (IP) (Detroit Free Press) (JD)  [9/06]