Longest-serving wrongfully convicted woman sues Nevada

August 16, 2019 GMT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The longest-serving wrongfully convicted woman in U.S. history has sued Nevada and could receive up to $3.5 million under a state law signed this year.

Cathy Woods, 68, filed a lawsuit Tuesday after spending 35 years behind bars for the 1976 murder of a Reno college student, The Las Vegas Journal-Review reported Thursday.

Woods, who now lives in Washington state, was arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1979 before being released from prison four years ago when new DNA evidence from a crime-scene cigarette butt was linked to an Oregon inmate, officials said.


That inmate was recently convicted of two California killings and sentenced to life in prison, the newspaper reported.

Woods was exonerated.

A Nevada law signed this year states those released from wrongful imprisonment would receive a certificate of innocence, have their records related to the conviction sealed and receive monetary compensation based on how long they spent behind bars, officials said. Those who spent more than 20 years in prison could receive $100,000 each year.

The case is expected to be the first to test Nevada’s wrongful conviction compensation law passed by the Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak this year, officials said.

Woods is one of 13 people in Nevada who have been exonerated and is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted woman in U.S. history, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

Woods also filed a federal lawsuit against Nevada and Louisiana officials in 2016 for civil rights violations and malicious prosecution. That case is ongoing.


Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com