Confession Turns Brothers’ Murder Case Into Cain-and-Abel Tale
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The case of two brothers charged with their parents’ Yom Kippur murders became a Cain-and-Abel tale of betrayal as one sibling confessed and agreed to help prosecutors seek the death penalty for his brother.
Stewart Woodman decided to testify against his brother, Neil, and two other men in order to save his own life, his lawyer said Wednesday as Woodman’s surprise decision was announced.
″When we began this case it was our earnest desire to be certain that Stewart Woodman would not receive the death penalty,″ said attorney Jay Jaffe.
″Stewart Woodman and I are satisfied that he does not face the prospect of being executed in the California gas chamber,″ Jaffe said. ″He has more years to live and think about what happened.″
Jaffe called the decision to turn state’s evidence ″a cleansing of the soul″ for his client.
The announcement by the 40-year-old Woodman came the day the death-penalty phase of his trial was to begin. He was convicted March 7 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy.
The pudgy, balding defendant affirmed in a brief Superior Court appearance Wednesday that he would testify for the prosecution against the three others. Their trial is set for April 6.
Deputy District Attorney Patrick R. Dixon said he would recommend that Stewart Woodman be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole if he abides by his agreement to testify. Woodman waived all rights of appeal as part of the deal.
Dixon said he would seek the death penalty for Neil Woodman, 46, and the two alleged hitmen, and ruled out agreeing to any type of deal for them.
The Woodman brothers were accused of hiring assassins to kill their parents for their mother’s $500,000 life insurance policy and out of hatred toward their father.
″How could they hate their parents so much?″ Dixon asked during Stewart Woodman’s trial. ″The answer is greed. They hated their parents.″
The prosecutor said relations in the Jewish family soured when the sons started working in the family’s suburban Chatsworth plastic business and managed to oust their father from the company.
The elder Woodmans, Gerald, 67, and Vera, 63, were ambushed in the parking garage of their condominium on Sept. 25, 1985, as they returned home from a Yom Kippur gathering.
The case originally had been tagged the ″Ninja murders″ because the assailants were dressed in black garb similar in appearance to that worn by the mythical Japanese warriors.
Dixon said Stewart Woodman confessed during a tear-filled, eight-hour videotaped session that was ″very rich in detail″ of the roles played by other defendants.
Another defendant, Anthony Majoy, was convicted of the same charges as Stewart Woodman and was to have faced jurors with Woodman. But the prosecutor said he also would recommend life without parole for Majoy, 51, said to have acted as lookout. Stewart Woodman’s sentencing was set for June 27 and Majoy’s for June 29.
In addition to Neil Woodman, the remaining defendants are Steven Homick, 49, who was a Los Angeles police officer for 14 months in 1963 and 1964, and his 38-year-old brother, Robert Homick, a Los Angeles attorney.
Steven Homick, the alleged triggerman in the couple’s killing, already was sentenced to death for a triple murder in Las Vegas.