Cathy Woods
Murder: Life

DNA evidence wins new trial for woman convicted in 1976

Emerson Marcus, Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal 7:40 p.m. EDT September 8, 2014


RENO, Nev. — New DNA evidence in the killing of a University of Nevada, Reno student in 1976 implicates a habitual criminal and
exonerates a woman imprisoned for more than 30 years, the defense argued Monday in a motion for a new trial.

Based on that, Washoe County Judge Patrick Flanagan granted Cathy Woods a new trial in the murder of Michelle Mitchell and released her from prison.

A trial date has been set for July 13.
In a bizarre turn of events, months after a post-conviction appeal, a cigarette cut found at the scene of the murder not only didn't match Woods' DNA, but it matched the DNA of a man already convicted and in prison for stabbings, rape and escaping, the defense said in the motion.

Rodney L. Halbower, 66, was identified as the source of the DNA match from the cigarette, according to the Washoe County Forensics Science Division. DNA matching Halbower to the cigarette was only recently found when he was transferred from the Nevada Department of Corrections to Oregon for crimes served there.

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