Clovis News

Trial opens in '05 Tarpey Village murder

Phillip Woodley killed his father and stepmother inside their Clovis home nearly five years ago to rob them and feed his drug habit, a prosecutor said Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court.

But attorney Eric Green, who represents Woodley, said the killing of Roy and Angie Woodley is "really a whodunit."

On the first day of trial, a gray-haired Woodley, wearing a dark suit and shackles, sat silently at the defense table as the two sides gave conflicting views of the evidence against him.

He is accused of murdering Roy Woodley, 73, and his wife, Angie, 71, inside their Ashlan Avenue home in Tarpey Village in July 2005. He also is charged with robbery and burglary.

If convicted, Woodley, who turns 56 next week, faces life in prison.

The trial could take a month. More than 100 people are on the witness list. Among them is Jeffrey Rancour, 31, who has confessed to being with Woodley when his parents were killed, prosecutor Burton Francis told jurors.

Rancour has pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter, robbery and receiving stolen property. He will be sentenced to 18 years in prison after he testifies in the trial.

Francis said Rancour is key to the prosecution's case because no fingerprints or DNA evidence ties Woodley to the killings.

Jurors, however, will hear other evidence that ties him to the killings, such as wire-tapped phone conversations in which Woodley denies knowing Rancour, Francis said. In the secret recordings, Woodley also tells his girlfriend and others to lie to sheriff's investigators, Francis said.

According to Francis, the couple were killed sometime between 7:30 p.m. July 21, 2005 -- when Angie Woodley last talked with one of her children -- and 7 a.m. July 22, 2005, when the couple's bodies were discovered.

Francis said Woodley and Rancour were close associates who smoked "ice," a slang term for an extremely addictive pure form of methamphetamine. They were high on the drug when the elderly Woodleys were stabbed to death, the prosecutor said.

According to Francis, Rancour has admitted to investigators that he saw Woodley kill his father in the living room by stabbing him 28 times. Rancour also said he saw Woodley tie up Angie Woodley and march her to a bedroom.

Woodley stabbed his stepmother 14 times and stole credit cards and checks from her purse, Francis said. Afterward, Woodley ordered Rancour to steal the couple's pickup, Francis said. Woodley left the crime scene in the car in which he had arrived, the prosecutor said.

People who ended up with the victims' truck, credit cards and checks will testify against Woodley, Francis said.

But Green said Rancour's account doesn't make sense. "Is it realistically possible for one man to control both victims?" he said.

Green said the evidence will show that Rancour and his friend, Dallas Mossey, another methamphetamine addict, killed the elderly couple in order to rob them.

Under Roy Woodley's fingernail was DNA from Mossey, Green said.

Francis acknowledged that sheriff's detectives had investigated Mossey in the killings. Mossey, 31, died in a motorcycle crash on the night of July 21, 2005, a day before the couple's bodies were discovered, Francis said. In addition, Mossey's phone records show he wasn't near the Woodley home when the killings happened, Francis said.

Because Mossey's body and those of the Woodleys were at the Coroner's Office at the same time, Francis said, Mossey's DNA ended up under Roy Woodley's fingernails as the result of cross-contamination.

But Green said it's doubtful that Dr. Venu Gopal of the Coroner's Office will testify that he and his staff practice messy procedures.

The trial resumes Monday.

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