One family cheered and wept with joy Friday while another family vowed to stay strong to see justice served.
At the orders of the Missouri Supreme Court, Mark Woodworth walked out of the Livingston County Jail just before noon Friday after posting a $50,000 bond.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster vowed to retry Woodworth. He has been convicted twice before.
Woodworth, 38, repeatedly said Friday that he was overwhelmed to be free. He thanked his friends and relatives for their support, and said his faith has carried him through the difficult moments.
"I knew there would be a day," he said about his release. "It feels great to finally be home with my family."
Woodworth has been serving a life sentence in the fatal shooting of Cathy Robertson, the wife of his father's farming partner. Husband Lyndel Robertson survived the attack, which occurred while they were asleep in bed.
Just 16 at the time of the shootings, Woodworth has maintained his innocence ever since a grand jury indicted him in 1993.
Woodworth's latest conviction was thrown out in January when the state's high court ruled state prosecutors had failed to share evidence with Woodworth that could have helped his defense.
The defense is vowing to try to prove evidence pointing to another suspect in a retrial. They also hope to get the courts to bar a third trial, saying prosecutorial and judicial misconduct justifies the charges be thrown out.
Rhonda Oesch, the victims' daughter, said Woodworth is guilty and she believes he will be convicted in a third trial. She said it makes her sick to think she has to go through a third trial, but said she would do it for her mother.
"The truth is that Mark Woodworth did it. You can't place the bullet in someone else's pocket and you can't place the gun in someone else's hands. It's in Mark Woodworth's pocket and it's in Mark Woodworth's hand," she said.
The victim's family issued a statement Thursday.
The following is the statement in its entirety:
Our family stands united in our pursuit of justice for the murder of our beloved Cathy Robertson. While we believe Mark Woodworth should spend his life behind bars for brutally murdering our mother Cathy Robertson and critically assaulting our father Lyndel Robertson in 1990 while they were sleeping in their bed, we are prepared to see a third trial through to conclusion.
The state of Missouri has twice proven, and will prove again through forensic evidence, that Mark Woodworth took his father's gun from his home and brutally shot our mother and father. The state will again prove that no other person of interest had access to the murder weapon and the bullets used in this crime. The state will again prove that Woodworth's own incriminating statements support the evidence that proves his guilt.
While the judge is contemplating Mark's bond, we have stated our opposition to his release on the record. We have also asked Judge Hull to consider requiring that Mark Woodworth have absolutely no contact, intentional or unintentional, with any member of our family or any witness that may be testifying on the State's behalf.
Since 1990, our family has lived through a nightmare caused by Mark Woodworth. If seeking justice for the murder of Cathy Robertson takes a third trial and 100 years, we will do what it takes to hold Mark Woodworth accountable for his actions.
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