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September 12, 2007

Judge to decide whether Woodruff’s rights violated

A state district judge said he would decide by early next week whether capital murder defendant Brandon Woodruff’s constitutional rights were violated when prosecutors ordered the taping of Woodruff’s telephone calls made from the Hunt County Jail.

During a Tuesday afternoon hearing in the 354th District Court, Judge Richard A. Beacom told both prosecutors and Woodruff’s defense attorneys that he would not grant a defense motion to drop the indictment against Woodruff.

“Even if the court decides some hidden impropriety exists and there is some harm, the motion to dismiss, given the nature of the charges, is too drastic,” Beacom said.

Beacom indicated he would spend the next few days researching an alternative defense motion calling for the disqualification of the office of Hunt County District Attorney F. Duncan Thomas from prosecuting the case.

Beacom said that decision would be based on whether he determines Woodruff’s rights were violated as a result of the taping.

“If I find that they have, then I will have to decide on an appropriate remedy,” Beacom said.

Woodruff, 21, has pleaded not guilty and remains in custody at the Hunt County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond on one count of capital murder in connection with the deaths of his parents. Dennis Woodruff and his wife Norma were slain inside their home on Hunt County Road 2648, just northeast of Royse City, in October 2005.

Prosecutors have waived death by lethal injection as a potential punishment, should Woodruff be convicted of capital murder.

Lead defense attorney Jerry Spencer Davis has claimed the chief jailer had been instructed by a representative with the District Attorney’s Office to monitor and tape Woodruff’s calls from the jail and turn the recordings over to the prosecution. Davis argued the recordings violated the attorney/client privilege and denied Woodruff a right to a fair trial, as the recordings may have included vital defense trial strategy.

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