Dr. Joy Carter also disputed the prosecution’s theory that a dagger which has been introduced as a potential murder weapon could have caused the stabbing injuries found on both of the victims’ bodies.
“In my opinion, that is not the weapon that inflicted those wounds,” Carter said, as she testified Wednesday in the 354th District Court during the 10th day of the capital murder trial of Brandon Dale Woodruff. Carter was the first witness called by the defense as it began its phase of the trial.
A close friend of the Woodruff family Wednesday also contested earlier characterizations of the defendant and the relationship he had with his parents, who were found shot and stabbed to death in their home in Royse City in October 2005.
“He is a kid who loved his parents,” said Todd Williams.
Brandon Woodruff, 22, has pleaded not guilty to one count of capital murder in connection with the deaths of Dennis and Norma Woodruff. Prosecutors have alleged Woodruff killed his mother and father inside their home near Royse City sometime after 9 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005. Their bodies were found in the residence two days later.
Woodruff remains in custody in the Hunt County Jail. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty as a punishment, should Woodruff be convicted of capital murder.
Carter, the medical director with Forensic Pathology Associates in Indianapolis, Ind., performed a review of the photographs and reports of the Woodruffs’ autopsies and testified the medical examiners with the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas should have done more to detail the stab wounds inflicted on the victims — especially the nine stab wounds on Dennis Woodruff — by doing a dissection of the injuries and determining the “hemorrhagic path” of the wounds. “In my opinion, it was incomplete,” Clark said of Dennis Woodruff’s examination. “The opportunity has been missed to determine how these stab wounds, these sharp force injuries, were caused.”
Carter also took exception with the apparent lack of forensic testing on hair samples which were found in Norma Woodruff’s hands.
“It would be nice to know if the hair matched the decedent or somebody else,” Carter said.
While the medical examiners who performed the autopsies could not determine conclusively that a dagger found long after the murders, which contained a sample of Dennis Woodruff’s blood, was the weapon used in the stabbings, they testified it was possible.
But Carter said the length, width and shape of the dagger made it highly unlikely to have caused the injuries. “In my opinion, it is not consistent with the weapon,” Carter said.
Todd Williams, the Extension Agent for Rockwall County, testified Wednesday he had known the defendant and the entire Woodruff family for several years, through their involvement with the Rockwall 4-H program. It was Williams who was called by family members in Texarkana to check on the Woodruffs after they had not been heard from for two days and Williams was the individual who discovered the bodies.
Earlier testimony alluded to Dennis and Norma Woodruff giving their son an ultimatum to either succeed during his freshman year at Abilene Christian University or move back home. William said the parents were aware the defendant had dropped some classes at the school, but had not given him any deadline.
“They were really hoping he could get it straightened out so he could continue on,” Williams said.
Defense attorney Katherine Ferguson also asked Williams about another individual with whom Brandon Woodruff had had a falling out prior to the murders. Williams admitted describing the person as “bad news” and telling the defendant to keep his distance.
Williams said he tried to provide information about the individual and his family to Texas Ranger Jeff Collins, the lead investigator in the homicide case, although he testified Collins was, “not really interested in other options as to what might be possible.”