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Death penalty option dropped for Turlock defendant
Woody2c Robert Lee
Robert Lee Woody

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office will not seek the death penalty against a Turlock man charged with murdering a 26-year-old man two years ago.

Robert lee Woody, 39, is charged with homicide in the death of Korey Kauffman, as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice. The charges also carry the special allegation that Woody lied in wait to kill Kauffman, which made the case eligible for the death penalty.

Kauffman was last seen leaving a home on Lander Avenue on March 30, 2012. He was headed over to a property in the 800 block of Ninth Street when he disappeared. His remains were discovered by a trio of hunters in Stanislaus National Forest in August 2013.

The criminal complaint alleges Woody killed Kauffman sometime around or on March 30.

Woody was in Stanislaus County Superior Court Thursday morning for a pretrial hearing when the prosecution announced they would not pursue the death penalty.

The conspiracy charges lodged against Woody allege he conspired with three co-conspirators, identified in the criminal complaint as B, C, and D. It alleges Woody and co-conspirator B went and threatened a witness on behalf of co-conspirator C, and co-conspirator B and D paid for Woody to leave the area to avoid being identified as a potential suspect. It also states all three co-conspirators agreed to pay Woody’s bail if he was arrested and that co-conspirator C would provide him with legal representation.

Woody was initially represented by the public defender’s office until the court appointed defense attorney Bruce Perry to represent him. Woody has entered a not guilty plea to all the charges lodged against him.

The three co-conspirators have not been named and no other arrests have been made in the case.

Defense attorney Frank Carson’s home in the 800 block of Ninth Street in Turlock was the subject of a search by investigators in 2012 in relation to the case. Brothers Baljit and Daljit Athwal, owners of Pop and Cork, have had their businesses and homes subject to search multiple times in relation to the death of Kauffman.

Woody remains in custody on a $2 million bail. He is scheduled for a pretrial hearing July 25.