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Sentencing delayed in Kauffman case as plea deal questioned
Woody Robert
Robert Lee Woody

The scheduled sentencing of Robert Lee Woody, the lone defendant to enter into a plea deal in the murder of Turlock resident Korey Kauffman, was postponed Thursday as one side attempts to have his deal set aside, while the other plans on adjusting the time he will spend behind bars.

Woody entered a no contest plea in August 2016 to charges of voluntary manslaughter, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and arson. As part of the plea deal Woody agreed to testify in the preliminary hearing and the trial. In return he will be sentenced to seven years and four months in prison.

Over the course of the preliminary hearing Woody’s sentencing was delayed multiple times. Defense attorney Bruce Perry, who is representing Woody, told the court that the continual delays will amount to his client being behind bars for longer than originally planned. Inmates do not accrue credits at the same rate pre-sentencing as they do once they have been sentenced. Typically, an inmate must serve 85 percent of the sentence, but Perry said Woody would be serving about 87 percent.

“He’ll end up doing more time,” Perry told Judge Barbara Zuniga.

Stanislaus County Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreria agreed to work with Perry on sentencing credits for Woody and stated she would submit a formal letter to the court and all the attorneys if any change is made to the structure of the plea deal.

In addition to Woody, who was arrested in 2014, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office charged eight other defendants with having some form of involvement in Kauffman’s death. Defense attorney Frank Carson and brothers Baljit Athwal and Daljit Atwal, owners of the Pop N’ Cork stores in Turlock, have been ordered to stand trial for Kauffman’s death in 2012. Additionally, former California Highway Patrol Officers Walter Wells, Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar are all facing charges of conspiracy and being accessories after the fact. Wells was ordered held over for trial, while the other two have yet to have a preliminary hearing. The six defendants have entered not guilty pleas. Carson’s wife Georgia DeFilippo was originally charged with murder and obstruction of justice and her daughter Christina DeFilippo was charged with conspiracy and being an accessory after the fact. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing Zuniga ruled there was no evidence to indicate any of the charges were true against the two women and dismissed the charges against them.

The district attorney’s office claims Carson was angry over thefts at his property on Ninth Street that he believed were being committed by his Lander Avenue neighbor Michael Cooley. Their theory of the case has Carson — the one-time candidate for district attorney — serving as the mastermind of a criminal conspiracy that ultimately led to the death of Kauffman on March 31, 2012.

Kauffman was last seen by Cooley on March 30, 2012 as he left the Lander Avenue home to go to a property on Ninth Street. The district attorney’s office claims Kauffman was headed to Carson’s property to take some irrigation pipes that had been left out as “bait” to catch the thieves.

Prior to his arrest, Woody was recorded by his girlfriend detailing his involvement in the case.

In the recorded conversation Woody talks about the killing, stating in reference to Kauffman that “when he jumped over that f***ing fence that was his last jump.” He also states Kauffman was shot and claims he committed the killing on his own. He also states Kauffman was stealing from his lawyer. After a back and forth over the name of the lawyer Woody whispers “Carson” then says “Frank Carson. There it is.”

The recording also includes Woody describing disposing of a body by feeding it to pigs.

A few weeks after the recording was made Woody was arrested and charged with Kauffman’s murder. During an interview with investigators after his arrest Woody disavows many of the statements he made in the recording, including the statements that he killed Kauffman.

When the other defendants were arrested in August 2015, Woody sat down with investigators again and told them an account of what happened the night Kauffman was killed and it differed from what he said on the recording.

During his testimony Woody stated that Baljit Athwal caught Kauffman on Carson’s property and that he was fighting with him when Woody and Daljit Atwal arrived at the Ninth Street property. Woody said Daljit Atwal joined in the fight and fatally shot Kauffman. Woody testified that he helped bury Kauffman’s body in a field next to the Pop N’ Cork on East Avenue in Turlock, and that later he helped move it and leave it in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Carson’s defense attorney Percy Martinez has filed a motion to have Woody’s plea deal set aside on the grounds that he was not truthful in his testimony. The motion is set to be argued May 8.