Judge removes state from Woodworth prosecution

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - A northwest Missouri judge has barred the state Attorney General's Office from prosecuting for a third time a Chillicothe man convicted of fatally shooting a neighbor more than two decades ago.

Platte County Circuit Judge Owens Lee Hull Jr. ruled Wednesday that prosecutorial missteps that led to Mark Woodworth's previous convictions require "an independent review of this case by a prosecutor unburdened by past participation."

The ruling means that prosecution in the third trial set for July now reverts to Livingston County. But a prior local prosecutor in that county originally refused to file charges against Woodworth, which led to the appointment of the Missouri attorney general.

Woodworth has been free on bail for nearly one year after the Missouri Supreme Court overturned his second conviction in Cathy Robertson's death.

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