DNA clears Nevada woman imprisoned 35 years for murder

  • AP, Reno
  • Updated: Mar 07, 2015 18:10 IST

After the case was dropped against a Nevada woman who spent 35 years in prison for a 1976 murder she did not commit, both sides agreed on one point: justice was finally served thanks to new technology in DNA testing.

Cathy Woods cleared by DNA evidence after prosecutors announced Friday there will be no retrial of her in the fatal stabbing of 19-year-old Michelle Mitchell on the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno, campus.

A judge tossed Woods' conviction in September after new DNA tests linked the Reno crime to an Oregon inmate who now faces charges near San Francisco in a string of killings about the same time.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said he didn't fault earlier police, prosecutors and juries for sending Woods to prison because they didn't have "the incredible tool of DNA."

Woods, now 64, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. She lives in the Southern California home of her brother and his wife, both of whom care for her. She remains under mental health treatment and is "doing well," said Maizie Pusich, Woods' public defender.

She was convicted in 1980 and again five years later. The convictions were based largely on the confession she made in 1979 at a psychiatric hospital. Pusich said Woods does not remember acknowledging the killing while hospitalized, Pusich said.

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