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Georgia Supreme Court considers convicted mass murderer’s appeal

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 2:22 PM EDT
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ATLANTA (WALB) - The Georgia Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn the conviction and life prison sentences for a man convicted of killing five people in Colquitt County in 2004.

About the case:

In 2013, a jury convicted Alexander Woods III of killing Jaime and Katrina Resendez, Juan Carlos Resendez, their 3-year-old son, Betty Watts, Katrina’s mother, and housekeeper Liliana Aguilar.

Prosecutors said Jaime was involved with distributing marijuana and he and his family were killed after some drugs and money went missing.

Woods was sentenced to five life prison sentences.

Recently, Woods’ current attorney argued to the Georgia Supreme Court that they should overturn Woods’ conviction and life prison sentences.

Jaime and Katrina Resendez, top left, Juan Carlos Resendez, top right, Betty Watts, Katrina's...
Jaime and Katrina Resendez, top left, Juan Carlos Resendez, top right, Betty Watts, Katrina's mother, bottom left, and housekeeper Liliana Aguilar, bottom right.(File)

Woods claims his defense attorney for the trial did not effectively cross-examine the only witness who personally identified Woods as the Resendez family’s killer.

In a virtual hearing Tuesday, Georgia Supreme Court justices questioned Woods’ attorney for the appeal and a prosecutor.

Matthew Winchester, Woods’ current attorney, said this centers around the 2013 trial testimony of Jerry Johnny Thompson.

Jerry Johnny Thompson
Jerry Johnny Thompson(Georgia Bureau of Investigation)

Prosecutors said Jaime Resendez was involved with transporting marijuana from Texas to Georgia, where Thompson would distribute the drugs.

Thompson identified Woods as the man who went to the Resendez home in November 2004, with another man, Anthony Davis, in an attempt to get Jaime Resendez to address some missing money and marijuana.

Prosecutors said Jaime, his wife Katrina, their 3-year-old son, Katrina’s mother and their housekeeper were executed that day.

Winchester said Woods’ defense attorney during the trial did not properly introduce evidence that could have proven Thompson had a motive to lie on the stand. That includes the fact that the state intended to seek the death penalty against Thompson — until he testified against Woods.

Winchester argued Tuesday, accusing Thompson of confessing to killing the family.

Woods’ appeal attorney is arguing that if the jury had known about those two things, they may not have convicted Woods for the murders. His attorney is arguing that Woods’ defense attorney for the trial provided “ineffective assistance of counsel.”

“It was brought out by the state’s lawyer that he was a liar and that inconsistent statements were throughout cross-examination of Mr. Thompson, so the jury would have known that he was a liar,” said Justice Michael Boggs.

Said Winchester: “But the state didn’t know what he lied about, in particular, confessing to the murders of this family. I think that’s a massive professional omission in this case.”

However, the state says they had other evidence that proved to the jury — outside of Thompson’s testimony — that Woods was guilty.

“They would use all these other corroborating evidence to decide what of what he said they would believe and what they would not. They didn’t believe only him. He was a portion of the case, but he wasn’t the deciding portion,” Bennett Threlkeld, senior assistant district attorney, said.

The Georgia Supreme Court did not decide whether to overturn the conviction yet. The court decides most cases within six months of a hearing like this.

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