TX: Execution closes book on 1997 slaying of Granbury girl
Fri Dec 4, 2009 12:21

Execution closes book on 1997 slaying of Granbury girl
Posted Thursday, Dec. 03, 2009

Schwana Patterson wanted to see her ex-boyfriend die Thursday night.

She wanted to watch Bobby Wayne Woods take his last breath for
killing her 11-year-old daughter, Sarah, more than 12 years ago, she

But she thought that because she is an ex-con — sent to prison for
not protecting her children from Woods — she wouldn’t be allowed to
watch Woods’ execution.

"I have always been told that I couldn’t go because I am an ex-
felon," Patterson, 48, said Thursday. "It was like when they sent me
to prison, they kicked me to the curb. I am her mother. I loved that
baby with all of my heart."

Woods, 42, was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m. for kidnapping and
killing Sarah. He also brutally beat her 9-year-old brother, Cody,
and left him for dead.

The execution was delayed for about a half-hour while waiting on a
ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on Woods’ final appeal.

"It was over in just a couple of minutes," said former Hood County
District Attorney Richard Hattox, who sent Woods to Death Row. "Six
or seven breaths, and it was done. It was quick, and it looked
painless. It looked as though he were going to sleep."

Last-ditch appeal
The Associated Press reported that Woods’ lawyer, University of Texas
law professor Maurie Levin, argued to the high court that the
performance of Woods’ state-appointed attorney during earlier appeals
was "so egregious" that Woods’ mental-impairment claims could not be
accurately assessed. She pointed out that the attorney has since been
removed from a list of lawyers eligible to represent condemned
inmates and said that by the time she got the case, "the damage had
been done."

The state’s attorneys told the high court that no constitutional
right exists for an inmate to have an effective appeals attorney and
that Woods’ claim of due-process violations "does not change that fact."

They also argued that Woods’ mental-impairment claims had already
been rejected by the courts and that the last-ditch appeal improperly
duplicated those claims.

Woods had two board-certified attorneys, Hattox said. They researched
all of his educational and mental-health records, and all of that was
presented to the jury, he said. Two psychiatrists examined him, and
both testified, he said. No evidence of mental impairment exists, he

"Woods testified, and the jury watched him reason and think and
debate with me and his own lawyers," Hattox said.

"If he was going to claim mental retardation, having him testify was
a mistake, because that took away any doubt," Hattox said. "But that
was his choice; you can’t blame that on his counsel."

Asked by a warden whether he had a final statement, Woods lifted his
head from the pillow on the death chamber gurney and replied: "Bye.
I’m ready."

The execution was the 24th and last scheduled for this year in Texas.

Although Patterson was not in the witness room, other members of
Sarah and Cody’s family were.

During his 18 years as district attorney, Hattox said, this was the
only death penalty case he pursued.

"It is very expensive, labor intensive, and you don’t use it unless
it is a necessity," said Hattox, who is now in private practice. "But
this case warranted it. Everyone in Granbury was angry at Bobby
Woods, angry enough to kill him.

"I’m just the fellow that was lucky enough to go down and get to see
it done."

The crime
According to court testimony, interviews and Star-Telegram reports,
Woods, a former short-order cook and roofer’s assistant, lived with
Patterson and her children for a time in a mobile home in rural Thorp
Spring near Granbury.

Authorities believe that Woods had been sexually assaulting Sarah,
who said she was relieved when her mom finally threw him out of the

But Woods didn’t stay gone. Early on April 30, 1997, Woods abducted
Sarah and Cody from their bedroom. He drove the children to the Thorp
Spring Cemetery, where he forced Cody out of the car, choked and beat
him unconscious and then left him for dead.

About 12 hours later, Cody was found by a horseback rider near the
edge of the cemetery. Sarah was not found for two days, until Woods,
who had become a suspect, finally led authorities to her body in
dense brush near Lake Granbury.

Her throat had been slashed, and there was evidence she had been
sexually assaulted. Among other things, she had the same sexually
transmitted disease as Woods.

Hattox said the entire community was affected.

"It really does hurt you, deeper than you know," he said. "Everyone
feels remorse and regret, and everyone grieves. People who didn’t
know these children grieved over them."

Woods was charged with attempted capital murder for Cody’s injuries
and capital murder in Sarah’s death.

Over the years, Woods changed his story about what happened that
night. He insisted that he wasn’t responsible for Sarah’s death and
blamed it on a cousin who later committed suicide. Other times, he
admitted to the abduction and said that he was trying to keep Sarah
quiet by holding a knife to her throat and that she jerked and he cut

He said Cody’s injuries were an accident.

"There was no reason for this, no justification," Hattox said. "He
was just mean."

Because of the intense publicity in Hood County, Woods’ trial was
moved to the Hill County town of Llano. On May 21, 1998, Woods was
convicted of capital murder and attempted capital murder.

Several days later, jurors sentenced him to death.

"We did our job; we put him before a jury," Hattox said. "They gave
him the death penalty, and that is good enough for me. I’ll sleep
fine tonight, knowing it was carried out."

The mother
With Woods on Death Row, prosecutors turned their attention to
Patterson, whom they accused of failing to protect her children after
hearing their screams from their bedroom.

Patterson maintained that she slept through the abduction and didn’t
know her kids were in trouble.

  • Texas to execute man convicted of killing girl, 11 12/03/2009 By MICHAEL GRACZYK / Associated Press A condemned 44-year-old inmate is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court keeps him from the Texas death... more
    • TX: Execution closes book on 1997 slaying of Granbury girl — Petra, Fri Dec 4 12:21
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