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|Connor Wood to be sentenced next week for triple-homicide|
Connor Wood, the Ferriday teen convicted last Wednesday on three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, Geraldine (Jeri) and John Wood, and friend, Matthew Whittington, will be sentenced next week, April 30th.
The second-degree murder convictions on three counts carries a mandatory life sentence without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. Judge Leo Boothe will decide if the sentences are to be served consecutively or concurrently for each count.
The trial ended Wednesday evening with a jury taking only 25 minutes to convict the 16-year-old following two days of testimony. Almost 200 pieces of evidence were introduced before the court.
Investigator David Hedrick took the witness stand most of Wednesday afternoon as the final witness to testify in the trial.
Hedrick conducted three separate interviews each requested by Wood. Two on the morning of the crime and one three days later.
One was not recorded per Woods request and the second that morning was videotaped. A DVD was played in the courtroom of the March 14th and 17th interviews.
Prior to the initial interview on March 14th, Hedrick obtained permission from Hudson Wood, Connor's closest adult living guardian.
In both recorded interviews, Hedrick repeatedly asked Wood if he would like an attorney, his brother or another adult present. Each time Wood declined. He and Hudson also signed waivers of Constitutional rights.
In the initial unrecorded interview at approximately 8 a.m. on the 14th, Hedrick said that Wood stated that he and Whittington planned to stage a burglary while Wood killed his parents.
In the second interview, Wood stated that he and Whittington had been planning the crime for about a month-and-a-half stating that his parents were fighting all the time. Whittington arrived at the home after several phone calls between the two. He said Whittington picked up a 9-mm pistol in the kitchen. He stated that after they had talked in Connor's bedroom, Whittington went into the master bedroom and shot his parents. Wood stated that Whittington then went to break the glass on the rear door to make it look like a burglary.
He said at that point he got upset with Whittington because he really didn't want his parents dead. He retrieved another weapon from underneath his parents mattress and shot Whittington. He then called 911 and told the dispatcher of an intruder in the house. He stated that he asked the dispatcher if he could shoot the intruder again because he was still moving. He stated the dispatcher told him he could. He then retrieved another weapon from his parents closet and shot Whittington, who lay face down in the hallway, twice in the back of the head.
The dispatcher, David Cobb in testimony Tuesday, disputed the claim that he gave Wood permission to shoot. The conversation was not recorded by the communications system because of a computer malfunction.
In the third and final interview which took place March 17th between Wood and Hedrick, Wood changed his story stating that he had actually shot his parents.
Woods' attorney Paul Lemke repeatedly objected to the use of the confessions.
He then questioned Hedrick regarding his testimony Wednesday afternoon.
"How many suspects have you talked to that told you the truth?" asked Lemke. "Do most suspects hedge -- not tell you the whole truth?"
"Sometimes," said Hedrick.
"When Connor sat there and talked to you concerning the homicides on March 14th, did you believe him?" asked Lemke.
"I believed he was being as honest with me as he could be at the time," said Hedrick.
"On the 17th?" asked Lemke.
"He appeared to be telling the truth," answered Hedrick.
"Is that based on your experience as a law enforcement officer," asked Lemke.
"Yes sir," answered Hedrick.
On cross examination, Burget asked Hedrick if he believed the truth was in any of the three statements given by Wood.
"Is there a little truth in each statement?" asked Burget.
"There always is, sir," replied Hedrick.
"On the 17th did you get a little closer to the truth," said Burget.
"Not completely, but closer," replied Hedrick.
"Do you think we will ever know the truth?" asked Burget.
"Only God and Connor Wood know what happened in that room," replied Hedrick.
The defense rested at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
In Burget's closing arguments, he asked the jury to return the right verdict after three long days.
"I showed you everything so you could make the right decision," he said. "It would have been easier to just play the last thing I showed you -- where he confessed."
"That was not easy whether you are a seasoned law enforcement officer or a seasoned prosecutor, to see what was at 119 Shady Lane on March 14th," he continued.
"That one right there is a killer," said Burget pointing to Wood. "This case is not about Matthew Whittington. He executed him. That was when he quit being a boy -- when he did that."
"Whether he killed an accomplice or the guy who could tell the truth it doesn't matter. Whittington paid the ultimate price with his life. Did he deserve that? Did his parents deserve that for giving him everything?" continued Burget. "Somebody with a lot of anger did this."
He continued to point out that whether Whittington pulled the trigger on John and Jeri Wood didn't matter explaining that Connor Wood still opened the door and handed Matthew the gun to "have at Mom and Dad."
"That makes him guilty. He is a principal to second degree murder," said Burget. "There are no winners in this -- the Whittington's have suffered, the Wood family has suffered -- everybody loses."
He concluded by saying that there were four people at 119 Shady Lane that night. "Three are deceased. He is not."
Lemke wrapped up his case by saying that there were holes in the investigation handled by the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office.
He told the jury that they had to decide "what is true."
"Just make the right decision. Think about the holes I pointed to. We do have a very young individual here. Listen to the judge's instructions and make the right decision," concluded Lemke.
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