MOULTRIE, Ga. -- The Georgia Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in the appeal of a man convicted in the murders of five people in 2004.
Alexander Woods was originally convicted in May of 2013 on five counts of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault. He was sentenced to five consecutive life terms in prison for the November 8, 2004 murder of Jaime, Katrina and Juan Resendez along with Lilliana Rodriguez and Betty Watts, who were all found dead inside the Resendezes' home.
Woods was convicted mainly on the testimony of a co-conspirator turned witness, Jerry “Johnny” Thompson, who was present on the day of the murders, according to a summary of the case provided by the state Supreme Court. Woods is arguing in his appeal, “ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of Woods’ constitutional rights.”
In his appeal, Woods specifically mentioned his defense’s position at trial was “Thompson…. without Woods, murdered the Resendez family for Thompson’s benefit,” and during the trial Woods’ counsel “failed to confront Thompson with the plethora of impeachment evidence that was provided in discovery.”
It was discovered at the trial by Woods’ trial lawyer, who was not named in the court summary, that “Thompson had already pleaded guilty to felony murder for the five deaths for which Woods was standing trial.” It was also pointed out that Thompson’s motive to kill the Resendezes was never brought up in trial.
According to previous court documents that were not brought up in trial, Resendez had owed Thompson a “significant amount of money and manrjiuana,” said the Supreme Court summary, which was released on Monday.
The summary does state that confessions were made by Thompson for the murders that Woods was convicted of. Woods’ attorney at the time said he did not attempt to impeach Thompson with the death notice because “he did not recall ever seeing a notice of the state’s intention to seek the death penalty against Thompson.”
The state argues that “despite appellant’s contentions, he has not shown either that trial counsel was deficient for failing to impeach Thompson using these purported confessions or that he was prejudiced thereby.
Arguments for this case will be held virtually via Zoom on Tuesday before the full court will be seated at the bench in the Nathan Deal Judicial Center on Wednesday. Live streams for the hearings will be available at the Supreme Court of Georgia’s website, www.gasupreme.us beginning at 10 a.m.