Clifford Wood was sentenced to life in prison two days after his effort to win a new trial failed.
Judge Timothy Sanner handed down the sentence on June 1, in a rare Saturday proceeding in Louisa Circuit Court. The sentencing was hastily scheduled late in the day on May 30 after a marathon hearing in which Wood argued that his January trial had been corrupted.
A jury convicted Wood on Jan. 12 of the first-degree murder of Sean Houchens and recommended the life sentence. The murder occurred in the early hours of Sept. 1, 2017 at a house on Jefferson Highway, near the Hanover County line.
On the March date that Wood’s sentencing was originally scheduled, Wood’s new attorney claimed one of the jurors had engaged in a drug transaction with Wood in 2017. The juror had not indicated any connection to Wood when the jury pool was questioned prior to the trial.
The attorney, Catherine Ayres, did not subpoena the juror, though she named her in court. She told Sanner she had intended to subpoena all 12 of the men and women who sat through the trial, but Sanner said that was not a reasonable option. She also claimed she was told by court officials that she had to ask the judge before she could subpoena an individual juror for questioning.
“You can’t just summon all the jurors here to poke around,” he said. “The court never said you couldn’t summon a juror.”
Wendy Wood, Clifford’s wife, testified in court that she had seen the juror at the Woods’ house on at least two occasions.
(Article by David Holtzman)
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s June 6, 2019 issue.
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