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Friday, May 29, 1998

Bobby Wayne Woods sentenced to death

LLANO, Texas (AP) -- Bobby Wayne Woods was sentenced to death Thursday for the abduction and murder of 11-year-old Sarah Patterson last year.

Woods, 32, also received a 40-year sentence for attempted capital murder in the injuring of the girl's 9-year-old brother.

Defense attorneys had asked for a sentence of life in prison.

The Granbury man was convicted last week of abducting Sarah and her brother, Cody, slashing Sarah's throat and knocking Cody unconscious. Cody told police to "kill Bobby Woods for me" after he was found wandering in a cemetery.

About a dozen witnesses, including Sarah's best friend, testified this week in the punishment phase of Woods' trial.

Sarah's diary was among the evidence prosecutors offered.

"Dear Diary. Guess what? Bobby moved out and we are so, so, so, so happy," says an entry dated two months before Sarah was killed. In another entry, the girl wrote, "I don't like Cody, and I hate Bobby."

A psychologist hired by the defense testified Woods is mentally retarded and no longer a threat to society. But he acknowledged he hadn't examined Woods. A psychiatrist put on the stand by prosecutors said Woods is not retarded and could commit future violent acts.

During the trial, Woods admitted taking the children from their mother's home last April 30 and knocking Cody unconscious. But Woods claimed Sarah was killed by his cousin, who committed suicide shortly after the crime.

Woods had been kicked out of the Patterson home days before the attack by the children's mother, Schwana Patterson, who faces trial on charges alleging injury to a child. Prosecutors say she heard her children screaming but didn't help. She has denied the charges.

Cody testified he was awaken by his sister's screams as Woods beat the girl in the bed the children shared. He said Woods told them to follow him, and all three went to a graveyard.

The boy testified that Woods told him to get out of the car and told Sarah to get in the front seat and lie down. Cody said Woods choked him and knocked him unconscious. The boy later had surgery to remove skull fragments from his brain.

Woods claimed his cousin, Jody Milton, agreed to "take care of" Sarah, whose body was found with her throat slashed.

Milton hanged himself shortly after the girl's death.

The trial was moved to Llano, 65 miles northwest of Austin, because of extensive news coverage in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


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