AUSTIN — A documentary examining a double murder near Royse City 14 years ago will be presented in Austin this month, as the producers seek another appeal in the case.
Brandon Dale Woodruff was found guilty of capital murder in March 2009 involving the deaths of his parents, Dennis and Norma Woodruff, in October 2005.
As the prosecution was not seeking the death penalty, Woodruff received an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.
A screening of "Texas Justice: Brandon Woodruff" is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at the La Quinta Inn Capitol, 300 E 11th Street in Austin. The screening of the “work in progress” version of the film is free to the general public, who must be over 18 years of age. The producers will then have a question-and-answer session immediately following the showing.
On the morning of September 18, documentary producer Scott Poggensee intends to present a Change.org petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to hear Woodruff’s appeal.
The jury in the 354th District Court returned the verdict after some five hours of deliberations, following two weeks of testimony in one of the most controversial murder cases in recent memory in Hunt County.
Prior to the trial, the case was source of months of debate between the prosecution and defense. Then-354th District Court Judge Richard A. Beacom ruled Woodruff’s Sixth Amendment constitutional rights to confidentiality were violated when prosecutors listened to the recordings of telephone calls from the jail between Woodruff and his defense team.
After the Hunt County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from the case, Beacom appointed special prosecutors from the Texas Attorney General’s Office, but refused motions from defense attorneys to throw out the case against Woodruff and dismiss the capital murder indictment outright.
Dennis Woodruff was shot once, then stabbed nine times, while Norma Woodruff was shot as many as five times. Testimony during the trial indicated Dennis Woodruff didn’t put up a fight before he was killed.
Prosecutors argued the residence was found to be locked when a friend of the family was asked to check on the Woodruffs and that nothing of value appeared to have been taken from the home, aside from the couple’s wallets.
A gun connected with the killings has never been found.
At the time they were killed, the Woodruffs were in the process of moving from a residence in Heath in Rockwall County to a Royse City home in Hunt County, as part of an effort to downsize and save enough money to send Brandon Woodruff to Abilene Christian University and their daughter Charla Woodruff to Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Ark.
In July 2008, Linda Matthews, Norma Woodruff’s sister, found a dagger among the family’s possessions at the Heath residence. Prosecutors have alleged the dagger may have been the weapon used in the stabbings, as a skull compartment at the base contained blood matching Dennis Woodruff’s.
The case been presented back to the 354th District Court for the consideration of a retrial and to the Sixth District Court of Appeals in Texarkana and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, all of which upheld the conviction.