Jury deliberations concluded yesterday in the trial of a man accused of strangling his neighbor in her Riverside apartment 24 years ago.
The jury deliberated less than two days before finding 56-year-old Leonard Terrance Woods of Moreno Valley guilty of the murder count, as well as a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon during a felony in the death of Judith Goodman at her Gould Street residence on Feb. 26, 1992. He’s expected to receive a 50-year prison term when sentenced May 6th.
The prosecution and defense concluded closing statements Thursday, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner sent jurors behind closed doors to begin weighing evidence and testimony from the nearly eight- week-long trial. Jurors did not deliberate on Friday.
The case has had a few twists, including the replacement of the lead prosecutor earlier this month following defense allegations of impropriety.
Woods, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, is charged with first-degree murder and a sentence- enhancing allegation of using a deadly weapon during a felony.
According to the prosecution, a DNA match linked the defendant to Goodman’s murder. The forensic identification was confirmed in 2010 after Riverside police cold case investigators submitted clippings of the victim’s fingernails to a state crime lab for analysis.
A profile of the suspected killer was developed, and not long afterward, investigators sought out Woods for a sample of his DNA, which he provided in response to a court order.
Investigators questioned Woods immediately after Goodman’s death and noticed scratch marks on his face, which he attributed to a tussle with his then-girlfriend, according to testimony in a 2012 evidentiary hearing.
Detectives did not have enough to proceed with an arrest after the killing. Woods and Goodman worked at the same manufacturing plant, and it was his recommendation that prompted the 44-year-old woman to move to the Riverside apartment complex, prosecutors allege. Whether the defendant and victim had a relationship outside of work was never revealed.
When Goodman didn’t show up for her job, family and friends contacted police, who forced their way into her apartment, where they found her dead on a bedroom floor, bound at the wrists and ankles with plastic zip ties, her mouth covered in duct tape, according to prosecutors.
Goodman had been beaten about the head, causing deep lacerations, but they were not fatal. A decorative hay hook that had been mounted on the wall of her apartment was found near her body and could have been used in the assault, but a conclusive determination was never made.
Medical examiners ultimately determined that the probable cause of death was strangulation