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For The Third Time, A Tech CEO Was Charged In A 1992 Murder

A man has been charged for the third time for the 1992 murder of a woman, after forensic technology linked him to the murder weapon, the New York Times reports. In the 1990s, John Kevin Woodward was tried twice on charges that he had killed his roommate’s girlfriend, Laurie Houts, who was found strangled in her car in Mountain View, Ca. The first trial ended in a hung jury and a judge dismissed the second case for lack of evidence. Now, Woodward has been linked to the rope that was used to kill Houts. Woodward, 58, the president and chief executive of ReadyTech, an online training company, was taken into custody on Saturday at Kennedy International Airport in New York after arriving from Amsterdam, said the Santa Clara County, Ca., District Attorney. He was charged with the “strangulation murder” of Houts and was set to be arraigned in Santa Clara County after extradition from New York. Woodward is "anxious to get to the California courts to answer the charges, which he adamantly denies", his lawyer said. Woodward’s company, with headquarters in Oakland, Ca., and an office in the Netherlands, said the news of his arrest “was a jolt to all of us.”

On Sept. 5, 1992, a passer-by found Houts dead in her car near a garbage dump about a mile from where she worked. The rope used to kill her was still around her neck. Her footprints were on the windshield interior, “a sign of her struggle with Woodward,” said Diistrict Attorney Jeff Rosen. In 2020, detectives began to re-examine the case, and resubmitted evidence from the investigation to the Santa Clara County Crime Lab. New technology was used to process a DNA sample collected from the rope. The testing determined that Woodward’s skin cells were on the rope. Investigators also used new technology to determine that fibers from sweatpants inside Woodward’s car were “virtually indistinguishable” from fibers found on the rope. Together, the evidence “put the rope in his hands,” Rosen said.


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