DNA Clears Woman After 30 Years In Prison For Murder

1976 Murder Appeal

Prosecutors in Nevada dropped a murder charge against a woman who spent more than 30 years behind bars for the crime, saying newly found DNA evidence cleared her of slaying a 19-year-old nursing student almost 40 years ago.

A judge threw out the conviction against Cathy Woods, 64, in September after DNA evidence from a cigarette b*tt at the scene of the fatal stabbing near the University of Nevada campus in Reno was matched to a prisoner in Oregon.

The judge freed Woods on bail and told her to appear for a retrial in July, but Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said on Friday that his office is dismissing the case.

“It is our belief that the newly discovered DNA evidence and the continued investigation of this case exonerate Cathy Woods of the murder of Michelle Mitchell,” Hicks said in a statement. Nursing student Mitchell disappeared after her car broke down near the campus on Feb. 24, 1976. Her body was later found in a garage with her hands tied and multiple stab wounds to her throat.

No one was arrested, and three years later Woods told staff at a psychiatric ward in Shreveport, Louisiana, where she was a patient, that she murdered a 19-year-old named Michelle in a garage near the college in Reno three or four years previously.


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