Nevada woman Cathy Woods, wrongfully accused of murdering her college friend Michelle Mitchell was put in jail for 35 years and now is set free. She will receive $3 million in a partial settlement, said her lawyer.
She was accused of killing her friend Michelle Mitchell who was a 19-year-old Reno nursing student. Michelle was found to be murdered with her hands bound behind her back and her throat slashed.
Woods, who is 69 now, alleges that her conviction was totally based upon fabricated confessions by detectives. The murder is now related to Oregon inmate Rodney Halbower.
“We are pleased we are able to reach the partial settlement and we are hoping the settlement money will go towards her care which is what she needs,” said Elizabeth Wang, the civil rights attorney.
On the night of 24th February 1976, Mitchell disappeared after having car trouble near the University of Nevada-Reno campus. Mitchell’s body was found some hours later in a garage.
The case went cold when Woods (then an inpatient in a mental hospital) told a counselor about a girl getting murdered in Reno. Wang said Woods wasn’t involved in the case in any way.
“There was never any physical or any other evidence against her,” says Wang.
After a long time, Woods saw a program about DNA testing and with the assistance of a public defender appealed to have a crime scene evidence tested. This prompted her exemption and the crime being linked to Halbower, who is currently serving time for two murders.