Caulfield MO, defense, Dennis Woodward, Elisabeth Gunter, Howell County MO, hung jury, Joy Dishneau, Judge William Hickle, jury, Kevin Babcock, mistrial, murder, Naturally Enchanted, Phelps County MO, prosecution, Rizwan Ahad, robbery, Rolla MO, trial, trial setting
Rolla, Mo. — After more than six hours of deliberation by the jury Friday, the murder trial of Dennis Woodward ended up in a mistrial.
Jurors were unable to reach a verdict in the five charges related to the murder of Naturally Enchanted owner Joy Dishneau.
Reacting to the verdict, public defender Kevin Babcock said the outcome was “better than a conviction.”
Prosecuting attorney Rizwan Ahad said he was “disappointed, but we’ll try this again.”
Circuit Court Judge William E. Hickle called the attorneys together and told them to plan for a trial setting conference call next Wednesday.
The defense had attacked the credibility of the state’s star witness, Woodward’s girlfriend and accused accomplice Elisabeth Gunter. A piece of evidence that figured in the case was a letter from Woodward to Gunter offering to take the rap for her. Also of interest was a cigarette butt in the victim’s Jeep Liberty the pair had stolen that did not match the DNA of Dishneau, Gunter or Woodward.
The state maintained Gunter’s credibility, contended that Woodward killed Dishneau, and that the pair carried out a premeditated robbery murder.
Gunter is expected to come up for a trial setting date on April 14 in Van Buren. She had previously been granted a change of venue from Howell County to Carter County. Babcock brought up that she was involved in a plea deal under which she would be released in 2037. She is represented by Steven Lynxwiler of Poplar Bluff. Ahad also is prosecuting the case against her.
The jury was made up of 10 men and two women. The jury foreman told the court that the jury would be unable to move forward, and a mistrial was declared.
Gunter and Woodward are accused of the 2012 murder of Dishneau in her home/business in Caulfield, Mo. Dishneau, who had employed both Gunter and Woodward, was killed in a home invasion/robbery, stabbed to death in the throat by a dagger. She was killed late New Year’s Eve.
Woodward was charged with 1st Degree murder, two counts of Armed Criminal Action, 1st Degree Robbery, and 1st Degree Tampering with a Motor Vehicle. Originally charged in Howell County, his trial was moved to Phelps County on a change of venue.
To view the Probable Cause statement for this case, click HERE. To see other Hill ’n Holler news stories on the Joy Dishneau murder case, click HERE.
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