The longest-ever wrongfully incarcerated woman in U.S. history received compensation


A separate lawsuit filed against the state earlier this month also will continue asking up to $3.5 million in civil damages. On December 11, 1980, Woods was convicted of first-degree murder with a weapon. She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 2013, Woods, who has difficulty reading and writing, got the help of another inmate to send a letter to the Rocky Mountain Innocence Project requesting DNA testing in the case. Cathy Woods, 68 now, was the longest-ever wrongfully incarcerated woman in U.S. history, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. She was cleared by DNA evidence on a cigarette stub. The prosecution dismissed the charges against her on March 6, 2015.


Woods was released from prison in 2015 when new evidence linked the 1976 killing of a Reno college student to an Oregon inmate, serial killer Rodney Halbower. She now lives with relatives near the city of Anacortes, Washington. “The conviction and subsequent incarceration of Woods for murder is a tragic situation that Washoe County hopes is never repeated,” the county said. “While money can rarely compensate an individual for loss of freedom, Washoe County sincerely hopes that this monetary settlement will be utilized for the best possible care of Woods,” their statement added.


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