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Sad story and trial I was following goes to verdict


JetCane
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A little over a year ago, there was a young woman who was murdered in cold blood in NYC. She left her home in the midwest to become a dancer on the big stage of the Great White Way. But there arent enough starring roles for every aspiring actress who comes to NYC, so she started dancing on the side to support herself. In one of those places where they have poles. Of course, she lied to her midwestern parents about what she was doing, as she didnt want to disappoint them. She told them she was in an off broadway show or something. So, she eventually hooks up with a personal trainer, who falls hard for her, but she decides she wants to remain with her hometown bf, who followed her to ny. so, one night he brutally killed her.

This was her.

catherine-woods2.jpg

Her name was Catherine Woods.

She didnt make the front page until she was murdered.

slain.jpg

I probably wouldnt have thought too long about this tragedy, as there is so much bad stuff going on in the world, you cant bleed for every crime story.

But as I was reading the paper that day on the train going to work, something

in the article caught my attention, and drew me into the story.

Her father is the Director of the Marching Band at ohio state university. They call it ....ummm I forgot what they call the band, but maybe someone else will know.

DSC_3668.jpg

So of course, her parents had to come to NY after this, and claim her body, snd find out she was really dancing as a stripper, and wasnt in any off- Broadway show.

Well, sometimes there is some form of justice in this world, and sometimes juries do what we perceive to be "the right thing". It is a miscarriage of justice when they screw up, but getting it right doesnt always get the same publicity.

Well, they seem to have gotten this one right, and this week they convicted the accused personal trainer of second degree murder in the death of Catherine Woods.

I mentioned this in the football board, but i didnt want to hijack the thread so i started this one here.

Anyway, here are a couple of links to the story if you are interested.

http://www.dispatch.com/news-story.php?story=246974

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/04/48hours/main1585205.shtml

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NYC crime...

So many to keep track of. The ones that have left an impression on me (I remember them for one reason or another):

John Lennon

The Central Park "wilding" rape

a model who's face was slashed, I think her last name was Richards

Nixmary

A cop that was executed protecting a witness, it was in Queens. I remember the two suspects were in the paper alot. That was back in the 80's.

There was also a murder, a family from Utah here for the US open, happened on a Queens subway in broad daylight. They all made me sick to my stomach.

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Thats a shame..just 18 years old...RIP

Jetcane:Why was it murder in the second degree?

Murder 1 usually involves premeditation. Murder 2 is more of a 'crime of passion'

See this is my point. Stories like this are a tragedy vs the constant type of garbage with Anna Nicole Smith.

RIP young lady, you're in a far better place then this hell hole

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Well, sometimes there is some form of justice in this world, and sometimes juries do what we perceive to be "the right thing". It is a miscarriage of justice when they screw up, but getting it right doesnt always get the same publicity.

That is so true JC. We seem to scream the loudest when we "believe" they got it wrong. And when they get it right "in our perception, at least", they do not receive many kudos. It seems it's becoming a thankless duty, and that's a shame, because I still believe that our judicial process is the best and most fair there is. Although I may sometimes disagree, I always respect a jury's verdict. Hey, I wasn't the one sitting in the courtroom for weeks, days, months, dissecting every detail, I can only read what my local paper prints. ;)

And yes, I agree that the jury did get it right.

I wasn't familiar with this story, but I did check out your links and then went to an internet forum where they discuss crime stories like this, so I could get more of a timeline perspective.

Pretty much everyone wanted to hang the boyfriend (Haughnn) at first, but big kudos to the Police and DA for a very thorough investigation.

His fingerprint amid the blood splatter, the surveillance video showing him outside her apartment building moments before her murder as he was purporting to be 23 block away, as well as the circumstantial 7 rapid phone calls prior to her murder and none thereafter, leave me with no doubt that the jury's verdict was correct.

There was plenty of other damning circumstantial evidence as well.

Very sad story, indeed. :(

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Shameless bump for the weekday posting crowd, along with a post-verdict article.

THE SAVAGE STRIPPER RIPPER IS GUILTY

KILLER FACES LIFE FOR UPPER E. SIDE SLAY

By LAURA ITALIANO

Murder victim Catherine WoodsFebruary 16, 2007 -- He hated women as much he loved himself.

A Manhattan jury convicted personal trainer Paul Cortez yesterday of the 2005 throat-slash murder of his dancer ex-girlfriend, Catherine Woods

The crime sent shock waves through New York's singles community because it could have happened to any innocent and starry- eyed woman looking for love in the big city.

Woods was a 21-year-old classically trained dancer from Ohio who dreamed of Broadway stardom but who reluc tantly supported herself by stripping. Cortez, now 26, was a self-absorbed struggling musician and yoga enthusiast who became obsessed with his petite sweetheart - repeatedly hounding her to clean up her act.

Yesterday, an eight-woman, four-man panel found that Cortez brutally slashed her across the neck, not once but twice, and stabbed her to death.

"The beautiful woman and baby that we raised for 21 years - I feel she's with the angels now and at peace," said grieving dad Jon Woods, a music-education professor at Ohio State University, where he directs the marching band.

Cortez took the stand in his own defense last week. He assured jurors in his placid, high-pitched voice that the real killer is still out there, despite the prosecutorial equivalent of a royal flush having been recovered at the crime scene: Cortez's fingerprint, on the wall, in the victim's blood.

Instead, Cortez told jurors, he is a poet, dancer, musical-theater buff, aspiring rock musician, yoga instructor, appreciator of sunsets and reader of sacred Hindu texts.

True to form, he appeared to take yesterday's verdict meditatively, his head bowed as he sat at the defense table. His mother, Ivette, sobbed softly in the courtroom, and several female jurors appeared to tear up. But Cortez didn't cry, and didn't look up as he was led out in handcuffs.

Jurors took a day and a half to convict Cortez. He returns for sentencing March 23, when he faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.

"He was just very, very peaceful," his defense lawyer, Dawn Florio, said afterward.

Jurors apparently didn't buy the peaceful act - not after more than two weeks of graphic testimony on a monstrously violent slaying - of a man morbidly self-involved.

"I just want someone to love me as I love them, with all that there is to ever be," read one entry from a journal Cortez kept.

Elsewhere in the journal, he pondered: "Still, I move alone / this crowded world is empty / Compared to the crowds in my head / Deciding on the knife / Skin vs. metal / Vein vs. blade/"

Of Woods' job stripping, he wrote:

"I wanted her to stop so she would heal and love me without boundary or pain . . . I could not keep her close."

Woods - who had chosen a career in dance when she was only 4 years old, her father had testified - was found face down and nearly decapitated, with her killer's bloody boot print on her back in her Upper East Side bedroom.

Furious that she had refused his demands that she stop stripping and leave her live-in boyfriend, David Haughn, Cortez had waited outside Woods' East 86th Street apartment until Haughn left, prosecutors charged. As Haughn got his car so he could drive Woods to her job dancing topless at FlashDancers on Broadway, Cortez entered through the apartment's unlocked door.

Woods screamed repeatedly - a neighbor heard, but never called police - as Cortez slashed at her with the knife, stabbing her clear through one hand and through her cheek, with the blade entering her mouth.

Then he grabbed her from behind and pulled his knife twice across her throat, cutting through her larynx, her left carotid artery and both jugular veins.

"The killer then stood on her back and held her down as she bled to death," lead prosecutor Peter Casolaro told jurors in closing statements Tuesday, calling the attack "the product of extreme rage and total overkill."

"He'd reached his breaking point," Casolaro told them. "This violent misogynist and narcissist could not handle rejection."

Nor were jurors swayed by Cortez's claims - never substantiated - that Woods was doing porn movies, sleeping around, prostituting herself, and drinking and drugging heavily.

"They dragged my daughter's name through the mud," Jon Woods said angrily after the verdict. "She hated this job," he said of the stripping his daughter did to pay bills. "She had planned on quitting it."

Catherine Woods' dance teachers have since told him they believed "if [famed Broadway choreographer Bob] Fosse was alive today, he would want her to dance for him," the father said. "We still felt she had the potential to realize her dream. She was working harder than ever. She had not given up."

By the time of the murder, much of Cortez's jealousy and anger toward Woods - and a string of other women who'd rejected him - had already come out in the 250 handwritten pages of journal writings cops recovered from under his bed in his Spanish Harlem studio apartment.

The journals reveal the real Cortez as a twisted man obsessed with knives and revenge, Casolaro told jurors.

"A blade that roams/ She wipes clean the shaft that cuts her throat. And returns back to her day," Cortez wrote in an entry he admitted on the witness stand was about Woods. Any similarity to the words and Woods' mode of death was merely a coincidence, Cortez had assured jurors.

"Hell hounds wanna pounce," he wrote in a song he penned called "The Killing Machine." Cortez performed the song with his band, Monolith, the week before Woods' murder.

"It's really a nice song," Cortez told jurors - after Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman declined his offer to sing it

Even without the fingerprint or the journals, Cortez had been incriminated by cellphone records that showed he called Woods five times within a single minute as he stood outside her apartment at 86th Street and First Avenue in the moments before the murder, according to cellphone transmis sion tower records.

Cortez had been the ex-from-hell, dialing Woods an amazing 57 times on the day they broke up, one month before the murder. He called more than 250 times that entire month, and 12 times total on the day of the murder.

Defense lawyers had insisted that Haughn, who had followed her to New York from their native Columbus, was the real killer.

It was Haughn who discovered the body and who was the initial suspect, the defense noted. Haughn shared Cortez's shoe size, 101/2, the size of the bloody footprints found at the scene. Haughn, too, was in the midst of a rocky, on-again-off-again romance with Woods, the lawyers claimed.

But the defense team of Florio and Laura Miranda never explained away how their client had fingered himself - with the bloody left-index fingerprint on the wall in Woods' bedroom. Casolaro called it a case-clinching, "incredibly lucky" piece of evidence.

Cortez called eight character witnesses to the stand, including a high-school teacher and his mother, to describe how peaceful and nonviolent he is; they called four police officers in hopes of incriminating Haughn. But they didn't call any experts to dispute the dooming fingerprint.

"It basically wasn't our burden" to disprove the print, Florio said.

laura.italiano@nypost.com

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He assured jurors in his placid, high-pitched voice that the real killer is still out there, despite the prosecutorial equivalent of a royal flush having been recovered at the crime scene: Cortez's fingerprint, on the wall, in the victim's blood.

Instead, Cortez told jurors, he is a poet, dancer, musical-theater buff, aspiring rock musician, yoga instructor, appreciator of sunsets and reader of sacred Hindu texts.

Oh yeah, this is gonna have a happy ending on Rikers.

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NYC crime...

So many to keep track of. The ones that have left an impression on me (I remember them for one reason or another):

John Lennon

The Central Park "wilding" rape

a model who's face was slashed, I think her last name was Richards

Nixmary

A cop that was executed protecting a witness, it was in Queens. I remember the two suspects were in the paper alot. That was back in the 80's.

There was also a murder, a family from Utah here for the US open, happened on a Queens subway in broad daylight. They all made me sick to my stomach.

Most recently also was that aspiring actress who was shot during a robbery on the lower east side. I know the shooter got his due, but hopefully the rest of his posse will see some hard time as well. She was the one with the French-sounding name whose boyfriend was being menaced by the thug with the gun.
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