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Former suspect in 1990 Chillicothe murder refuses to testify

Thursday, June 2, 2011 | 1:41 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A former suspect in the 1990 shooting death of a Chillicothe farm wife and mother of five refused to testify Thursday in an appeals hearing for the man twice convicted of the crime.

Brandon Thomure was the prime suspect in Cathy Robertson's death and her husband's shooting. But Livingston County investigators later targeted Mark Woodworth, a 16-year-old neighbor whose father was Lyndel Robertson's farming partner.

Woodworth, who is now 36, was convicted by a jury in 1995, briefly released after a successful appeal and convicted again by a second jury in 1999. He is serving a life sentence for murder. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in November that Woodworth could present new testimony as part of his latest appeal.

Thomure invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when called to testify at the hearing in Boone County Circuit Court. He was escorted from the courtroom and immediately arrested by deputies from another Missouri county on a bad check charge.

F. Randall Waltz, Thomure's attorney, said his client has been the victim of "innuendos and accusations" and "had nothing to gain" from answering questions.

"Everyone is going to assume he's got something to hide, but that's not the case at all," Waltz said. "He would love to get up there and counter all these accusations."

Thomure's violent relationship with Lyndel and Catherine Robertson's oldest daughter, Rochelle, led Livingston sheriff's investigators to focus on him immediately after the couple was shot in their sleep the night of Nov. 13, 1990. Rochelle Robertson obtained a restraining order against Thomure after her parents were shot, suggesting that he might have been responsible.

Lyndel Robertson raised similar suspicions from his hospital bed, though he later recanted. He testified Thursday that he only suspected Thomure, a former Chillicothe High School wrestler who also goes by the name Brandon Hagan and most recently worked as a mixed martial arts promoter at Lake of the Ozarks.

"I gave an idea where to look," Lyndel Robertson said. "I didn't really point my finger at anybody."

Since Thomure left Chillicothe, he has been accused by four different people of assault or threatening their lives. Judges in each case granted protection orders that required him to stay away. In 1994, a Jackson County judge found Thomure "intentionally assaulted and battered" an Independence woman two years earlier by punching her in the mouth in a Kmart parking lot. The woman won $25,000 in damages in a civil lawsuit.

He has been jailed for a drunk-driving conviction. The Internal Revenue Service filed two tax liens totaling more than $250,000 and also investigated him for possible fraud a decade ago. And after working as a Chicago commodities broker, he lost his trading license for failing to disclose a 2001 felony drug conviction in Camden County.

Thomure didn't testify at Woodworth's first trial. At the second trial, he testified that on the night of the murder he was home asleep 90 miles away in Independence, an account supported by his mother, sister and Rochelle Robertson.

On Tuesday, a retired assistant principal and former Chillicothe High football coach testified that he saw Thomure at the school as early as 7:30 a.m., contradicting Thomure's testimony that he didn't leave his home to meet Robertson until 6:50 a.m.

Woodworth defense attorney Bob Ramsey submitted evidence Thursday showing Thomure violated the court order of protection obtained by Rochelle Robertson when he showed up at the Chillicothe grocery store where she worked and threatened to "get even" with Robertson and her new boyfriend. Robertson had previously testified that Thomure didn't violate the protection order.

The hearing resumes Friday with testimony expected from former special state prosecutor Kenny Hulshof, who handled the first Woodworth trial and later served six terms in Congress.


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