Twice he was tried, and twice, a jury failed to convict John Kevin Woodward for killing his roommate’s girlfriend, a computer engineer and athlete found strangled in her car in Mountain View, Calif., in the early 1990s.
Now, prosecutors have charged the gay tech CEO with murder for the third time in connection with a killing that happened 30 years ago after they say new developments in forensic science technology link him to the murder weapon.
Police arrested Woodward, Readytech’s president and chief executive officer, at JFK International Airport in New York Saturday after he arrived from Amsterdam, according to a Santa Clara County District Attorney’s news release.
He is charged with murdering 25-year-old Laurie Houts.
Authorities say Woodward waived extradition, so Mountain View police have until July 29 to escort him back to Santa Clara County, where he’ll be formally booked and arraigned.
Houts was found strangled in her car about a mile from her job by a passerby on Sept. 5, 1992. A rope was still wrapped around her neck.
“Her footprints were on the windshield interior, a sign of her struggle with Woodward. Her unrifled pocketbook was nearby,” the news release states.
Woodward, prosecutors say, had developed unrequited feelings for Houts’ boyfriend, his roommate, and was “openly jealous” of her. Woodward did not have an alibi, and when asked about Houts’ death by the boyfriend, he asked about what the investigators knew about him.
Despite finding Woodward’s fingerprints outside Houts’ car, investigators could not prove that he was inside.
As a result of the death in the late 1990s, Woodward was tried twice, but the case was dismissed. The jury did not reach a verdict in the first trial. Following the second trial, a judge dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence.
Following the dismissal of his case, Woodward moved to the Netherlands.
Detectives reexamined the case and resubmitted items from the original investigation to the Santa Clara County Crime Lab for analysis in late 2020, according to Mountain View police. The DNA samples found in the evidence matched Woodward’s DNA, police said. Additionally, more than 80 latent fingerprints found in the evidence matched him. Detectives and a crime lab also linked Woodward to the rope found around Houts’ neck in 2021 using new developments in forensic science technology.
Police used Y-STR analysis of paternal male chromosomes to identify Woodward as the suspect. Houts’ boyfriend was excluded.
The Houts family said they are “hopeful that justice can finally be served,” according to a statement by the City of Mountain View.
Woodward could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
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