By Mallory Sherwood, Managing Editor
Brandon Woodruff, former ACU student, awaits a bond hearing Monday in hopes that the judge will lower his bond that was set at $2 million in October, when Hunt County Police charged him with two counts of capital murder in connection with the death of his parents in their home.
Assistant District Attorney Noble Walker said investigators are collecting evidence for Woodruff’s trial, a trial Walker said that might not begin until 2007.
“Hunt County is dealing with umpteen million murders right now, so a trial date hasn’t even been set,” Walker said.
Woodruff, a freshman agribusiness major from Rockwall, was a part-time student at the time of his arrest in Texarkana, Ark., where relatives lived, and his parents’ funeral took place.
His parents, Dennis, 43, and Norma Woodruff, 42, were found two days after they were murdered in their home near Royse City, northeast of Dallas. They died of multiple gun and knife wounds.
No signs of a forced entry were found at the home, which made Brandon Woodruff a suspect early in the investigation, said Chief Deputy Robert White of the Hunt County’s Sheriff Department, in October.
Woodruff, the youngest of two children, has a sister named Charla, who was attending college in Arkansas last fall.
He began attending ACU last fall after graduating from Rockwall High School in 2005. While at ACU he lived in Mabee Hall with best friend and roommate, Eric Gentry, freshman biblical text major from DeSoto.
Gentry said he would be unable to attend the bond hearing but said many people from his community and friends would be attending and possibly testifying as character witnesses for Woodruff.
He said he hopes for Brandon’s sake they would lower his bail.
During Christmas break Gentry was able to visit Woodruff for 20 minutes at Hunt County Criminal Justice Center.
“Brandon was really surprised to see me,” Gentry said. “He had no idea I was coming. He looked good and healthy, as well as you could in prison. He seemed like he was holding up OK, though.”
Since his incarceration, Woodruff had been sending letters to Gentry, filling him in on what was happening with his case.
Because Gentry expects he will have to testify at trial, as Woodruff’s best friend and roommate, he cannot answer the letters in case prosecutors use them against his testimony.
“I explained to Brandon why I couldn’t answer them when I saw him, and he understood and was OK with it,” he said.
Gentry said he was happy to testify in court on Woodruff’s behalf.
“The Brandon that I know was a good guy, a great guy,” he said. “I’m glad to be able to tell the court that. Anything to help.”
Woodruff participated in Freshman Follies last fall and was president of Future Farmers of America while in high school at Rockwall.
“Brandon was passionate about horses; he shared that love with his parents,” Gentry said. “I know he was really involved and great showman at competitions with his horses. I don’t know what he wanted to do in the future, but I know it had something to do with his horses.”
He said during their senior year, he and Woodruff would ride Woodruff’s horses sometimes on the weekends when they met.
Woodruff and Gentry became friends after they attended the same church camp in Oklahoma four years ago, Gentry said. During their junior year they began keeping in contact more and would meet on weekends at either Gentry’s home in DeSoto, 45-minutes away from Rockwall, or at Woodruff’s girlfriend’s ranch, he said.
He said he and other friends of Brandon were able to attend the funerals in Texarkana, and they were able to hang out with him and take him out to eat.
A few days later, Gentry received a phone call from a friend who told him about Woodruff’s arrest.
“I was numb for a long time and really overwhelmed that he had been arrested,” Gentry said. “The Brandon I know was and is a great guy and friend. I have been praying a lot for him since then and praying that he didn’t do it. I don’t know if he did it or not, but I hope he didn’t.”
He said it bothered him that people would write things to him about the murders on his Facebook.com profile, especially those that weren’t close to him.
“People have the right to say and think whatever they want,” he said “But I just ask that whether they think Brandon did it or not, that they are supportive of him as Christians. That’s all we can do right now is be supportive of our friend.”