By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
The capital murder trial of a former ACU student will begin this week in the 354th District Court north of Dallas.
Brandon Dale Woodruff, 22, has been in the Hunt County Jail ever since October 2005, following his arrest six days after a family friend discovered Woodruff’s parents, Dennis and Norma, dead in their home near Royse City.
Woodruff, who attended ACU in 2005, pleaded not guilty to the murders. He will stand trial after the jury has been selected. Ninety-eight potential jurors filled out questionnaires Tuesday; 12 will be selected Wednesday to serve on the jury, a secretary at the 354th District Court said.
Woodruff’s parents died from multiple bullet and stab wounds to their necks and faces in the living room of their home Oct. 18, 2005. Police could not find any evidence of a forced entry into the locked house.
Police also reported that valuables were left in plain sight in the house, and a blood trail suggested the killer washed up in a bathroom before leaving, according to Texas Ranger Jeffrey Collins’ affidavit for an arrest warrant.
Woodruff was arrested Oct. 24, 2005, and his bail was set at $1 million. Investigators said they found discrepancies in Woodruff’s testimony about where he was at the time of his parents’ deaths.
“[My parents and I] always had a good relationship,” Woodruff said in a November 2005 interview with KTVT-TV, a CBS affiliate in Dallas. “If I had a problem, they were there to answer it. We were really, really close.”
Last month, prosecutors with the Texas Attorney General’s office released a list of witnesses they will call to testify. They also released a series of allegations to raise against Woodruff during the trial, including steroid use, pornography and assaulting his older sister, according to a Royse City Herald-Banner article.
Richard Beacom, the 354th District Court judge, has issued a gag order prohibiting attorneys and witnesses from commenting on the case, according to a Dallas Morning News article.
Beacom also ruled that Woodruff’s constitutional rights to confidentiality were violated when prosecutors listened to the recordings of telephone calls from the jail between Woodruff and his defense team. The incident delayed progress in the legal case and resulted in new prosecutors being assigned to the case.
Prosecutors have announced they will not pursue the death penalty, so a conviction would result in a life sentence for Woodruff.
“I want justice to be done to the right person, and it’s not me,” Woodruff said in the news interview.