Cathy Woods sues
Cathy Woods, who as a Louisiana mental patient confessed to a Reno murder but was later cleared by DNA testing, has sued police in Reno and Shreveport, Louisiana. She was convicted of killing University of Nevada, Reno student Michelle Mitchell in 1976 (“The case goes on,” RN&R, March 12, 2015).
The lawsuit, which names four former Reno police officers, argues that Woods was in no condition in the Louisiana facility to consent to being questioned by police and that her confession and interrogations—which led to her conviction—were “not memorialized or written down in any way” and were not recorded.
At the time of her confession in 1979, DNA testing was not available. It did not become a common part of crime investigation until the mid-1980s. Last year, when Woods’ release was announced, officials said her confession not only hurt her, but it diverted the ongoing investigation. Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said, “Investigations stopped into other people and began into Cathy Woods. … Cathy Woods was not on anybody’s radar until she brought it on herself.”