Hearing to decide Woods’ future

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Shirley Woods didn’t cry as she testified to keep David Woods in a Tuscaloosa mental health facility for killing her grandmother.

But as she finished her questions she started to step down and asked Judge Jack Meigs if she could make a statement.

He agreed.

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“The day he shot my grandmother down,” she said. “She went over to talk to him. He came behind her and shot her in the back.”

Looking at Woods, tears filled her eyes. Family members in the court chamber cried as well.

“You absolutely treated her like she was a dog,” she said to Woods.

Woods was found not guilty by reason of mental defect, or insanity, last year for killing Willie Mae Woods, his 86-year-old aunt.

During the course of his original trial, it was revealed that he committed the crime because voices told him that his aunt was a man, and would try to harm him, assistant District Attorney Mickey Melton said.

Woods shot his aunt three times with a shotgun. Once as she was running away, and then twice after she fell, at close range.

He pled insanity in the case, and Woods was sentenced to Taylor Hardin, a state run, secure mental health facility, in September 2004.

On Monday, after about seven months of treatment, Meigs heard from the facility’s doctors.

They suggested to the court that he be freed, and allowed to stay in a group home run by Cahaba Mental Health. The home, located behind Wal-Mart, just off Highland Avenue, would serve as a halfway point for Woods, who would later be allowed to live wherever he wanted.

Melton said the district attorney’s office was not happy with the suggestion.

“If this man will kill his own kinsman, he will kill anyone,” Melton said. “The city of Selma has seen too much violence.”

Patricia Pilkinton, M.D., signed an affidavit and testified during the hearing. The affadavit stated that as long as Woods stayed on his medication, he wouldn’t be a danger to the community.

Woods, according to court documents, suffers from schizoaffective disorder.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the disorder is similar to schizophrenia, with symptoms including delusions and hallucinations.

It also includes severe depressive episodes.

Woods has received treatment for all his symptoms, according to the affadavit.

Melton said prosecutors wanted him to stay in Taylor Hardin indefinitely.

“Until someone will assure the state that he will stay on his medication,” Melton said.

He said none of the doctor’s that testified could guarantee that Woods would continue taking his medicine.

District Attorney Michael Jackson said his office didn’t want to see Woods released at all.

“My staff and I will do whatever we can to make sure murderers are not released back into our society,” he said.

Meigs is expected to issue a ruling on the case later this week, according to the district attorney’s office.