Nephew of Lufkin man accused of beating 3-year-old boy to death testifies uncle treated boy 'like a dog'

Nephew of Lufkin man accused of beating 3-year-old boy to death testifies uncle treated boy 'like a dog'
Kerry Woodard (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Kerry Woodard (Source: Angelina County Jail)

By Shaley Sanders

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - More expert testimony took center stage as day three of the capital murder trial for the Lufkin man accused of the brutal beating death of a 3-year-old boy to death in December 2010 got underway Thursday morning.

The trial is being held in the 217th Judicial District Court. If convicted, Kerry Jock Woodard, 27, will get life in prison without parole.

Woodard is accused of causing multiple injuries to the child, including a lacerated liver, a contusion on the lung, hemorrhages in the eyes and spinal cord, subdural hematomas of the brain, and more than 100 documented contusions and abrasions on the head, torso, legs, and arms.

It happened while Woodard was watching the child, Zikeishun Lane, while the mother was working at the Lufkin State-Supported Living Facility. The child was originally treated for the injuries at a Lufkin hospital in December 2010, and he later died at a Houston hospital.

In his opening statements, prosecutor Art Bauereiss explained to jurors Woodard was dating the child's mother Valerie Mosby. The couple lived together, and it had become a routine for them to take Zikeishun to Woodard's mother's house. After dropping off the child, Woodward would take his girlfriend to work.

In court on Thursday morning, Adam Unnasch, a research specialist/crime analyst with the Texas Department of Public Safety, took the stand. Prosecutor Art Bauereiss obtained Kerry Woodard's cell phone records to determine what geographical area Woodard was in on December 6 and 7.

On December 6, three-year-old Zikeishun Lane was taken to a Lufkin hospital. In the early hours of December 7, Zikeishun was life-flighted to a Houston hospital.  Based on phone calls and text message data taken from Woodard's phone, Unnasch put together geographical maps to determine Woodard's location.

Unnasch provided the geographical maps in court on Thursday morning. Defense attorney Al Charanza argued that the data presented to jurors was incomplete.

"You're limited by what Sprint can provide or capture?" Al Charanza asked.

"Yes," Unnasch replied.

Charanza argued that when one tower is at capacity, the phone call can be picked up by a tower further away than the caller, making it difficult to pinpoint where Woodard was.

"From 7:13 until 11:30 you can't say where that cell phone was, can you?" asked Al Charanza.

Unnasch said based on the cell tower site information, he could give a general area, which was the northern part of Lufkin. He added that the phone call was completed on the south or southeast side of the city.

Unnasch stepped down from the stand and witness Matthew Hunt took the stand from a remote location, brought to the jury on a screen in the courtroom.

Woodard's 10-year-old nephew took the witness stand during the latter part of Thursday morning's testimony.

Prosecutor Art Bauereiss asked the how his uncle treated Zikeishun Lane.

"Like a dog," Hunt responded. "He started hitting the baby. He doesn't like all that hollering."

"What would he say to Zi (Zikeishun) when he hit him?"

"Bad words, cuss words," Hunt replied.

Hunt explained to the Bauereiss that he and Zikeishun would both stay at his grandmother, Mary Woodard's house on several occasions during the day. Bauereiss then asked Hunt how Woodard treated Zikeishun's mother.

"He would push her. He would cuss her out too," Hunt said.

Bauereiss then asked Hunt what his uncle would say to Zikeishun.

"Shut up all that crying. I don't care," Hunt responded.

Prosecutor Bauereiss then pulled out a doll and asked Hunt to pretend to be his uncle and show how he treated Zikeishun.

"I don't want to be Jock," Hunt said about his uncle.

Bauereiss explained it wasn't real, he just wanted to see what happened to Zikeishun when Woodard was around.

Hunt began hitting and punching the doll with his fists while saying, "Don't baby him."

"Did he hit Zi (Zikeishun) with his fists?", Bauereiss asked.

"Yes," Hunt replied.

"He hit him with a belt, lots. He would take my belt and whup him," Hunt said.

"Did you see Valerie hit Jock (Woodard)?", Bauereiss asked.

"No, she's too scared to," Hunt explained.

Hunt was then asked if Zi had cuts or scrapes on his body when he was dropped off at Mary Woodard's home.

"Every day he would come he would have scars on him. Jock would have red eyes", Hunt said.

Defense attorney Al Charanza asked Hunt if Zikeishun ever get hurt when they were playing outside.

"Oh yeah he did; I think he hit his head, I think he did. I remember somebody getting hurt that day," Hunt said.

Charanza said the last time Hunt lived with his grandmother was in second grade so it might be hard for him to remember everything.

Bauereiss began to question the witness again concerning Mary Woodard.

Hunt said that when authorities were about to question him, Mary Woodward would tell Hunt to lie, "so CPS wouldn't take him away."

Hunt looked at his case worker and said, "Every time you came she told me not to tell the truth, but I did," Hunt explained.

When testimony resumed Thursday afternoon, Jurors saw video testimony from Woodard's 8-year-old niece, Jakayla Ross, who explained that she is currently in foster care. Bauereiss showed her a picture of Zikeishun, and she identified it. She explained that she saw him a lot at her grandparents' house. She said her Uncle Jock or Valerie dropped him off.

"Did your Uncle Jock (Woodard) like Zi much?" Bauereiss asked Ross from off-camera.

"Not really," the little girl said with a shake of her head.

When the prosecutor asked why, Woodard's niece explained that Zikeishun would often cry without any reason.

Bauereiss then asked Ross if she had ever seen her uncle hit or discipline Zikeishun.

Woodard's niece said she saw her Uncle Jock "whup" Zikeishun with his hand and with a leather belt that had spikes on it.

"Zi would cry, and sometimes, there would be blood," Ross said.

When asked if Woodard would spank Zikeishun with anything else, Ross said he would also do it with a heavy "horse belt" that had buckles on it.

Under cross examination, Charanza asked if Ross had ever seen Mosby hit or spank Zikeishun, and Woodard's niece said no.

At one point, Bauereiss asked Ross if she thought Zikeishun was afraid of Woodard.

"Yes, sir," Ross replied, nodding.

  Woodard's niece also testified that she never saw her grandmother, Mary Woodard, hit Zikeishun.

Charanza then asked Ross if she had talked to Bauereiss or her case worker about what she was going to say in court. She said all that they told her was that they were going to take her to talk to some people at the Lufkin courthouse.

Bauereiss called ACSO Deputy B.J. Murphy back to the stand. He testified that he went to the Woodard home on the morning of Dec. 7 to pick up Zikeishun's clothes.

When Bauereiss asked the deputy if Mary Woodard had said anything about Zikeishun's condition, he replied that she had told him that the boy had been acting sick and throwing up all day.

"She said that she didn't see any bruises on Zikeishun," Murphy said.

Murphy also said that Mary Woodard said that Mosby was by herself when she picked Zikeishun up from their house the day before. He later testified that Jimmy Woodard told him a different story. He said Woodard's father said his son picked Zikeishun up from their house on Dec. 6, and that Mosby wasn't with him at the time.

Mary Woodard told the deputy that Zikeishun had thrown up on her couch.

Charanza asked Murphy if he recorded the conversations he had with the Woodards. Murphy said that he did, using the recording device on his patrol car.

"Do you remember Jimmy Woodard saying that he went to sleep at 6 or 7 p.m.," Charanza asked.

"No, sir. I don't recall," Murphy said.

The deputy added that he wasn't going to dispute what was on the recording. Murphy explained that he had only listened to the recording a few times in the past two years or so.

Charanza cued up the recording. On the recording Mary Woodard said that Zikeishun had been acting like his stomach and his feet were hurting all day.

"I know he had been holding his stomach like he was having stomach pains, but I didn't know anything like that was going on," Mary Woodard could be heard saying on the video. "He was also whining and asking to be picked up."

Under cross examination from Charanza, Murphy testified that Mary and Jimmy Woodard told him that they didn't see any sign of blood on Zikeishun that day. He also admitted that there was no blood on the boy's clothes, which he recovered from the Woodards' home.

Murphy also testified that Mary Woodard told him that Jimmy Woodard typically went to bed around 6 or 7 p.m. and that there was no way that he could have known what time Zikeishun was picked up, or who did it.

Later, Bauereiss called Davey Hill, a former ACSO investigator, back to the stand. Under questioning from the prosecutor, he said that, during his investigation, Mary Woodard told him that Mosby had dropped Zikeishun off and picked him up after she got off work. When asked if Mary Woodard had said anything about how Zikeishun had gotten hurt, Hill said that she had told him it might have been from his cousins rough-housing with him a week or so earlier.

"She told me about a time he fell off his tricycle, and she also said the red marks around his eyes could have been caused by one of his cousins hitting him with a stick," Hill said.

Hill also testified about talking to Jimmy Woodard. During his interview, he showed Jimmy Woodard pictures of Zikeishun's bruising and injuries. The prosecutor asked him to describe Jimmy Woodard's reaction.

"While he was looking through the pictures, he became really emotional," Hill said. "At one point, he looked like he was about to cry."

In response to a question from Bauereiss, Hill said that Jimmy Woodard was very emphatic when he said that Zikeishun didn't have those injuries when the boy left his house.

Jimmy Woodard told Hill that he had been lying on the couch after he got off work, and that he thought Woodard came to pick Zikeishun up from their house around 6 or 7 p.m.

Bauereiss then asked Hill about a conversation he had with Laquista Howard. She told the investigator that she had seen verbal altercations between Woodard and Mosby. He added that she told him that her brother sometimes got physical during the arguments.

"Are you sure that's what she said?" Bauereiss asked before having Hill re-read Howard's statement.

"She told me that she had witnessed Kerry physically assaulting Valerie, and that at one point, she had to separate them," Hill said.

Under cross examination, Charanza asked Hill if he remembered talking to Mosby on Dec. 9, 2010. He asked the former investigator if she had said that she wanted to clear herself, and Hill said yes.

"Did she say that she didn't want to go to jail?" Charanza asked.

"Yes, sir. I believe that's what she said," Hill said.

Mark McLin, the ACSO investigator that subpoenaed the cell phone records, testified that they attempted to map out the locations of certain calls that Woodard had made. They used a vehicle Garmin GPS device and entered the coordinates from the cell phone conversations to drive to the locations in the area north of Lufkin.

Mosby told investigators they would go down FM 2021 and go north on FM 843. McLin said the trip took about nine minutes, and that the state school was about 6 miles from Woodard and Mosby's residence on FM 843. He added that their house was about 3.9 miles from Jimmy and Mary Woodard's house.

Bauereiss said around 7 p.m. the cell phone GPS records placed Woodard at his parents' house on Ramsey Road, and McLin confirmed that. Another call came from their residence around 10 p.m., and McLin said they calculated that Woodard and Mosby left for the hospital at about 10:58 p.m. based on their driving the route at 10 mph over the posted speed limit.

Bauereiss also asked about recorded conversations that Woodard had with his mother and his current girlfriend in September 2011 while he was an inmate at the Angelina County Jail. Charanza objected, saying they were irrelevant.

However, after a review of the transcripts, Judge Barry Bryan allowed them to be entered as evidence.

"You know I'm always high, I was burning CD's," Woodard said on the recording. "I got the timeline mapped out. The laws tried to twist my words on me."

On the recording, Woodard and his mother could be heard discussing the timeline of what happened on Dec. 9, 2010. He told her, "You know where I am all the time."

Later he said, "(Expletive) this (expletive), I went and burned my CD at mama's house, and then I went to Nacogdoches."

Charanza reminded the jurors that they should rely on what they heard on the CD instead of the transcript.

During cross-examination, Charanza asked McLin if he ever went back to check on what time the Monday Night Football game that night in light of the fact that Woodard said he had gone to Nacogdoches to watch the game.

"No, sir," McLin said.

Under further questioning, McLin conceded that it could have been either Woodard or Mosby who got Zikeishun out of the car that night. He also testified that their estimated timeline could have been off if Woodard and Mosby had run any red lights on their way to the hospital.

"Based on Mr. Charanza's timeline, wouldn't that give someone even less time to abuse the child between the time he was picked up and the time he was taken to the hospital?" Bauereiss asked.

"Yes, sir," McLin said.

McLin said the only name they had for who Woodard had been hanging out with in Nacogdoches was "Boozie," a nickname. He said they didn't know the man's real name until the time jury selection had come. As a result, ACSO detectives were unable to check on Woodard's alibi.

Charanza asked McLin if he was aware that Mosby had told CPS special investigator Coy Collins that she had thrown Zikeishun against the couch, and the investigator said he knew of what Mosby had said.

Later, Bauereiss called Zachary Lane, Zikeishun's biological father, to the stand. He testified that he was a junior and Mobsy was a sophomore in high school when they started dating. Bauereiss showed him a photo of Zikeishun, and Lane gave a sad smile as he acknowledged that it was a picture of his son.

At a question about what Zikeishun liked to do, Lane said, "He liked to do a lot of things. He liked to play football, and he liked playing Playstation 2 games."

Lane testified that after they separated, he would watch Zikeishun when she attended Angelina College. Later, Mosby moved to Spring Hill in Nacogdoches. He said after Mosby started dating Woodard, he started hearing from them less and less.

CPS sent Lane a letter in March 2010, Lane said. He said he called William Barrett in Lufkin, and learned that Woodard was a sex offender.

"You don't want your child to be with no sex offender, especially a high-risk sex offender," Lane said.

Lane said that after Woodard and Mosby brought Zikeishun to his house in not long after that, he wouldn't let the little boy go back with him. He testified that Woodard and Mosby came and got Zikeishun from Lane's mother's house without his permission.

Responding to questions from Bauereiss, Lane said that he never physically abused Zikeishun and that he never saw Mosby do so either.

Bauereiss then asked if he remembered when Mosby's mother died. He replied that she died in June 2010. Lane attended the funeral for Mosby's mother, and testified that he saw bruises on Mosby's arms and legs at that time.

"Did the child support order give primary custody to Valerie?" Charanza asked on cross examination, adding that Lane was in violation of a court order the whole time Zikeishun was with him. Lane said yes and acknowledged that he was in violation of the order.

"Is it fair to say that you do not like Kerry Woodard?" Charanza asked.

"Yes, sir," Lane replied.

Later, Charanza asked Lane if he had ever called Woodard and threatened him. Lane responded that it was the other way around, and that Woodard had, in fact, threatened him.

"If you're ever in a situation where you're a parent again, would you do the same thing," Bauereiss said. "Would you do the same thing, not let your son go back with a sex offender?"

"No, sir," Lane said.

Lane testified that on Father's Day of that year, he called Mosby to ask questions about Zikeishun's medicines. He said during the conversation, Woodard cussed him out several times, and said he was going to come to San Augustine and hurt him. Lane then testified that Woodard called him back at least 20 times that night.

After Oct. 10, 2010, Lane had no idea where his son was. Responding to questions from Bauereiss, he said that he would have gone to get Zikeishun back from Woodard and Mosby immediately if he had known.

"It's probably good that I didn't know where they were," Lane said. "If I'd gone there and seen bruises on Zikeishun, there's no telling what I might've done."

Following the afternoon break, Melissa Lathan, an investigator with CPS, took the stand. She said they interviewed two of Mary Woodard's grandchildren at their school. She interviewed Jimmy Woodard at the Woodard residence.

She recounted her conversation with Jimmy Woodard about what had happened on Dec. 6, 2010. When they first started talking to him, he was "very forthcoming." However, after Mary Woodard got home, he became more evasive. In addition, Mary Woodard kept coming in and interrupting the conversation even though the investigators had told her that they would like to talk to her husband alone.

"We thought that was a little odd," Lathan said.

When the CPS investigators talked to Mary Woodard, she told them he had been saying that his feet and his stomach were hurting all day. Responding to questions from Bauereiss, Lathan said that Mary Woodard told her that Zikeishun had probably been hurt while he was playing with his cousins. Lathan said Woodard told her the only mark that she remembered seeing on Zikeishun was the red mark under his eye.

In addition, Lathan said that Mary Woodard was vague about the timing of what occurred that day. The CPS investigator also said that Mary Woodard had told her that Mosby had both dropped Zikeishun off and picked him up after work.

Under cross examination from Charanza, Lathan admitted that Mary Woodard told her that her son usually stayed in the car and that Mosby was typically the person that dropped off or picked up Zikeishun. The defense attorney also got Lathan to confirm that there is a 30-minute overlap between the various shifts at the state school.

Lathan said that one of the Woodwards' grandsons, said that Kerry and Bobby, Woodard's sister, weren't allowed over at the house. Initially, the boy told Lathan that Zikeishun wasn't at Jimmy and Mary Woodard's house. Later, he told Lathan that Zikeishun had fallen off the porch.

"When I asked him about it, he said, 'That porch that my grandma told you about," Lathan said. "At that point, I hadn't even spoken to Mary Woodard. It really seemed like he had been coached on what to say."

Bauereiss played another recording of a conversation between Woodard and his mother that was made while he was in jail. He rambled, laughed, and talked nonsense for a while. She asked if she needed to talk to the newspaper. Woodard said no, and that she needed to go talk to his attorney's secretary about giving a "witness statement."

"You're gonna make me kick you in your momma booty," Woodard said on the recording at one point when it seemed like his mother didn't understand what he was asking her to do.

Later, Woodard said if his mother helped him, "I can get my story straight and get on up out of here." A few minutes later, he said he didn't want to go into much detail on the phone because he knew that the call was probably being recorded.

"Don't talk about this to anyone else but those three people in Nacogdoches," Woodard said on the recording.

Further into the recording, Woodard again said that it was important for him to get the story straight because it was a serious matter.

"Make sure that they verify that I was with my homies that day," Woodard said on the recording.

With the exception of one last exhibit, Bauereiss rested his case at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.