Worse things than death -- David Woods' childhood

Dateline: Wed 02 May 2007

With all respect and sympathy to the family of Juan Placenia, murdered in 1984 by David Woods in Garrett, it appears the family will get their wish: a district court judge has rejected Woods' claim that execution by lethal injection would cause suffering. He is slated to die early Friday.

No surprises here, according to Paula Sites, assistant executive director of the Indiana Public Defenders Council. Last week, in an email, she predicted what would happen to Woods, who has been incarcerated since the age of 19, when he killed Placenia, stabbing him 21 times during a robbery:

"I don't see the governor commuting David Woods' sentence -- nothing sexy about it -- no new evidence or mental illness -- just the same tragic story all over again. It's as classic a case of how to murder the soul of a child as I've seen, replete with siblings who got some intervention and turned out okay to help prove how easy and even cheap it can be to help kids. David could have used a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem."

Here is more information on Woods' childhood, from a recent story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette regarding testimony from those seeking clemency for Woods:

"Those testifying on Woods' behalf used the full 90 minutes of allotted time. Siblings and relatives of Woods told horrific childhood stories.

"There was the time Woods' mother allegedly killed her daughter's pet rabbit and fed it to the child and also backhanded her off a porch and then ran to take a picture of her writhing in pain on the sidewalk

summer.

"As for Woods himself, there was testimony that his stepfather would use the boy in burglaries by shoving him into small windows so he could unlock the front door. And his mother would leave the toddler at home alone while she went to a local pub.

"She would intimidate us. You either did what she said or you knew you were going to get it," sister Lora Litzinberg said. "Today, when she tells me she loves me, it almost hurts because I wanted to hear those words so much."

"Becky Darrow, a local guidance counselor who eventually took Litzinberg into her home, said Woods was, "a victim of his environment, and I don't think he deserves to die."

The Indianapolis Star, which reported today on the judge's decision to not block the exeuction, noted: "Gov. Mitch Daniels has not announced a clemency decision, though the state Parole Board unanimously recommended against it last week."

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