By Gari Voss
The recent 6-day homicide trial of the People v. Nolan Woodworth led by Prosecuting Attorney Myrene Koch began on February 14, 2023 in Judge Roberts Kengis’ Allegan County 48th Circuit Court. The proceedings concluded on Feb. 23rd after the jury deliberated for 45 minutes and returned with a guilty verdict to 1st Degree Murder and 3 additional charges related to firearms.
Just as Mon., Nov. 2, 2020 was to turn into Tuesday, Cody Cline, 35, was in the driveway of his home near the intersection of 30th Street and 130th Avenue in Monterey Township. Cline was shot in the back of the head then run over and dragged by the vehicle of person who came to visit.
When the Allegan County Sheriff’s officers arrived, they found Cline in the driveway suffering from fatal injuries.
Police learned that the shooting occurred about midnight. The suspect had fled after the shooting, but the vehicle was identified.
The responding officers were able to get the description of the suspect and vehicle which was shared with other area agencies. The vehicle was located when the suspect crashed into a tree near 134th Avenue and 24th Street. Nolan Curtis Woodworth, 27, was taken into custody in Grand Rapids and the investigation continued.
On Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, Woodworth was arraigned in Allegan County on a charge of open murder.
Wed., May 26, 2022, Woodworth was brought before the 48th District Circuit Judge Kengis via video hearing. At that time, discussion ensued between the prosecutor’s office and the defense attorneys.
The prosecuting team offered Woodworth the option to plead guilty to second-degree murder. Woodworth turned it down.
Woodworth’s defense team offered a plea of guilty to manslaughter and a habitual offender charge. The prosecutor’s office rejected that offer.
After additional discussion, both teams determined that Woodworth could not claim self-defense because the Michigan Self-Defense Act states that an individual may not plead self-defense unless it is absolutely imperative to prevent his or her own death, great bodily harm or sexual assault.
Prosecutors believed that Woodworth was committing other crimes that included the possession of firearms and methamphetamine when he had the altercation with Cline.
The decision on May 26th was to have the issue settled in a jury trial per Woodworth’s request.
The trial that began on Feb. 14, 2023, lasted six day. The jury’s deliberation took a mere 29 minutes as they felt the evidence presented was clear. The guilty verdict was given for 1st Degree Murder along with additional charges for weapons felony firearm and weapons felony possession plus habitual offender charges.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 27, 2023.