The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information; however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes.
WOODEL, Thomas (W/M)
Tenth Judicial Circuit, Polk County Case # 9700047
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Robert E. Pyle
Resentencing Judge: The Honorable Susan Roberts
Attorney, Trial: Allen Ross Smith & Gilberto Colon Jr. – Private
Attorney, Resentencing: Gil Colon – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Robert Moeller – Assistant Public Defender
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Marie-Louise S. Parmer – CCRC-M
Date of Offense: 12/31/96
Date of Sentence: 01/26/99
Circumstances of Offense:
On December 31, 1996, 79-year-old Clifford Moody and his 74-year-old wife Bernice Moody were found dead. The couple resided in a mobile home trailer on lot 533 at Outdoor Resorts of America in Polk County. The Moodys owned an adjoining trailer in lot 532, which was sometimes rented. The trailer was in the process of being cleaned and prepared to be rented.
The Moodys were found dead in the trailer on lot 532 a little after 1:00 p.m. Clifford Moody was found lying on his back in the dining room area. His underwear and pants had been pulled down below his knees. The medical examiner testified that Clifford Moody died from internal bleeding caused by eight stab wounds.
Bernice Moody’s body was found on a bed in the back of the trailer. She had on no clothing, except for one sock. On the floor next to the bed was a nightgown and underwear tied in a knot. Pieces of a porcelain toilet tank lid were discovered underneath her. The medical examiner testified that Bernice died in the early morning hours of December 31, 1996. She received 56 cut/stab wounds. She also had blunt trauma injuries to her head, fractured nasal bones and a slit jugular vein. Many of her cut/stab wounds were located on her right arm, which suggested the wounds were received in self-defense. No semen was detected on Bernice Moody.
On January 3, 1997, detectives searched the Outdoor Resorts dumpsters, retrieving three garbage bags containing pieces of the porcelain toilet tank lid, Clifford Moody’s wallet containing his identification and credit cards, bloody socks, and paperwork bearing the address of lot 301 and the names of Thomas Woodel and his son, Christopher Woodel.
Detectives went to lot 301 where Thomas Woodel resided with his girlfriend, son and other relatives. Upon searching the premises, detectives discovered the knife used in the murder wedged between a dresser and wall.
Detectives then questioned Thomas Woodel, and he confessed to murdering both Clifford and Bernice Moody. Woodel claimed that he had never previously met the couple. After drinking with friends in a lot near his work, he walked to Outdoor Resorts. He admitted to entering the trailer on lot 532 in the morning of December 31, 1996, with the intention of asking Bernice Moody for the time. She was alone in the trailer and upon seeing him, attacked him with a knife. Woodel confessed to stabbing Bernice Moody several times and hitting her over the head with a porcelain toilet tank lid one to three times, shattering the lid.
In his confession, Woodel declared that Clifford Moody returned home as he was leaving the trailer. Woodel admitted to murdering him. Afterwards, he collected the pieces of the shattered toilet lid, knife, and Clifford Moody’s wallet and hid the items in a bucket. Woodel also said in his confession that he threw some items into a canal in the mobile home park, threw some items away in his garbage, and hid the knife behind a dresser.
01/16/97 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Clifford Moody)
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Bernice Moody)
Count III: Armed Robbery
Count IV: Armed Burglary
12/04/98 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment.
12/07/98 Jury recommended death by a vote of 9 to 3 for the murder of Clifford Moody and 12 to 0 vote for the murder of Bernice Moody.
01/26/99 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Clifford Moody) – Death
Count II: First-Degree Murder (Bernice Moody) – Death
Count III: Armed Robbery – Life
Count IV: Armed Burglary – Life
12/01/01 The Florida Supreme Court affirmed Woodel’s convictions, but remanded the case for resentencing.
07/19/04 Upon resentencing, a new advisory jury, by a 7 to 5 majority, voted for the imposition of the death penalty for the murder of Bernice Moody.
07/01/05 The defendant was resentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Life
Count II: First-Degree Murder – Death
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
804 So. 2d 316 (Fla. 2001)
03/18/99 Appeal filed
12/20/01 FSC affirmed the convictions, but vacated Woodel’s two death sentences and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for a new penalty phase proceeding.
01/22/02 Mandate issued
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal, Resentencing
985 So.2d 524
07/27/05 Appeal filed
05/01/08 FSC affirmed the disposition of the State Circuit Court
05/16/08 Motion for Rehearing filed
06/26/08 Rehearing denied
07/14/08 Mandate issued
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
129 S.Ct. 607
09/24/08 Petition filed
11/17/08 Petition denied
Circuit Court – 3.851 Motion
11/06/09 3.851 filed
04/16/10 Amended 3.851 filed
On 03/18/99, Woodel filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. Woodel contended that he was denied due process of law and effective assistance of counsel. He argued that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by the trial court completing the penalty phase in one day. Woodel also argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove his guilt and that error occurred in his indictment being constructively amended in order to submit the felony-murder theory to the jury. Woodel contended that the court erred in refusing to grant a mistrial after evidence that the state presented in their opening statement was held inadmissible. His final arguments were that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the killings took place during the acts of burglary, or that the victims were vulnerable due to age or disability, and that the court did not give proper treatment to the mitigating circumstances. On 12/20/01, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions, but vacated Woodel’s two death sentences and remanded the case to the Circuit Court for a new penalty phase.
On 07/01/05, Woodel was resentenced to death for Count II of the original conviction of the murder of Bernice Moody.
On 07/27/05, Woodel filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court. Woodel contended the Circuit Court’s resentencing of death, citing the following issues: (1) the court erred in excusing for cause two jurors who were not sufficiently fluent in English to participate in Woodel’s penalty trial without the aid of an interpreter, in violation of the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and Article I, sections 2, 9, 16, and 22 of the Constitution of the state of Florida, (2) the appellant’s jury should not have been permitted to hear and consider irrelevant and prejudicial testimony from state witness Arthur White, (3) the evidence presented was insufficient to prove that Bernice Moody was particularly vulnerable due to advanced age or disability, (4) the sentence of death is not proportionally warranted, (5) the appellant is entitled to life imprisonment because the Florida death penalty statute violated his due process right and right to a jury trial, which requires that a death-qualifying aggravating circumstance must be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, and (6) execution by lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. On 05/01/08, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the State Circuit Court’s disposition of the sentence of death. On 05/16/08, Woodel filed a Motion for Rehearing, which was denied on 06/26/08. On 07/14/08, The Florida Supreme Court issued the mandate in this case.
On 09/24/08, Woodel filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. This petition was denied on 11/17/08.
On 11/06/09, Woodel filed a 3.851 Motion in the circuit court, which is pending. An amended 3.851 Motion was filed on 04/16/10.
POSS OF CONTRABAND
FLORIDA STATE PRISON
Report Date: 12/01/04 DDK
Approved: 06/30/08 RM
Updated: 05/04/10 MJH