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Man Testifies He and Brother Hired 2 to Execute Parents in Brentwood

January 06, 1993|SOMINI SENGUPTA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an attempt to save himself from the gas chamber, a man testified Tuesday that he and his older brother hired two men to execute their parents in 1985.

Prosecutors in the case have agreed to grant Stewart Woodman, 42, life in prison without the possibility of parole if they are satisfied with his testimony against his brother, Neil, 48, and against Steven and Robert Homick.

Stewart Woodman was convicted in 1990, but sentencing was delayed after he agreed to testify against the remaining three defendants.

The Homicks, Woodman testified, were hired to murder the Brentwood couple in their underground garage as they were coming home from a Yom Kippur dinner.

Prosecutors have long argued that Neil and Stewart Woodman killed their parents for their mother's half-million-dollar insurance policy.

During his trial, Woodman maintained that he was innocent and blamed his brother, Neil, for the murder of Gerald and Vera Woodman. But, during four hours of testimony Tuesday, he said he and Neil met with Steven Homick in 1983 and discussed the killings.

Woodman said he and his brother told Homick that "there was a problem (and) we wanted to get rid of the problem." Homick then responded that he could "put an end to it" Woodman testified.

He testified that about two weeks later, the three men met again and agreed to pay Homick--who later enlisted his brother, Robert, in the scheme--$40,000 to $50,000 to murder Gerald and Vera Woodman.

"We said we were going to go through with it," said Woodman, as Neil shook his head vigorously from behind the defense table.

After the second meeting, Neil offered to handle the negotiations with Steven Homick, Woodman testified.

"I had a problem handling it because of Mom, (although) I didn't do anything to stop it," Woodman said.

Woodman, who once lived in the exclusive Hidden Hills neighborhood, said the brothers became pitted against their father 10 years ago over control of the family's plastics-manufacturing company.

Woodman said his father did not own a share of the Chatsworth-based Manchester Products but operated it until 1980 when he suffered a heart attack. Stewart said he and Neil worked in the firm and owned quarter shares while their mother owned 50%.

Gerald and Vera Woodman threatened to liquidate the business in 1982 rather than turn it over to their sons. Eventually, Stewart Woodman said he and Neil bought out their mother's share and fired their father and a younger brother.

Out of spite, Gerald started his own plastics company to compete with Manchester Products, Woodman testified. Stewart said he and Neil then cut off relations with their parents, forbidding Gerald and Vera from even seeing their grandchildren.

"I knew that my father wanted his company to go bankrupt and make our company go bankrupt and then start all over again as a family," Woodman said. "That was our father's way of getting us back together."

Woodman acknowledged that he felt angry at his father and betrayed by his mother and wanted them dead. He testified that Neil felt the same way.

But even after the brothers had agreed to hire Homick to carry out the killings, Woodman testified, "I don't think either of us believed that (he) would do something like that."

Stewart Woodman was convicted in state court of murder and conspiracy to kill Gerald and Vera Woodman. Also convicted was Anthony Majoy of Reseda, who authorities said served as a lookout for the Homicks in the Sept. 25, 1985, slaying. Majoy is serving a life sentence in state prison without the possibility of parole.

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