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Man Sentenced in 1985 Slaying of Parents

April 23, 1996|PAUL H. JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After professing his innocence in a tearful, rambling 20-minute courtroom speech, Neil Woodman was sentenced Monday to 25 years to life for his role in the 1985 Yom Kippur murder of his parents in a Brentwood garage.

"I'm guilty of a lot of things--stupidity, loyalty and blindness. . . . I want my sisters and my brother Wayne to know I did not do this," Woodman, 52, said before he was cut short by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry.

Woodman was convicted in January of second-degree murder and conspiracy in the shooting death of his parents, Gerald and Vera Woodman. The couple were gunned down Sept. 25, 1985, while parking their Mercedes after a dinner marking the end of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

The case gained notoriety as the "Ninja murders" because a witness confused a black-hooded sweat shirt worn by one of the assailants with the outfit used by Japanese martial arts warriors.

Neil Woodman's younger brother, Stewart, was convicted in 1990 of first-degree murder in the case and is serving a life sentence. He was spared a possible death sentence by agreeing to testify against Neil.

Neil Woodman and his defense lawyers have maintained that Stewart was the culprit in the killings and that Neil had no knowledge that his brother was planning to kill their parents.

"He's obviously a very sick person," Neil Woodman said of his brother in court Monday. "He has hated me for the last 30 years."

Prosecutors Monday dismissed Neil Woodman's last-ditch claims of innocence and said they were satisfied with the sentence, which puts to rest the 11-year-old case. Neil Woodman is already serving a life sentence on federal charges of racketeering in connection with the murders.

"He hated his parents and participated completely in the murder of his parents," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Dixon.

The two brothers hired Steven Homick, a former Los Angeles police officer, and his brother Robert Homick, a Westside attorney, as hit men.

The Woodman brothers expected to collect $506,000 from their mother's insurance policy. Prosecutors argued that Neil and Stewart Woodman needed the money to prop up a failing Chatsworth-based plastic company their father had founded.

In June 1993, the Homicks were convicted of first-degree murder. Robert Homick was sentenced to life in prison, and Steven Homick was sentenced to death.

Defense lawyer Gerald Chaleff said Monday that although he didn't agree with the outcome of the trial, he thought Neil Woodman's sentence was "just," noting that both brothers are expected to be in prison for the rest of their lives.

"I believe this is an example of a great tragedy," Chaleff said of the murders.

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