Wood murder charges changed

Published 11:18 am Wednesday, March 26, 2008

VIDALIA — The Ferriday teen accused of triple murder was arraigned in court Wednesday after the charges against him were changed.

The Concordia Parish District Attorney’s office amended the charges against Connor Wood, 16, from three counts of first-degree murder to three counts of second-degree murder.

The amendment was made after consulting with a Concordia Parish grand jury, Assistant District Attorney Brad Burget said.

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So, for the fourth time in a year, Connor Wood pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against him.

Wood was indicted by the grand jury in May 2007 on charges of three counts of first-degree murder. He later changed that plea to “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

After a sanity panel found him fit to stand trial, Wood was re-arraigned and re-entered the “not guilty” plea to the first-degree murder charges.

First-degree murder is defined as a killing that took place when the offender had the intent to kill or seriously harm more than one person.

Second-degree murder is defined as killing with the intent to kill. Second-degree murder is punishable by life in prison.

The amendment to the charges should not affect Wood’s April 14 trial date, Burget said.

“The defendant entered a plea of ‘not guilty,’ not ‘not guilty by reason of insanity,’” Burget said. “The mental issue will not be an issue for the jury at this time.”

At the Wednesday proceedings, Wood’s attorney Paul Lemke also requested the court declare Wood indigent in regard to fees associated with obtaining copies of certain court transcripts.

“He is incarcerated, is 16 years old and has no income,” Lemke said. “No one accepts him as a dependent.”

Judge Leo Boothe said that rather than declaring Wood indigent, he would have the transcripts prepared for Lemke.

Wood is charged with the March 14, 2007, deaths of his parents, John and Geraldine Wood, and his 16-year-old neighbor Matthew Whittington.

The Seventh District Judicial Court recently ruled that statements Wood made to investigators confessing to the crime — though the stories in the confessions contradict each other — could be used as evidence at trial.