Forensics expert: Paso Robles murder suspect had bloody socks, mental services business card in truck

John Woody, 29, of San Jose has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of Martin McWilliams, 46, of Paso Robles.
John Woody, 29, of San Jose has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the murder of Martin McWilliams, 46, of Paso Robles.

A Northern California man who is accused of stabbing a stranger to death at a Paso Robles laundry last year had a business card from the Sacramento mental health department in his vehicle, according to court testimony Tuesday.

John F. Woody Jr., 29, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to first-degree murder charges. 

According to the District Attorney’s Office, on March 6, 2011, he stabbed Martin McWilliams 30 times. McWilliams, a father of two from Paso Robles, was washing clothes at the Paso Robles Laundromat when Woody allegedly entered and attacked McWilliams without provocation.

During testimony in Woody’s trial Tuesday, Jeanine West, a forensic specialist for San Luis Obispo County, said she found several items in Woody’s truck the day after the murder, including a pair of bloody socks, a worship manual from a church in San Jose, the business card and a guide to mental health services from Sacramento.

Woody was allegedly driving through Paso Robles, en route to Mexico to find work as a landscaper, when he ran out of gas. His attorney, Ken Cirisan, has argued that he was hearing voices before he approached McWilliams, who he thought was the source of the voices.

After allegedly stabbing McWilliams, Woody drove off in his truck, according to officials. Around 8:30 the next morning, he called 911 and suggested he wanted to turn himself in.

During the call, played for jurors Tuesday, Woody began, “I would like to, uh, report an incident that happened the other night. Uh, I’m not really sure where I’m at, but I would like to go to the police station.”

The call got disconnected shortly thereafter.

Around that time, Wanda Hartness, a motorist from Templeton, was driving to work in Atascadero when she heard a description of the suspect on the radio. While still listening to the announcement, she saw Woody driving on Highway 101.

She called her mother, gave her Woody’s license plate number and asked her mother to call police.

Woody allegedly stopped at an Atascadero bank soon afterward and attempted to withdraw money, even though he didn’t have an account there. A few minutes later, as he walked out of the bank, Nicole Canby, then an officer with the Atascadero Police Department, spotted his vehicle, which matched the description of the pickup Hartness had spotted. 

Canby said she found Woody walking and said she wanted to talk to him.

Initially, he was difficult to understand. Then, Canby said, “He looked at me, and said, ‘I need to go to jail.’ ”

Woody placed his hands on Canby’s car without being asked.

“His behavior to me was bizarre,” Canby said.

Woody, who allegedly was not wearing shoes when the murder was committed, has had a history of mental health issues, Cirisan said. But Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan said Woody — who had recently acquired a vehicle and a commercial truck driving license — was in control of his actions.

The prosecution’s case is expected to last through the week. More than 40 people are listed as potential witnesses, including McWilliams’ wife, Michelle, and Woody’s father, John F. Woody Sr.

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