Woodard goes to prison, but legal troubles continue - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Localnews

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Woodard goes to prison, but legal troubles continue

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Posted: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 12:00 am

At his own request, Joseph Woodard is off to prison to begin his 25-year to life sentence for the murder of Bradley Eaton during a botched home-invasion in 2006.

But not before Judge Connie Contes ordered him to pay $14,424.16 to cover the funeral costs for Eaton, who was 20 when he died from a single gunshot wound.

Still, Woodard’s legal troubles are far from over. The 21-year-old also is charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Police say that after the Chandler home-invasion, Woodard, along with Sergio Acosta, then 19, and his older brother Juan Acosta, 24, returned to Ahwatukee Foothills where they lived, and over several months told friends about Eaton’s murder.

Shortly after Woodard was arrested by Chandler police and booked into jail for murder, police said he realized that they knew things about the case that he suspected his friends must have told detectives.

Prosecutors say that Woodard spoke with a family acquaintance who was also in prison, and eventually asked him to kill the two friends, Dane Ulett and Nate Charles, who he thought had “snitched” to police.

What he didn’t know, was that the acquaintance, Jesse Flores, was an informer for the police and was passing on information from conversations with Woodard on both Eaton’s murder and Woodard’s hopes to kill his two friends so they couldn’t testify against him, officials said.

After a four-week trial, it took a jury two hours to find Woodard guilty of murder. His attorney has appealed the verdict.

A hearing on Woodard’s conspiracy to commit murder charge will take place this month.

According to Deputy County Attorney Hillary Weinberg, the conspiracy trial could be scheduled in late summer or fall.

Sergio Acosta, who drove the car in the home invasion, was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the murder of Eaton, after he agreed to a second-degree murder plea in return for testifying against Woodard. Police are still searching for Juan Acosta, who is believed to be hiding in Mexico.

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