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Attorney wants to suppress statements made by woman accused in Spring Brook murder

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE —  An attorney defending a woman accused in the March murder of Alexander Woodworth in the Town of Spring Brook plans to file motions to suppress statements made by the defendant.

Aaron Nelson, the attorney for 20-year-old Ezra McCandless, told Judge James Peterson during a hearing in Dunn County Circuit Court July 9 he plans to file motions regarding statements made by McCandless, the Miranda warning, and the reliability of statements McCandless has made.

Woodworth’s body was found in a car identified as belonging to McCandless in the Town of Spring Brook March 23. According to the preliminary autopsy report, the 24-year-old Woodworth had been stabbed 16 times.

The owner of a residence in the Town of Spring Brook called 911 the afternoon of March 22 when a young woman came to his house with torn clothes, muddy pants, no shoes and blood on her face and hands.


As of the morning of July 9, Woodworth’s body had not yet been released to his family.

During a court hearing April 25, when asked about releasing Woodworth’s body, Nelson said he did not know if he was going to ask for an independent autopsy and objected to the release of the body.

At a May 22 court hearing, Judge Peterson asked if Nelson had yet made a decision about requesting an independent autopsy, and Nelson told the court he had not yet made a decision.

At the July 9 hearing, Judge Peterson again asked if Nelson planned to request an independent autopsy, and Nelson told the court he did not intend to request a second autopsy.

Judge Peterson then asked if the state could release Woodworth’s body to his family.

Nelson said the question of whether the state could release the body was “not a legal question for me to answer.”

Nelson reiterated he was not asking for an independent autopsy.

“What the state does is up to the state and the court,” Nelson said.

The defense is not asking for another autopsy, and the defense has not filed a motion to preserve evidence, noted Assistant State Attorney General Richard Dufour.

The “government” has evidence, but the defense has not filed a motion to preserve evidence, Nelson said, adding the state must make its own choices regarding the evidence.

Judge Peterson pointed out if the state releases the body, then Nelson could ask for sanctions because the state has disposed of evidence.

If the state is worried, then the state should not release the body, Nelson said.

Dufour said he was informing Nelson and the court he intended to release the body to the family.


Nelson said because of the seriousness of the case, he was expecting the initial motion hearing to last two to four hours and asked if the state intended to offer statements.

“Oh, yeah. We’re going to offer statements,” Dufour replied, adding that after he has seen the motions, he would have a better idea about the issues.

Nelson wondered if the prosecution planned to use statements McCandless had made prior to the homicide.

Dufour pointed out the prosecution is not obligated to tell the defense beforehand what the prosecution plans to use during a trial and that the court would determine the admissibility of statements outside the presence of the jury.


Nelson told the court he did not intend to ask for a speedy trial and anticipated being ready to go to trial later in the winter or in the early spring of 2019.

Nelson also said he was anticipating McCandless would change her plea, and he expected the trial would last three weeks.

At the May court hearing, McCandless, who is charged with one Class A felony of first degree intentional homicide, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Alexander Woodworth.

First-degree intentional homicide carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Judge Peterson scheduled a motion hearing in the McCandless case from 8:30 a.m. to noon August 23.

The deadline for filing motions is July 20 at the close of the business day, and the deadline for changing McCandless’s plea is October 1 if the defense intends to go forward with a January of 2019 trial.

Bail was set at $250,000 cash during a court hearing March 28.

McCandless remained in custody at the Dunn County Jail at the time of the July 9 court hearing. 

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