FARIBAULT, Minn. - A prison inmate has been found guilty of hatching a plot to kill the County Attorney who helped put him behind bars.
Rice County jurors found found John Stephen Woodward guilty of hiring someone to kill Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, District Judge Rex Stacey, and injure a former drug associate who testified against him.
Woodward was acquitted of first degree assault.
A criminal complaint issued by the Rice County Attorney in September of 2012 details how prosecutors say Woodward tried to hire another inmate, Thomas Ray Jackson, to kill Backstrom when Jackson was released from the Faribault Correctional Facility in December of that year. Investigators say Jackson was promised a total of $10k for Backstrom's death.
Woodward was angry with Backstrom, his neighbor, after the County Attorney alerted authorities to drug traffic in and out of Woodward's home. The investigation led to Woodard being sent to prison.
Jackson eventually went to authorities with the plot, and they used him to gain evidence that will be used to prosecute Woodward. The criminal complaint says Woodward told Jackson Backstrom's route home, the time he arrives, the location of the hit, and other details he would need to commit murder. He provided a map with key locations.
Investigators eventually equipped Jackson with a wire to tape conversations between he and Woodward. In those tapes the men discuss the plot to kill Backstrom as well as plans to murder Judge Stacey and assault and injure a key female witness in Woodward's drug case.
Woodward was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit premeditated first degree murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit first degree assault.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )