Man sentenced to life for murder in Jackson Co.

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Jackson County jury has sentenced John Louis Woods to life in prison, sparing him the death penalty in the brutal murder of Derek Williams.

Woods also was sentenced to seven years in prison for commercial burglary.

The jury convicted Woods Friday of capital murder in the March 12, 2005, beating death. He was sentenced Saturday.

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Kerry Johnson and Bryan Carter have pleaded guilty to manslaughter for their roles in Williams’ murder and will be sentenced later.

Woods was convicted after testimony painted a wild camping trip in March 2005.

Woods and Williams were joined on the camping trip by Johnson and Carter. Woods, Williams and Carter were roommates.

Woods testified Friday that the four arrived at the campsite near Bluff Creek Water Park shortly before nightfall.

Later that night, he testified that the quartet left the campsite and broke into the store for cigarettes, beer and snacks.

After they returned to the campsite, Woods testified the four drank about six cases of beer in four hours as they sat around talking.

Woods testified that the talk turned to women and sex. He testified that Williams said he would like to have sex with Woods’ sister.

“I was enraged,” Woods testified Friday. He walked off from the campsite, he said, paced and came back and struck Williams several times in the head with a metal bar, killing him.

According to testimony, Woods, Johnson and Carter then loaded Williams in the back of Williams’ truck and carried the body to Mobile County where they left the body at a trash dumpsite.