WARREN - A judge in Elko, Nev., says she will have to read the complete court records involving two convicted killers from Warren before deciding if one of the men is entitled to a re-trial in a 13-year-old murder.
Both Warren men - Jerry E. White, 34, formerly of Austin Avenue S.W., and Michael Woomer, 36, formerly of Kenilworth Avenue S.E. - were on their way to visit someone in California when they were charged in the murder of a 44-year-old cook / caterer, who was robbed of $900 after he was beaten with an aluminum baseball bat.
White was convicted by a jury in November 2000 of swinging the bat that killed Ramon Navarro. He was sentenced to life behind bars with no chance of parole.
Woomer opted for a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors and agreed to testify against White. In exchange, he received a life sentence with parole eligibility after 20 years.
Friday though, Woomer testified in Elko District Court that he lied and that he swung the ball bat and White was completely innocent of the crime.
''I've been eaten up by it. To be in a place like I am for so long and have an innocent person (in prison). The truth had to come out,'' Woomer told Judge Nancy Porter, according to the Elko Daily Free Press.
Both White and Woomer were first arrested outside Elko by the Nevada Highway Patrol for having fictitious license plates. The highway patrolman noted at that time an aluminum baseball bat in the car and that White was wearing a black batting glove.
Both men were directed to Elko - a mining town in northeast Nevada - to take care of the license plate problem. Destitute, the two went to the Elko police, who directed them to a charitable organization which arranged a room for the night.
The next day, both men tried to sell their car, and unsuccessful, were directed to another inn, where they met and began drinking with Navarro, who was known to flash his money around, according to testimony.
All three went to Navarro's home, where White killed Navarro with the bat, according to prosecutors, and was seen walking from the home, bat in hand, "with something red on it," a neighbor told police.
Navarro's body was discovered by his roommate, and the bloody baseball bat was found nearby in "the backyard of a Third Street brothel."
Prosecutors said White and Woomer were then traced to a nearby town, flashing money, buying drinks and drugs, and "associating with teenage girls."
Prosecutors said Woomer awoke in a motel room the next day, abandoned by White, with only a teenage girl for company and again destitute. He again went to the law for traveler's assistance, but this time was arrested on the Elko murder warrant.
White surrendered to California authorities two days later and was returned to Nevada for trial.
Now though, Woomer says White got sick when they partied with Navarro. He says White took his shoes off and went to sleep in another room. When Navarro left the room to use the bathroom, Woomer said he went outside and grabbed the bat, hitting Navarro repeatedly with the intention of robbing him.
It's a similar recantation that Woomer testified to at a previous hearing in 2011 before another judge. That judge died, however, before making a decision on White's request for a new trial.
White's attorney Debra Bookout of Las Vegas says her client is entitled to a new trial. She says DNA evidence corroborates Woomer's testimony and skin scrapings under the victim fingernails match Woomer.
Prosecutors say Woomer has lied many times and they still describe him as the ''lookout'' while White committed the murder. One prosecutor said Woomer is simply trying to protect his own reputation among the prison population and downplay himself as a ''snitch.''