BROTHER SENTENCED IN '85 MURDER FOR HIRE OF BRENTWOOD PARENTS.
One of two brothers convicted in the murder-for-hire slayings of their parents was sentenced Monday to 25 years to life in prison.
Neil Woodman, 52, is the first of the Woodman brothers to be sentenced in a Los Angeles courtroom for the so-called ``Ninja Murders,'' a title drawn from a witness who mistook hooded sweat shirts worn by the killers in 1985 for black martial arts attire.
Before his sentencing, Woodman gave a 20-minute statement in which he proclaimed his innocence and said he remained ``loyal'' to his younger brother, Stewart Woodman, 46.
Stewart Woodman was the main witness against Neil after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for his testimony. The younger brother is awaiting sentencing.
``He still maintains he is innocent,'' said defense attorney Gerald Chaleff. ``He believes his brother set him up to be the fall guy.''
Monday's sentencing brought a close to the latest chapter of an 11-year saga of money, power and murder, a tale that spawned a made-for-television movie and book.
In a retrial, Woodman was convicted Jan. 22 of two counts of murder and a sole conspiracy charge in his retrial forthe deaths of his parents, Gerald and Vera Woodman, 67 and 63.
The couple was slain Sept. 25, 1985, in the underground garage at their Brentwood condominium after a family gathering celebrating the end of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
Prosecutors argued that the brothers solicited the killing of their parents after a bitter battle over the family's Chatsworth plastics company, Manchester Products.
Six months after the slayings, the brothers were arrested on suspicion of hiring professional assassins to kill their parents so they could collect a $506,000 insurance policy on their mother's life.
Prosecutors said the brothers needed the money to save the failing plastics firm.
In a statement to Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, Neil Woodman said Monday that he ``had no idea what was going on'' and that he was not told anything about plans to kill his parents.
``I want the court to know, as I sit here, I'm not guilty of this crime,'' Neil Woodman said.
At the time of their arrests, the Woodman brothers were living the lives of successful businessmen, using the money from the policy to support their lavish lifestyles.
Neil lived in a big house in Encino, while Stewart lived in the gated community of Hidden Hills. They played golf regularly at a Tarzana country club and their well-heeled wives lunched at elegant Beverly Hills restaurants.
Two other brothers were arrested for their hit men roles in the murders: Robert Homick, a Westside attorney, and Steven Homick, a former Los Angeles police officer.
Steven Homick, the triggerman, was sentenced to death; his brother is serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Both Woodman brothers also were convicted of federal charges of crossing state lines to orchestrate a murder for profit.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Apr 23, 1996|
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