Inmate charged with conspiracy to kill Dakota County attorney, judge
A former Rice County inmate, now incarcerated in the Minnesota
Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights, has been charged with
conspiracy to murder Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom and
Dakota County District Judge Rex Stacey.
The Rice County Attorney's office on Wednesday charged John Stephen
Woodward, 47, with two counts of conspiracy to commit premeditated
first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first-
degree assault - great bodily harm.
According to the complaint, investigators learned that Woodward hired
and agreed to pay money to another inmate to murder Backstrom and
Stacey, who presided over Woodward's drug crime trial, and to inflict
great bodily harm against another individual who testified against
Woodward at that trial held in Dakota County.
Woodward was convicted of that crime in September 2007 and is
currently serving a 94-month sentence for the conviction.
The eight-page criminal complaint details Woodward's and Backstrom
relationship (they were neighbors at one time) and Woodward's belief
that he was "betrayed" by Backstrom. The complaint said Woodward
believes the only reason he is in prison is because of Backstrom. The
initial payment to the inmate to carry out the murder was $2,500. A
total of $10,000 was to be paid following the completion of the
murders, which was to take place in December.
In August, the Office of Special Investigations moved Woodward to the
Oak Park Heights facility until the criminal investigation could be
The Faribault Police department, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension,
the Dakota County Sheriff's Department and the Office of Special
Investigations of the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault
conducted the criminal investigation.