The preliminary hearing for the six defendants - including two Ceres brothers - facing criminal charges for the death of a 26-year-old Turlock man resumed Feb. 23 with an investigator describing a recorded conversation between a murder suspect and his girlfriend.
Stanislaus County Investigator Dale Lingerfelt was on the witness stand to answer questions about the recording between murder suspect Robert Lee Woody and his then girlfriend Miranda Dykes. The conversation was about the death of 26-year-old Korey Kauffman, who was last seen alive on March 30, 2012 in Turlock. Investigators say Kauffman was planning to steal irrigation pipes from a Turlock property belonging to defense attorney and one-time district attorney candidate Frank Carson when he disappeared. Carson's property had been repeatedly targeted by thieves and prompted a contentious feud between him and a neighbor.
The District Attorney's office claims Carson was so enraged over a series of thefts from his property that he engineered a criminal conspiracy to "send a message" to the thieves and that this ultimately led to Kauffman's death. In addition to Carson, the district attorney has accused his wife, Georgia DeFilippo, Ceres brothers and Pop N' Cork owners Baljit Athwal and Daljit Atwal, and former California Highway Patrol Officer Walter Wells with murder. Former CHP Officers Scott McFarlane, Eduardo Quintanar, and Carson's stepdaughter Christina DeFilippo have all been charged with being accessories after the fact and conspiracy. McFarlane and Quintanar are not part of the preliminary hearing, nor is Woody, who was arrested in March 2014 and charged with Kauffman's murder.
In the recording Woody talks about the murder, stating in reference to Kauffman that "when he jumped over that f***ing fence that was his last jump." Woody also states Kauffman was shot and claims he committed the killing on his own. He also states Kauffman was stealing from his lawyer. After a back and forth over the name of the lawyer Woody whispers "Carson" then says "Frank Carson. There it is."
The recording also includes Woody describing disposing of a body by feeding it to pigs.
A few weeks after the recording was made Woody was arrested and charged with Kauffman's murder. During interrogation by investigators, Woody disavowed many of the statements he made in the recording, including that he killed Kauffman.
When the other defendants were arrested in August, Woody sat down with investigators again and told them an account of what happened the night Kauffman was killed and some of it differed from what he said on the recording. Woody claims he and Daljit Atwal arrived at Carson's property to find Kauffman and Baljit Athwal fighting. He states Baljit Athwal was responsible for shooting Kauffman and that he helped bury the body in a field next to the Pop N' Cork, before helping to move it to a ravine in Mariposa County, where it was later discovered.
Woody's defense has pointed to the recorded conversation as an example of the lies Woody has told to investigators. The defense attorneys have argued that no credence should be given to Woody because he is telling the prosecution a lie in exchange for a plea deal. The prosecution has previously said there is a plea deal in the works for Woody, but that the agreement has not been settled. Woody is expected to be called to testify later in the preliminary hearing.