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Woods guilty plea

Arthur Owen Woods, 41, appears virtually in Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman’s courtroom Tuesday afternoon, where he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the slaying of his wife, Starina, who has been missing since 2016.

A Nicholas County man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Tuesday in connection to his wife’s 2016 disappearance, shortly after they moved to Charleston.

Arthur Owen Woods, 41, of Mount Nebo, was arrested in May 2019 and charged with the murder of his wife, Starina Woods, 34, who Arthur Woods never reported missing after she vanished in March 2016, according to police reports.

Woods, appearing virtually from the South Central Regional Jail, agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charge Tuesday before Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman. The state is recommending a three-year sentence for Woods, which is the minimum sentence voluntary manslaughter carries in West Virginia. The maximum sentence is 15 years.

Woods’ sentencing will be finalized in a hearing at 10 a.m. Dec. 3. He has been incarcerated since his May 2019 arrest, so if he’s credited for time served, he’ll finish his sentence in about 18 months.

Kanawha Assistant Prosecuting Attorney J.C. MacCallum read off some of the evidence that would have been used against Woods, had the case proceeded to trial. He said the only witness who could testify on alleged domestic violence between the couple died before the trial date.

Woods’ defense counsel said that, had the case gone to trial, they would have “vigorously” contested a domestic violence accusation.

MacCallum described previous police reports that noted a “significant amount of blood” on the front door, stairs and living room of the Woods’ home, and “signs of an attempted cleaning of blood.” A DNA sample taken from Starina Woods’ mother returned a match to the blood in the house, which the couple had lived in for less than a week.

On March 9, 2016, the couple moved to a house on Lance Drive, in Charleston, and they got into a “heated altercation” the next day, according to police.

Woods never reported his wife missing or tried to contact her after her disappearance, according to search warrants cited in previous reports. He told police he believed Starina Woods had stolen $29,000 from him and had run off to Ecuador after a violent altercation between them on March 10.

Police found no record of Starina Woods crossing the border and no record of a $29,000 withdrawal, according to previous reports.

On March 10, 2016, the Woods’ mobile phones traveled to an area near Mount Nebo and Mount Lookout, according to search warrants police executed in 2016.

On Tuesday, MacCallum also read to the court that Woods traded in his and Starina Woods’ vehicles for a Dodge RAM truck in May 2016.

On Jan. 5, 2018, Charleston police arrested Woods and charged him with one count of felony fraud with an access device. He was accused of using Starina Woods’ debit card until her bank account was overdrawn by hundreds of dollars during the weeks immediately following her disappearance, according to the criminal complaint filed at the time in Kanawha Magistrate Court.

Starina Woods had been the sole owner of the bank account, and police found surveillance footage of Woods using the card after March 10, 2016, according to the complaint. The bank froze Starina Woods’ bank account in May 2016.

That charge against Woods was dismissed without prejudice on Feb. 9, 2020, according to court records.

Reach Joe Severino at

joe.severino@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow

@jj_severino on Twitter.

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