A man convicted of killing an Ada woman more than a decade ago appeared in Pontotoc County District Court Monday seeking post conviction relief.
Tyler Jay Mullins, 35, formerly of Ada, appeared before Judge Tom Landrith asking Landrith to grant the relief because Mullins feels he is “entitled to appeal out-of-time, to withdraw his guilty plea, and to present his case to a jury for resolution,” according to court papers filed by his attorney.
Mullins pleaded guilty in 2003 to severely beating and then shooting to death his ex-girlfriend, Rachel Woodall, 21, on April 20, 2002. Mullins was sentenced to serve life without parole on a charge of first-degree murder. He is currently serving time at Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville.
Mullins’ attorney filed the brief saying Mullins pleaded guilty without a plea agreement because his council at the time committed errors. He said if not for Mullins’ then attorney’s errors, Mullins would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.
In the application for relief, Mullins claims he and “Woodall were in a violent confrontation, indicative of a heat of passion manslaughter,” and not first-degree murder.
His attorney said Mullins is entitled an appeal out of time because he was denied a direct appeal through no fault of his own because his then attorney did not help him withdraw his guilty plea within the 10-day period after conviction.
Pontotoc County District Attorney Chris Ross argued that the application should be denied because, although Mullins did miss the 10-day deadline to file a motion to withdraw the plea, Judge Landrith did allow a hearing a month later in February 2003. During that hearing, Landrith found that not only did Mullins miss the deadline, but also that Mullins’ arguments were without merit — meaning that had Mullins attempted to withdraw his plea in the 10 days allowed, he would not have been successful.
On Monday, Landrith stood by his original findings and denied the application for post conviction relief.
Rachel Woodall was reported missing by her mother the evening she disappeared, according to court records. Also that evening, Mullins called police from a local hospital where he was being treated for wounds. Mullins told police he had been jumped and beaten by two men. Police noted Mullins had numerous scratches on his face, neck, chest, shoulders and his right hand was bruised and swollen. Police were suspicious and did not believe Mullins’ story.
After speaking with a witness who said he saw Mullins around Woodall’s house the morning she disappeared, Ada police detectives interviewed Mullins about the crime, but he asked for an attorney, so the interview ended. Investigators located blood in the trunk of Mullins’ vehicle and a pair of Woodall’s jeans and her blood-stained shoes at Mullins’ residence.
The following day, Mullins led police to a sand pit in Seminole County where Woodall was buried. Woodall’s battered and bloody body was found buried and wrapped in a blue tarp. According to a response filed by Ross, evidence showed Mullins “called Woodall and got her to leave her home,” Ross wrote. “He took her to a rural area in Pontotoc County, where he severely beat her. This included striking her in the head with a metal tire rim. He then left her unconscious at that location, and returned to his home where he obtained a gun and a tarp.
“He then returned to the location where Woodall was, placed her in the tarp, and drove her to a Seminole County sand pit. He place Woodall, still wrapped in the tarp, into a hole and shot at her four times, striking her three times in the head. He then buried Woodall using dirt and rock to cover her.”
Ross wrote according to a medical examiner’s report, Woodall died from gunshots to the head. It was also noted she had been “severely beaten resulting in skull fracture above her eye. She had numerous bruises, abrasions, and cuts to her face, head, lip, chin, neck, chest, arms, hands and thigh.”