Public Safety


Jeffrey Allen Woodford was a kind and delicate man. 

He was also misunderstood — he suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child that caused problems into his adulthood, according to Sid Van Zandt, one of Woodford's family members.

It was "hatred and misunderstanding" that caused Mary Ellen Holmes to take Woodford's life in 2017, Van Zandt said. 

"If those who caused his demise would have taken even a minute to understand (Woodford), they never would have done what they did to him," Van Zandt said during a victim impact statement ahead of Holmes' sentencing Monday morning. "Mary Holmes is responsible for my brother's death. She dealt the final blow." 

Holmes, 41, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Monday morning by Kern County Superior Court Judge Skip Staley following Van Zandt's statement. Holmes entered a plea deal in September in which she pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge in exchange for her first-degree murder charge to be dropped. 

Van Zandt expressed his frustration with Holmes' low sentence as a result of the plea deal.

"I was at ease thinking the person who killed (Woodford) would receive a more substantial sentence, which is what was deserved," Van Zandt said in his statement. "How do I feel about the plea bargain? The answer is anger, sadness, grief and guilt." 

According to court documents, Dyllan Gus Denna, Holmes and an unnamed woman gave Woodford, 48, a ride as they left an Oildale bar the night of Oct. 21, 2017. They were traveling in a pickup in northeast Bakersfield when it ran out of gas.

While waiting for help to arrive, Holmes and the other woman "made out," the documents said. Woodford watched the two, angering Holmes and Denna.

Denna, then 32, assaulted Woodford, who walked away before returning and asking to use a phone, the documents said.

Someone then stabbed him — Denna and Holmes each accused the other when questioned by investigators, court documents said. Woodford's body was found the next morning lying in the center median in the 4400 block of Union Avenue.

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