Springfield, Mo (11/29/2017) -- Matthew Levi Woodward, 39, of Springfield, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to seven years and two months in federal prison without parole.
On Sept. 6, 2017, Woodward pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Woodward admitted that he was in possession of a Heritage Rough Ride .22-caliber magnum revolver with an obliterated serial number when he was arrested on Dec. 1, 2016.
A Billlings, Mo., police officer observed Woodward traveling 72 miles per hour in a 45-miles-per-hour zone at approximately 12:28 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2016. The officer attempted to stop the motorcycle, but Woodward increased his speed and began driving erratically in an attempt to elude the officer. The motorcycle was traveling at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. As the motorcycle entered a different jurisdiction, additional law enforcement officers joined in the pursuit. As the motorcycle traveled through Lawrence County, Mo., Woodward operated the motorcycle at speeds between 114 and 125 miles per hour. Law enforcement officers also observed the motorcycle drive into opposite lanes of traffic and make several dangerous passes while eluding officers.
Lawrence County deputies discontinued their pursuit at the Barry County, Mo., line, where Barry County deputies picked up the pursuit. A sheriff’s deputy observed the motorcycle attempt to elude him and travel at speeds between 110 and 115 miles per hour. The sheriff’s deputy pursued the motorcycle into Newton County and as they approached the Granby, Mo., city limits, the motorcycle appeared to have engine problems.
When the motorcycle came to a stop, Woodward was arrested. He was carrying the firearm in a holster on his left hip. The motorcycle had been reported as stolen a few days earlier in Republic, Mo.
According to court documents, Woodward’s high-speed pursuit and his illegal possession of a firearm on Dec. 1, 2016, occurred approximately three weeks after his illegal possession of another firearm in Greene County, Mo. In that incident, Greene County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a report of a suspicious vehicle that was parked on private property. Deputies contacted the property owner and were told that the owner had no knowledge regarding the vehicle, but since it was on his property, law enforcement had his permission to check the vehicle. Woodward was inside the truck; because he had difficult standing and speaking and did not know his name, he was transported by ambulance. Woodward had been released on state parole six weeks earlier.
Deputies searched the truck and found a Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolver, a box of ammunition, a baggie of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and burglary tools in the truck. Deputies learned that the VIN for the truck did not match the license plate that appeared on the vehicle that had been reported stolen with the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Woodward has repeated convictions for theft, criminal damage to property, numerous narcotics offenses, resisting arrest, domestic assault, burglary, tampering with a vehicle and driving while intoxicated. Between the ages of 18 and 38, Woodward has been convicted 13 different times for 17 different felony and misdemeanor offenses. Woodward’s prior probations or paroles have been revoked on approximately 12 occasions due to new criminal offenses.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Billings, Mo., Police Department, the Greene County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department and the Barry County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.