John Woodward charged in prison plot to kill Jim Backstrom

When he decided to go into the meth business, John Woodward must have figured his cul-de-sac neighbor, Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom, wouldn't notice.

Woodward was wrong.

Now serving prison time on felony drugs charges, Woodward also figured no one would notice that he was hatching a prison plan to have Backstrom killed.

Woodward was wrong again.

Police say Thomas Ray Jackson, the inmate Woodward enlisted for the $10,000 hit, instead turned into a wired-for-sound informant who thought Woodward was delusional.

He told police of a plot that included not just a hit on Backstrom, complete with a how-to map of Backstrom's commute. It also included the murder of District Judge Rex Stacey, who sentenced Woodward, and the maiming of a woman who testified against Woodward at his 2007 trial.

Why the obsession with Backstrom, who saw the comings and goings at Woodward's place, but opted not to prosecute him and instead hand the case to the Ramsey County Attorney's office? Woodward apparently thought he and Backstrom were best buddies in their Inver Grove cul-de-sac, and that he'd been set up. Besides, he told police, the whole crazy murder plot was Jackson's idea.

Woodward blew it. Instead of sitting tight and getting out of Faribault state prison in 2013, he faces two counts in Rice County of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and the possibility of 20 more years behind bars.

Jackson, meanwhile, is scheduled for release in December. He's been transferred away from Fairibault.

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