Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sarah Terry murderer sentenced to life in prison

[I talked about Sarah Terry a couple times in my old blog. She was the girl I went to high school with who was murdered by her husband back in December of last year. The story below from this week's Princeton Times is about Sarah's husband being sentenced to life in prison.]

Goodman to court: I'd take it all back
Man sentenced to life for killing wife, unborn baby

Princeton Times

PRINCETON — Barbara Terry carried all she had left of her daughter into court Wednesday.

The grieving mother placed two pictures and a keepsake she called a “me doll” on the podium as she asked Judge William Sadler to hand down the only justice available six months after her daughter’s death.

Sarah Ann Terry Goodman, 23, of Princeton, died either Nov. 30 or Dec. 1, 2008, after an argument with her husband turned fatal. When he choked her to death, he also killed the unborn child she carried.

Barbara Terry mourned both of the deaths and told the court she literally attempted to hurl herself into the grave with her daughter and the grandchild she’ll never know.

“I know and feel in my heart he knew when he killed her he was killing two people,” she said.

Mean-while, at the defense table, Joshua Edward Goodman, 31, of Princeton, wept and attempted to wipe tears away with hands shackled at the wrists. He had just pleaded guilty to one count each of first- and second-degree murder.

“I’m sorry. I’d take it back if I could,” Goodman told Sadler, when he got a chance to speak.

He then turned to the Terry family, represented by three members, and said again, “I’m sorry.”

Sarah and Josh Goodman’s marriage was troubled, and Barbara Terry said she knew months before her daughter died that Goodman would likely attempt to claim her life.

She quoted a passage Sarah Goodman wrote just prior to her death declaring, “If you want to keep a girl for as long as you live, just break apart her heart.”

In fact, she said Goodman broke her daughter’s heart and took her life in anger.

According to Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Boggess, the state’s evidence pointed to an argument the estranged couple had for undisclosed reasons on Nov. 30. They were in Goodman’s apartment in Downtown Motel on Mercer Street.

It was during the argument, Boggess said, that Goodman approached his petite wife and placed one arm on the back of her neck and the other on the front of her neck and choked her to death.

“At that time, she fell to the ground,” Boggess said.

When the victim fell unconscious, Goodman dragged her limp body across the room and laid it near the bathroom door. A short time passed, and Boggess said Goodman began to fear she might be breathing again.

“At that point, he jumped on top of her and choked her again,” Boggess said.
Goodman then put the body of his wife and her baby in a bag of some sort, carried her to a vehicle, drove to a remote hillside on Brickyard Road and dumped the body.

Slightly more than two weeks later, Goodman contacted Princeton Police officers and reported that he needed to talk to officials in person. When they responded, he admitted to killing his wife and directed them to her body.

Goodman, who told the court he had a history of drug addiction and mental illness, had remained in custody since the morning of his arrest.

The February Mercer County Grand Jury returned two first-degree murder indictments, charging Goodman with killing both Sarah Goodman and her baby.

Wednesday, Goodman pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Sarah Goodman’s death and second-degree murder for the baby. In exchange, the state agreed not to oppose a sentence of life with mercy on the first charge and consented to drop an embezzlement charge Goodman previous faced.

Sadler accepted the guilty plea and sentenced Goodman in accordance with the plea agreement. He handed down a life with mercy sentence on the first murder charge and a 40-year sentence on the second-degree murder offense.

The terms will run consecutively, meaning that even with West Virginia’s automatic “good time” rules, Goodman must serve at least 25 years before he’s eligible for parole. Even then, there’s no guarantee he will be freed, and Sadler emphasized that point to him Wednesday.

Barbara Terry told the judge she was satisfied with the plea agreement and the resulting sentence, even as she asked him to look at the junior high and senior high school photos of the girl Goodman killed.

She explained the doll she carried included locks of her daughter’s hair and cloth from one of her favorite Christmas dresses.

“This is all I have left of her,” Terry said.

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