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The tradition of fine, upstanding football players continues for the Cowpies. Sad for the victims

Ex-Cowboy Goodrich gets 7 1/2-year sentence

Posted: Tuesday August 19, 2003 6:08PM; Updated: Tuesday August 19, 2003 6:53PM

Several teams have shown interest in Goodrich this offseason


DALLAS (AP) -- DALLAS (AP) -- Former Dallas Cowboy Dwayne Goodrich was sentenced Tuesday to 71/2 years in prison and fined $20,000 in the hit-and-run deaths of two good Samaritans.

The former Tennessee star was convicted of criminally negligent homicide Friday in the deaths of Joby Wood, 21, and Demont Matthews, 23. The Plano men were hit by Goodrich's BMW as they were trying to rescue a motorist from a burning car on Jan. 14 on Interstate 35.

Goodrich's attorneys expected him to post $150,000 bond by Tuesday night and be released pending an appeal that could take several months and is not expected to begin before Jan. 1.

Defense attorney Reed Prospere said Goodrich told him six or seven NFL teams were interested in signing him. Prospere said that would require league approval and that Goodrich hoped to obtain it.

Sentencing deliberations began late Monday afternoon and jurors were sequestered for the night after ending deliberations about 8:30 p.m. They resumed about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Goodrich, MVP in Tennessee's 1998 national championship victory and Vols team captain in 1999, showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Laura Wood, Wood's mother, told Goodrich, "I truly believe in my heart that night you were drinking ... I believe you were racing. I believe with your competitive nature as a football player you were determined to win that race. I believe you saw my son's head in your windshield that night and the blood splatter all across the car.

"Every time you look at your child and grandchild, think of the pain you put my grandchild through. Every time you look at your mother, remember my pain because my pain will never go away."

Delores Matthews, mother of the other victim, said: "Mr. Goodrich, you can't bring my son back to me. You killed two innocent children. I know you know you did it. I don't understand why you can't say you did it."

Goodrich's mother, Pam Goodrich, said she hoped the end of the trial would bring "some closure" for the victims' families, "that the vengeance and bad feelings are replaced with memories of their children."

Prosecutors had asked jurors to sentence Goodrich to 10 years in prison for each of the two charges, the maximum punishment since his case was enhanced to become a third-degree felony because his speeding car was considered a deadly weapon.

"How can 10 years be too long a price, a sentence, for the death of a couple of heroes of our generation," argued prosecutor Fred Burns.

Jurors were told Monday that probation wasn't an option for Goodrich.

Originally charged with manslaughter, Goodrich was convicted Friday of the lesser offense, considered a state jail felony. By law, jurors cannot consider probation for state jail felonies.

Goodrich's defense attorney Reed Prospere accused prosecutors Monday of relying on a glitch in the law to deny jurors the option of sentencing Goodrich to probation. Prospere asked jurors to feel free to withhold their vote, which would cause a mistrial. All 12 jurors must agree on a punishment before it can be ordered.

"You don't have to vote. It's that simple," Prospere told jurors. "The fact that the law's stupid and doesn't make sense doesn't mean you have to follow along like a lemming."

After the sentencing, Prospere said Goodrich had been contacted by appellate lawyers across the state.

Goodrich, 25, told jurors last week that he didn't see the pre-dawn accident scene because a sport utility vehicle in front of him blocked his view. He had testified he slammed on the brakes when he came upon a stalled vehicle in the road and was forced to swerve to the left, fatally hitting Wood and Matthews and injuring another man.

Goodrich said he originally believed, or hoped, he had hit debris, but his reaction was to flee the scene. The former Cowboy surrendered to law officers hours later after contacting his mother and his attorney.

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