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Friday, August 15, 2003
Goodrich found guilty of lesser charge

Associated Press

DALLAS -- Former Dallas Cowboys defensive back Dwayne Goodrich was convicted Friday night of criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of two men in a hit-and-run accident in January.

Goodrich showed no visible signs of emotion as the verdicts were read. A bailiff took him into custody. The sentencing hearing begins Monday.

The jury deliberated about six hours before convicting Goodrich of the lesser charge. He had been on trial on manslaughter charges.

Goodrich was convicted in the Jan. 14 deaths of two Plano men who had stopped along the highway to free a motorist from a burning car.

Before the verdict, relatives of the men who were killed -- "Joby" Wood, 21, and Demont Matthews, 23 -- voiced hope that justice would be done.

"Whatever the verdict is, I think (prosecutor) Fred Burns did a fantastic job for our families," said Laura Wood, Joby Wood's mother.

As the verdict was read, she cried softly. Outside the courtroom, she sobbed uncontrollably. She left the courthouse without comment.

"My reaction at this time is really just undescribable," said Goodrich's mother, Pam, as she stood in the protective arm of another son, Steven. "I want to get home and just continue to pray with family and friends for the families involved as well as for our family as well as for Dwayne."

Attorneys for the two sides declined comment because of the upcoming sentencing phase of the trial.

Burns, during closing arguments Friday morning, said Goodrich was, "driving recklessly, pure and simple."

On Thursday, Goodrich told jurors he didn't see the pre-dawn accident scene because a sport utility vehicle in front of him blocked his view.

Defense attorneys said that the issue was not whether Goodrich was responsible, but whether he was reckless.

Goodrich 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, 25, said he originally believed, or hoped, he had hit debris, but his reaction was to flee the scene.

Hours later, the former Cowboy surrendered to law officers after contacting his mother and his attorney.

Goodrich faces the possibility of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 on each conviction.

Burns said that since this is Goodrich's first felony conviction, he could be eligible for probation.