The day was all about family for Patsy Beth Sims. One of her grandchildren was going to college, and there was a family reunion. Hours later on that Saturday two years ago, celebration turned to tragedy when Sims' nephew, Dwight Lamont Goodson, got into his car drunk and ran over his aunt, resulting in her death three days later.
Later, police found that Goodson's blood alcohol level was 0.17 percent. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.
Tuesday morning, Sims' family, including her two children, gathered in Forsyth Superior Court to watch Goodson, 30, plead guilty to felony death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving. Judge David Hall of Forsyth Superior Court sentenced Goodson to a minimum of six years and a maximum of eight years and three months in prison.
The pain was palpable in court Tuesday. Adam Sims, Patsy Sims' son, told Hall that Goodson's actions on Aug. 4, 2018 have devastated and divided his family. Instead of going away to college, his oldest son had to go to therapy. His youngest son wrote that he wanted to kill himself so he could be reunited with his grandmother, Adam Sims said.
And all of his hurt and loss was caused by someone he considered family.
"It would have been better if it had been a stranger," he said in court.
According to Assistant District Attorney Matt Breeding, Patsy Sims, 52, and her relatives were having a family reunion that weekend with activities at a park in Kernersville and at a house in the 1000 block of Shalimar Drive.
Throughout the day, Goodson had been drinking alcohol, Breeding said. Whit Davis, one of Goodson's attorneys, said many family members, including Patsy Sims, had been consuming alcohol.
At 10:45 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2018, Kernersville police stopped Goodson for speeding 50 mph in a 35 mph-zone. Goodson's father, Deewayne Goodson, intervened, asking the officer to give his son a break and mentioning that he worked with police in Winston-Salem. Deewayne Goodson is a parking enforcement officer for the city of Winston-Salem. The officer let Dwight Goodson off with a warning, Breeding said.
Later that evening at the house on Shalimar Drive, Dwight Goodson got into a fight with his brother, Travis Goodson. Travis had confronted his brother about his drinking. They began fighting in the front yard of the house, and Deewayne Goodson was soon called to the house to try to break up the altercation, Breeding said.
At some point, Dwight Goodson broke away and got into his car, a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. Shalimar Drive is a two-way roadway that goes north and south. Goodson's car was parked in the front of the house pointed north near the southbound lane.
Breeding said Goodson put his car in reverse, his foot pressed hard on the accelerator and then put the car into drive, leaving tire marks in the road.
At the time, Patsy Sims was lying in the road. It's not clear whether she tripped and fell or passed out. Breeding said Patsy Sims had degenerative arthritis and sometimes walked with a cane. Davis said in court she also had a 0.12 blood alcohol level and may have passed out from drinking too much.
Breeding said Sims had multiple broken bones and some of her ribs had detached from her chest wall. She also had trauma to her face and head. After Sims spent several days in the hospital, it became apparent that she would not be able to survive her injuries, Breeding said.
Davis, who represented Goodson along with Dan Wanderman, disputed some of the prosecution's presentation of evidence, particularly allegations from Travis Goodson in a 911 call. In that call, Travis Goodson told a dispatcher that his brother had a knife and a .22-caliber rifle and was threatening people. He begged the dispatcher to send someone as soon as possible and said that his brother needed to be detained.
Davis said police investigated many of those claims and found little evidence to support them. He also said that Goodson had a tendency to get overwhelmed with information and want to escape.
He said that happened on Aug. 4, 2018. Davis said Goodson abruptly left because he couldn't deal with the confrontation with his father and his brother, and he didn't pay any attention when he drove off. Davis said Goodson had no intention of hitting his aunt with his car.
Patsy Sims' children, Adam Sims and Niyah Huntley, said what upset them the most is that they never heard an apology or any semblance of remorse from Dwight Goodson. Meanwhile, their children struggle to understand why their grandmother is no longer here. Niyah Huntley said her two youngest children still believe that their grandmother will come back one day.
Willie Phillips said he and Patsy Sims were going to get married in December 2018. He said he can't sleep.
As he was being led away in handcuffs, Goodson said he was sorry for what he had done and that he loved his family.
"I still love them," he said.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.