Man gets 10 years for traffic death

First Posted: 6/24/2008

LIMA - One family member of a man run over and killed on a downtown street told the driver he should forfeit his life for killing her brother.

"An eye for an eye," said Maria Williams. "Perhaps, maybe you should stand on the corner and hear the revving of the car coming down the street and you should get sideswiped."

Williams made her statement as the man who ran over her brother, Derrick R. Woodard, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Woodard killed Jerry J. Rowe, 29, on Nov. 3, when he ran over Rowe at the intersection of North Elizabeth and West High streets.

Woodard, 23, pleaded no contest to aggravated vehicular homicide and failure to stop after an accident. He did not have a driver license at the time of the accident. Allen County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Reed took away Woodard's license for the rest of his life.

Following the hearing, several family members told Woodard before he was escorted back to jail they would find him when he is released from prison. Rowe's family and friends filled up half the courtroom and stood around outside after the hearing. A sheriff's deputy walked outside to keep the peace as Woodard's family left.

During the hearing, Woodard apologized and said he never meant to hurt Rowe.

"It wasn't an act of something against him. I didn't even know him," Woodard said. "I was in a situation in which I thought my life and one of my family member's life was in danger."

Reed asked Woodard why he didn't just go to the police station two blocks away if his life was in danger. Woodard said he panicked.

Police initially reported two men fleeing a fight at a downtown bar struck Rowe during their getaway but prosecutors later said the investigation did not find evidence to support that theory.

Woodard sat in court listening to Rowe's family as they took turns addressing him. He often shook his head to indicate he understood what they were saying.

Tywona Bevis, a cousin to Rowe, said Rowe left at least four children behind, two of whom he never met since they were born after he died.

One relative, Trent Williams, said he has nightmares about Rowe's death, which he saw. He was with Rowe and had to dive out of the way of Woodard's car that night, he said.

"I hope you have the same nightmares I got, dawg," Williams said.

After the hearing, Maria Williams said she believes there were more people in the car than Woodward and wants police to further investigate and charge those people.

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