Joyce Goodener was murdered in July 1995. She suffered a stab in the neck, was beaten with a cinder block, rolled up in a rug and set on fire. With no leads her case had grown cold. Then the unexpected happened. The family received a call in 2009 saying “we think we got him.” Wednesday, Goodener’s murder received an automatic life sentence.
So what was the break in the case, a death bed confession. James Washington had a heart attack while in jail on an unrelated crime. Thinking he was going to die, he motioned for a guard to come closer. He told the guard he wanted to get something off his chest and that he had killed her. He beat her. The guard immediately summoned the supervisor who took the official confession. Washington was a suspect in the murder, but no evidence linked him to it.
To his surprise, Washington did not die as result of his heart attack. He was charged. New witnesses were found based upon his confession. Washington tried to recant his confession but the court had no part of it. He was found guilty of the murder of Goodener. He received an automatic sentence of life with a minimal of 51 years to be served.
Sonya Kimbrel, Goodener’s daughter, had lost all trust in the system. She never believed her mother would receive justice. Sitting through the trial and reliving the death of her mother was difficult but bought closure after all these years. Lady Justice might be blind, but she is not deaf. The moral of the story, be positive you are going to die before giving a death bed confession.
Photo source: WSMV-TV