Man convicted in death of LMPD Officer Nick Rodman sentenced to prison
LMPD officer Nick Rodman died a day after Wathaniel Woods crashed into his police cruiser in March of 2017.
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The man convicted of crashing into and killing Louisville Metro Police Officer Nick Rodman during a March 2017 police chase has been formally sentenced to 35 years in prison.
In late April, 37-year-old Wathaniel Woods pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including murder, possession of a handgun by a felon, assault, wanton endangerment, drug trafficking, fleeing police and DUI.
Woods agreed to the 35-year sentence as part of a plea agreement..
The courtroom was packed with Louisville Metro Police officers including Chief Steve Conrad, his command staff and Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders, as Woods entered the courtroom in a wheelchair Friday.
During Friday's hearing, Rodman's widow, Ashley Rodman, described the pain of losing her husband.
"I wake up everyday to pictures of Nick and me from our wedding day," she said. "Next to that is a folded American flag that was laid across my husband's casket."
Woods looked straight ahead and the courtroom is silent, as Rodman read her victim impact statement.
"I fight back tears every morning and have to muster up the strength to not only take care of myself but our two children as well as try to live my life without my husband and the father of our children," she said.
Speaking from table behind prosecutors, flanked by members of Rodman's family including his parents and brother, Ashley Rodman said they had planned to take their children to the zoo the day after her husband was killed.
"It is an absolute nightmare. A nightmare that you do not wake up from. It is a nightmare that has become a reality. I never in a million years thought that I would become a widow and a single parent to our two adorable children a few weeks after my 30th birthday," she said.
Court documents say Woods was drunk, on drugs and driving nearly 80 miles an hour in west Louisville while fleeing police on March 28, 2017. His car hit Rodman's police cruiser as he was trying to make a left turn at a green light at 26th and Duncan, causing the car to burst into flames.
Officer Rodman was attempting to join other officers that were chasing Woods. He died in the hospital the next day.
"There's nothing that I can say, no words that I can utter that will ease Ashley's pain," Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett said.
As Judge Willett prepared to impose the sentence, his voice even cracked as he fought back tears while talking about Officer Rodman's ultimate sacrifice.
"Our community is a safer place because of the men and women in blue, who serve us day in and day out," Willett said.
Woods will not be eligible for any kind of probation, but under Kentucky law, he will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
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