Grooms guilty of murder, apologizes to victims' family
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Thomas Grooms will spend decades behind bars. It took jurors just a couple of hours to reach a verdict.

It's been a long week for both the Doolittle and Grooms families and friends, but it did not take the jury from Onslow County long to reach a decision.

The jury of eight women and four men found Grooms guilty of two counts of second degree murder, two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, one count of reckless driving and one count of open container in the accident that killed Trey and David Doolittle last April. The judge sentenced Grooms to 24-30 years in jail for his crimes.

After the verdict, Grooms read a letter he had written to the Doolittle family. It was the first time during the trial he showed any type of emotion.

"What I did that night is not me," he said. "It's not what I do. It's not the way I live my life. I feel so much regret, sorrow and guilt and responsibility, sadness and hurt for all the suffering that I've caused the Doolittle family and friends. I will punish myself for the rest of my life."

Trey Doolittle's mom Joy says she feels justice was served, but this still does not bring back her son or ex-husband David.

"Happy is not the word that would describe it," she said. "I think relief just that it's over, and for me to know that he'll be off the streets for a long time is enough."

We tried to talk to Grooms's family and his attorney after the sentencing, but they did not want to comment. The attorney did say in court he would appeal the verdict.

Grooms said in his letter that he hopes the Doolittle family can someday forgive him, and that he will work every day to make sure people learn from his mistakes.

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It depends on what you call premeditated. He chose to take drugs and drink and then get in his car to drive. He didn't feel like he was impaired - well yes he was. He was so impaired, he couldn't make a rational decision. He chose to drive and 2 people died from it. No matter how much he apologizes, they cannot come back. He will have his life in jail and family may visit him and talk to him, but all the family have left is 2 gravesites to visit and their family members won't be able to talk back to them.

Getting behind the wheel of a high powered engine while under the influence is the same as pulling the trigger of a loaded gun. No excuse will suffice for what he done. Hopefully, while he is in jail, he will be able to look at what he did and perhaps ask the Lord for forgivness and begin his own healing.

It never ceases to amaze me that when a defendant gets to talk to the court, they always say that they wish they hadn't done it and if they could trade places, they would. You know darn well you can't take it back and those words are just stupid.

Malice was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt in this case. 24-30 years is an ABSOLUTELY absurd sentence. Ray Carruth intentionally had his wife and unborn baby shot to death and only received 18 years. That ALONE is an absurdity. The justice system has been and never will be perfectly fair. I can only hope one day my faith can be restored in our system. Today I feel Thomas Grooms was unjustly charged with a crime that didn't fit the circumstances. Felony death by vehicle, voluntary manslaughter, yes. Second degree murder? Absolutely not. An appellate court will hopefully find what myself and a lot of others agree, the charges didn't fit the crime. My heart goes out to both sides of the case for they have each lost loved ones. May you all find peace within yourselves.

I'm not saying what he did was brilliant or right. But again it was not premeditated. Atleast the killer is being sentenced. What about little Kaylie Anthony her mother/ grandparents murdered her and both are free. What about Trayvon, his murderer Mr. Zimmerman is free to roam and he has a history for killing people. Justice will never be served correctly

It was premeditated, he planned to get in that car, and he planned to drive it. End of story. As for Zimmerman, who else did he kill? I can't wait to hear this.

He chose to get behind the wheel, drunk and drugged, and clearly did not give a damn that he might end up killing someone. It's a classic case of depraved indifference, and justifies the murder rap. The DA's office is now batting .500 against drivers who get high and kill cyclists.

You need to read the law. You are judging on emotion not the law. Same as the Jury.

Malice is a legal term referring to a party's intention to do injury to another party. Mr. Grooms did not intend to kill two people that day! I do not think justice was served and that he was sentenced to something that he did not do. Yes he made a poor decision and he should pay for what he did, but in no way did he commit murder in the 2nd degree. 2nd degree murder:Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter). I would say this even if it were my family that was killed in such a tragic accident. Mr. Grooms did not deserve 2nd degree murder.

In response to the comment "Mr. Grooms did not intend to kill two people that day!" Most people who kill others never "intend" to but their carelessness does. Getting behind the wheel is serious business. My own son was killed while cycling by a distracted driver who claimed she was looking in the backseat of her car (instead of where she was driving). She killed my son. Did she 'intend' to? I certainly hope not! But she did due to not being responsible behind the wheel, not considering the death she could cause to a human being and the pain to a family. You stated "If it were my family that was killed"...I don't believe anyone can honestly say what they would do or how they would feel until they are in that position and walk in those shoes themselves. They think they do and think and say how they would respond. Often times they eat some of those spoken words. It's always easy to tell others what you'd do or how you'd feel. It's entirely different when you're experiencing it and not just giving an opinion or advice. I hope you are never put in that situation. It's very painful to have someone you love killed.

I have had a loved one killed by a repeat offender drunk driver and I say why wait until a drunk kills someone. I think all drunk drivers should be sent to jail on the spot for at least a couple days--first offense. Second offense much longer incarceration since they have shown they have no regard for the law.
No logic in waiting until they kill a person before really punishing them.
Every license check set up & always on the news tells us of 10 or so charged with driving under the influence yet they are let go home to find a slick lawyer who gets them off with a hand slap. It is against the law to drive impaired so start locking them up the instant they are caught breaking the law and some of them may stop leaving their house etc and driving drunk until they kill our loved ones!
and, YES---They ARE murderers!

In North Carolina if a person is driving while impaired and kills someone, he can be charged with second degree murder if the manner of his driving shows a depraved indifference to human life. I do believe that Mr. Grooms' failure to brake either before or after the impact would fit into this definition. The charges were correct. The verdict was correct. The sentence is just.

I do not believe he deserved 2nd degree murder either. Justice def was not served. I am sorry these people died and the family is suffering a terrible loss.

Look at it this way, he has a place to live now. He will probably die in prison. He made his bed.

Absolutely ridiculous he got that much time. He wasn't intentionally trying to kill them. He just had an error in judgement

Finally, Finally someone got what was coming to them for KILLING two people on bikes. Why is it that it seems to be ok to murder someone on a bicycle? Grooms did indeed murder these two people by using two very common weapons, a vehicle and alcohol. Deadly combination, which Mr. Grooms proved to us all.

Now that it is over, what is left for the families? Memories of a child and man who will never come back, a child who will never reach his full potential, never kiss his bride, or hold his children. A man who will never see his first grandchild or enjoy his old age with the woman he loved. Mr. Grooms chose to take two lifes that day and for that he received his conviction.

My hope is that this becomes the rule of law and anyone who choses to drink and drive and cause harm to others are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

THANK YOU!!!!! for that comment! My son was killed, it does seem different when they are a cyclists. You said everything I wanted to say..but better. Thank you!

He intentionally drank, he intentionally used drugs, and he intentionally drove. Now he has been intentionally sentenced. You liberal sheep always cry out for the perps. Give it a rest already.

Seriously. Ridiculous. I'll tell you what is ridiculous that there is a boy and his father can't live the rest of their lives and were killed just for riding their bikes together he deserves 30 years I actually think he should be in jail longer he made the decsion to drink drunk as he'll and drive sorry doesn't make anything better he know he deserves this I am sure if it was your family who got killed in that accident you wouldn't be bitching about how much time he gets you must pay for your actions he took two lives and tried to flee the scene you must have No heart or either are just as bad as he is he I hope lives the rest of his life in jail

No where did it say he tried to leave the scene.

If you had been following this trial then you would know that he never even depressed his brakes. He ploughed into the Doolittles and continued to drive down river road. The only reason he stopped because an eye witness watched the whole thing in his rear view mirror and forced Grooms to pull over. Meanwhile, David was dead and Trey was fighting for his life and guess what Grooms was doing...yep, sitting in his car in a stupor. Quite a guy I tell you. Rot Grooms!

Are you trying to piss people off with your comment? If so, it worked!! He chose to put both alcohol and drugs in his system and then drive. That is not an accident that is an incident waiting to occur. I hope and pray that nothing like this tragedy evers falls upon you or your family, but if it does happen to a family member please make a posting then. I will remember you Guest 1234! Just being curious, how much time do you think he should have gotten? He will never be able to hurt or kill another human being again. That is justice served.

I was not saying let him go free I was stating that 2nd degree MURDER was not road upon which to travel. I agree he needs to serve time and pay for what he did however he did not committ murder with an intent to kill. It was a very tragic accident with a wrong choice being made. Sounds to me he was seriously depressed and looking for comfort. Vehicular Manslauder, involuntary Manslauder there were other charges than placing the label MURDER. He did wrong but he's not a murderer.

@Guest 1234

"was not road upon which to travel"

An error in judgement is wearing a blue sock and a black sock; or paying your phone bill instead of your light bill. It's NOT getting in a vehicle and driving drunk, not having slept in 24 hours, and snorting bath salts just a few hours prior.

I agree he didn't intentionally set out to kill two people, but he had to know his actions were illegal and that someone could be hurt by his decision if he got behind the wheel of a car. He chose to do it anyway. Everybody over the age of 10 knows not to drive drunk and drive under the influence of stimulants.

Because of his actions, the Doolittle family will never see two of their loved ones ever again. I feel sorry for the Grooms family, but at least they can go see Mr. Grooms in prison, if they get to missing him. The Doolittle's will never have that option with their loved ones.

Are you kidding me??? He was drunk and high behind the wheel and killed 2 people....he got what he deserved! It was his choice to drive, thank god you were not on the jury!!

Sentence was fair---he killed two people and made the decision to drink and drive. Something has to be done about the drunks killing and maming people---at least he will not do it again for at least 20 years.

he was charged and convicted of 2nd degree murder. No premeditation involved.

While this is good news to the majority of us, I can't help but feel this is still very little closure for the Doolittle Family, so I will continue to keep them in my prayers and you Mr.Grooms, well ultimately God will rule on that.

You should be praying for Mr. Grooms also. He made a terrible mistake and will regret what he did for the rest of his life. The Doolittles will never have closure in their life until they can forgive.

This is not simply a mistake. This man chose to drink alcohol. He chose to do drugs. He chose to get behind the wheel of the car. As a result of the choices he made, two people are dead.