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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.

Comment on this Story

  • anne

    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.

  • Grand Ole Party

    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.

  • Sadi Duncan

    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

  • Just me

    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.

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