Teen death leads to nine years jail time

By DeeAnna Haney | Apr 02, 2014
Andrew Godbee III as he appeared in court last week.

A 23-year-old Canton man faces up to nine years in prison for the beating death of 19-year-old David Meadows early last year.

Andrew Griffin Godbee III pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter during Superior Court last week. According to the law, voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without justification or excuse.

The incident occurred in the rainy early morning hours of Jan. 16, 2013, when Meadows and his young wife drove to the home of Casey May, 23, at 58 Remington Fork Road to purchase three Percocets from May.

"The understanding was that they would give Godbee a ride home afterwards," said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Jones.

However, on the way to the drug transaction, Meadows received a text from Godbee saying, "I see you like stepping on toes."

The term "stepping on toes" is drug language accusing Meadows of sidestepping him during a drug transaction about a week prior, Jones explained in court.

When Meadows arrived at May's home, "Mr. Godbee took that opportunity to address the breach of protocol with Meadows and picked a fight with him," Jones said.

State evidence shows that Godbee struck Meadows in the jowl and then picked him up and threw him head-first onto the concrete surface. Many of Meadows' family members who filled two rows of the court room Thursday sobbed as Jones described the fight.

However, Jones said, "all the evidence shows that Mr. Godbee didn't have the specific intent to kill Mr. Meadows."

Godbee even administered CPR on Meadows while May called 9-1-1, telling dispatchers Meadows had fallen. But Godbee fled the scene before EMS arrived.

After treating Meadows, EMS workers suspected the injuries were inflicted from a fight instead of a fall and contacted the Haywood County Sheriff's Office. Meadows was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly thereafter.

The autopsy showed Meadows ultimately died as the result of a heart attack.

Godbee was found hiding under a pile of clothing at May's single wide trailer the next day and was arrested.

"This is a very unfair incident," Jones said in court. "This is a drug deal situation gone bad, but it's a lot more than that. Mr. Meadows had a wife and a family and they are very upset by the loss of this young man."

Meadows' father, Randy, spoke briefly to Godbee before his sentencing.

"I just want you to know that I feel like you robbed me," he said. "What you are getting is very minute compared to what you deserve."

Attorney Nathan Earwood spoke on behalf of his client.

"He is terribly sorry for the pain that he has caused — he's expressed that to me on numerous occasions," Earwood said. "I will say this on behalf of Mr. Godbee, there is a difference between taking a plea and taking responsibility and I feel that Mr. Godbee is here taking responsibility."

He said Godbee's only family support system, his grandmother, passed away while he was in custody.

Godbee was sentenced in the aggravated range to a minimum of 84 and a maximum of 113 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections. He must also pay funeral expenses to the family.

All other pending charges against Godbee were dismissed pursuant to the plea.

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