Christopher D. Woolwine will serve 23 years in prison for second-degree murder and felony hit and run in the Oct. 31, 2014 traffic death of his four-year-old son in Cana.
Woolwine, who pled guilty to both charges in Carroll County Circuit Court in May, was sentenced Oct. 20 in Carroll County Circuit Court by Judge Brett Geisler. According to Carroll County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nathan H. Lyons, Geisler imposed maximum sentences of 40 years for second-degree murder and 10 years for felony hit and run, but suspended 27 years for a probation of five years once the 23-year prison sentence has been served.
Those convictions stem from an incident Halloween Night 2014 in which Woolwine, of Christiansburg, was the operator of a 2000 Dodge van that was traveling north on Highway 52, near Lancaster Drive, just north of the North Carolina state line in Cana. Woolwine’s vehicle initially struck another vehicle in the rear while traveling north, then Woolwine turned and fled the scene southbound when his vehicle ran off the right side of the road, struck a tree and overturned back into the roadway approximately one-tenth of a mile south of the original crash. Woolwine and his young son, Cole, were injured in the crash, and the child later died at Wake Forest Baptist Trauma Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
When Woolwine entered his guilty plea in May, Lyons read Woolwine’s statement to the court in which Woolwine admitted to leaving his Christiansburg home to pick up a man named Roy Cox. The two went to a liquor store in Christiansburg, where Woolwine purchased a 750 milliliter bottle of Devil’s Cut, a Jim Beam bourbon product. Woolwine stated he drank half the bottle of bourbon and also smoked pot.
“He stated that he also drank a 24-ounce can of Four Loko and that he went to North Carolina to purchase synthetic pot,” Lyons said in May.
During the Oct. 20 sentencing, Lyons called Cole Woolwine’s grandparents to the stand for victim impact statements. They talked about how much Cole meant to them and how much the tragic accident had affected their lives.
“They just talked about how much they thought of Cole and that they really just didn’t understand why if his father wanted to engage in that type of conduct didn’t he just let Cole stay at home or why he chose to take him with him if he was going to buy marijuana or synthetic marijuana,” Lyons said. “They talked about how much they missed him, how much he meant to them. Both of the grandparents testified he was their only grandchild.”
Christopher Woolwine’s defense attorney, Chip DeHart, called Woolwine’s mother and aunt to the stand. Both gave testimony about how Christopher was a loving father and loved Cole, Lyons said. Christopher Woolwine also gave a brief statement prior to his sentencing.
“He basically said he was sorry for what had happened and that he loved his son,” Lyons said.
Cole Woolwine’s mother was not there, although she did send a statement to the court, Lyons said.
“It is a substantial sentence. There is nothing that can be done for the family to bring Cole back, whether it is a one-year sentence or 20-year sentence, for them that doesn’t change their loss,” Lyons said. “I think they were glad the court did impose a sentence, but it didn’t change a lot for them.”
Allen Worrell can be reached by calling (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN