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Woman found guilty of intimidating a witness

December 06, 2010|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — If a verbal threat is alleged to have been made in a courtroom but no one testifies to clearly hearing it, did it actually happen?

In the case of Patrice Godwin, 29, of 121 N. Locust St., Hagerstown, charged with intimidation of a witness, a Washington County Circuit Court jury took three hours to reach a verdict that she had made the threat.

Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. gave Godwin a two-year suspended sentence on the misdemeanor conviction.
On April 8, Child Protective Services Investigator Melissa Clark was at a Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) hearing in circuit court involving Godwin, according to the statement of probable cause.

On Monday, Clark testified she was sitting in the gallery a few feet away when Godwin looked over her shoulder and “mouthed” the words “I’m going to kill you,” followed by some expletives.

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Questioned by Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher McCormack, Clark said she did not testify at the CINA hearing, but had she done so, it would not have been to Godwin’s benefit.

Clark’s supervisor, Cordelia Carson, testified she also saw Godwin mouth those words. Carson at first declined to say one of the expletives from the stand until Long told her, “We’re all adults here.”

“I don’t think you could hear all of it,” Carson testified of the alleged threat when cross-examined by defense attorney David Harbin. “You could understand that’s what she said.”

Harbin called Diane M. Gastley, an attorney with the Public Defender’s Office who represented Godwin at the CINA hearing. Gastley testified that she was seated next to Godwin and would have noticed had she turned to say anything.

Jennifer L. Austin, another attorney who was seated at the same table with Godwin and Gastley, also testified she did not see or hear a threat being made.

“I had seen her move her lips toward us and make a comment,” testified Teresa Nutter, a family support worker. Harbin asked why she signed a statement to investigators stating she heard Godwin utter something.

“I guess I misused the word,” Nutter said.

Godwin testified that the only thing she said was, “This is killing me.”

“I never said anything to that woman,” Godwin testified.

After the verdict, Godwin continued to maintain her innocence, telling Long that she and Clark had argued over the investigation and Clark “took it personally.”

“Who threatens someone in court?” Godwin said.

“I think the jury made the right decision,” Long said. “I don’t believe you, Ms. Godwin.”

“I’m sorely tempted to put you in jail,” Long said before the sentencing.

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