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Woman gets 30 years for kidnapping

Sara A. Woods convicted of stealing car with 16-year-old girl sleeping inside

January 05, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Sara A. Woods
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Martinsburg woman was handed a long prison sentence Thursday for kidnapping and stealing a vehicle three years ago as a 16-year-old girl was sleeping in the back.

Presiding 23rd Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh heeded emotional pleas from the victim and her mother that Sara A. Woods, 38, of Martinsburg, be given the maximum sentence for putting them through a terrifying ordeal on Dec. 14, 2008, followed by more than three years of court appearances as the case made its way through the legal system.

Groh sentenced Woods to one to 10 years on a grand larceny charge for stealing the vehicle and 30 years for kidnapping. Both will be served concurrently.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said after the hearing that Woods could be released after serving 15 years with good behavior.

A Berkeley County jury convicted Woods on Nov. 4 for stealing Blanche Cook’s Toyota RAV4 from the parking lot of the 7-Eleven at 201 W. King St. Her daughter, Jasmine Oliver, 16 at the time, was asleep in the back of the vehicle.

Games-Neely told Groh that the girl screamed and cried to be let out of the vehicle, which was speeding at times. At one point, she called 911 on her mother’s cellphone.

Woods ended the ride at the ROCS Mountaineer Mart at the intersection of W.Va. 9 and Kelly Island Road, according to court documents.

“I didn’t know if I would ever see my mother again,” a tearful Jasmine Oliver told the judge. “This has been very hard to deal with. We’ve been in and out of court. The maximum sentence is needed here to see that something like this never happens again.”

“I thought my life ended that day,” Blanche Cook told the judge. “I didn’t know what the outcome would be. My daughter could have been killed. Actions have consequences. I’m asking the court to do the right thing.”

Cook said afterward that she was satisfied with the sentence.

Woods’ mother said her family is “devastated.” She said her daughter has been on a downward path associating with “foolish people. I know Sara has been out of control.”

Woods has a record of drug and alcohol abuse, according to testimony Thursday.

Her mother said she and her husband would “do the best we can” taking care of Woods’ children, a 2-year-old and a 16-year-old.

She asked Groh to be compassionate.

Woods, too, asked Groh for mercy.

Public Defender Tom Stanley asked for home confinement and probation for Woods.

Groh, in considering the statements, said Cook and Oliver suffered emotional injury and immeasurable trauma as a result of Woods’ actions.

Woods was out on bond until her conviction in November, Games-Neely said.

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