Horrors relived: Wood Grill murder trial begins

Roderick McDowell, 25, is a former employee at the Wood Grill Buffet, accused of murdering William Godsey, the husband of a night manager, on April 12, 2007.

"He just kept beating him, and beating him, and beating him," she said through tears, "and I just kept yelling, 'Stop! That's my husband!'"

Such was the painful recollection of Sandra Godsey, in Albemarle Circuit Court yesterday–- the only living witness to the brutal murder of her husband William, after they were both assaulted leaving the Wood Grill Buffet on 29 North, where Sandra was ending her shift as the night manager in the early morning hours of April 12, 2007.

Two years later, former Wood Grill employee Roderick McDowell stands trial for that crime in which two men wearing all black clothing, ski masks, and sunglasses jumped the couple at approximately 1:30am, when Sandra was leaving with just over $1,000 in proceeds from that night to be deposited in the bank.

"I just threw the money at the one guy and said, 'Here, this is what you want!'" she recalled.

While the first man reportedly ran toward his car, the other man continued to bludgeon William Godsey over the head with a baseball bat. So forceful were the blows that the bat eventually broke as Sandra ran over to block the blows to her husband. After an attempt to stab the man with a six-inch shard that had broken off failed, she did the only thing that she thought would make her assailant leave.

"Something just told me," she says, "to lie on the ground and play dead."

Twelve days later, William Godsey passed away from a pulmonary embolism, the result of his sedentary state while recuperating in the hospital, according to the state medical examiner.

Despite the horrifically vivid nature of her recollections, Godsey could not say yesterday whether Roderick McDowell could have been the murderer, as the only identifying feature of the culprit was the skin on his cheek left exposed between the sunglasses and the ski mask, which Godsey testified looked red and had originally told police seemed like it belonged to someone "white or Hispanic." McDowell is African-American.

The two-day trial continues today, beginning at 9:30am. The eight-woman, four-man jury is expected to render a verdict this afternoon.


Why did they arrest this guy --based on what evidence ? Her description doesn't sound like the reason.

I'm thinking his prior employment to Wood Grill would be a factor especially if there was tension between the two during his tenure there.

There's a formula to crimes like these and it doesn't take much police work to get their guy once enough info is gathered. People talking is most likely what landed this fine character back on the county docket.