MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The woman arrested in connection with a deadly hit-and-run crash was due in court Friday but did not appear.
Joanna Goodfellow is charged in connection with the death of 32-year-old Christopher Phillips. He died after being hit by a car while crossing the street near Madison and Morrison Feb. 22, 2017.
Since the incident, Phillips’ family has held a candlelight vigil and benefit concert in their son’s honor. Through the benefit concert the family was able to raise money to help build a crosswalk at the intersection.
Goodfellow is charged with aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, tampering with evidence and reckless driving.
She was indicted in October 2018 for the hit-and-run but was not arrested until July 31 of this year.
Friday’s hearing was supposed to be Goodfellow’s first appearance in court since being charged but she was a no-show. Her attorney said he filed a motion to waive her appearance, which was a surprise to the judge, the prosecutor and Phillips’ family who filled the courtroom.
The family spent most of the day Friday waiting for Goodfellow to show up as did Judge Paula Skahan.
“I want her in here in front of me,” said the judge.
Phillips’ family has waited more than two years now for a court hearing. Several people traveled from out of town.
“We’re very disappointed, but I told my brother I’m not surprised,” said William Andrew Phillips, Christopher Phillips’ uncle. “It just keeps the wound open. Everybody’s trying to heal and it slows the healing process down.”
Goodfellow’s attorney said while the family has a right to be upset, their client was not required to be at court Friday.
“If a lawyer files for her presence to be waived, she’s not required to be here,” said John McNeil, Goodfellow’s attorney. “It’s simply a court date where the judge and the court tells her what she’s charged with.”
Phillips’ family has filed a civil lawsuit against Goodfellow. In the suit, they say she was impaired at the time of the crash and that she “conspired to conceal, hide and ultimately destroy the vehicle” at one of her father’s car lots.
When Goodfellow was arrested, her father, Mark Goodfellow, sent this statement to WMC.
“I want to extend my sincere empathy and sorrow with the family and anyone that was affected. My words could never be enough to make this situation any better, but I want to just let it be known that this is deeply weighing on my heart. I pray for all parties involved.”
Friday’s hearing has been reset until Oct. 29.