Wichita woman sentenced to prison for killing boyfriend

03/26/2013 1:22 PM

08/08/2014 10:15 AM

A Wichita woman who said she started using meth to lose weight was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for killing her boyfriend as she was going through withdrawal after she stopped using the drug.

Jessika Gooding, 24, was initially charged with first-degree murder in the death of Christopher Mills, but a jury convicted her of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter after a four-day trial in February.

Wichita police said Gooding ran over Mills in a Toyota Camry as the two were arguing on Jan. 4, 2012. Mills, 27, died more than a week later in a Wichita hospital.

Gooding’s lawyer, Craig Robinson, said his client became a steady user of meth after attending a wedding in March 2011 and feeling disgusted with herself because she weighed 230 pounds. An acquaintance suggested to Gooding that meth would help her lose weight, Robinson said.

“She ventured into the dark world of substance abuse in pursuit of something she wanted – to be skinny,” he said. “The drug got ahold of her and damaged her thinking.”

Robinson said Gooding had twice before quit meth cold turkey and suffered the withdrawal symptoms of restlessness, anger and irritability. He said her third attempt to quit began three days before Mills was killed. A blood test showed she had no meth in her system at the time, Robinson said.

Gooding spoke briefly at the hearing.

“I just want to apologize to the Mills family and the community,” she said. “This has been a tragedy for both of our families.”

District Judge Ben Burgess rejected Robinson’s suggestion that Gooding be placed on probation.

“This was in no way an accident,” he said as he imposed a 71-month sentence, the maximum allowed by law. “It was a deliberate, willful act that turned an automobile into an instrument of death.”

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