A Delaware judge has refuse to alter the sentence of a man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges in the deaths of an elderly couple killed when he stole a car and crashed into their vehicle east of Newark.
Stephen R. Goodman was sentenced as a habitual offender to 25 years in prison for manslaughter in the 2017 deaths of 77-year-old John Simon and his 92-year-old wife, Irma. He also pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, DUI and theft of a motor vehicle.
Authorities said Goodman was traveling about 90 mph in a 25 mph zone when he slammed into the Simons’ car as they were leaving the Delaware Park casino in December 2017.
Prosecutors said Goodman was wanted for carjacking after stealing a vehicle about two hours earlier. Witnesses said he was speeding on wet roads, running red lights and narrowly missing other vehicles before he crashed head-on into the Simons’ car.
Goodman had previously been convicted in state court of felonies including burglary and disregarding a police officer’s signal. He also had been convicted in federal court of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
He argued that his sentencing as a habitual offender was illegal because the federal gun charge did not qualify as a violent felony under Delaware law because it is not classified under federal law as a violent felony.
The judge noted in a ruling Thursday that the laws do not need to be identical and that Goodman’s federal conviction was “the same or equivalent to” possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. That offense qualifies as a violent felony under Delaware law for purposes of habitual offender status.