James Washington was already in jail when he had a heart attack. It was a frightening incident, one that reminded him of his own mortality, and brought to mind any regrets he’d had in life. And Washington had at least one major regret: murdering a woman in 1995. In the hospital, and fearing he was near his end, he wanted to get it off his chest and confess to someone. So he called over his guard and confessed to the 1995 murder of Joyce Goodener.
His confession was a windfall for detectives on the case, who had been unable to obtain enough evidence to link anyone to the crime. WSMV reports in “Man found guilty following deathbed murder confession” that Goodener had been stabbed and beaten to death. Yet as years passed and no suspect was arrested, the family’s hopes of finding the murderer dwindled. They had about given up hope when they received news of the incredible confession.
Ironically, Washington recovered from his heart attack – and tried to take his confession back. But his confession had already been taken into account, he had been charged with first-degree murder, and his sentence had been adjusted accordingly. Now facing an additional life sentence in prison, there is vanishingly little chance that Washington will ever be free again.
Though Washington regrets his confession, it was a gift to Goodener’s family. They had lost faith in receiving any justice for the murder, but Washington’s confession gave them something that had seemed impossible. Although Washington will be imprisoned for the rest of his life, at least he has managed to give the family some measure of closure.