Gaston County Man Who Drove SUV Into Restaurant, Killing 2 Relatives, Sentenced To At Least 38 Years
Former Gaston County businessman Roger Self has been sentenced to at least 38 years in prison for driving an SUV into a crowded restaurant in May 2018, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law, and seriously injuring his son and wife.
The sentence was handed down in a Gaston County courtroom Friday by Judge Athena Brooks. She sentenced Self to a minimum of 230 months or maximum 288 months in prison for the murder of his daughter, Katelyn Self, and another minimum 230 months or maximum 288 months for the murder of his daughter-in-law, Amanda George Self.
She also sentenced Self to a minimum 70 months to maximum 96 months for injuring his son, Joshua, and a minimum 70 months to maximum 96 months for injuring his wife, Dianne. Those sentences are concurrent, meaning they can be served at the same time he serves his murder sentences.
The maximum amount of prison time the 65-year-old Self was sentenced to was 48 years. The 1,062 days Self has already served in jail will count toward his sentence.
Defense Centered On Mental Health
The sentencing came after Self pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to driving his Jeep into the Surf and Turf Lodge in Bessemer City, North Carolina, where his family was seated, on May 20, 2018.
In emotional court testimony, family members and others who knew him said Self had been struggling with his mental health in the months leading up to the incident. Self testified that he was taking antidepressants, but that the medications were making things worse.
He also said he had bought a handgun the day before his killed his two family members, intending to commit suicide, but was unable to pull the trigger, The Gaston Gazette reported.
Forensic psychiatrist George Corvin also testified that Self felt extreme guilt for visiting strip clubs and massage parlors with his friend, Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck, on the North Carolina coast, where the two owned property together.
Corvin testified that Self also had a girlfriend outside of his marriage who lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and had become convinced that God could never forgive him for his actions, according to the Gazette.
Family members had discussed holding an intervention for Self the day before he drove into the Surf and Turf Lodge, Corvin testified. He said Self suffered from bipolar disease and should have been a patient in a psychiatric hospital because he had become delusional.
Corvin said that when Self left the restaurant on May 20, 2018 and climbed into the vehicle outside, he felt as though he were watching a video of himself aim the car at the restaurant where his family was eating and drive toward them.
Reaction To The Sentencing
Following the sentencing, Philbeck released a statement saying that while he was close friends with Self and the two owned property together and would often travel with one another, he denied visiting any strip clubs with Self or visiting any massage parlors with Self "for the purpose of any sort of illicit behavior."
"I will not speculate on the motivation or mental state that led to Roger saying the things which were related by his psychiatrist or Roger himself, nor will I speculate on the motivation of those who repeated what they had 'heard' as firsthand knowledge," Philbeck's statement read.
"I have nothing but compassion and sympathy for Roger, his family, and everyone who was impacted. It is my sincere hope that they be given the grace and privacy necessary to heal," Philbeck continued.
Immediately following the sentencing, Self asked if he could address the court. He turned to face the courtroom and apologized to the family of his daughter-in-law, Amanda George Self, and said he had suffered immense inner turmoil from his actions that day.
"There's no way for me to describe the pain that I've been in," Self said. "There are people who hate me. I know that. I'm aware of that. But the fact is, I understand why they hate me, because I've hated myself, now, for three years."
Self also thanked his wife, Dianne, for her compassion while he's been held in jail, and said he had been speaking with her daily over the phone.
"I wish I would have an opportunity before I die to hold my family again," he said. "I'm going to die in prison, and then I'm going to be free, because of Christ and his love for all of us."
In an interview with WFAE, Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell said he believed the sentence was fair.
"It's the fair and just result for a horrible tragedy," Bell said. "Nothing can bring these little kids' mom back. Nothing can bring a wife back. But the judge made a just and correct verdict."