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From the newsroom of the Gloucester County Times, Woodbury, New Jersey,
Saturday, June 11, 1005
Victim's child: I was too late
By Pete McCarthy
WOODBURY -- At his sentencing Friday, Kevin Spragg Jr. learned that he took more than a life when he killed Edward Woodside III inside the victim's Paulsboro home last August.
He took someone's father.
Before Spragg, 22, was sentenced to 35 years in state prison, he listened to 28-year-old Nikki Surber, who now lives in Washington, D.C.
Surber, who -- like her father -- is hearing-impaired, needed a sign language interpreter to understand what was being said, but she spoke up to tell the judge exactly how she felt.
Surber first met her father when she was 11 years old and then only for a short time.
Before Woodside's death, Surber was trying to contact him, she told Superior Court Judge John Tomasello.
"I was robbed of the chance to give my father a second chance," Surber said. "I can never have my father in my life. I waited too long."
Surber said she was "not getting any younger" and that is why she wanted to reconnect with her father.
"I wanted to try to forgive and forget, and move on," Surber said outside the courtroom.
Woodside, 60, was found inside his Roosevelt Street home, having been struck over the head with a computer monitor and stabbed twice in the neck with a butter knife.
The victim, described as hearing-impaired in previous court documents, died from blunt force trauma to the head, authorities determined.
"The beating was particularly brutal," Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor George Gangloff Jr. said in court. "The victim was particularly vulnerable."
Spragg, who must serve at least 30 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole, gave a tearful apology before Tomasello imposed his sentence.
"I want to apologize to the victim's family," Spragg said. "Hopefully, with the time that I have, I will better myself."
Despite his young age, Spragg had five convictions as a juvenile and eight more after turning 18, according to Gangloff.
Tomasello thanked Surber for making her statement, so Spragg can know "from real people the impact the offense" has on others.
"The nature of this offense was particularly heinous," Tomasello said. "The nature of this offense just boggles the imagination."
When Spragg pleaded guilty to felony murder in March, he did so without having his case go before a grand jury for indictment.
The Greenwich Township man admitted to entering Woodside's home to steal coins when he was confronted by the victim. At that point, authorities said, the two men got into a scuffle and Woodside was struck over the head with the computer monitor.
Spragg was arrested two hours later near a Wawa in Gibbstown. Some of the coins were found in his pockets, according to previous reports.
Spragg was given 307 days of credit for time served. When he is released, he must serve an additional five years of supervised parole.
© 2005 Gloucester County Times