GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- It was an emotional day in the Gaston County courthouse as the sentencing hearing for Roger Self began.
Roger Self is the man who pled guilty to intentionally driving his car into a Bessemer City restaurant in 2018, killing his daughter and daughter-in-law and injuring several family members.
He entered an Alford plea in January of this year to try and avoid a life sentence. Under U.S. law it is a guilty plea entered by a criminal defendant who does not admit guilt but nevertheless pleads guilty as part of a plea bargain.
His attorney says he’s facing between 12 and 82 years in prison. Self cried several times in court and so did his family members.
In an interrogation video, Self told police that he had been on anti-depression and anti-anxiety meds and that he was not himself when he plowed his car into the Surf and Turf Lodge restaurant. He said he bought a gun the night before and was going to kill himself.
Instead, he killed his family members. He was at the lunch table with them after church Sunday on May 20, 2018, when he walked out.
As police continued interrogating him, Self repeatedly said, “it was not me” and said “a spirit” inside him made him kill his daughter. He even said that “the devil” tricked him.
But a paramedic who responded to the scene that day said Self knew just what he had done.
“He was laying on the ground in handcuffs, so I asked him if he needed any medical care or any kind of medical attention and he said, ‘I did it on purpose,’” a responding police officer told the court.
They say Self told them what had happened as soon as they arrived at the scene. While he was still inside the Jeep, he said that he had just driven through the restaurant.
“He told me not to f***ing touch him. That he knew what he had done. That he did it. I said, ‘so are you refusing medical care at this time?’ and he said ‘yes.’ And I got out of the car and turned, and I saw a sheriff’s officer, told him what was said and then went back to the little girl.”
Multiple witnesses testified Tuesday. One of those who spoke in court was Roger Self’s son Josh.
Josh testified months before, his dad had asked him to take his guns away. He also told the court what he remembers right before his dad intentionally drove into the restaurant and what his sister said to him just before their dad killed her.
“I remember Kate saying, ‘what is he doing?’ and I hadn’t even known he got up from the table,” Josh said. “I wasn’t even sure what she was talking about, so I was looking out the window. I turned to look out the window to what she was referring to, and that’s the last that I remember that day.”
Roger’s daughter, Kate Self, was a Gaston County sheriff’s deputy, and his daughter-in-law, Amanda Self, was a nurse. Josh, Roger’s wife Diane, and his twelve-year-old granddaughter were all injured.
One responding paramedic said ER workers were shocked and heartbroken to see Amanda, someone they knew and worked with, being brought in.
“We knew that somebody had went into cardiac arrest but we didn’t know who it was that they were bringing in, and then when they brought her in, there were a lot of people running and trying to help,” paramedic Tashia Witherspoon said. “Several people had collapsed in the ER when they saw it was her.”
Prosecutors say they expect to be finished tomorrow morning. Then, the defense has its turn. Sentencing could wrap up tomorrow.