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A woman accused of hitting and killing another woman while high on prescription medication and texting while driving pleaded guilty in a Gaston County court Monday morning.
Belinda Hudspeth was charged in February for second degree murder after officials said she hit and killed 75-year-old Lavon Ramsey on Perfection Avenue in Belmont.
Monday's court proceedings started with superior court Judge Robert Sumner asking Hudspeth when she last took pills. "That was the eighth day of February?" Sumner asked.
"Are you in fact guilty?" Judge Sumner also asked.
"Yes, I am," Hudspeth answered.
The prosecutor laid out what happened the day Ramsey was killed.
"She's coming down the road. She's texting while she's impaired," said Gaston County district attorney Locke Bell.
Officials say Hudspeth hit trash cans and a fence with her SUV before killing Ramsey, who was walking on Perfection Avenue.
"I'm learning how to handle this," said Keith Strickland, Ramsey's son.
"There will never be anybody else like her," said Ramsey's grandson Chris Burch, "I thank to God I had the chance to have that wonderful person in my life."
Hudspeth appeared to be moved by Ramsey's family's words as she wiped away tears with hands bound by handcuffs.
"My mother would tell me to forgive this lady and I'm trying, I'm trying hard," said Strickland.
Strickland said in time he will forgive her.
Hudspeth spoke after her defense attorney.
"There's no amount of punishment that this court could put on me that I haven't already put on myself," she said, "I've already given myself a life sentence because I have to live with this the rest of my life knowing I hurt somebody."
Outside the courtroom, Ramsey's grandchildren wanted to focus on the woman who loved them, not the woman who is guilty of second degree murder.
They want their tragedy to affect lawmakers.
"They need to do something about the laws in North Carolina texting and driving, driving under the influence," said Ledbetter.
As part of the plea Hudspeth also admitted she was on parole for another DWI at the time she killed Ramsey. She will spend at least 14 years in prison for second degree murder. At the time of Hudspeth arrest, she was charged with other traffic violations. All other charges were dropped.
They said they want stiffer penalties, but were not disappointed by Hudspeth's plea deal.
"Justice was served today and I'm happy with it but they get to visit her," Kristy Strickland said, "We don't. We get to look at a plot in the ground."