Dobson man pleads guilty in hit-and-run

By Terri Flagg - [email protected]


Surry County Detention Center

DOBSON — A Dobson man was sent to prison in connection with a 2016 hit-and-run that seriously injured a Mount Airy motel owner.

Joshua David Sawyers, 32, of Rockford Road, pleaded guilty last week in Superior Court to numerous felony and misdemeanor violations, but might serve less than a year and a half for his crimes.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Beal described the various underlying incidents as “a reign of criminal activity in Surry County ranging from petty theft to running over people who are trying to conduct business on their own property.”

The hit-and-run took priority in the hearing.

Sawyers admitted to driving over Stonie Dunbar, owner of The Hollows Motel at 651 S. Andy Griffith Pkwy., in the motel parking lot in June 2016.

Dunbar and Sawyers had been engaged in a dispute regarding damage done to a room.

Dunbar wanted Sawyers and girlfriend Jennifer Marie Johnson to pay for the damage, Beal explained to the court.

With Sawyers behind the wheel, the pair backed over Dunbar, injuring his legs.

The victim obtained the tag number of the Jeep and was eventually transported to the hospital, where he spent eight days fighting off an infection related to his injuries.

Beal described Dunbar’s injuries as “horrific and extensive,” and submitted photos of the injuries to Presiding Judge Stanley Allen for review.

“I don’t want to make the court sick, but I want the court to see the severity,” he said. “He will not be able to walk again normally.”

Sawyers had fled the scene at The Hollows but was apprehended later that day after being involved in another hit-and-run incident in Carroll County, Virginia.

Dunbar was present in court for the hearing. His son, Christopher Dunbar, spoke briefly to the court, noting that his father had turned Sawyers and Johnson away from renting a room earlier that day.

A third party rented the room on behalf of the couple, he explained.

The victim’s son added that not only was his father run over but also had been dragged underneath the car.

“Obviously my main concern is the injuries to Mr. Dunbar,” Beal said, asking the court to deliver “nothing less than an active sentence.”

Sawyers also admitted to other crimes, each with different victims.

They included the larceny of a wood splitter, the theft of boxwood trimmings from a church, breaking into three trucks, stealing and using a gas card, removing a theft prevention device from the Elkin Walmart and stealing a purse off the arm of a woman in the parking lot of the Mayberry Mall.

He pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run causing serious injury, felony hit-and-run causing injury, three counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle, common law robbery, two counts of financial card theft, felony larceny, two counts of misdemeanor larceny, larceny by removal or destruction of an anti-theft device, misdemeanor financial card fraud, injury to personal property and obtaining property by false pretense.

The state dismissed charges of felony hit-and-run causing serious injury, injury to real property and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defense Attorney Ann Whitehurst asked the judge to consider a probationary sentence for her client, noting that he had no prior felonies on his record.

She told the court that Sawyers had torn his rotator cuff on the job in 2014 and was subsequently prescribed painkillers.

“He was made to stop cold turkey and was addicted,” Whitehurst said. “Everything that followed since then happened as a result of his addiction to painkillers.”

Judge Allen sentenced Sawyers to 17 to 30 months in prison and ordered him to receive a substance-abuse assessment, comply with any recommended treatment and to enroll in a high school equivalency program.

Sawyers was additionally given two consecutive suspended sentences of 14 to 26 months and eight to 19 months and placed on supervised probation for five years, which are to be served after his release from the Department of Adult Corrections.

Allen noted that the long period of probation was to account for restitution of about $4,000 to be paid to numerous victims.

Sawyers Surry County Detention Center

By Terri Flagg

[email protected]

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.

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