Winston-Salem woman indicted in fatal hit-and-run that dragged man 3 miles

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Viola Demitria Spencer

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A Winston-Salem woman was indicted Monday on charges that she fatally hit a man on Cleveland Avenue in April, dragged him more than two miles and then tried to cover it up, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. 

According to a search warrant filed in the case, police located the woman, Viola Demitria Spencer, by following a trail of blood to a gas station on Akron Drive and then identifying her through video of her going into the gas station to make a purchase.

A Forsyth County grand jury indicted Spencer, 24, of Devonshire Street, on felony hit and run involving death, misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and obstruction of justice in connection with the death of John Otis Hill, 54, on April 9.

Winston-Salem police said Hill was either lying or sitting in the street when they allege that Spencer’s car struck him and dragged him along Cleveland Avenue. Police said the driver stopped for a moment and then continued going, with Hill trapped under the car.

Police officers found Hill in the road at Kapp Street and Idlewild Industrial Drive, more than two miles from where he was hit. Hill was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

Spencer’s attorney, Beth Toomes, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the indictments. Spencer is in the Forsyth County Jail, with bond set at $110,000. A date for an appearance in Forsyth Superior Court has not yet been set.

Hill’s wife, Shari Duncan-Hill, said she and her husband had been married for 36 years and been together for 40 years. They have seven children together, she said, including a 15-year-old son so consumed with grief that he can’t stay in the house.

The couple lived in Romulus, Mich., a suburb just outside Detroit. She said Hill had been visiting friends in Winston-Salem. Hill had been paralyzed since 1985 after he was shot while getting robbed, Duncan-Hill said. He got around on crutches, she said. She said her husband loved people and loved the Lord. A lot of people are still grieving, and about 1,700 people attended his funeral, she said.

According to a search warrant, Spencer admitted that she was driving the car and told police that she thought she had hit a bump. Then she heard a thumping sound and thought she had a flat tire. The search warrant said she told police that her sister, who was with her, got out of the car, checked and found no flat tire.

The search warrant said police were able to locate Spencer through a trail of blood from where Hill was struck to the Wilco-Hess gas station at Akron Drive and then to where Hill was eventually found.

The distance, according to the search warrant, was approximately 2.8 miles.

Investigators found a pool of blood in the parking lot of the gas station, indicating that Hill was still underneath when the car parked at the gas station, the search warrant said. Police investigators got video from the gas station of a woman that they later identified as Spencer getting out of the car and going into the gas station. The car she got out of matched the description of the car police said hit Hill, according to the search warrant.

Investigators found the car, a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder, and saw that it had been cleaned recently, the search warrant said. They also saw what appeared to be blood on the inside of the tire walls.

Duncan-Hill said she has come to Winston-Salem and talked to people who live on Cleveland Avenue where her husband was hit. They told her they heard Hill screaming when he got hit. She said she doesn’t understand how Spencer didn’t know she had hit someone.

“I have hit a bird before and I have come out and looked for the bird,” she said. “You know the difference.

“It hurts. It hurts real bad.”


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