Hickory man pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run

by: Dave Faherty Updated:

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HICKORY, N.C. - A man admitted Monday to hitting and killing a woman in Hickory and then trying to cover up the crime.

Family members of Patricia Patton were emotional during the court appearance. At one point, Gregory Lucas, a business owner, faced them in court and apologized.

"I am extremely, extremely sorry. From the bottom of my heart sorry," he said.

Lucas pleaded guilty to felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Prosecutors said last January he struck and killed 56-year-old Patton.

They said he then ditched his car and returned to his business, Mr. Tuxedo, where he called police telling them someone stole his car. Patton's son said he doesn't accept Lucas's apology.

"We couldn't forgive him for what he's taken away. We had to watch my mother slowly die for six days in the hospital. Just can't forgive somebody for that," son Chad Taylor said.

It was surveillance video from a storage rental unit and a bar near the crash scene that helped police piece together the case. Prosecutors said they could see someone who looked like Lucas walk by the crash scene and then go to the bar where he called for a ride back to his business.

In a plea deal, Lucas got 30 days of jail time and on the anniversary of the crash he will have to return to jail for two days for the next four years as a reminder of what he did. His attorney tried to explain to the judge why he didn't stop after the crash.

"He saw other people assisting her. He panicked and he ran and he left and he shouldn't have done it," said attorney Herb Pearce.

The judge also ordered Lucas to reimburse Patton's family more than $12,000, which included expenses for her funeral.