The husband of a woman killed while jogging with her dog in Greenville last year told the woman who was driving the car in court Tuesday he hoped “the image of Brittany taking her last breath will haunt you for the rest of your life. It will haunt me for the rest of mine.”
Veronica Dawn Tharp pleaded guilty to hit and run with death and reckless homicide in the May 29, 2021 death of Brittany Langley Lawson, a 38-year-old mother of two young children. Tharp also pleaded guilty to burglary for stealing the SUV that hit Lawson.
Circuit Court Judge G.D. “Doc” Morgan Jr. imposed 25 year sentences for each of the charges relating to Lawson’s death and 10 years for burglary. The sentences will run concurrently.
Tharp, driving the SUV, crossed two lanes of roadway and went up onto the sidewalk beside Augusta Street, where Brittany Lawson and her golden doodle Chloe were hit. Lawson died at the scene. The dog died, too.
Scott Lawson, Brittany’s husband, called Tharp’s actions “disgusting recklessness” and said his children are “motherless because of you.”
Lawson’s son Harrison, who was born in 2017, asks if his dad and sister can go to heaven to be with his mom, Lawson said. The Lawsons also have a daughter, Hampton, who was born in 2019.
Lawson described his wife as “the light we all wanted in your lives.”
Lawson sat in the front row in the courtroom and the rows behind him were full of friends and family.
Courtney Tollison, Brittany Lawson’s cousin who grew up with her, said the family cherishes the last image of Brittany as she walked down the steps to their house for a morning run captured on the home surveillance camera. She said it was a beautiful Saturday morning. Scott Lawson was making eggs for the children when the coroner arrived to tell him of his wife’s death a few blocks away.
Before Lawson was killed, Augusta Street was a narrow, four-lane road through miles of commercial developments, single businesses and strip malls, and a primary access route to downtown Greenville.
Many of Greenville’s most prosperous or sought-after neighborhoods are located adjacent to both sides of the road.
Since her death, improvements have been made to the roadway.
Brittany Lawson was a nurse “always ready to help,” Tollison said. The fact Tharp left the scene of the accident without helping her is “almost too much to bear.”
She said she hopes Tharp’s experience will push her to help other people struggling with addiction.
Tharp apologized to the family and asked for forgiveness.
She has been held at the Greenville County Detention Center since her arrest and was given 449 days credit toward her sentence.
Deputy Solicitor William McMaster told the court Tharp had stolen the SUV she was driving while its owner was asleep in a Greenville motel about two weeks before Lawson was killed.
He said home security cameras showed her leaving the scene and changing her clothes after Lawson was hit.
Brittany Lawson graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science degree in nursing and worked for 14 years in the cardiac intensive care unit at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital. Not long before she died, she joined Clemson/Prisma Health as a clinical nursing instructor.
“She was a beautiful blessing in our lives,” Tollison said. “We will never step missing her. We will never stop loving her.”