Thursday, November 5, 2020

Westland man sent to trial in Northville death

Gustavo Godinez
A Westland man has beenbound over for trial in the hit-and-run death of a Northville Township college student.

During a court hearing last week, 35th District Court Judge Michael Gerou determined there was enough evidence to send Gustavo Godinez, 20, to trial in the death of Dominic Duhn. Duhn, 20, was skateboarding on Sheldon Road the night of Sept. 3 when he was struck and killed by moving vehicle. The driver did not stop at the scene.

During the hearing, Northville Township Det. Jon Huerta testified that he had connected paint chips at the scene with the 2012 Ford Escape that Godinez was driving. Godinez will face 10 years in prison if convicted of the felony charge of failing to stop at the scene of an accident, resulting in death.

During the hearing, Huerta said that Godinez was arrested more than a month after the incident. Huerta said Godinez told him during interviews that he thought he might have struck a deer when asked if he recalled hitting anything with his car that night while driving home from work. He said he called his family to tell them he might have struck a deer.

Gerou said from the bench that the death was a “horrible tragedy.” Testimony from witnesses indicated that Duhn and his friends were skateboarding with their cell phone lights activated when Duhn was struck and killed. He was a third-year student at Michigan State University and was an Eagle Scout. His friend and fellow Eagle Scout Paul Boran also testified at the hearing admitting that he, Duhn and others had “a few beers” before going to the Sheldon Road hill to skateboard. He said he saw the car coming toward them and that both he and Duhn turned their cell phone lights toward the vehicle. He said he went into the opposite lane and after the car passed, he looked back and saw Duhn on the ground. He made the original 911 call, he testified.

 “We don't have any information regarding any unlawful conduct of the vehicle. We just don't have it,” Godinez' attorney Francisco Villarruel said. “We don't have any evidence that Mr. Godinez triggered anything that led to this event.” 

Duhn died at the scene from multiple injuries including ones to his head, neck, torso and pelvis. Godinez will now face trial on the charge in Wayne County Circuit Court.