Man faces prison for home invasionPublished 8:08am Friday, July 11, 2014
A “selfie” photo and three different concocted versions of events by a 19-year-old Elkhart man has resulted in his conviction on multiple felony charges by the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office.
After a half-day of testimony and the presentation of evidence by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kirk Metzger during a bench trial, Cass County Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge found Dominque Goodwin guilty on Tuesday of conspiracy to commit home invasion in the second degree and second-degree home invasion.
“Thievery and lies will get you nowhere fast in Cass County,” said Prosecutor Victor Fitz. “We simply will not countenance brigands who enter our community, invade our homes and steal our possessions.”
Fitz also praised the Cass County Sheriff’s Department and Edwardsburg Police Department Officers who investigated the case, including the discovery of a picture of the defendant in an abandoned getaway vehicle.
Trial testimony revealed that on April 9, Goodwin, along with two other co-defendants, drove up from Elkhart and broke into a residence at 67438 Ashton Rd. in the Edwardsburg area.
Eleven witnesses testified at trial, including the homeowner, who encountered Goodwin and his accomplices as he returned in the late morning. He testified that he saw three young men come from the rear of his home and run to a red Mitsubishi SUV parked in his driveway.
When he confronted the three men they indicated they were looking for directions to South Bend. Suspicious of the circumstances, the homeowner called central dispatch to advise them of the situation.
In the meantime, the defendant and his companions fled from the scene around the homeowner’s vehicle and sped off at a high rate of speed. The homeowner was able to follow his vehicle for a distance but lost them on North Shore Drive.
The homeowner returned to his residence to find that the back door to his garage had been damaged and the back door to his home had been smashed in and was open. He noted several interior doors had been left open that were previously closed.
Meanwhile, personnel from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Edwardsburg-Ontwa Township Police Department took up the pursuit. A short time later, Deputies and Officers were able to locate the red Mitsubishi SUV abandoned and out of gas at a residence on Adamsville Road. With the help of several of the neighbors, officers were able to locate and apprehend the Goodwin and his co-defendants while they were walking across a nearby cornfield.
At the scene, Goodwin denied any connection to the home invasion and the red Mitsubishi. At that time and in a later interview, he concocted a story that he and his co-defendants were held up at gunpoint during a drug deal. His cohorts put this story forward as well.
Officers located Goodwin debit card and cell phone in the red Mitsubishi, as well as a “selfie” photo on that phone. The vehicle’s owner testified that without her permission, the Elkhart man had been lent the vehicle by her granddaughter, Goodwin’s girlfriend, in Goshen. She testified that she lent her boyfriend the car in order to go to a job interview, not to take to Michigan.
When confronted by these facts in a subsequent interview, Defendant admitted that he fabricated the story about the drug dealers, and now claimed to be dropping off a friend at his parent’s house.
The defendant did not take the stand to testify and did not present any witnesses.
Metzger effectively argued that there was no reasonable, innocent explanation for Goodwin and his cohorts to be at 67438 Ashton Rd. They were simply scared away prior to stealing anything by the arrival of the homeowner and the presence of his two dogs. The location, time of day, as well as the Defendant’s repeated dishonesties and their actions at the home and during their flight from the police added up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to the charges.
After a thorough review of the relevant rules of law and the evidence presented in this case, Judge Dodge rendered the guilty verdicts on the record. The defendant faces up to a 15 year maximum for his convictions.
Goodwin was living at 138 N. Sixth St., Elkhart. at the time of the crime.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 1, 2014 in front of Cass Circuit Judge Michael Dodge.