Benton court roundup: Man faces trial after bicyclist struck, killed

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 4, 2013 

A 20-year-old Prosser man faces a March 18 trial date for allegedly driving drunk when his car hit and killed a bicyclist who stopped to change a flat tire along a rural highway.

David Lee Rivera Godinez pleaded innocent Thursday in Benton County Superior Court to one count of vehicular homicide.

Godinez hired attorney Sal Mendoza Jr. to represent him. He was charged last month in the death of Jared Carr following a seven-month investigation by Benton County sheriff's detectives.

Carr, 31, was on a night ride on Old Inland Empire Highway, east of Prosser, when he was struck just after midnight May 27.

The Walla Walla man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities were called out to the highway near Bunn Road after 911 dispatchers received two calls about a vehicle crashing into a power pole.

Prosser police Sgt. Ed Blackburn was the first officer to arrive. He reported finding a body on the side of the road, along with a bicycle in pieces and a reflective vest lying near Carr, court documents said.

Blackburn also noted that the 2007 Honda Accord against a power pole was empty, and called for additional units to surround the area because it appeared the driver had fled.

As Prosser police and sheriff's deputies began searching for Godinez, he returned to the scene with his parents, whom he had called after the collision, documents said.

Godinez reportedly said he was the driver and had been drinking beer but that his ability to drive had not been affected. He said he had four 12-ounce bottles of Corona at his friend's house in Prosser.

The driver claimed he swerved to avoid what he believed was a skunk in the middle of the road, lost control of the car, hit gravel and ran into the pole, documents said.

Godinez also alleged that he had not seen any cyclists on the road that night.

According to Prosecutor Andy Miller, Godinez was above the legal limit of 0.08 when his blood was drawn about two hours after the wreck.

Toxicology tests showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.092, and he registered 0.097 when he took a portable breath test at the scene, court documents stated.

Investigators say it doesn't appear Godinez hit his brakes before striking Carr. They also determined that Godinez's Honda was traveling 75 mph in the 50 mph zone, and the car continued driving more than 350 feet after the initial impact, documents stated.

Carr reportedly had gotten off his bike and was fixing a flat tire when he was hit from behind. Investigators said given the amount of reflective gear Carr was wearing, he would have been visible to approaching cars.

Carr worked at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland. He was on the final leg of an organized training ride when he was killed.

Man pleads innocent to incident at tavern

A Kennewick man pleaded innocent on allegations he hit an employee and dented the side of a cab after he was asked to leave a tavern for being intoxicated.

Lance Theopolis Smith, 23, is scheduled for trial March 11 on one count each of second-degree malicious mischief and fourth-degree assault.

Smith was at The Pub Tavern on Clearwater Avenue on Dec. 29 when he was cut off from further drinking, according to court documents. Smith later took a shot of alcohol so he was asked to leave, but he refused and began to light a cigarette, documents said.

A Pub employee reportedly was hit in the face by Smith when he took the cigarette away. Staff members and Smith's friends tried to restrain him, but he escaped and ran out the door, court documents said.

Smith kicked the rear quarter panel of a waiting taxi outside the bar, leaving a large dent, documents said. The estimated damage is $1,500.

People were able to hold Smith outside until Kennewick police arrived.

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