Court roundup: Trial for Prosser man accused of hitting bicyclist postponed to August

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 21, 2013 

The trial for a Prosser man accused of hitting and killing a stopped bicyclist while driving drunk on a rural highway has been postponed to Aug. 26.

David Lee Rivera Godinez, 20, agreed to the trial delay in Benton County Superior Court. He was charged with one count of vehicular homicide in December following a seven-month investigation into the death of Jared Carr.

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

The Walla Walla man was changing a flat bike tire when he was hit. He worked at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland and was on the final leg of an organized training ride.

Prosser police Sgt. Ed Blackburn found his body on the side of the road, along with the bicycle in pieces and a reflective vest lying near Carr.

An empty 2007 Honda Accord was found against a power pole, so Blackburn called for help to search the area, court documents said.

Prosser police and Benton County sheriff's deputies were searching for Godinez when he came back to the scene with his parents. He reportedly called them after the accident.

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

The driver claimed he swerved to avoid what he believed was a skunk in the road, lost control of the car, hit gravel and ran into the pole, court documents said. He said he didn't see any cyclists on the road that night.

Prosecutor Andy Miller, who charged Godinez, said the suspect's blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit of 0.08 percent when it was drawn about two hours after the wreck.

Godinez registered 0.097 when he took a portable breath test at the scene, and toxicology tests showed his level was 0.092, documents said.

Investigators determined that Godinez was traveling 75 mph in the 50 mph zone and did not hit his brakes before hitting Carr. They also said Carr would have been visible to approaching cars given the amount of reflective gear he was wearing that night.

Godinez is out of custody on his personal recognizance while the case is pending.

Sunnyside man gets prisonfor vehicle theft, animal cruelty

A Sunnyside man is going to prison for acting as a lookout when four-wheelers were stolen from the same rural property five months apart.

Felipe Cornelio Villalon, 23, was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree animal cruelty and three counts of theft of a vehicle.

A pet rooster was killed during the March 13 incident.

According to court documents, a South County Line Road property owner called sheriff's deputies Oct. 11 to report that some time overnight an all-terrain vehicle had been taken from the back of his truck on his property.

The thieves also tried to pry open the door to his camper and cut the lock to his shop, but didn't get in, documents said.

The same resident again called deputies March 14 after discovering that two more four-wheelers were gone from his garage. There were signs that someone forced their way into the garage overnight.

The victim said his daughter's pet rooster, which she had raised from a chick, was found dead on the ground outside the closed chicken coop where it lived, documents said.

Investigators tracked Villalon, who admitted to being involved with both incidents.

Villalon said he was with two men in October when they took the four-wheeler. It was later sold to his sister's boyfriend, court documents said.

Then in March, Villalon said he was the lookout for the same two men. The two vehicles taken in that theft were found on the back of Villalon's property, where he said he agreed to hide them, documents said.

Two counts of second-degree burglary were dismissed with Villalon's guilty pleas to the other charges. He must pay $1,634 to the victim.

Villalon also had an attempting to elude conviction from 2011 in Yakima County.

--w Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531;; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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