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What you need to know for 03/28/2017

Closing arguments in trial of Schenectady fatal hit-and-run

Closing arguments in trial of Schenectady fatal hit-and-run

The driver accused of striking one pedestrian with his van, then fleeing and striking and killing a

The driver accused of striking one pedestrian with his van, then fleeing and striking and killing a second pedestrian, is expected to learn his fate early next week.

Attorneys Thursday morning gave their closing arguments in the assault, manslaughter and leaving the scene case against 42-year-old Adimu Goodwin.

The defense argued that Goodwin is not guilty of the more serious charges because he feared for his safety after the first impact. The prosecution argued that evidence and witness statements show Goodwin fled simply because he didn’t want to get caught driving without a valid license.

Judge Frank P. Milano is hearing the case without a jury at the request of the defense. He is expected to hand down his verdict Tuesday.

Goodwin is accused of striking one man, 61-year-old Donald Shaffer, on State Street, near the Imperial Motel the evening of Aug. 14, 2015, then doing a U-turn and striking and killing 29-year-old Jerry Faine near Swan Street blocks away.

In closing arguments, Goodwin’s attorney, Cheryl Coleman, conceded that prosecutors proved that Goodwin left both scenes, and that Goodwin is guilty of both those felonies charged.

Instead, she focused on the more serious felonies of second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault.

She argued her client had neither the mindset necessary for the manslaughter count, nor the underlying felony — leaving the scene of the first non-fatal crash — for the assault charge.

He hadn’t yet committed the felony leaving the scene from the first crash as he feared for his safety, believing one driver to be chasing him from the scene and others yelling at him.

“At this point in time, he has no good choices,” Coleman said. “From the moment in time that he hit Mr. Shaffer, he has no good choices.”

But Hughes used witness testimony and multiple surveillance videos recording portions of the blocks-long incident in arguing that Goodwin’s testimony in his own defense, namely that he feared for his own safety, could not be believed.

She argued Goodwin never came to a complete stop after hitting Shaffer, then performed the U-turn and accelerated from the scene. No one approached his van and no car moved to pursue until the van was already away, she argued.

“He fled because he did not have a license,” Hughes told Milano, “and because he knew he had just hit a human being.”

She also questioned Goodwin’s testimony that he only heard a thump when hitting Faine, comparing Goodwin’s testimony with that of other witnesses. Goodwin dragged Faine’s body for nearly a block.

If convicted of the top assault count, Goodwin would face up to 25 years in state prison.

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