Adimu Goodwin told a judge on Wednesday that he never intended to flee from the scene where he hit a pedestrian pushing a cart on State Street last August, but individuals in the area angered by the crash led him to fear for his safety.
Goodwin, who is standing trial in connection with that crash and a subsequent one that killed a pedestrian, later told a judge he was focused on a person honking his car horn as he fled. He said never saw a second pedestrian or even realized he hit someone else until being told the next morning that he did so and that the second person died.
Goodwin also became emotional on the stand as he spoke about the man killed, Jerry Faine, and Faine’s family.
“I have kids,” Goodwin, 42, of Schenectady, said. “I don’t know what to say to the family besides ‘I’m sorry.’ ”
Goodwin took the stand in his own defense Wednesday afternoon at his Schenectady County assault and manslaughter trial.
He faces felonies related to leaving the scene of both crashes, which happened blocks and minutes apart. He also faces the more serious counts of second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault related to Faine’s death.
The assault count, which carries a term of up to 25 years in prison upon conviction, is based upon the prosecution argument that he struck Faine while committing another felony — leaving the scene of the serious injury accident.
Goodwin’s defense is arguing that the first-degree assault count doesn’t fit because he hadn’t yet committed the first leaving the scene felony. The civilians pursuing him made him fear for his own safety and therefore he couldn’t safely stop.
“It was never my intention to leave the scene at all,” Goodwin said under questioning from his attorney, Cheryl Coleman. “Instead, it went to 0 to 100.”
Goodwin is accused of first hitting 61-year-old Donald Shaffer on State Street near the Imperial Motel as Shaffer pushed a red shopping cart. Shaffer is still recovering from his injuries nearly a year later. Goodwin is not charged with wrongdoing in connection with hitting Shaffer, only with leaving the scene after doing so.
Goodwin immediately made a U-turn and headed east past the accident scene. Near the Dollar General at Swan Street, Goodwin passed a vehicle on the right side and slammed into Faine, who was walking by, prosecutors have said. Goodwin soon after fled on foot into a nearby cemetery.
Goodwin testified to driving toward downtown on State Street the evening of Aug. 14, 2015, just before hitting Shaffer. He said he didn’t see Shaffer until it was too late. He didn’t know then if he hit Shaffer or just his cart, he said.
Goodwin pulled over and rolled down his window. People in the area came out angry and he panicked and took off, he said. Another car beeped its horn and pursued him, he said.
He testified he was focused on the car pursuing him as he drove down State Street, looking in his mirrors as he drove. He later admitted to exceeding the speed limit. Prosecutors contend he exceeded 50 mph in the 30 mph zone.
He also said he perceived another vehicle on State Street at Swan going slowly. He thought it to be possibly broken down.
The driver of that vehicle testified earlier in the trial that she waited after the light turned green because she saw Faine in the road and allowed him to cross in front of her.
Goodwin passed that vehicle on the right. He said he heard a sound he described as a thump.
“I really can’t even tell you what happened next,” Goodwin said. “I heard a noise. I never knew that I had hit no one [at Swan] until the next morning.”
Prosecutors contend Faine became stuck on the front of the van and remained there for about a block. Goodwin maintained he never saw Faine, before or after the impact, even after prosecutor Stephanie Hughes highlighted previously introduced evidence suggesting Faine’s head hit the blunt-nosed van’s hood.
Goodwin turned down Waldorf Place, abandoned the van at the dead end and ran into the cemetery.
Hughes highlighted on cross examination the multiple calls Goodwin made after he perceived himself to be safe, but he made no calls to the Police Department.
Goodwin turned himself in to police three days later.
Goodwin completed his testimony Wednesday afternoon and the defense rested. Judge Frank P. Milano is deciding the case; the defense chose against a jury trial.
Closing arguments are expected this morning. A verdict could come early next week.