Selfie helps prosecutors land conviction for Cass Co. home invasion


Prosecutors have to feel thankful for this blunder. They say an Elkhart man has been convicted of multiple felonies in a Cass County home invasion in part because he took a selfie on a phone that was left for police to find in the getaway vehicle.

Her is the full release from the Cass County Prosecutor's Office:

A "selfie" photo and three different concocted versions of events by a 19 year old Elkhart man has resulted in his conviction of 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, Honorable Cass County Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge found Dominque Goodwin guilty on Tuesday of Conspiracy to Commit Home Invasion -2nd Degree and Home Invasion 2nd Degree.

Prosecutor Victor Fitz stated that "Thievery and lies will get you nowhere fast in Cass County. 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, 2014, Defendant along with two other co-defendants drove up from Elkhart and broke into a residence at 67438 Ashton Road in the Edwardsburg area. Eleven witnesses testified at trial including the homeowner who encountered the Defendant 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 home owners vehicle and sped off at a high rate of speed. The homeowner was able to follow Defendant's 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 had been closed previously.

Meanwhile, Police personnel from the Cass County Sheriff's Office and the Edwardsburg-Ontwa Twp. 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 Defendant and his co-Defendants while they were walking across a nearby corn field.

On 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 gun point during a drug deal. This story was put forward by his co-Defendants as well. Officers located Defendant's Debit Card and cell phone in the red Mitsubishi as well as a "selfie" of the Defendant on that phone. The vehicle's owner testified that without her permission, Defendant had been lent the vehicle by her granddaughter, Defendant's girlfriend, in Goshen, IN. Defendant's girlfriend testified that she lent Defendant 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.

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 Defendant and his cohorts to be at 67438 Ashton Road. 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 Conspiracy and the Home Invasion -2nd Degree.

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 for Conspiracy to Commit Home Invasion -2nd Degree and Home Invasion 2nd Degree.

Goodwin was living at 138 N. 6th Street, Elkhart, IN. at the time of the crime.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 1, 2014 in front of Cass Circuit Judge Michael Dodge.