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Published: Thursday, 12/1/2011

Man testifies he didn't try to hit victim

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Geoffrey Dupuis holds a photograph of the scene as he testifies during his trial for the murder of Randall York. Geoffrey Dupuis holds a photograph of the scene as he testifies during his trial for the murder of Randall York.
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Geoffrey Dupuis said he was first "frustrated" on the night of June 11 while at his local Speedway station, but then became frightened.

"I was scared for my son and myself and I was trying to remove myself from the area to determine what was going on," he told a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury of seven women and five men on the witness stand Wednesday. "… As I accelerated and felt I cleared anybody on each side, I proceeded to turn left."

He then testified that when he attempted to pull out of the station, he did not see the man who he eventually would drag to his death.

Mr. Dupuis, 47, of 3355 W. Laskey Rd., was the sole witness for the defense in his trial. He is accused of murder for the death of Randall York, 55, who was killed when he was hit and dragged by Mr. Dupuis' minivan.

"About one second or two seconds after I made the turn, I heard banging and clunking. Since people were banging on the car, I thought people were still chasing me," Mr. Dupuis testified. "My son said, 'Dad, I think you hit somebody.' I was in total shock. I couldn't believe it."

Ten witnesses testified over two days before Mr. Dupuis took the stand Wednesday. Four customers testified that they saw an angry and belligerent Mr. Dupuis arguing with his son at the gas station on Secor and Laskey roads and then threatening the young woman who worked in the store.

They testified that Mr. York approached the vehicle in an attempt to keep the men there while waiting for police, but only after Mr. Dupuis' 18-year-old son punched a customer. Four witnesses testified that Mr. York was clearly visible to Mr. Dupuis when he gunned his engine and took off.

Mr. Dupuis acknowledged that he "was loud and … used profanity" but denied telling his son to punch anyone. He further denied that he saw anyone in front of his vehicle when he pulled forward and instead testified that Mr. York had been at the wheel well on the side of his minivan.

When questioned by Assistant Prosecutor Michael Loisel about various inconsistencies between his testimony in court and his statement to police that night, he acknowledged he remembered some but not all of the comments made to Detective Bob Schroeder.

When asked whether he had ever driven a vehicle at anyone before, he answered, "No."

In response to Mr. Dupuis' testimony, a final witness was called by the state. Donald Hernandez, 21, testified he knew Mr. Dupuis and his son, Jacob, because they were "ex-friends" of his 18-year-old girlfriend.

Mr. Hernandez said the Dupuis men had harassed his girlfriend and been told by her mother to stay away. He further testified that he was called to his girlfriend's house about 1 1/2 years ago because they had arrived there and wouldn't leave.

"I approached the passenger door because I wanted them to leave with no problems," Mr. Hernandez said, adding they responded by calling him profane names.

"… Next thing, he turned to hit me with his vehicle," he added, saying that Mr. Dupuis was driving and aimed the car at him four or five times. "I hid behind a tree."

Mr. Hernandez testified that he never reported the incident to police but reached out to one of Mr. York's sons, telling them, "It happened to me and I'm sorry for your loss."

Witnesses testified Mr. York died of blunt-force trauma to the head and torso and that he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Judge Gary Cook told jurors to anticipate hearing closing arguments Thursday by both the defense and state before they would begin deliberations.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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