Flint, MI – Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton has announced the woman who shot and killed a 43-year-old man at the Planet 3 Air Park in Flint Township will not face charges.
At a Monday, Jan. 27 press conference, Leyton said he decided to not press charges in the shooting death of Flint resident Damon Darnell Hodges.
Hodges was pronounced deceased after being shot Jan. 18 inside the Miller Road business.
Prior to the shooting, Leyton said the pair were alone inside the woman’s SUV in the parking lot after her 14-year-old son and two other children went into the building.
“They argued over his refusal to remove the snow from her car… and his failure to get a job. It got physical. He put his arm around her neck and strangled her while sitting in the car,” said Leyton. “She managed to get the driver’s side door open and kicked it out several times, knocking it into a car parked into the adjacent parking space.”
A driver in the other vehicle told police he heard the woman telling someone to call 911, but the person wasn’t sure if she was talking to him or someone in the SUV.
While moving the vehicle to check on damage, Leyton said the pair got out to talk before heading inside.
Surveillance video shows the man then got into a fight with the woman’s son inside the building. The woman — who had the weapon properly registered and a concealed pistol license — spots the pair fighting and shoots the man.
Leyton noted the woman knew Hodges to carry a knife and believed it was in his possession on the night of the shooting. A knife was later recovered by the police inside the SUV.
In reviewing the woman’s actions, Leyton said he had to ask if there was an “honest and reasonable belief for our shooter to think her life or the life of a loved one, in this case her son, was in danger of death or serious injury when she pulled that trigger.
“I believe her actions were reasonable under the law and I will not seek criminal charges against her,” he said.
Leyton noted Hodges had a long history of violent behavior. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tammy Phillips provided a timeline of incidents dating back to 1993.
In the 1993 incident, Hodges tried to get two girls at a Burton gas station to come back to his home and party. He began to call them names and assault them when they declined the offer.
Hodges was then charged in 1995 with first-degree child abuse for assaulting his 16-month-old daughter that left her with brain damage, deaf and blind, Phillips said.
He was sentenced to 9-15 years in prison and released in August 2008.
Hodges also had a history of choking women, the first incident taking place in February 2009.
“It’s significant at this point to note that this is the first instance we have where he uses the tool of strangulation to assault his domestic partners because of the seriousness of strangulation as a lethality factor in domestic violence relationships,” said Phillips.
She noted a person strangled more than once is 750 times more likely to die of a domestic homicide.
Other incidents in 2009 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 involved Hodges strangling a woman.
Hodges met the woman involved in the Planet 3 Air Park incident in 2016, Phillips said.
In April 2019, he made threats to kill her and she spoke with the police.
“He had the audacity to text message right into her while she’s in the police station that the police can’t save you,” said Leyton. “That’s scary stuff.”
Ann Paetz, director of domestic violence and sexual assault services with the YWCA in Flint, said victims can fall into what she called intimate partner violence.
“It’s all about violence and control and it’s maintaining that day after day after day,” she said. “A victim becomes very fearful, to the point sometimes believing that this might be normal.”
Paetz said there is some embarrassment for victims because it’s not something people like to talk with others about.
“A lot of people don’t understand the dynamics of what a victim is going to go through. Probably the most prevalent (thing) is that they’re very fearful of this person,” she said. “She was probably most fearful and shameful, but there’s also barriers in reference to why did she live with him trying to raise a family, financial stress. There might be some cultural perspectives of why people stay in a relationship, spiritual or religious, expectations from extended family.”
In other instances of domestic violence, separation violence may also be a factor.
“When a victim tries to leave their assailant, she is 75 times greater to be dead the next day than if she stayed with him,” said Paetz. “It’s a very, very volatile situation.”
Phillips also pointed to a pair of incidents in summer or fall 2019 when Hodges punched the woman’s son in the stomach, pinched him on the chest and used a belt to strangle him.
“I think you can understand why I ruled this homicide justified,” said Leyton.
Leyton said his office also looked at other potential charges, such as reckless discharge of a firearm.
“I declined to charge her on that because what she did wasn’t a negligent act,” Leyton said. “It was an intentional act. There was no doubt about it. It was either going to be some type of intentional crime or no crime at all.”
He urged those in abusive relationships to use the programs available through the YWCA and other resources in the community to get help.
“None of that can work unless they come forward women who are being abused have to come forward,” Leyton said. “We are there for you. We want to help we want to get you out of the bad situation.”
(c)2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.
Visit MLive.com, Walker, Mich. at www.mlive.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.