Suspect to stand trial in Madera toddler hit-run death

MADERA, Calif.

Ivette Godinez is accused of crashing her car into a toddler and then leaving the scene. A Madera County judge ruled there is enough evidence to send her to trial.

Ivette Godinez is out on bail as she faces charges for the death of three-year-old Efrain Hernandez. Prosecutors say she was speeding and possibly using a cell phone when her SUV hit the little boy in a crosswalk in September of 2010. Witnesses reported Godinez made a U-turn and came back to the scene, but then drove away.

Michael Keitz, Madera Co. District Attorney said, "This is certainly a very serious case, one that really tugs at your heart because of the death of this poor child."

"She was traveling west."

The defense attorney argues the sun made it difficult for Godinez to see but he would not comment on why she left the scene.

Linden Lindahl, Defense Attorney said, "This was a tragic accident, which occurred on a relatively busy street Olive Avenue, during the daylight hours."

Godinez appeared in court Friday to learn if she would go on trial for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, as well as felony hit and run charges.

Judge Ernie Licalsi said, "I do find that the defendant was speeding."

Judge Licalsi said he does not believe the sun affected Godinez, but he also said there's no proof she was talking on her phone or texting at the time of the crash. He ruled Godinez should be tried for manslaughter without gross negligence as well as the hit and run and charge.

Efrain's parents attended the hearing, but were too emotional to speak on camera.

Keitz said, "They are very emotional, this child was 3 years old, and they're deeply hurt."

"Her heart goes out to the family," said Lindahl. "They've lost their child. She is a parent. She has children of her own, and she is heartbroken over this."

Godinez is scheduled to back in court here later this month.

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