Walworth man convicted of trying to kill man with baseball bat
ELKHORN—A Walworth man was convicted of attempted homicide Tuesday for beating a man he knew with a baseball bat after an argument outside a strip club.
Gabino Dominguez Gonzalez, 42, was convicted of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and aggravated battery with intent to cause great bodily harm in the 2015 incident. He claimed he was defending himself after the victim attacked him.
A jury of six women and six men deliberated for three hours and 20 minutes before reaching the verdicts.
The jury had the option but chose not to convict Dominguez Gonzalez on lesser offenses, attempted second-degree intentional homicide or aggravated battery with intent to cause bodily harm.
On the night of Dec. 26, 2015, Dominguez Gonzalez and the then-22-year-old victim went to a strip club. They had a couple of drinks but fought in the parking lot when Dominguez Gonzalez wanted to leave and the victim didn't, according to a criminal complaint.
Dominguez Gonzalez then drove the victim back to their apartment at 418 Beloit St., No. 7, Walworth, where the fight took place.
Defense attorney Michelle Anderson said the victim attacked Dominguez Gonzalez in the dark apartment.
She said Dominguez Gonzalez got away from the victim and heard him go into the kitchen. Worried that the younger man was getting a knife, he armed himself with a baseball bat.
Anderson said the victim has attacked Dominguez Gonzalez with knives before. She argued Dominguez Gonzalez was unsure if the victim was armed and defended himself accordingly.
“It's a traumatic event for all involved,” Anderson said. “Everything is extremely disorienting.”
Knives were found near the victim's body when police arrived, she said.
Assistant District Attorney Haley Johnson noted that Dominguez Gonzalez told police that the victim had hit him with his hands, not knives. Dominguez Gonzalez also did not have knife cuts on his body, which Johnson said supported the argument that his actions were out of line.
“We are here because he chose the bat,” Johnson said. “He chose to strike (the victim) over and over until he bled.”
The victim spent 10 or 11 days in hospitals in Janesville and Madison, Johnson said.
A doctor testified the victim suffered blunt trauma, skull bleeding, serious damage to his eye and bleeding inside his face. Blows from the bat had pushed a piece of his skull into his brain.
One of the victim's relatives said it was hard to recognize him in the hospital. Johnson showed pictures from that night to the jury during her closing arguments, highlighting the victim's graphic injuries and lack of injuries to Dominguez Gonzalez.
Anderson said Dominguez Gonzalez was defending himself.
“He did what he had to do,” she said. “There was no doubt about that.”
She said Dominguez Gonzalez decided to wait in the car while the victim went into the apartment first to “defuse” the situation after the argument.
Anderson asked the jury to avoid “Monday morning quarterbacking” and to evaluate her client's decisions based on the information available at the time. She explained that people can get “tunnel vision” during a chaotic moment.
She also said Dominguez Gonzalez wanted to get medical attention for the victim, and he would not have done that if he intended to kill him.
A relative of the victim testified that after she told Dominguez Gonzalez, “You killed him,” he responded by saying the victim needed to respect him, Johnson said.
Johnson said nothing the victim did warranted what Dominguez Gonzalez did to him.
“It wasn't self-defense,” Johnson said. “It shouldn't have happened.”
Dominguez Gonzalez pleaded not guilty Jan. 29, 2016, and rejected a plea agreement at his final pretrial court appearance April 11.
Dominguez Gonzalez will be sentenced at 10 a.m. June 28.