Herbert Deon Goodwin Jr. was raised in Fresno by good, God-loving parents, his relatives told a judge on Tuesday in Fresno County Superior Court.
He earned A’s and B’s in school and as a young man he helped the elderly, they said.
So it came as a shock to them when they learned Goodwin was convicted in October of human trafficking charges.
In asking for leniency for Goodwin, his family blamed the victims, calling them “evil women” who enticed him into a life of crime.
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But Judge Edward Sarkisian Jr. said he could find no mitigating reason to give Goodwin, 34, a lesser sentence. Instead, Goodwin got 36 years to life in prison for using force and fear to take advantage of two vulnerable victims, ages 17 and 42.
There are no safeguards to deter him but prison.
Prosecutor Miiko Anderson
In announcing the punishment, Sarkisian noted for the record that Goodwin was arrested in April this year while on parole for a 2012 felony conviction of pimping a 15-year-old girl.
The judge also said Goodwin rejected a plea agreement in which he would be sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison for his crimes.
In addition, Sarkisian said Goodwin has denied culpability for his crimes.
According to prosecutor Miiko Anderson, Goodwin represents the worst kind of criminal: While on parole, he showed signs of being rehabilitated by meeting with his parole officer, attending classes and wearing a GPS monitor to track his whereabouts. He also got a job with a company that gave away government-assistance cellphones to the needy.
But behind his parole officer’s back, he used the government-issued phones to make money as a human trafficker, Anderson said.
“He has shown no remorse and no reformation,” Anderson told the judge. “There are no safeguards to deter him but prison.”
Goodwin was arrested in April while on parole for a 2012 felony conviction of pimping a 15-year-old girl.
The case against Goodwin began on April 5 when the 17-year-old ran away from a Fresno foster home. The foster mother told police the girl is bipolar and wasn’t taking her medication, court records say.
The next day the girl called the national human trafficking hotline, saying she needed help. The call was made on a government-assistance cellphone that Goodwin gave the girl to call customers, Anderson said. The cellphone contained sexually explicit text messages and photographs of the 17-year-old.
Fresno police called the cellphone, and when the girl answered, an officer went to a motel at Blackstone and Ashlan avenues. There, an officer found the frightened girl who “reported being physically assaulted by the defendant,” according to Anderson’s trial brief.
“He’s my pimp. He’s going to kill me,” she told the officer, according to the trial brief.
The officer convinced the girl to get into his patrol car. Soon after, Goodwin drove into the parking lot of the motel while the girl was in the officer’s patrol car. Once she saw him, she began to cry.
The case began on April 5 when his 17-year-old victim ran away from a Fresno foster home.
After Goodwin was arrested, police Detective Grant Bradford discovered that the 17-year-old girl wasn’t his only victim. Motel staff told police that Goodwin rented one room for the 17-year-old and another room for a 42-year-old woman.
Police tracked down the 42-year-old woman, who told Bradford that she met Goodwin at a kiosk where he was giving away government-assistance cellphones. She said she was in need of friends because she had just been released from the Chowchilla state prison after serving 22 years for carjacking.
Initially, Goodwin was nice to her, taking her to restaurants and other places, Anderson said. Then he suggested that she become a prostitute for him. She reluctantly agreed because “she thought she was proving to the defendant how much she loved him,” Anderson says in her trial brief.
The woman told Bradford that Goodwin had a set of rules to follow, and if she broke them, she would be punished. She told Bradford that Goodwin punched her in the eye for breaking one of his rules. The woman said that to keep her from leaving, Goodwin kept her mother’s ashes.
The woman was able to escape when Goodwin left to attend a class ordered by his parole officer, Anderson said. But in doing so, she had to leave her mother’s ashes behind.
On Oct. 13, a jury deliberated less than five hours before finding Goodwin guilty of seven felony charges of human trafficking. After Goodwin was convicted, the victim was reunited with her mother’s ashes, Anderson said.