Winona Man Charged In 2017 Death Pleads To Aggravated Battery, Reckless Homicide

"Courtroom Gavel" by Joe Gratz, public domain

The man charged with murder in the 2017 death of Derek Davidson pleaded guilty to two lesser charges Thursday.

Daniel Hugo Duenas, 21, of 2326 E. Pierceton Road, Winona Lake, appeared in Kosciusko Circuit Court Thursday and submitted a plea agreement for Judge Michael Reed’s consideration.

The agreement charges Duenas with aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; and reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony.

Reed said the aggravated battery charge carries a sentence of three to 16 years, with the advisory sentence of nine years; and the reckless homicide charge carries a sentence of one to six years, with three years as the advisory sentence.

The plea agreement calls for the sentences to run concurrently, and for it to not exceed eight years.

Reed will sentence Duenas at 10 a.m. Feb. 13.

Duenas was facing charges for murder, an unclassified felony; and voluntary manslaughter, a Level 2 felony. Those charges were amended by Kosciusko County Prosecutor Dan Hampton in September for the plea agreement, court records reflect. The Dec. 10 jury trial was cancelled.

On Feb. 19, 2017, Warsaw police responded to a personal injury death in the 700 block of North Cook Street, Warsaw, and found an unresponsive Davidson pinned underneath a black Ford Mustang. Davidson died at the hospital from his injuries.

Duenas fled the scene after discovering he had killed Davidson by running over him with his car, court records state. Police located him shortly after the incident on Winona Avenue.

According to court documents, Duenas told police he arranged to meet a Warsaw man, 18-year-old Jarrod Miller, to sell Miller half an ounce of marijuana. After Miller and Davidson arrived, they allegedly took 11 grams of marijuana from Duenas without paying. Duenas told police Davidson shoved him and punched him in the face, and that is when Duenas got in his Ford Mustang, put the car in reverse and backed over Davidson, pinning him to the ground.

Witnesses told police they saw Duenas go in reverse and drive over Davidson several times, possibly in an attempt to get the car unstuck, before he got out.

Court papers state that Duenas asked Miller if Davidson was dead, to which Miller responded, “Yeah, you killed him.”

Duenas’ attorney, Doug Lemon, asked Reed to prolong the sentencing of Duenas to February instead of sentencing him within 30 days as is the right of defendants. Reed agreed and will rule on the matter then.