A man accused of being involved in a shooting incident with a former Mesa City Council candidate would rather spend at least 3 1 /2 more weeks in jail than plead guilty.
Eduardo Godina pleaded not guilty Monday to two misdemeanor charges of threatening or intimidating and assault. Had he pleaded guilty, his sentence would have been 20 days in jail — with credit for the 18 days of time served since his March 9 arrest.
Instead, the 32-year-old Godina is scheduled to start his non-jury trial on April 20 in Mesa Municipal Court.
Godina, who had no identification and is believed to be an illegal immigrant, remains in custody with a $1,000 cash bond and an immigration hold, meaning he will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when released from jail.
The case against Godina is based on statements of former council candidate JT Ready, who told police Godina threatened him with a firearm.
Both city prosecutor John Pombier and Godina’s courtappointed defense attorney, Garrett Smith of Udall and Smith in Mesa, said it is unusual for a defendant not to accept an offer to avoid additional jail time.
Pombier said the immigration hold on Godina could possibly be a factor. Smith said, however, his client doesn’t feel he did anything wrong.
“If he did, he would have pled guilty, that was my reaction,” Smith said. “It caught my interest he was not willing to take the offer.”
Ready could not be reached for comment Monday but has said he supports pursuing the charges against Godina.
In the early morning hours of March 9, Ready said, he was returning from Wal-Mart and saw “suspicious activity” and a number of “gang-bangers” in a neighborhood near Broadway Road and Horne.
He said he followed a truck that turned from Broadway Road onto Temple Street, a dead-end residential street.
Ready told police Godina exited the vehicle and walked toward Ready’s vehicle and showed a gun, which turned out to be a BB gun that resembled a handgun.
Godina, who was found in possession of a BB gun, denied to police that he showed Ready the gun. There were no other witnesses.
Ready then tried to drive away and jumped out of his car and fired one shot from his revolver after hearing what he thought was a gunshot, according to Ready and the police report.
Ready is a Minuteman Project member and concealed-weapons instructor with a valid concealedweapons permit.
Mesa police Sgt. Chuck Trapani has said Ready provided a consistent story and was able to identify Godina, and describe his BB gun and the license plate of the truck Godina was said to have been riding in.
Trapani said police found many inconsistencies in Godina’s story. Godina said he had been shooting his BB gun at a park, and a Hispanic male had shot at him earlier in the night.
Godina was arrested that morning. Ready was never charged.
“Ready was chasing this guy and that doesn’t sit right with me,” Smith said. “There’s some things that make me scratch my head.”
Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens member Napoleon Pisano said the group is reviewing the incident, but has no comment at this time.
Godina declined a request for an interview.
The incident occurred five days before the March 14 Mesa City Council District 4 election. Councilman Kyle Jones defeated Ready — who finished second — and two other challengers to retain his seat.