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Driver accused of hitting, killing child had no license

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of hitting and killing a six-year-old girl in Michigan has never had a license to drive, and it wasn’t the first time police caught him behind the wheel.

Dakota Lee Welch, 19, was formally charged Monday afternoon with operating a vehicle without a license causing death and failure to stop at the scene of a deadly crash.

Welch was arrested shortly after allegedly hitting Taylor Davis, causing the injuries that killed her late Sunday morning. Police say the suspect drove away from the scene and was captured after a witness followed him and helped police quickly locate him.

Davis’ devastated family pleaded for justice in the case, suspecting that the incident was not an accident — a theory Muskegon Heights police declined to comment on Sunday evening.

In court Monday, Welch denied trying to remove a license plate from the SUV suspected of hitting the girl. Welch said he hit a bike, but claimed there is no proof he hit Taylor, saying "there is no blood."

Prosecutors asked the judge to set Welch's bond at $250,000; the judge decided to double that.

Welch has a significant history of driving violations. State records show he was caught driving without a license at least eight times within the past three years. Half of the incidents occurred within the past year. 

Because of the violations, his driver's license, albeit never issued, is also suspended.

Welch’s driving record lists violations as follows, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office:

  • May 12, 2016: Caught driving without a license in Muskegon.
  • June 27, 2016: Caught driving without a license in Muskegon.
  • Dec. 27, 2016: Caught driving without a license in Muskegon.
  • March 9, 2017: Caught driving without a license in Grand Haven.
  • Sept. 8, 2017: Caught driving without a license in Muskegon.
  • Sept. 27, 2017: Caught driving without a license and no proof of insurance in Muskegon.
  • Oct. 30, 2017: Caught driving without a license in Muskegon.
  • Jan. 2, 2018: Caught driving without a license in Hart.

Muskegon County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tim Maat says because Welch is being charged as a habitual offender, he faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of both charges.


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