A South Florida jury took just six hours to convict Houston-bred bazillionaire air-conditioning heir / polo honcho John Goodman on a charge of intoxication manslaughter.
The state claimed that Goodman had consumed 16 to 18 drinks before he slumped behind the wheel of his Bentley and rammed it into a Hyundai, sending the smaller car careening into a canal with driver Scott Wilson still inside. Prosecutors also contended that Goodman then fled the scene on foot and waited an hour before calling 911. Wilson drowned, trapped inside his car. By the time Goodman's blood-alcohol level was measured, it was still nearly double the legal limit.
Roy Black, Goodman's attorney and South Florida's Dick DeGuerin / Rusty Hardin analogue, contended that his client had only tippled before the crash, but then started drinking heavily afterward to dull his pain. He blamed the accident on a malfunction under the Bentley's hood that caused it to accelerate into the intersection.
The six-person jury bought none of that, and Goodman could face 30 years in prison at his April 30 sentencing. We wonder if Goodman's girlfriend / adoptive daughter will wait that long.
Prosecutor Peter Antonacci praised the jury in a post-verdict statement:
The jury in the Goodman case exercised sound judgment in its analysis of the factual and expert evidence in this trial. Scott Wilson was a young man with a bright future and his life was tragically cut short. I hope that Scott's family now experiences some closure so that the healing process can go forward in this particularly tragic event.
Roy Black's office disagreed. They issued the following statement:
It is our belief that multiple errors were committed during and before the trial that, in effect, denied our client's ability to get a fair trial. We intend to file an appeal so that our client can receive the just and fair proceeding to which he is entitled by law.
We'll give Scott Wilson's mother Lily Wilson the last word in this tawdry and tragic affair.
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"I'll always miss my son," she told the court after praising the jury for their verdict.
(More details can be found here courtesy of our sister paper in Broward-Palm Beach.)