TALLAHASSEE – Attorneys for John Goodman, a Wellington polo club founder who
was convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in October 2014, laid
out additional arguments in an attempt to win a reversal last month.
In an appellate pleading filed on Oct. 24,
Goodman's lawyers argued that critical errors were made by the judge before and
during his retrial by allowing the prosecution's use of incriminating blood
test results and certain testimony.
“The lawyers once again took aim at prosecutors for
releasing Goodman's smashed $250,000 Bentley from evidence, thereby harming a
defense claim that it malfunctioned before slamming into victim Scott Patrick
Wilson, 23,” an Oct. 25 Sun Sentinel article said.
Two weeks earlier, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to take
up Goodman’s appeal about testing drivers' blood-alcohol levels after traffic
accidents, according to an Oct. 17 Sun Sentinel article.
The justices, in a 4-2 decision, said they would hear the
millionaire’s appeal in regards to a DUI manslaughter charge in the fatal 2010
“Lawyers for other DUI defendants across the state surely
will be watching to see whether the high court agrees with Goodman that state
rules for collecting and analyzing blood are inadequate and violate the rights
of drivers charged with driving drunk,” the Oct. 17 Sun Sentinel article
The state attorneys claim that experts examined Goodman’s
Bentley before the state allowed its destruction, so the defenses argument
should not stand.
On the other hand, the defense for Goodman argued that the
jurors were deprived the chance to inspect the damaged car.
“Seeing the wreckage, including the driver's side damage,
would help support a defense claim Goodman shouldn't have been convicted of ‘failure
to render aid’ because he didn't realize Wilson's Hyundai flipped into a dark
canal after it was hit,” the appellate attorneys said.
In September, the state attorneys asked that the 4th
District Court of Appeal deny Goodman this third trial and also argued that
Wilson's death was a direct result of Goodman's actions of driving drunk.
“The state's lawyers called Goodman's trial defenses – the
Bentley malfunctioned, and he chugged liquor after the crash – a ‘charade’ and
an ‘unbelievable story,’” the Sun Sentinel article said.
Goodman's Bentley Continental GTC convertible ran a stop
sign, "barreled through" the intersection of 120th Avenue and Lake
Worth Road in Wellington at 63 miles per hour and "smashed into the victim's Hyundai
without braking at all," Assistant Attorney General Richard Valuntas said
in a written statement.
Valuntas added that having the Bentley in evidence for the
retrial wouldn't have changed the guilty verdict.
Goodman's blood samples, which were taken at a hospital
three hours after the 1 a.m. crash, showed a blood-alcohol content measuring
.177, more than twice the .08 legal limit to drive, along with traces of
hydrocodone, which he claimed he was taking for back pain, according to court
“Goodman and his trial lawyers had insisted the elevated
level wasn't from drinking at three Wellington bars that serve the polo
community,” the Oct. 17 Sun Sentinel article said. “He said he took a swig
from a liquor bottle inside a polo player's barn office…to allay the pain of a
broken wrist and concussion.”
The lawyers also argued the judge should have thrown out the
results because of alleged problems with rules on blood collection and testing
from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
While Goodman's appeals are pending, and are likely to
remain so until 2017, he continues to serve a 16-year prison sentence.