A jury of five men and a woman is deliberating the fate of multi-millionaire Wellington polo mogul John Goodman, who could face a maximum 30 years in a state prison for the death of 23-year-old engineering graduate Scott Wilson.
The jury started working on a verdict about 4:30 p.m. and broke up for the day about 5 p.m. They’ll return tomorrow about 8 a.m.
In their closing arguments in a West Palm Beach court, prosecutor Sherri Collins and defense attorney Roy Black spent an hour and a half recapitulating two weeks of trial that included high profile witnesses, including polo star Nacho Figueras and Heather Colby Hutchins, the 42-year-old woman adopted by Goodman weeks before the trial.
Goodman, the founder of International Polo Club Palm Beach in Welly, is accused of being drunk as his $280,000-black convertible crashed into Wilson’s Hyundai on a dark country road in Wellington, sending it into a canal. Wilson drowned on his seat while Goodman walked away after suffering, he claims, a concussion.
Goodman’s defense team claimed the owner of International Polo Club Palm Beach drank after the accident to dull the pain of his injuries. They also tried to prove the accident was caused by a malfunction in Goodman’s $280,000-Bentley.
Black claimed the state’s case relied on faulty testimony that Goodman had more than 10 drinks at two parties before the crash, and accused investigators of intimidating witnesses.
“The state is telling you: We can’t prove that Mr. Goodman had more than one drink . . . but we want you to suppose he did,” Black told the jury.
Black also touched on the economic implications of the case, in which a one-percenter Goodman is accused of killing a man at the wheel of an economy car.
“Courtrooms in the United States are not for poor people, and not for rich people,” Black said. “They’re places where people are tried on evidence and equality — not on suppositions.
“This is an important case not just for John Goodman but also for the community!”
Black also lauded Goodman for his testifying in his own defense yesterday, despite Goodman’s confusing, convoluted explanations for the accident and the aftermaths.
“That took a lot of courage, ladies and gentlemen,” Black said. “He tried to answer the best he could”
Colllins, meanwhile, emphasized that Goodman left the scene of the accident — a fact no one has denied. Goodman claims his cell phone wasn’t working and walked away to search for one.
“(Goodman’s) automobile caused the death of Scott Wilson,” Collins said in an emotional closing. “The state has proved that alcohol and a therapeutic amount of hyrdrocodone did too . . . (Palm Beach County Medical Examiner) Dr. (Michael) Bell told you that Scott Wilson would have survived this crash if John Goodman had rendered aid.”