A twister of a trial

The latest bizarre turn in the John Goodman case

 

Rather like the twisters that often hit the coast of Florida, the story of the case of the polo mogul and multimillionaire Goodman stereo manufacturing heir John Goodman has again taken another turn.

 

On Friday, it was revealed that a juror in the case that had resulted in Goodman’s conviction had lied about his ex-wife’s own DUI during jury selection. As a result, a retrial has now been granted.

 

Polo playing tycoon John Goodman enjoyed a jet set lifestyle but it was ultimately drinking that caused his downfall
Polo playing tycoon John Goodman enjoyed a jet set lifestyle but it was ultimately drinking that caused his downfall

Goodman's victim, Scott Wilson, was a recent engineering graduate with a promising future
Goodman’s victim, Scott Wilson, was a recent engineering graduate with a promising future

Juror Dennis DeMartin wrote and self-published book about the trial but claimed he'd forgotten about his ex-wife having had been arrested for DUI
Juror Dennis DeMartin wrote and self-published book about the trial but claimed he’d forgotten about his ex-wife having had been arrested for DUI

 

 

In February 2010, Goodman crashed his Bentley Continental GTC at speed into a Hyundai Sonata and in the process catapulted it into a canal. Whilst the 23-year old driver, Scott Wilson, was left to drown, Goodman fled the scene of the accident and later claimed he did not know he’d hit another driver. On the night in question, Goodman had settled a $272 bar bill for himself and friends at The Players Club in Wellington, Florida at 12:52am and had later drunk more alcohol after the accident in a “man cave” to “alleviate [his] pain”.

 

Goodman's Bentley Continental GTC is taken away after the accident in February 2010
Goodman’s Bentley Continental GTC is taken away after the accident in February 2010

John Goodman inspects the vehicle during his first trial
John Goodman inspects the vehicle during his first trial

Scott Wilson's mother, Lilli, inspects her son's Hyundai during the trial
Scott Wilson’s mother, Lilli, inspects her son’s Hyundai during the trial

Goodman was found guilty of the offences of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March 2012 and sentenced to 16 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 in May of that year.

 

Separately, the tycoon adopted his girlfriend Heather Hutchins as his daughter in attempt to preserve part of his fortune for her, during negotiations to settle a civil suit by his victim’s family. It is believed he ultimately agreed to pay some $46,000,000.

 

Goodman’s first spell in jail did not last long as, after submitting an appeal, he was released on bail on a $7,000,000 bond. The tycoon was again jailed in October 2012, though, after attempting to disable the ankle monitor that the court had instructed be fitted to him.

 

By December, Goodman, who also founded the International Polo Club Palm Beach, was again free and now it is one of the jury in his original case, Dennis DeMartin, aged 69, who is in trouble.

 

The actions of DeMartin, who self-published a “tell-all” book about the trial, Believing in the Truth, shortly after the first trial ended in which he revealed that he conducted drinking experiments to see if he could get drunk after three vodka and tonics, caused a motion from lawyers for Goodman in April 2012. At that time, the court deemed that the book and drinking experiment were inappropriate but did not agree that they deprived Goodman of a fair trial.

 

Now, though, it is DeMartin himself who is facing arrest after being summoned to answer contempt of court charges for failing to disclose that his ex-wife had been arrested for DUI. As a result, last Friday, Palm Beach County judge Jeffrey Colbath decided to throw out the DUI manslaughter conviction of Goodman. In a report the judge stated:

 

“[De Martin’s] cavalier and offensive demeanour during the interview of April 29, 2013 brings this court to the inescapable conclusion that DeMartin denied the state, the defense and the citizens of this circuit a fair trial”.

 

On behalf of Goodman, his attorney Roy Black, added:

 

“A juror who deceives to get on a jury in a high profile case for his own profit is a trial lawyer’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, this time the deception was exposed and a courageous judge set aside the verdict”.

 

Dennis DeMartin is scheduled to appear before a judge on 30th May 2013 and must prove that he is not in contempt of court. If he opts not to appear, a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

  1. Polo is now the preserve of the terribly common. Goodness knows what my great uncle,Alexander Lindsay, a keen player in pre Great War Ceylon, would have though of the vulgarian nouveau riche who play these days

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