Houston millionaire John Goodman found guilty of DWI manslaughter

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on March 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 23 at 5:45 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Florida jury has convicted Houston millionaire John Goodman of DWI manslaughter and vehicular homicide after a drunk driving crash that killed a recent college graduate.

The River Oaks native ran a stop sign and crashed his $250,000 Bentley into 23-year-old Scott Wilson's Hyundai two years ago. Wilson's car was pushed into a canal and he drowned.

Goodman walked away from the accident, claiming he saw no sign of Wilson’s car.

"I looked around as hard as I could. I did the best I could do," Goodman testified.

Goodman also said he was not drunk when the accident happened, but that his luxury car malfunctioned. He claims he drank a lot after he left the accident scene, because he found a bottle of liquor in a nearby barn.

"I went over and proceeded to grab a bottle of the liquor and I drank it, thinking it would help with my pain," Goodman testified.

Authorities, however, said Goodman’s blood-alcohol level was .20 the night of the crash – well over the legal limit of .08.

Jurors didn't buy Goodman's story.

"These two type of defenses are sort of unbelievable, and because of that I’m not surprised at all over the conviction," said 11 News Legal Analyst Gerald Treece.

Goodman's attorney said he will appeal. 

"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," said Roy Black, Goodman’s attorney. "We intend to file an appeal so that our client can receive the just and fair proceeding to which he is entitled by law."

Treece predicted Goodman might get a lesser sentence even though he caused a young man’s death.

"If alcohol or drugs takes a part in that, that often factors into the sentencing in a positive way not a negative way," Treece said. "That’s because all of us know people, maybe ourselves, who have been impaired while they were driving. It’s not the same as taking a gun out and shooting people, and I think the crime will not lead to a 30-year punishment—that’s the maximum.

Goodman will be sentenced on April 30.

Footnote: Perhaps the most bizarre twist in the trial, which included a parade of rich and famous witnesses, came when Goodman adopted his adult girlfriend Heather Hutchins – ostensibly to protect a large trust fund from a lawsuit by Wilson’s family. In the end, though, he decided to go ahead and reach a settlement with the family, but the details were not released.

CBS12 News in West Palm Beach contributed to this report.

 

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