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John Goodman, Man Who Adopted Girlfriend, On Trial For DUI Manslaughter

The Huffington Post  |  By Michael McLaughlin  |  Posted: 03/23/2012 12:08 pm

The DUI manslaughter trial of a wealthy polo club founder who adopted his girlfriend is now in the hands of a south Florida jury.

John Goodman is blamed by prosecutors for the fatal crash that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson in February 2010. Prosecutors claim that Goodman was drinking for hours before running a stop light and smashing his Bentley into Wilson's car, flipping it and knocking it into a canal where Wilson drowned. Goodman fled from the accident.

The case made headlines when Goodman had legally adopted his girlfriend, thereby giving her a share of the $300 million trust he'd established for his biological children.

Critics charged Goodman, 48, had exploited a loophole in order to protect some of his immense wealth from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Wilson's family. Goodman settled with the Wilson family for an unspecified amount earlier this month, shortly before the criminal trial began, according to WPTV.

The prosecutor and defense attorney painted vastly different pictures of Goodman in their closing arguments yesterday.

Defense lawyer Roy Black said Goodman's Bentley malfunctioned, causing the crash, the Palm Beach Post reported. Goodman allegedly suffered a concussion in the crash, rendering him confused, which is why he wandered from the scene.

Sobriety tests showed that Goodman had a blood alcohol level of .20 -- more than twice Florida's legal limit. But Black said Goodman drank after the crash, downing liquor in a barn to ease the pain from a broken wrist and fractured chest suffered in the crash.

Black went on to argue that the jurors needed to overlook Goodman's wealth, despite repeated references to it by the prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Goodman drank steadily while bar-hopping in Wellington from 8 p.m. until the the 1 a.m. collision. However, witnesses called during the trial could account for only 4 drinks consumed by Goodman, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said.

The prosecution questioned the validity of Goodman's statements that he drank after the crash to ease pain. They wondered why he didn't instead take the prescription Vicodin painkillers in his glove compartment.

Ellen Roberts, one of the prosecutors, told the jury that Goodman was concerned only with himself. His first call after fleeing the scene was not to 911, but to his girlfriend whom he instructed to call his personal assistant, the Palm Beach Post said.

The trial began about two weeks ago.

In a surprise move on Wednesday, Goodman took the stand himself. He insisted that he did not consume cocktails like Irish car bombs and mind erasers as the prosecution contended, ABC News said

If the jury of five men and one woman convicts Goodman, he faces 30 years in prison.

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