Huffpost Crime

John Goodman Guilty: Man Who Adopted Girlfriend Convicted Of DUI Manslaughter

Posted: Updated:

A rich polo club founder who legally adopted his girlfriend has been convicted of killing an engineering student in a drunk driving crash.

John Goodman of Wellington, Fla., was taken into custody after the jury of five men and one woman announced the guilty verdict on Friday afternoon, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Jurors deliberated for more than five hours on charges that Goodman, 48, was drunk when he ran a stop sign and crashed his Bentley into a Hyundai, killing the driver Scott Wilson in February 2010. Wilson's car flipped and fell into a canal, drowning him.

Goodman could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The case took on national interest when it was revealed that Goodman -- the International Polo Club Palm Beach founder -- had quietly adopted his girlfriend, making her eligible for a share of the $300 million trust he'd established for his biological children.

Critics charged that 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.

A guardian for his teenage children fought back by filing a lawsuit to get the eyebrow-raising adoption nullified.

The prosecutor and defense attorney painted vastly different pictures of Goodman before handing the case to jurors on Thursday.

Defense lawyer Roy Black said Goodman's Bentley malfunctioned, causing the crash, the Palm Beach Post reported. Goodman walked away from the crash, but it was because he had a concussion and was confused by what had happened, according to his attorney.

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.

It was the prosecution's version of events that swayed the jury however. Prosecutors said Goodman drank steadily while bar-hopping in Wellington from 8 p.m. until the the 1 a.m. collision.

The prosecution attacked the defense's contention that Goodman 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 reported.

The trial began about two weeks ago.

Around the Web

Jurors deliberating in Goodman DUI-manslaughter trial

Polo Tycoon's Trial Goes to Jury After Battle Over 'Irish Car Bombs' and 'Mind ...

Will John Goodman's testimony help or hurt in DUI manslaughter trial?

Goodman trial heading to closing arguments

In Wellington, Goodman DUI manslaughter trial the talk of the town

Polo Tycoon John Goodman Guilty of DUI Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide