Monday, October 20, 2014

Palm Beach Social Diary

With the State planning to rest on Monday after calling a forensic toxicologist as their final witness, there's a chance the defense case might open much like the previous trial, with John Goodman as the first witness. Then, under the professorial guidance of lawyer Roy Black, Goodman's staccato speech pattern was as disjointed as his puzzling testimony. Courtesy Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post.
Wellington Noir: State of Florida vs. John B. Goodman
The Missing Bentley – The Nurse & the Needle – The Bartender & the Fifth – The Boots

By Augustus Mayhew

Fasten your seat belt. The missing Bentley caper could be enough to turn a deadlocked jury into a potential acquittal, according to some observers. Reasonable doubt might cloud the jury when/if the judge sanctions the State for releasing the "bullet vehicle" to Goodman's insurance company — who then sold it to Sugarland, Texas, businessman for $11,000 — without notifying the defense. Because the jury is not aware there was a prior trial and conviction, all references have been to "previous court hearings," Judge Jeffrey Colbath has been flummoxed as to how to tell the jury that the State bungled key evidence. The defense has demanded no less than a dismissal of all charges, claiming Goodman's due process was compromised since their experts can no longer examine the car. Whatever the nebulous circumstances surrounding the lost 5,600-pound Bentley, that dilemma has proved as enigmatic as John Goodman's unaccounted for one hour time-out after the crash before he called 911.
"I stopped and then pulled out in front of someone .... I didn't see the other car ..." John Goodman's 911 call at 1:55 a.m. sounds like it might be in direct contradiction to his defense that the brakes failed when the Bentley went haywire. The call was recorded nearly an hour after he drove away from The Players Club, an approximate four minute drive from the intersection of Lake Worth Road and 120th Avenue. As seen above from my recent late night visit to the crash site, the corner affords clear visibility from every angle. The night of the deadly collision visibility was ten miles; no fog; the exact temperature was 52 degrees. The collision occurred 42.5 feet from the Stop sign.
Some are still asking, "What was Goodman really up to for an hour? His cell phone was inconveniently dead. His Bentley went berserk. His head bump, a disorienting concussion? And yet, after the crash he was coherent enough to hike more than 1,500 feet to get drunk at Kris Kampsen's "man cave" where deputies never found boot prints leading to the second-story hideout. He was headed to Wendy's for a Frosty; not out to score cocaine. His blood-alcohol test was faulty — the tourniquet was too tight; the needle gauge was too big; the nurse was too sloppy. His prescription Vicodin was for back pain. The bartender misspoke. How could so much bad luck befall someone whose actions indicated he was only trying to save himself?

The week's most compelling witness was the leading sheriff's investigator Troy Snelgrove who arrived on the scene at 3:18 am. While most of his two days of testimony focused on the mundane details of the investigation — tire marks, bloodshot eyes, brake systems, slurred speech, data recorders, boots, blood vials, car weights, and the like — he was grilled about the Bentley's disappearance outside the jury's presence. He admits the Bentley was released after the first trial before Goodman was sentenced. Snelgrove said the insurance company kept calling and the state attorney's office approved it. Defense lawyer Elizabeth Parker snapped, "So, that was more important than Mr. Goodman's right to a fair trial?"
Investigator Troy Snelgrove describes a photo of a reconstruction of the crash during testimony on John Goodman's retrial Friday. The Palm Beach Post.
Also:

• The juror who is a convicted felon that thought his rights had been fully restored may yet be dismissed at the end of the trial. The NY Attorney General informed the prosecutor that only his right to vote was restored. Judge Colbath has asked the State to obtain an opinion from the Florida Attorney General.

The Palm Beach Post has filed motions to access John Goodman's civil deposition. The defense claims it is not relevant to the criminal case and the court should seal Goodman's "sensitive and private" financial information, claiming it is an "invasion of privacy." A former cohort of fellow Houstonian and convicted $7 billion Ponzi pirate Sir Allen Stanford, the International Polo Club's field was named Stanford Field before renamed Piaget Field, Goodman's financial dealings have been the subject of several court proceedings. In 2012, Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison.
Though the Houston Chronicle has referred to Goodman as a "former Houston millionaire," Goodman's driver's license, car registration, and business matters still appear to be in Houston. Goodman's "world class" International Polo Club and the adjacent 85-acre estate where he has been living are reportedly owned by a trust for his two children by his ex-wife, Exxon heiress Isla Carroll Reckling Goodman (JBG Children's 1991 Trust). According to court papers, each trust is valued at $200 million. In 2004, the Goodman family sold the Goodman Manufacturing Company for $1.45 billion, with some of those proceeds going to the Children's 1991 trust.
The "man cave," 4275 120th Avenue South, Wellington. The property is more than 500 yards from the site of the crash. Owned by the Tampa-based K&K Family Holdings, the Kampsens have twice changed the ownership of the property since the last trial in 2012.
Kris Kampsen, a six-goal polo player was paid $120,000 annually by Goodman. He happened to be a celebrity bartender at the White Horse Tavern, attended the Ganzis' dinner party, was part of the clique at The Player's Club, and owned the "man cave" where John Goodman supposedly helped himself to a few drinks after the crash. Kampsen saw no signs Goodman was impaired, testifying with a cordial glint and an ever-so-polite "Yes, sir" and "No, sir." He expressed much the same genial deference that Melissa Ganzi conveyed. Video pool images provided by WPTV-5 and WPEC-12.
On the stand, sheriff's investigator Robert Stephan holds up Goodman's custom made M. L. Leddy boot whose prints he found at Lisa Pembleton's property but not leading towards Kris Kampsen's barn. Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post.
Courtroom 11H. The Post's visual journalist Lannis Waters, far right, arrives early to set up his multi-locational cameras. Without the presence of Professor Black, popping up every now and then to postulate on some imminent threat to constitutional rights, the Goodman retrial has proceeded speedily, however often it has sounded as if the State was putting on the defense's case. The State's case has lost much of its dynamic without Ellen Roberts' sense of advocacy.
Assistant State Attorneys Alan Johnson and Sherri Collins.
Judge Jeffrey Colbath. Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post.
ER Nurse Cecelia Betts. Three hours after John Goodman closed his bar tab at the Player's Club, he was having his blood drawn at Wellington Regional Hospital's Emergency Room by triage nurse Cecelia Betts. The veteran nurse's' confidence during direct turned to tentativeness under cross-examination by Elizabeth Parker. Betts fumbled on needle size and didn't clearly explain why her forms did not match up with the same symptoms that the paramedics and the attending physician recorded.
Left, Lawyer Tarlika Teresa Nunez-Navarro, a former Broward State Attorney, with her client-bartender Cathleen Lewter, right. The day before, Lewter arrived in court with Fred Hadad, a high-powered criminal defense lawyer, think drug smugglers and football players. Hadad told the judge his client planned on invoking her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. During a deposition for the first trial, she unequivocally stated she served 2-ounce pours for the Goodman entourage. Shortly thereafter, she filed an errata, stating she only served one-ounce pours. Adding yet another twist to the case, she said she was harassed and terrified by the attorneys during the deposition, though a videotape showed just the opposite. Then, the prosecutor questioned her about her relationship with Neil Hirsch, the owner of the Player's Club, now known as the Coach House.
After her testimony, a more buoyant Cathleen Lewter, right, looks like she has dodged a bullet as she leaves the courtroom with her legal team. She did not invoke the Fifth.
Greg and Becky Goodman, arriving for Trial II. During the previous trial, Greg Goodman, the older brother of John Goodman, was a daily visible presence. Active in the thoroughbred horse business in the US and Europe, Becky and Greg Goodman own the landmark Mt. Brilliant Farm in Kentucky. Goodman's mother Harriett Goodman, a regular at the first trial, passed away in August 2013.
Houstonian Betsy Goodman Abell receives her court pass for the day's proceedings. Defense lawyer Doug Duncan and Greg Goodman.
For the defense, lawyer Tama
Kudman.
Defense lawyer Elizabeth Parker cross-examined investigator Cpl. Troy Snelgrove.
Patrick McKenna, a private investigator for the defense.
Heather Hutchins, Goodman's "life partner" and former adopted daughter, returned to the stand to clear up discrepancies surrounding her testimony about Goodman's trip to mercy Hospital in Miami after they had moved into a downtown Miami hotel near lawyer Roy Black's offices.
The day after her testimony, Hutchins returned to the courtroom taking a seat with the Goodman family.
John Goodman is taking the same active role in court proceedings as he did in the first trial.
Intersection of Lake Worth Road/120th Avenue South, Wellington. The scene of the crash, from the Bentley's perspective. In February, it will be five years since Scott Wilson was killed. Next week, plan on John Goodman's experts turning a painfully tragic hit-and-run into a colossal complicated scenario designed to perplex the jury.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland – Reflections on Palm Beach.