Wednesday, October 29, 2014

South Florida Social Diary

"I know what I know now," said polo patron John B. Goodman, who spoke coherently on the stand during direct testimony, only to crack under cross when his speech pattern stumbled through a fog of "I don't recall." The defense claimed Goodman's selective memory was the result of a forehead bump that caused a dazed-and-confused mild concussion. The diagnosis was reported to have cost $60,000 in expert testimony, explaining why his 911 taped conversation in February 2010 differed from what he testified to in 2012 and contradicted with what he now recalled in October 2014. The jury didn't buy it. Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post.
Guilty! Guilty! Goodman retrial ends
By Augustus Mayhew

After more than four hours of deliberation, a second jury has convicted John Goodman of DUI manslaughter and failure to render aid and Vehicular homicide and failure to render aid in the February 2010 death of Scott Wilson. The Wellington-based International Polo Club founder and heir to a more than one billion dollar Texas manufacturing fortune was taken into immediate custody and fingerprinted in the court room. Goodman showed no emotion when the verdict of the Tampa-based sequestered jury was announced on Tuesday afternoon. The defense plans on filing for an appellate bond while Goodman awaits sentencing. According to court watchers, the maximum sentence could be 16 years; the same he received following his first conviction in 2012 that was reversed due to juror misconduct.
The 15-day Goodman trial was staged at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, across the street from the historic 1916 courthouse that houses the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.
Goodman, one of the polo world's most influential and powerful patrons, is now ensconced in the county jail at Gun Club Road, as the Battle of the Bentley experts, said to cost in excess of $500,000, and the priceless "Man cave" story line will be immortalized in law school textbooks and classrooms. The six-member jury relied on common sense and evidence formulated by the Palm Beach Sheriff Office's officers and detectives, as the State asked, rather than the defense's trust in kinetics and biomechanics and their line-up of well-paid experts aided by sophisticated animations, simulations, models, and reconstructions.

"Everyone, has to follow the law. Even John Goodman," assistant state attorney Sherri Collins told the jury in her closing remarks. Something some court watchers did not think would ever happen. Appellate issues will continue to spotlight the case during the upcoming several months; if not, the next several years.
Polo player, celebrity bartender, and Man cave owner Kris Kampsen, seen above, before and after his testimony for the defense. In yet another surreal twist, as the jury began deliberations, it was learned Kampsen notified authorities about a text message he received from someone wanting to be paid for offering to influence the Tampa-based jury.
Defense witnesses James Lala, left, and Kris Kampsen, right, photographed before Lala testified. Lala owns a property near Kampsen's.
Poloist Marc Ganzi, left, reaches out before he testified to shake hands with his Wellington neighbor and defendant John Goodman.
Although chief Goodman's defense lawyer Doug Duncan told the jury in his closing that there was "competent, believable, reasonable doubt that no crimes were committed by Mr. Goodman," the jury believed otherwise.
John Goodman, center, with Heather Hutchins, left, and one of the sheriff's plainclothes security guards, right, who were paid 24/7 by Goodman as part of his house arrest while awaiting trial.

John Goodman and Heather Hutchins leaving the courtroom shortly before closing arguments on Saturday.
During a court break, Greg Goodman confers with Marc Ganzi, left. Across the hall, lawyer Doug Duncan and John Goodman, right, exchange thoughts.
The Battle of the Bentley experts' accounts of "valves, throttles, and compression impact" might have worn out the jury. Top, Karl E. Stopschinski, a Houston automotive engineer retained by Bentley's NYC lawyers Herzfeld & Rubin and paid by Bentley and the State of Florida for his testimony that Goodman's Bentley with less than 20,000 miles did not malfunction. At @ $325 an hour, Stopschinski's fee was reported to be between $80,000 and $90,000. Luke Sedar, above, a Massachusetts engineer, was called by the defense to demonstrate how the Bentley's brakes failed at the very moment John Goodman approached the intersection where the crash occurred. During a four-year period, Sedar's fees were in excess of $200,000. To bolster his claim, Sedar provided a model showing the relationship between the gas pedal, the car's computer, brake booster, and throttle bodies. Courtesy Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post.
What remains of John Goodman's 2007 Bentley convertible being recently tested in Sugarland, Texas. The car is being restored by a Houston businessman who bought it an auction after the State released it to Goodman's insurance company, making for one of the case's appellate issues.
Assistant state attorneys Sherri Collins, left, and Alan Johnson, right. "This case is about Scott Patrick Wilson," Johnson told reporters after the verdict. "And that's who achieved justice today, and that's who we all should be thinking about."
Reporter Daphne Duret, above, and Jane Musgrave provided gavel to gavel coverage for The Palm Beach Post.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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