WEST PALM BEACH — polo club founder John Goodman is on trial for DUI manslaughter in Palm Beach County Court . It is alleged that Goodman slammed his Bentley into 23-year-old Scott Wilson's Hyundai, pushing it into a nearby canal, where it overturned and Wilson drowned. It is further alleged that blood drawn from him three hours after the crash showed his blood alcohol content was more than twice the level at which drivers are presumed impaired.
The defense claims Goodman drank after the crash at the "man cave" inside the barn of friend Kris Kampsen, which is why blood drawn from him three hours after the crash showed his blood alcohol content was more than twice the level at which drivers are presumed impaired. His lawyers will likely argue those defenses to a jury when the attorneys present closing arguments on Thursday.
It will be worth watching to see whether the "drinking after the crash" defense is accepted by a jury. The prosecutor has the burden of proving that the accused had an unlawful blood alcohol level "at the time of driving". If the jury believes the defense, that Goodman consumed the alcohol after the crash, then the State may have failed to prove a required element of their case and could prove to be a source of reasonable doubt for the defense.
Here is a paragraph from my book "Under the Influence - Secrets from a DUI Lawyer"
"One of the more creative defenses I have observed (which was successful), involved a case where the defendant had a six pack of beer in the car, and drank two beers after she stopped driving. The defendant had a witness that confirmed that she did in fact consume the alcohol after she stopped the car. In that particular case, the defendant almost struck a pedestrian, on her way home. The pedestrian called the police, who arrived at the defendant's house, to find the defendant on her third beer. At the trial, a defense witness testified that the defendant went in the house, and was upset about nearly hitting a pedestrian, so she consumed several beers. While the defendant may have been completely impaired (and probably was) while driving, she consumed additional alcohol after she got out of the car, and this caused the jury to have reasonable doubts about whether she was impaired at the time of driving. She was found not guilty." Read more, see Amazon.com kindle books, author Charles Scott, Title Under the Influence Secrets from a DUI Lawyer.
Goodman’s lawyers also claim that as a result of the crash, Goodman received a concussion that left him dazed and confused. A reasonable person might ask why would Goodman decide to retire to a man cave and pound a bunch of alcoholic drinks after a crash instead of getting treatment for his alleged concussion.
A reasonable person might also ask why would Goodman leave the scene and not even try to aid the other driver, who apparently drowned after his car went into a canal. Would it have been possible for Goodman to have saved the other drivers life?
If the jury convicts Goodman on charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter, he faces up to 30 years in prison.