(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) — Polo tycoon John Goodman took the stand in his vehicular homicide trial on Wednesday and said that he was “absolutely not” drunk when his Bentley malfunctioned and slammed into a car, killing 23-year old Scott Wilson.
Goodman, 48, crashed into Wilson’s Hyundai in February 2010, knocking the car into a canal where Wilson, 23, drowned.
The multi-millionaire is being tried on charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash. He has pleaded not guilty, and faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted.
Goodman testified that he went to two gatherings earlier that night with friends and had four drinks: a vodka tonic at the White Horse Tavern and then two shots of tequila and a shot of Grey Goose vodka at the Players Club.
His Players Club bill shows a tab for more than 10 tequilas and other drinks, but Goodman said he bought a round for friends.
When asked if he was impaired, the 6-foot-1 and 220 pound man said, “Absolutely not.”
Goodman said he was on his way to a Wendy’s restaurant about midnight for a late night frosty when the crash occurred.
“I was travelling down and I began to apply my brakes and the car did not seem to be stopping as easily as I was used to, and I slowed near a stop sign and I applied the brake,” he testified.
“I took my foot off the brake and that was the last thing I remember,” he said.
Goodman’s $200,000 Bentley raced through the stop sign, slamming into Wilson’s vehicle.
Goodman said that when he got out of the car he was dazed and didn’t know where he was.
“I looked around and didn’t see what I had hit…. I had a broken wrist and a fractured chest, my back was horrible, and I had a head injury. I was in pain,” he said.
Goodman said he didn’t see any other vehicles, and walked away, looking for a phone because his cell phone had died.
Wilson’s Hyundai had landed upside down in a nearby canal with the engineering graduate still strapped into the driver’s seat.
When asked by his attorney Roy Black what he would have done if he knew a car had been knocked into the canal, Goodman replied, “If I knew there was another vehicle in the canal I would have gone in and done whatever I could.”
Goodman said he wandered away from the accident in the dark, and came upon a barn with a light on. When no one answered his banging, he entered and went upstairs into a furnished office looking for a phone, he said.
When he couldn’t find a phone, he sat down on a couch, and spotted a bottle of alcohol, he testified.
“I grabbed a bottle of liquor, thinking it would help with my pain,” he said. “I was in excruciating pain. I was in a lot of pain.”
Goodman said he went outside and spotted a light on a trailer in the distance. It was there, at the home of Lisa Pembleton, where he called 911, nearly an hour after the accident. The medical examiner testified earlier in the trial, that that time was the difference between life and death for Scott Wilson.
Goodman, founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, has already settled a civil suit over the crash after adopting his 42-year-old girlfriend to help protect his estate.
The trial has drawn national attention. Throughout, jurors have heard from the elite in the world of polo, including the face of Ralph Lauren and international polo star Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras. Figueras saw Goodman earlier that night at a polo charity event, where the model was serving as a celebrity bartender.
“He looked fine. When he said he was leaving, I walked with him to the door,” Figueras said. He testified that he did not smell any alcohol on Goodman. Other defense witnesses said the same.
Goodman’s defense team says that the crash was not Goodman’s fault, arguing that he was sober and that his Bentley malfunctioned, accelerating through the intersection.
His lawyers have said that Goodman hit his head when his Bentley’s side air bag did not deploy, and that he had a concussion and was confused in the hours after the accident.
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