DUI Juror Gets Prison for Vodka Experiment | Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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DUI Juror Gets Prison for Vodka Experiment

(CN) - A juror who admittedly conducted a vodka-drinking "experiment" during deliberations in a Florida manslaughter trial must serve six months in prison, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The experiment came to light in the book self-published by 70-year-old Dennis DeMartin, a juror in the DUI manslaughter trial of John Goodman, the multimillionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

"It was bothering me that if there was proof that if Mr. Goodman only had 3 or 4 drinks, how drunk would he be? How drunk would I be?" DeMartin wrote. "I decided to see."

DeMartin and his fellow jurors ultimately convicted Goodman, now 50, in the death of 23-year-old engineering student Scott Wilson.

They found Goodman had been drunkenly driving his Bentley in February 2010 when he crashed into Wilson's Hyundai, sending the car into a canal where Wilson ultimately drowned.

In reversing Goodman's conviction, the court found that DeMartin had also failed to disclose to the court a pending DUI case against his ex-wife.

With Goodman slated for a a new trial in March, Judge Jeffrey Colbath in Palm Beach County Circuit Court found DeMartin in contempt Monday.

He imposed a six-month sentence against DeMartin on Tuesday, rejecting the defense's pleas for leniency.

DeMartin's attorney Joseph Walsh had asked the judge for community service or probation in light of his client's alleged health issues, including stress, cardiac disease and angina attacks.

Colbath nevertheless said DeMartin single-handedly derailed a conviction, Fox affiliate WFLX reported. The judge also reportedly spoke about how important a jury is to the justice system and how the job should not be taken lightly.

"If I found Mr. DeMartin a benign Mr. Magoo who was unaware of the destruction he left in his wake, then I would find differently," Colbath said Monday. "I don't think that's the case."

No bond was set.

Another bizarre twist in the case occurred when Goodman formally adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, Heather Laruso Hutchins, in the fall of 2011, with that apparent aim of preserving his fortune from a civil suit filed by the Wilson's parents.

The couple had reportedly been dating since 2009.

In their 2010 civil suit, Wilson's parents claimed that "Goodman made no effort whatsoever to come to the aid of Scott Wilson but instead fled the scene on foot."

Though he called 911, he also "sought to hide at nearby structures and ... make telephone calls to friends and lawyers to protect himself from prosecution, all the while knowing that the driver of the vehicle he had knocked into the ditch was seriously injured, submerged under water and most likely drowning," the complaint stated.

Goodman's adoption of Hutchins gave the woman one-third of a $300 million trust fund that had been created for the two children he had with his ex-wife, Carroll Goodman.

After a trial court approved the adoption, Goodman gave Hutchins a $5 million testamentary power of appointment, another $3 million payable before the end of 2012, and $8.75 million in distributions over the course of her life.

Goodman also gave his business manager broad discretion to let Hutchins dip into trust funds as she pleased.

A guardian for the Goodman children later teamed up with their mother, whose name appears in court documents as Carroll and Isla Reckling Goodman, to challenge the adoption of Hutchins in Miami-Dade County Court.

Though a judge initially would not let the family intervene in the adult adoption, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed in March 2013.

John Goodman's "deliberate failure" to notify his ex-wife of the adoption "constituted a fraud on the court," Judge Ivan Fernandez wrote for a three-member panel.

Goodman waited until early 2012, after the appeals period had expired, to inform Carroll and the Wilson family of the adoption, according to the ruling.

In a concurring opinion that called Goodman's action "reprehensible," Senior Judge Alan Schwartz said "the adoption of a paramour is so contrary to the beneficent purposes of such an action that no such judgment can ever be sustained."

ABC News reported in 2012 that Goodman agreed to pay $45 million to Wilson's parents.

Goodman's father reportedly made millions in the air conditioning manufacturing business.

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