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Florida jury finds Goodman guilty in DUI manslaughter trial

The jury in a high profile Florida DIO manslaughter trial reached a verdict Friday. Polo mogul John Goodman was accused of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the death of a 23-year-old motorist two years ago. The case gained extensive notoriety when the defendant adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend last month, allegedly due to a separate civil case.

The criminal trial included the testimony of the accused. Defendants have the right to testify in their own defense, but cannot be forced to testify. The right to remain silent is an important constitutional guarantee, but a defendant may choose to waive that right and decide to testify in his or her own defense.

Reports indicate that Goodman took the stand and told the jury that after the car accident two years ago, he made his way to the barn of an acquaintance. The barn was a sort of "man cave" that was set up with several bottles of liquor. Goodman admitted to the jury that he had consumed a small number of drinks before driving, but testified that after the wreck he was in pain from the car accident. He told the jury that when he arrived at the barn, he drank alcohol from the supply kept in the building.

Later that night, law enforcement took Goodman into custody and prosecutors claimed at trial that Goodman tested for a 0.177 blood alcohol concentration roughly three hours after the accident.

The jury was presented with the evidence and apparently did not believe the defendant's testimony. One juror told the Sun-Sentinel after the trial that, "There was no proof that he was in the 'man cave.'" The jury found Goodman guilty. The judge ordered that Goodman be held pending sentencing, which is scheduled for April 30. The judge indicated that he would consider a negotiated sentence. Goodman faces up to 30 years in prison on the conviction. The case is expected to be appealed.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, "John Goodman convicted DUI-manslaughter, vehicular homicide, faces 30 years," Peter Franceschina and Alexia Campbell, March 23, 2012

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