Polo tycoon John Goodman was sentenced to 16 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 by a Florida judge today for the drunk driving death of 23-year-old Scott Wilson.
Goodman's Bentley slammed into Wilson's Hyundai and sent it into a nearby canal in Wellington, Fla., in February 2010. Wilson, an engineering graduate, was strapped into the driver's seat and drowned.
Goodman, 48, also made headlines by adopting his girlfriend in an attempt to preserve part of his fortune for her while negotiating a civil suit settlement.
A Florida jury found Goodman guilty of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in March.
Goodman, the multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, claimed in court that his $200,000 car malfunctioned and lurched forward. He has also denied being drunk at the time of the crash that killed Wilson, although other testimony has contradicted him and his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.
Goodman left the scene of the accident without calling 911.
On Thursday, State Attorney Ellen Roberts filed the state's sentencing memorandum, asking that Goodman be sentenced to 20 years in prison. The maximum sentence was 30 years.
"What Goodman allegedly did for polo, maybe Scott Wilson would have done for science. The world will never know because of Goodman's sense of self preservation," Roberts wrote. "Scott's family will never know the answer to the rhetorical question...what if Goodman had tried to save Scott?"
"[Goodman] called someone to help him out of this mess," she wrote, referring to the phone calls Goodman made after the accident, instead of calling 911. "He gave absolutley no thought to Scott Wilson who ever so slowly was being deprived of oxygen trapped upside down in his car in that dirty canal. He took his last breath trapped in his car which was rammed into the canal by Goodman."
Goodman's defense attorneys have been aggressively attempting to get a new trial for their client. They have filed two motions for new trials. A judge denied the first and conducted a hearing for the pending motion before the sentencing.
The motion hinged on a juror saying that he conducted an at-home drinking experiment related to the trial during deliberations, which defense attorneys say violated jury instructions. Prosecutors said the juror's action did not constitute misconduct because it was not outside the realm of his normal behavior to have a few drinks at the end of the day. They claimed there was no proof that his actions affected other jurors.
The juror, Dennis DeMartin, was called to the stand for a short interrogation, before the judge ruled that while DeMartin's behavior did qualify as miscondut, he did not believe that it affected any pivotal part of the case and was not grounds for a new trial.
In the motion that was denied, alternate juror Ruby Delano reported alleged instances of misconduct to Goodman's lawyers, saying "it was clear" to her the jurors had made up their minds before the end of the trial.
The court conducted interviews with all eight jurors from the case—six jurors who served and two alternates—before ruling that there was no misconduct.
In April, court documents revealed that Goodman agreed to a $46 million settlement to Wilson's parents. Lili and William Wilson, Scott Wilson's parents, will each receive $23 million in the settlement, the same age their son was when he was killed.
Christian Searcy, Lili Wilson's attorney, told the Palm Beach Post that the money did not come from Goodman's fortune, but, rather, from insurance companies.
He also noted that $6 million of the settlement came from The Player's Club, the restaurant where Goodman had been drinking before the crash.
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