John Goodman Drunken Driving Manslaughter Trial: Girlfriend-Adopted Daughter, First Responders Recall Moments After Crash

Several witnesses say polo mogul John Goodman smelled of alcohol.

March 15, 2012 — -- First responders who testified Wednesday in the drunken driving manslaughter trial of polo tycoon John Goodman said the defendant smelled very strongly of alcohol, one of the responders adding it "was like it was almost coming directly from his pores."

That witness, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Safford, said he had to let down the windows of his patrol car "to let it just clear out."

Prosecutor Ellen Roberts told jurors that Goodman downed the equivalent of 16 to 18 alcoholic drinks on the night of Feb. 12, 2010, before getting into his Bentley and running a stop sign in Wellington, Fla.

Investigators estimated Goodman's car was going at about 63 miles per hour.

The Bentley slammed into 23-year-old Scott Wilson's Hyundai, sending it into a nearby canal, where it landed upside down. The engineering graduate, who was still strapped into the driver's seat, drowned.

Goodman left the scene of the accident and didn't call 911 until nearly an hour after the crash. The multi-millionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach 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's defense has said he was not drunk at the time of the crash, and that his car malfunctioned, speeding out of control through the stop sign.

Attorney Roy Black told the court in his opening statements that his client had briefly lost consciousness after the crash and didn't know a car had landed in the canal.

Goodman went to an acquaintance's nearby barn after the crash and got drunk there in an effort to handle the pain of his multiple injuries, Black explained.

Goodman's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit three hours after the crash.

Other witnesses on the stand Wednesday included the first person to call 911 from the scene, other first responders, the woman whose trailer Goodman stopped at for help, and Goodman's girlfriend – whom he adopted as his daughter.

Safford's testimony on the second day of the trial followed that of his fellow deputy, Mitch Rieger, who also testified that Goodman had a "strong smell of alcohol."

An emergency medical technicians at the scene also testified that Goodman appeared to have been drinking.

"I felt he had a couple of drinks. He stated that to us," EMT Robert Perreault told the court, but added that he did not believe Goodman has consumed a large amount of alcohol.

Goodman, 48, told him he had "a couple glasses of wine," Perreault said.

Perreault also testified that Goodman's gait was normal, but that he had a head laceration, slurred speech and kept repeating himself.

Scott Mock, a paramedic, testified that Goodman mentioned having chest pains from the impact with his car's seat belt, but Mock said there was no indication Goodman had sustained any head trauma.

Nicole Ocoro was the first witness at the crash site, and the first to call 911 at about 1 a.m. Feb. 12. She was on her way home from a movie when she came across the crash.

She testified that she checked and saw that there was no one in the Bentley, and said she did not see Wilson's Hyundai.

Witness Lisa Pembleton was next on the stand. The woman lives in a trailer on a horse farm near the crash site, and was awakened when Goodman, walking from the crash site, banged on her door and asked to use her phone.

She overheard Goodman make a phone call to a "lady in Georgia," telling the woman "I really f***ked up" and had been in "an end of the world accident," Pembleton recalled.

Pembleton said Goodman asked how he "seemed to her." She told him she couldn't tell and told him he should call 911.

At 1:55 a.m., 54 minutes after the first 911 call about the crash was made by Ocoro, Goodman called police.

As he left her trailer, Pembleton said he offered her Pembleton money.

"It was a wad of bills … I said, I don't need your money," she recalled on the stand.

But in an unusual twist that took the court – and Judge Jeffrey Colbath – by surprise, Pembleton admitted under questioning by Black that she met with the attorneys for Wilson's parents, who were suing him civilly for wrongful death.

Those same attorneys had arranged for Pembleton to have her own attorney and had taken care of that expense for her.

Black argued before the court – but not in the jury's presence -- that he be allowed to question Pembleton about the issue because it showed "her bias."

ABC News reported that the Wilsons have settled their wrongful death civil suit against Goodman. Details of the alleged settlement have not been disclosed.

Goodman's girlfriend – whom he adopted last year in an apparent bid to protect his vast wealth from lawsuits stemming from the case – also took the stand.

The woman, 42-year-old Heather Hutchins, splits her time between Atlanta and Wellington. She described the night she received the call from Goodman about the crash.

Hutchins said she didn't remember Goodman telling her of an "end of the world accident," but said he told her he had been in an accident. She also said Goodman did not mention a car malfunction or having a head injury.

In accordance with a previous court order, there was no mention of the adoption during her testimony.

Jurors today are expected to be taken to view the two cars involved in the accident today. The case will likely go the jury sometime next week.