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Opening Statements in John Goodman Trial Raise Important Questions About Getting Drunk

Drinking games. They're superfun until you're sitting in a courtroom on trial for DUI manslaughter, trying to explain why you blew through a stop sign, slammed into another car with such force that it flipped into a drainage ditch, and left the driver to drown.

But Wellington polo mogul John Goodman is a multimillionaire. He hired one of the best defense attorneys in the land to argue that the death of 23-year-old Scott Wilson in February 2010 was a "tragic accident." The question is, does attorney Roy Black understand how drinking works?

In opening statements this morning, Black claimed that Goodman was not drunk when he got behind the wheel of his Bentley on February 12, 2010, but that he did swig a bottle of alcohol

in his friend's barn after the crash. Somehow, that beverage was enough to raise his blood-alcohol level to 0.177 -- more than twice the legal limit -- three hours after the crash.

Now, the Pulp knew the barn drink defense was coming. What we couldn't predict was that Goodman's defense team would ask a jury to believe he got trashed, alone, in his friend's barn, in a period of about half an hour. Yet he did not get drunk over the course of several hours, drinking with friends at two bars before he drove.

Seasoned drinkers: Do you buy that argument?

According to Black, Goodman had one drink at dinner and three more at the Players Club Bar & Restaurant in Wellington the night before the accident but was not legally drunk. Players Club bartender Cathleen Lewter told Palm Beach County sheriff's investigators she saw Goodman down two shots of tequila and a vodka tonic, although, "It didn't dawn on me that he had too much to drink," she said.

Goodman left the Players Club around 12:50 a.m. on February 12, 2010, and crashed his car about ten minutes later. He says he first stumbled down the road to polo player Kris Kampsen's barn, looked for a phone, and didn't find one. Kamspen wasn't there either, but his alcohol was, and Black says Goodman helped himself to some liquor.

By 1:30 a.m. Goodman was knocking on a stranger's door, asking to use her phone. That stranger, Lisa Pembleton, did not give him any alcohol because she doesn't drink. So Black wants the jury to believe Goodman got seriously drunk -- more than doubling his blood-alcohol level -- alone, sitting in a friend's barn trying to ease his pain, between 1 and 1:30 a.m. after the crash.

Sounds like an excellent drinking game.


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