Any seasoned drunkard knows the drill: If you're in a car accident and you've been partying, go have another beer. By the time the cops test your breath, they won't be able to prove when you had the offending drink.
John Goodman, 46, the multimillionaire trust fund heir and Wellington polo patron, has likely heard this adage before. He's no stranger to a tequila shot or a powdered substance, according to witnesses interviewed by Palm Beach County sheriff's investigators.The question is, will he use the drink-to-calm-my-nerves defense, now that he's been charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide for the death of Scott Wilson?
On the morning of February 12, after spending the night drinking with friends and then crashing his Bentley into another car on a dark Wellington road, Goodman left the accident scene on foot. In his cowboy boots and jeans, he tromped south on 120th Avenue
South to the barn of his employee and polo teammate Kris Kampsen.
The barn is a sort of "man cave," according to Kampsen. It's got an office, a TV, and a stocked bar. Goodman had never visited the barn before, although he had practiced polo on Kampsen's fields. That morning, he went to the barn searching for Kampsen, and for a phone.
"I went upstairs thinking that was where you live," Goodman told Kampsen later, according to Kampsen's sworn interview with investigators. "I kept thinking it was weird that you didn't have a bedroom up there, and I didn't know where you were."
But Goodman didn't find Kampsen or a phone. After rummaging around in the barn for awhile, Goodman left for a neighboring farm. There, he knocked on the door of the camper where horse trainer Lisa Pembleton was sleeping and asked to borrow her phone.
At first, he was hesitant to call the authorities, because he admitted to Pembleton that he "had drank a few."
"He had asked me if I thought that he sounded or acted like he was under the influence," Pembleton told sheriff's investigators.
Eventually, Pembleton convinced Goodman to call 911. But by the time help arrived, 23-year-old Scott Wilson had drowned, his Hyundai capsized in a drainage ditch at the scene of the crash.
Here' the twist: Pembleton doesn't drink at all, so she couldn't have given Goodman a cocktail to calm his nerves. But a few weeks later, when Kampsen and Goodman were having dinner in Miami, Goodman brought up the subject of booze and the night of the crash.
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"Do you still have alcohol in your barn?" Goodman asked Kampsen. Now why would a man facing a DUI charge ask a question like that?
"I took it to mean as if, like, I'd thrown everything out or not," Kampsen said.
Exactly. Because if Kampsen still had a stocked bar in his barn, then Goodman could have swiped a swig of tequila the morning of the crash. His blood wasn't tested until three hours after the crash, long after he visited the barn. By then, his blood alcohol level was 0.177 percent, more than twice the legal limit.
Witnesses saw Goodman drinking at the Players Club Bar & Restaurant shortly before the crash, but who can say for sure when he got drunk?