A nurse who drew polo magnate John Goodman’s blood the night of the 2010 crash that killed a young man used a needle that could have exaggerated his blood alcohol level, Goodman’s attorneys now claim.
In a 79-page request filed Monday, Goodman’s lawyers are asking Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Colbath to throw out the test results of blood drawn from Goodman nearly three hours after the crash that killed Scott Patrick Wilson. Goodman’s Bentley allegedly ran a stop sign in Wellington Feb. 12, 2010 and hit Wilson’s Hyundai, sending it into a canal, where Wilson drowned.
Tests of the sample placed Goodman’s blood alcohol content at nearly twice the level at which drivers are presumed impaired in Florida, but defense attorney Elizabeth Parker on Monday said those numbers might be skewed because the nurse who drew the blood used a needle smaller than what was contained in the required testing kit.
The newest allegations come as lawyers are preparing for a retrial next month in the retrial of the DUI manslaughter case against Goodman.
A hearing originally scheduled to start Tuesday on another motion by Goodman’s attorneys to throw out the case altogether has been postponed until Thursday. In that motion, the defense lawyers say the charges against Goodman should be dismissed because prosecutors released the Bentley out of evidence after Goodman was convicted but before he was sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2012. Colbath threw out the conviction and sentence last year because off misconduct from juror Dennis DeMartin, who is serving a 6-month jail sentence on contempt of court charges.
In the most recent filing, Parker, who along with Douglas Duncan and Scott Richardson has replaced the legal team of Roy Black and others who represented Goodman until his conviction was overturned last year, said nurse Cecilia Betts used a 25-gauge needle to draw Goodman’s blood the night of the crash instead of the 21-gauge needle contained in the standard blood testing kit used by Florida law enforcement agencies.
Though the butterfly needle Betts used was of a higher gauge, the diameter of the needle was actually smaller than the 21-gauge, Parker wrote, leaving open the possibility that the red blood cells collected may have ruptured and released material that could have falsely elevated the results.
“In a matter in which a multi-year Department of Corrections sentence hangs in the balance, a test result that is questionable, inaccurate, erroneous and without a basis in science, is not sufficient,” Parker wrote. “Our system requires justice both for victims and the accused.”
Goodman had previously tried to get the blood test results in the case thrown out because he said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Troy Snelgrove told him he had no right to refuse the blood draw, but Colbath batted down that request.
In the Monday filing, Parker listed several other factors she claimed compromised the blood test results, and she alleged that technicians failed to take the proper steps in analyzing the presence of hydrocodone in Goodman’s system the night of the crash.
Parker now says Colbath should deem the hydrocodone testing invalid because the allegedly faulty way technicians conducted and analyzed the testing leaves some doubt as to whether Goodman had the substance in his system at all.
Goodman in 2010 had been prescribed doses of hydrocodone to manage pain from a back injury. And though Goodman’s attorneys during the first trial also attempted to attack the validity of the blood alcohol test results, a pillar of his defense was that he walked to friend Kris Kampsen’s barn after the crash and chugged liquor inside Kampsen’s “man cave” to numb the pain of his injuries.
When Goodman testified in his own defense two years ago, he also said he believed he suffered a blow to his head that left him stunned after the crash, and that he felt his Bentley surge forward uncontrollably shortly before he collided with Wilson.
The latter of these two defenses created a battle of the experts during his first trial, and the fact that prosecutors released Goodman’s Bentley to his insurance company before he was sentenced is now the subject of Goodman’s quest to get his charges dismissed.
Goodman claims prosecutors violated his due process rights by releasing the car from evidence without warning, knowing there was already talk of an appeal in the high-profile case. Prosecutors in court records recently have claimed that Goodman or someone in his camp posed as an insurance company adjuster in repeated phone calls to Snelgrove pressuring him to release the car.
No hearing date had been set as of Monday to discuss the blood test. Jury selection in Goodman’s new trial is scheduled to begin next week.
Although Colbath for now has rejected Goodman’s petition to move the case out of Palm Beach County because of heightened publicity, Colbath said he was open to revisiting the issue if he’s unable to get a large enough pool of impartial jurors locally.