John Goodman, who was convicted in 2012 of the killing of Scott Wilson while driving under the influence of alcohol, is now serving a 16-year sentence. The jury concluded that Goodman, while intoxicated, crashed into the side of Wilson’s vehicle, causing it to fall into a canal and then failed to render aid. Goodman tells a very different story. According to Goodman, his Bentley malfunctioned causing him to collide with Wilson. Goodman claims he drank only after the accident had already occurred.
After having been found guilty at his first trial Goodman took his fight to the appellate court, Goodman argued that a retrial is needed due to the conduct of one of the jurors, Dennis DeMartin. Goodman’s defense costs have steadily risen into the millions of dollars. He has been using his family fortune to cover those costs.
DeMartin, who was a juror in Goodman’s first trial, has been found to have been in contempt of the court after violating jury instructions and failing to disclose key information. DeMartin’s ex-wife had a DUI conviction on record which he failed to mention during jury selection, a violation of court policy. Finally, DeMartin conducted what he calls an “experiment” at home designed to test the possible effects of alcohol. His actions were directly against the Judge’s instructions. He has since been sentenced to six months of jail time for contempt of the court. DeMartin has requested a shorter sentence after arguing that 6 months of jail time is very harsh given his actions.
Upon hearing about juror DeMartin’s conduct, Goodman’s lawyer requested a new trial. The judge ruled that the errors were not reversible. However, it was later revealed to the judge that DeMartin had also made contact with his ex-wife at several key points during the trial. Judge Colbath immediately threw out the conviction.
DeMartin, a 72-year old destitute man, now has an attorney who argues that DeMartin, nearly blind and suffering from cognitive failure, had forgotten about his ex-wife’s DUI conviction. The defense was not successful, however, as the court’s unanimous opinion was that DeMartin had behaved in a willfully dishonest manner. After being sentenced, DeMartin’s family posted bail and he remained free during the appeals process. During this time DeMartin gained significant notoriety, and even some degree of infamy, among those following the trial for his actions. He even published several writings where he struck a prideful tone with regards to his violations.
Judge Colbath, who sentenced DeMartin, claims that he wanted to send a message about the importance of juror impartiality and the need for jurors to strictly adhere to their instructions as given by the court. DeMartin and his attorney have stated that they plan on taking the case to the Florida Supreme Court if Judge Colbath has not reduced DeMartin’s sentence.