John Goodman takes the stand in own defense

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In a surprise move, defense attorneys called millionaire John Goodman to testify in his DUI manslaughter trial.

He's being prosecuted in connection with the February 12, 2010, auto accident that killed 23-year-old Scott Wilson.

Goodman testified for nearly two and a half hours before the defense rested its case.

"That night at the Players Club," defense attorney Roy Black asked Goodman, "did you ever have a drink called an Irish Car Bomb?" Goodman answered, "Absolutely not."

Black continued, "When you got into that car were you either drunk, impaired or intoxicated?"

"Absolutely not," Goodman said.

Goodman later said he had planned to go to Wendy's to buy a milkshake.

"I was traveling down Lake Worth Road and I began to apply my brakes, and the car did not seem to be stopping as easily as I was used to and so I continued to apply the brakes and I came, you know I slowed before the stop sign, well before the stop sign, and I took my foot of the brake. Um, that's the last thing I remember," Goodman testified.

Goodman said he had a few drinks before the accident but drank afterward to ease what he called excruciating pain.

"I was in a lot of pain," Goodman said. "I saw liquor on the counter [of polo player Kris Kampsen's barn] and I went over and proceeded to grab a bottle of the liquor and I drank it ... [thinking] it would relieve my pain."

Legal analysts had not expected defense attorneys Black, Mark Shapiro and Joshua Dubin to call Goodman to the stand and subject him to intense cross examination by prosecutors.

"John Goodman was the only person who could say he drank after the accident," NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer said. "This was a good day for the defense."

Afterward, prosecutor Ellen Roberts asked Goodman, "You walked all the way down the road back and forth zigzagging but you never went over and looked into the canal?" Goodman said, "I don't know if I looked into the canal or not. I just felt that I had."

"You knew that car was in there didn't you," Roberts asked. "Absolutely not," Goodman answered.

"Where else was it, where else could it have been?" Roberts wanted to know.

"I have no idea, I looked around as hard as I could. I did the best I could do and if I had known there was a car in there I would have gone in there and tried to help whoever was in there," Goodman responded.

Roberts then said, "What, did it just disappear? Is that what you thought?" Goodman said he had no idea.

Before Goodman was called to the witness stand, Luka Serdar, an automotive expert, testified that Goodman's vehicle malfunctioned the night of the accident.

"Something wasn't working properly is what the trouble codes tell us," Serdar said. "Diagnostic data shows [the malfunction] happened twice."

Roberts countered, "Could this malfunction cause this Bentley to accelerate out of control?"

Serdar said it couldn't.

Tuesday, defense attorneys surprised prosecutors and Colbath when they said they would not call a toxicologist to refute testimony given by Tate Yeatman, a toxicology manager at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Prosecutors contend that Goodman was drunk the night of the accident and left the scene of the crash.

Closing arguments are expected to begin on Thursday morning after defense attorneys cross examine a prosecution rebuttal witness.

The witness, Thomas Livernois, an automotive expert, countered Serdar's testimony and said Goodman's car didn't malfunction.

"We think justice will be served," prosecutor Sherri Collins told reporters.

Jury deliberations were expected to begin Thursday afternoon.

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