Jury selection in Goodman case rolls into Thursday

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Jury selection in the DUI manslaughter case of John Goodman, the Wellington polo mogul, will continue on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the pool of potential jurors was narrowed to 38 from more than 100.

The delay came after more jurors than expected were excused over worries the jury pool had been exposed to too much media coverage of the case.

Day two of jury selection looked an awful lot like day one.
And Thursday may bring more of the same. More jurors being screened. More questions about pre-trial media coverage.

"This part of the jury selection process we're trying to figure out how much media you've been exposed to, whether you've read the newspaper or seen reports on TV," said Judge Jeffrey Colbath.

Defense attorney Roy Black said in court, "There's been a lot of publicity and so we have to ask everybody, you know, what they've seen or heard and I think you can understand why we're doing that."

By late Wednesday afternoon, more than a hundred potential jurors had been called in. Forty were sent home yesterday. Another dozen by mid-morning.

Goodman is accused in the death of Scott Wilson, 23. Prosecutors contend that Goodman was driving drunk the night Wilson drowned. A collision sent Wilson's car into a Wellington canal on a February night in 2010.

"Have those conversations resulted in you taking a strong stance for or against one side or the other?" the judge asked one prospective juror. The answer: "I don't read the newspaper much or watch much TV so I really haven't seen much."

Another said, "I believe that, yes, um, his car ended up in a canal... I thought it was a shame. You know accidents happen. They do. But you feel bad for the family of the child that passed away."

Wilson's mother, Lili, arrived to watch the jury selection process for the second time Wednesday morning after listening to potential jurors come before lawyers Tuesday.

One potential juror knew too much. Another told the judge she knew of an appraisal of one of John Goodman's properties for a civil trial. That Scott Wilson's family had hired her husband.

Attorney Black said to a juror, "You said that mister Goodman, uh, had a couple of strikes against him?"

"I just don't think people should drive drunk and get away with it, honestly... If he's guilty, and he did it, then he should pay for his crime," said a prospective juror.

Most of the jury pool acknowledged exposure to the Goodman case. Some said they could put the publicity aside.

"The newspaper and the television have nothing to do with it. I'm just looking at a man that's in the fight for his life," said a male potential juror.

The names and faces of the members of the jury pool are not allowed to be shown publicly. "If he did it and he's at fault then he's guilty and he should be held responsible," said another male in the jury pool.

"What I was surprised about was the specifics that they knew. And there was so much information that they knew about," said NewsChannel 5 Legal Analyst Michelle Suskauer.

The goal is to select a half dozen people, plus two alternates, who can be impartial in the jury box. It is a difficult task in the midst of such a high-profile case.

Yesterday the judge had said the trial would probably wrap within seven to eight days. It now appears it may run into a third week.

If found guilty, Goodman faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

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