Published April 13, 2012
OPELIKA, Ala. – Ex-Auburn football player Antonio Goodwin was convicted Friday of first-degree robbery in an armed home invasion in which three of his teammates also were charged.
Jurors reached the verdict in Lee County after deliberating for about 45 minutes. Circuit Judge Christopher Hughes set the sentencing for June 19 and granted the prosecution's request to immediately revoke bond pending a hearing next week.
First-degree robbery is a Class A felony that carries a likely sentence of 20 years to life in prison because guns were involved.
Goodwin's former teammates Mike McNeil, who was the starting safety on Auburn's 2010 national championship team, Dakota Moseley and Shaun Kitchens are tentatively scheduled for trial on June 11. Moseley and Kitchens were freshmen that season.
"I'd be a little concerned if I were them," said assistant district attorney Kenny Gibbs. "They have trial dates coming up soon, and I'll try each and every one of them."
Gibbs said he doesn't know which one will return to the court first and that all were offered plea deals involving jail time. Defense attorney Lauryn Lauderdale said Goodwin's pre-trial offer included a 21-year prison sentence.
"We didn't have any risk" by trying the case, Lauderdale said.
Goodwin, who has been attending Arizona Western College, watched quietly with hands clasped behind him as the verdict was read. His mother, Renatta, buried her head in her hands two rows back.
Lauderdale had argued that Goodwin was impaired after smoking synthetic marijuana, or spice, the night of the robbery with Kitchens, Moseley and other teammates. Gibbs told jurors there was no evidence that Goodwin's level of intoxication met the standard that he was "unconscious of committing the crime."
Lauderdale said she doesn't expect him to be released on bail.
Former Auburn players Mike Dyer, now at Arkansas State, and Neiko Thorpe and current wide receiver DeAngelo Benton testified in the case about the night of the robbery.
Dyer had said that he turned down requests to participate in the robbery after a night of smoking spice and drinking at Benton's place, and that Goodwin took his handgun without permission. Benton said Goodwin used the drug on the night of the robbery.
The defense rested after opting not to call Auburn coach Gene Chizik and associate head coach Trooper Taylor as witnesses. Hughes limited their potential testimony to Goodwin's character and said he wouldn't allow them to talk about spice, their players' use of it or the university's drug testing policies.
Lauderdale said Taylor "personally had knowledge that the players were smoking spice and didn't do anything about it, other than telling them they shouldn't be doing it."
Auburn spokesman Kirk Sampson said Taylor and the university had no comment. Spice was legal and sold in local stores at the time, and the university now tests for the drug.
Lauderdale said she plans to appeal the verdict.
"I felt that the jury knew or should have known about the dangers of spice, that Auburn University had known about it and did not take steps to protect the football players," she said.