PASADENA, Calif. – A racing tycoon accused in the slayings of legendary racer Mickey Thompson and his wife two decades ago said he wanted to rip Thompson off in a business deal, a messenger testified Tuesday.
Stewart Linkletter, who said he worked for Michael Goodwin as a messenger and driver in 1984, told jurors at Goodwin's murder trial that he heard Goodwin say, "'We're going to screw Mickey out of everything."'
Linkletter said he delivered the contracts to the Los Angeles Coliseum that bound Thompson and Goodwin in a merger of their motocross racing companies.
A short time later, Linkletter said he picked up Goodwin and a business associate and drove them to a downtown law office. During the drive, Linkletter said, the two spoke for 45 minutes "about screwing him, ripping him off."
Goodwin, 61, is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances and faces life in prison if convicted. The racer, who was 59 when he died, was the first person to travel more than 400 mph on land. He was inducted posthumously into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Prosecutors contend the evidence leads directly to Goodwin, a former concert promoter who merged his motocross racing business with Thompson's before the pair had a falling out. They said Goodwin became so angry after losing $793,000 to Thompson that he set out to kill him.
Thompson and his 41-year-old wife were leaving for work in March 1988 when they were ambushed outside their home in the gated Los Angeles suburb of Bradbury. Two shooters fled on bicycles and were never caught.
The defense argues that Goodwin was a victim of false assumptions, and that TV shows created a "folklore" that prompted people to come forward with unsubstantiated accounts.
Deputy District Attorney Pat Dixon asked Linkletter to elaborate on what was said and he replied that Goodwin gave him a warning when the ride ended: "He said, 'Stew, if you ever say anything to anyone about this conversation, I'll [expletive] kill you."'
On cross examination by Goodwin's public defender Elena Saris, Linkletter said he called a hot line for the television show "America's Most Wanted" after the program reported a $1 million reward for information on the case. He acknowledged he also called Thompson's family and relayed the information.
Later in the day, a private investigator testified Goodwin had contacted him in late 1987 and said he wanted to "get even" with Thompson.
Goodwin was "upset about something, he looked flushed and excited," private investigator Penn Weldon said. Goodwin told him he had been done wrong by Thompson and "he wanted to get even with him," Weldon said.
Goodwin also asked him to bug the car and home of Thompson's lawyer.
"I said I couldn't do it because it was illegal," Weldon said.