Opening arguments begin today in the case of John Goodman, founder of the Palm Beach International Polo Club, who is accused of vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident.
Goodman, 48, is the heir to a multimillion-dollar air conditioning fortune. In February 2010, after a night of drinking, his Bentley went through a stop sign and rammed the car of 23-year-old Scott Wilson, a recent Florida college graduate who was on his way home to visit family.
Wilson's car was flipped over into a canal. Goodman left the scene on foot, waiting one hour before calling 911.
By the time rescuers arrived, Wilson had drowned, still strapped behind the wheel.
Three hours after the crash, tests showed Goodman's blood alcohol level at more than twice the legal limit.
The case received nationwide attention when it was discovered Goodman adopted his 42-year-old girlfriend, in effect making his lover his daughter.
Goodman's attorneys say the move was made to better manage a trust fund for Goodman's two biological children worth an estimated $300 million. Prosecutors say it is an attempt by Goodman to shield assets from a civil suit. Goodman's two teenage children are now suing their father, evidently opposed to the idea of a new 42-year-old sister.
Goodman could face up to 30 years in prison. His defense team includes Florida attorney Roy Black, who successfully defended William Kennedy Smith against rape charges 20 years ago.
Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.