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Former rocket scientist testifies in John Goodman retrial

Ex-NASA engineer says polo mogul's Bentley malfunctioned before 2010 fatal crash

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A former rocket scientist testified Friday during the DUI manslaughter retrial of John Goodman that the Wellington polo mogul's car malfunctioned before the 2010 crash that killed a recent college graduate.

Goodman, 51, is charged with DUI manslaughter in the death of Scott Wilson, 23, in February 2010.

Authorities said Goodman, 51, was drunk when his Bentley ran a stop sign and slammed into Wilson's car, which plunged into a canal.

In 2012, Goodman was found guilty of DUI manslaughter and failure to render aid, but they were overturned because of juror misconduct.

Luke Serdar, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated engineer who once worked for NASA, used a model of the Bentley's throttle system to demonstrate how a valve on one of the throttles didn't open properly. The valve controls how much air is sent to the engine.

Serdar claimed that the car surged forward uncontrollably because of a defect in the computer system governing its throttles.

Goodman, who is the founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, claims he left the scene because he was disoriented and needed to find a phone because his wasn't working.

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Although his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, Goodman claims he found a polo player's shed -- which he described as a "man cave" -- after the crash, where he drank a bottle of liquor to calm his nerves.

Goodman admitted to taking two tequila shots and having a vodka drink at the Players Club, where he racked up a bar tab of about $272, in the hours before the crash, but he denied being intoxicated.

A bartender testified last week that Goodman ordered 18 drinks, but she said Goodman was sharing them with friends and that she never witnessed him take a sip.

Marc Ganzi also testified that he never saw his longtime friend drinking alcohol on the evening in question.

More witnesses for the defense were expected to testify Saturday.

A jury was selected in Tampa and brought to West Palm Beach for the retrial because of all the publicity the high-profile trial attracted initially. Jurors have been sequestered in the hotel where they're staying.

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