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Old 11-06-2006, 07:54 PM   #1
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Trial begins in racing legend's slaying

I never knew this :(

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Michael Goodwin is charged with murdering racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife.

Trial begins in racing legend's slaying

By Tori Richards (Special to Court TV)

PASADENA, California (Court TV) -- It has been 18 years since American racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife Trudy were murdered in the driveway of their Bradbury, California, home by two hooded gunmen who escaped on bicycles.

The case has produced hundreds of thousands of clues and enough paperwork to fill a 40-foot moving van.

Many suspects were investigated before one was accused: Michael Goodwin, a flamboyant motocross promoter who lived for racing, women and money.

On Monday, prosecutors will deliver their opening statements in Goodwin's murder trial. They will allege that he ordered the killings as retribution for a failed business deal with Thompson.

The trial is expected to last until Christmas and includes witnesses who are scattered around the globe. In the time since the murders, several witnesses have died or were stricken with debilitating illnesses, and some have different recollections of what happened nearly two decades ago.

Goodwin, 61, vehemently denies any part in the murders and at times has waged a public relations campaign against prosecutors and detectives for what he has termed a witch hunt to solve the high-profile case.

He faces life in prison if convicted.

Thompson was a hero in his day. He set 395 different speed records; one of them was 406 miles per hour in the Utah desert, a world record in 1960.

Always looking for the next great thing, Thompson met Goodwin at a motocross event, and the pair decided to go into business together to bring outdoor racing indoors.

The relationship was tumultuous from the start, and within months, lawyers got involved. The two sued each other over control and financing of their company, and when all the appeals were finally complete in early 1988, Goodwin was ordered to pay $514,388. Months later, the Thompsons were dead.

'Please don't kill my wife'

Several people saw two black gunmen furiously pedal away from the Thompsons' estate, and one family actually witnessed the killing. The Triarsi family, who lived across the street and up on a hill, were awakened by gunshots and saw a wounded Mickey at the top of the driveway pleading, "Please don't kill my wife!"

Trudy was 50 feet away near the street and was shot in the head by one gunman as her husband watched. Mickey was next, with a similar shot.

The gunmen were never identified or caught.

Almost immediately, reports of the Goodwin-Thompson dispute surfaced. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had no shortage of witnesses claiming they had heard Goodwin threaten to kill Thompson over their failed business merger and the lawsuit that followed.

"F---ing Thompson is killing me," businessman William Wilson recalled Goodwin saying in preliminary hearing testimony. "He's destroying me. He's taking everything I've got. I'm going to take him out."

The case went through three lead detectives and several supporting detectives before settling on a third: Mark Lillienfeld, who has fought for 11 years to bring the case to trial.

During that period, Lillienfeld reinvestigated everything that was done by his predecessors and came up with additional evidence after obtaining television coverage with "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries."

Police pursued many leads

Lillienfeld and partner Mike Robinson looked at Joey Hunter, a young blond man who was found with a bicycle a few miles from the crime and was said to look like a composite of one of the shooters.

Detectives looked at an organized crime connection in Las Vegas and Thompson's possible relationship with a strip-club promoter in Los Angeles, who was also gunned down in an execution-style slaying in front of his house.

The detectives say they ran down thousands of leads, from psychics to informants to old Goodwin-Thompson acquaintances who surfaced after the media coverage.

Lillienfeld filed charges against Goodwin in neighboring Orange County, where Goodwin lived, because prosecutors say he plotted the killings there. The case stalled before trial in 2004 as a state appellate court ruled that no evidence existed to show that the murder was planned in Orange County, and the proper jurisdiction was Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County filed charges of its own as a new round of attorneys was brought on the case. During the past year, attorneys fought constantly over discovery and the admissibility of evidence and witness statements.

"Michael is looking forward to the truth finally coming out," said his attorney, Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Elena Saris. "He's been in jail five years without bail for a crime he didn't commit. He is confident that when the jury hears the truth, he will be acquitted."
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Old 11-07-2006, 12:34 AM   #2
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I wish I could listen in on that entire trial. That's the kind of stuff that really interests me. I had no idea all that had even happened. I'm suprised he's been in jail for 5 years and hasn't had his "right to a speedy trial".
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