Ex-Partner Gets 2 Life Terms in Murder of Mickey Thompson, Wife
PASADENA, March 1, 2007 -- A former business partner of murdered racing legend Mickey Thompson was ordered Thursday to spend the rest of his life in prison, despite declaring that he was not responsible for the deaths of Thompson and his wife.
Former motorsports promoter Michael Goodwin said the 1988 killings of Mickey and Trudy Thompson were "a tragedy."
"I can't apologize because I'm not guilty of this crime," Goodwin, 61, told the judge before being sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Thompsons were shot to death while leaving their gated home in the Los Angeles suburb of Bradbury. The killers, who came on bicycles, were never caught.
Goodwin used to work with Thompson, a high-profile motorsports figure who pursued land-speed records, drove everything from dragsters to midget cars, and promoted off-road racing.
The prosecution said Goodwin sent hit men to kill the couple as revenge for a business deal that went sour and led to a legal judgment of more than $700,000 against Goodwin.
After the sentencing, Thompson's sister, Collene Campbell, and Ivan "Ironman" Stewart, an off-road racing champ who credited his career to Thompson, stood outside the courthouse waving black-and-white checkered flags.
Earlier, in her statement to the judge, Campbell referred to her nearly 19-year battle to bring the case to a close.
"We are proud that, along with law enforcement, we were not intimidated and did not desert our fight to bring justice," she said, becoming occasionally tearful as she spoke of the victims and the impact of their deaths.
"Michael Goodwin is a coward and a bully who hired and arranged for shooters to kill Mickey and Trudy, all for his self-indulgence, greed and to accomplish his desired sinful plan," she said.
"There is no doubt that our family has been subjected to evil at its worst by this now-convicted killer," she said.
Deputy Public Defender Elena Saris argued for a new trial, saying that the judge's rulings denied Goodwin the chance to put on an adequate defense and that his right to a speedy trial had been denied.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson argued that the case was properly presented.
"This was a circumstantial case," the judge ultimately declared, "but the evidence was overwhelming. ... I can say it was the appropriate verdict based on the evidence."
Prosecutors said the case will remain open until the two shooters are caught. Saris said she planned to appeal, and Goodwin said he would never give up the fight to prove that he did not commit the crime.
"I won't let it go till the day I die," he said.
Outside court, Campbell commented, "I just hope that he hurries up and dies."
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