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Closing arguments heard in Mickey Thompson case

Times Staff Writer

Racing legend Mickey Thompson was forced to watch his wife’s murder before he, too, was shot in the head, a fact that clearly points to a vengeful killer, a prosecutor said in closing arguments Monday.

The man on trial for the 1988 killings, Michael Goodwin, a motor sports rival whose business had been destroyed in a bitter dispute, listened intently in the Pasadena courtroom.

Goodwin did not testify in the seven-week double-murder trial. The 1988 slaying of Thompson and his wife, Trudy, is one of Southern California’s longest-running murder cases.

“That evidence alone suggests Michael Goodwin is guilty. That evidence alone suggests the ominous nature of this crime,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson.

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“If Mickey Thompson was forced to watch his wife die, this was the most personal, the most brutal attack,” Jackson said.

Goodwin’s lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Elena Saris, countered by attacking an investigation that failed to test for DNA, that produced eyewitnesses many years after the events, and was overtaken and hopelessly obscured by repeated Hollywood treatments.

“Call him a jerk, call him an egomaniac, call him a braggart, but prove what you’re alleging, rather than arouse passion and prejudice against this man,” Saris said, challenging prosecutors.

“They have no killers, no plan, no meeting, no weapon, no phone calls, no payout, nothing,” she said. “The only physical evidence from the scene is DNA that does not match Michael Goodwin.”

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Jackson listed a dozen witnesses who testified to the animosity between Goodwin, who has been jailed for five years awaiting trial, and Thompson, the first man to exceed 400 mph on land.

The trial narrowed to a critique of the breadth of the investigation and whether the evidence supported theories that the Thompsons were the victims of a robbery or an assassination.

They were found slain in the driveway of their estate in the gated community of Bradbury.

“To say this is anything other than a perfectly planned, perfectly orchestrated, perfectly choreographed execution does violence to logic, folks,” Jackson told jurors.

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Saris pointed out blunders that the killers -- who were never identified -- made on March 16, 1988.

“This is not what proof beyond a reasonable doubt looks like in a murder case,” she said. “This was a 17-year hunt for proof against Michael Goodwin.”

The courtroom of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz was standing-room only Monday.

The trial has been covered by an array of national media organizations.

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Closing arguments continue today with rebuttals.

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john.spano@latimes.com


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