The man indicted for allegedly killing racing legend and private brand tire marketer Mickey Thompson may be released after a California state appeals court ruled that Orange County prosecutors have no jurisdiction in trying him.
The Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed with defendant Michael Goodwin's writ petition that challenged Orange County's jurisdiction to try him for the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson because those crimes occurred in Los Angeles County.
The appellate court remanded the case to the Orange County Superior Court with orders for dismissal. The decision, which came down April 23, will be final May 24, and Mr. Goodwin will remain in custody until then, according to Mark Macaulay, media relations specialist for the Orange County district attorney's office.
Jim Mulgrew, a prosecuting attorney handling the writ, told Tire Business that the state Supreme Court has 30 days after May 24 to hear and rule on the decision, but the Orange County District Attorney's office must file a petition for review with the high court.
Assuming that nothing else happens, he said, the appellate court's decision to dismiss could be effective and therefore enforced, June 23.
Los Angeles County is reviewing the case since the appellate ruling, Mr. Mulgrew said. Mr. Goodwin remains in custody, and his attorneys have filed motions for his release, but the appeals court has not responded yet.
``If the court of appeals decides that Goodwin is entitled to bail or on recognizance, (his release) could happen, assuming he posts whatever the bail is,'' Mr. Mulgrew said.
Prosecutors have until the end of May to file a brief with the state Supreme Court, he said, noting that Orange County hasn't decided yet whether it will file with the state Supreme Court. He noted that the Orange County Superior Court found sufficient evidence to try Mr. Goodwin and sufficient evidence for jurisdiction until the defense petitioned the appeals court.
That court had been examining the case for a year and a half before issuing its April 23 ruling.
Collene Campbell, Mr. Thompson's sister and a crime victims' rights advocate, declined to comment on the appeals court's ruling.
Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Thompson's former business partner, was arrested for the murders Dec. 13, 2001, and has been charged with double murder and conspiracy to commit murder, plus three special circumstances: murder for hire, lying in wait and murder for financial gain.
According to California law, Mr. Goodwin has the right to go to trial within six weeks, but he has made five motions on various issues since his arrest that have delayed the trial.
Mr. Thompson and his wife were shot to death in the driveway of their Bradbury, Calif., home March 16, 1988, as they were leaving for work during the early morning hours. The gunmen, who fled the scene on bicycles, remain at large. Mr. Goodwin is accused of hiring the gunmen.