Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged Michael Goodwin for the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson after Orange County, Calif., prosecutors dropped their case against him due to jurisdictional grounds.
Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Thompson's former business partner and a racing promoter, has been charged with two counts of murder with the special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murders. The charges make Mr. Goodwin eligible for the death penalty, although prosecutors will decide on pursuing that route closer to trial, according to Jane Robison, news secretary for the district attorney's office.
Orange County prosecutors had filed similar charges against Mr. Goodwin in 2001 but dropped the case in May after the Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled April 23 that Orange County had no jurisdiction in trying Mr. Goodwin. Orange County decided not to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.
The defense had filed motions for release. Mr. Goodwin now will be transferred to Los Angeles County and arraigned in Pasadena Superior Court, but no court date has been determined yet, Ms. Robison said.
A spokesman for the Orange County District Attorney's office said prosecutors did not know prior to dropping its charges against Mr. Goodwin that Los Angeles County would take the case.
Mr. Thompson, the first person to break the 400 mph land speed barrier, was shot to death, along with his wife, in 1988 in the driveway of their Bradbury, Calif., home. The gunmen, who reportedly sped away on bicycles, have not been identified and remain at large. Mr. Goodwin was a suspect, and Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators pursued various leads over the years but never presented the case to county prosecutors.
About five years ago, Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators presented the murder case to Orange County prosecutors because Mr. Goodwin lived there in Dana Point, Calif. In 2001, Orange County charged him, and he has been held without bail for more than two years.
When the appellate court dismissed Orange County's case, it emphasized that any new evidence not previously considered by the Los Angeles District Attorney ``can-and should-be given to the Los Angeles District Attorney for reconsideration,'' according to a statement from the D.A.'s office.