Mickey Thompson, a ‘60’s racing legend, and his wife were brutally gunned down in 1988. The killers have never been identified, yet in 2007, Michael Goodwin, the creator of the sport of Supercross, was convicted of conspiring with the unknown murderers to “orchestrate” the Thompson murders. There has never been one iota of evidence connecting Goodwin with the killings or killers yet prosecutors convinced the jury, using a contrived, fallacious financial motive, that Goodwin ordered the murders. He is serving two life sentences without parole.
Eight years of aggressive obfuscation by the L.A. District Attorney, Superior Court and others led to the denial of Goodwin’s appeal and his petition for review by the California Supreme Court.
Goodwin now possesses a plethora of compelling evidence showing that his 2006 trial was manifestly unfair. He has also made available to the L.A.D.A., the D.A.’s “L.A. Wrongful Conviction Unit,” as well as the court, the L.A. Sheriff’s Dept., other officials and agencies, detailed documentation on many aspects of this outrageously flawed trial. Here are some of the issues:
- TAINTED INVESTIGATION/INVESTIGATOR: The lead investigator, who inexplicably took the case nearly 10 years after the crimes occurred, committed egregious misconduct throughout his investigation, pre-trial hearings and trial. This Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department detective’s lead evidence was exposed by Goodwin to be patently false and was subsequently dropped by the District Attorney in Orange County. Goodwin had been initially charged there, out of jurisdiction, but the case was dismissed in 2004 with a stinging rebuke of the O.C.D.A. for ever having charged Goodwin.
- LEAD INVESTIGATOR INVESTIGATED BY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT: The L.A.D.A. and L.A.S.D. have been provided with documentation of blatant falsification, destruction, withholding of, forging of, and other tampering with, critical evidence by law enforcement and prosecutors. The lead investigator from about 1997, Det. Mark Lillienfeld, has been under investigation by the L.A. Sheriff’s Department since 2014. Indisputable confirmation of these activities has been presented to the Professional Standards Division of the L.A.S.D, with the only response being that “Administrative Action” had been taken. Inquiries by Justice on Trial as to the final disposition this L.A.S.D. investigation have gone unanswered.
- EXTENSIVE PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT by the two Thompson murder trial prosecutors, Patrick Dixon, former Assistant to the District Attorney, 2nd in command at the L.A.D.A.’s office at the time of the trial, and Alan Jackson who, based in some measure on Goodwin’s trial, was named “2010 Los Angeles’s Prosecutor of the Year” and, in the 2012 election, Jackson lost a bid for the top spot in the L.A.D.A.’s office.
Dixon and Jackson presented, and expanded upon, strictly prohibited and demonstrably false evidence to the court in order to disparage Goodwin’s character. They told the jury about crimes that Goodwin had been falsely charged with in 1993 as proof of his “low moral character.” In a sworn declaration, the jury foreman, after the trial, stated that the prosecutors’ presentation of this false and misleading information about other crimes supposedly committed by Goodwin led them to believe Goodwin “…had no moral compass…” and was therefore capable of conspiring with unknown killer or killers to orchestrate the Thompson murders.
Prosecutors also failed to deliver to the defense, as required by law, hundreds of documents and other materials that were highly exculpatory evidence, known to be in their possession.
- WIDE-RANGING PERJURY throughout the Orange County and L.A. Preliminary Hearings and the L.A. trial, by law enforcement, prosecutors, expert and other witnesses. Some trial testimony, including from expert witnesses and law enforcement, is so brazenly contradictory, that a reading of the trial transcript leaves legal professionals who read it, shaking their heads.
- EXTREME JUDICIAL BIAS AND MISCONDUCT. The trial judge’s bias was so pronounced that mention of amazingly prejudicial rulings was made in the Orange County Register. The judge had worked in the D.A.’s office, under the lead prosecutor, prior to her becoming a Superior Court Judge. Her instructions to the jury were not only highly unusual but, in some instances, illegal.
- REFUSAL TO ALLOW COMPELLING EVIDENCE OF 3rd PARTY CULPABILITY: There is extensive evidence pointing to the robbery of a large cache of gold that was delivered shortly before the murders but had vanished afterwards. Also, the original lead investigator believed the prime suspect was a man who had confessed twice, failed three polygraph tests, had no alibi and was ID’ed by witnesses as having been at/near the crime scene. Despite such strong evidence, the judge did not allow the defense to present it to the jury. The jury foreman, in a sworn affidavit following the verdict, said the jury’s guilty verdict was reached largely because they believed “…if not Goodwin, then who?”
- $1 MILLION REWARD’S INFLUENCE ON INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL: A major influence on the investigation and trial is the phony $1 million reward, an expansion of a real, far smaller, reward that was offered shortly after the murders. There was a dramatic difference in testimony by crime scene and many other witnesses who made statements at the time of the murders that significantly contradicted statements and testimony given after the posting of the sham $1 million reward. The reward was posted with widespread, even national, multi-media exposure by politically powerful Thompson’s sister, Colleen Campbell.
Michael Goodwin was erroneously featured as a prime suspect despite the reality that authorities had no evidence, whatsoever, linking him to the crimes in any way. As a result of Detective Lillienfeld’s extensive evidence tampering, creating a fictional, theatrical scenario of how the murders occurred and who the killers were, Campbell and Lillienfeld knew the reward would never have to be paid. Following Goodwin’s conviction, after 18 years and with the killer/killers never having been identified or aggressively pursued, Campbell raised a checkered flag in front of national TV cameras and confirmed the veracity of the claim that the reward was a brilliant ploy to influence the investigation and trial by saying, “One down, two to go!” This was a clear indication that the reward would not be paid. There has been no public indication that any portion of this sham reward has ever been paid to anyone.
The results of our research on the Mickey Thompson murder investigation, prosecutions and trial is exemplative of the prosecutorial excesses and corruption in Southern California and throughout the U.S. Research into such cases by other advocacy organizations like The Innocence Project has led to record numbers of wrongful convictions being reversed, 150 last year, and 175 to date this year to date.
The L.A.D.A. needs to closely examine the allegations that Goodwin has made about his politically motivated, wrongful conviction, now. That an investigation, prosecution and trial can be so corrupted by outside interests, so completely ignore the rule of law and unjustly convict a person, is unconscionable but indicative of the condition of California’s and America’s justice systems. This current D.A., Jackie Lacey, campaigned on cleaning up the D.A.’s office. Shortly after her election win, both of these high-ranking prosecutors, Patrick Dixon and Alan Jackson, left the D.A.’s office unexpectedly, after 38 and 18 years of service, respectively. That is a great start but exposing and correcting what they have done is crucial.
This grave miscarriage of justice took place on D.A. Lacey’s predecessor’s watch so adjudicating this wrongful conviction now and meting out real justice to Michael Goodwin and others wrongfully convicted is a win/win, correcting a serious injustice and fulfilling her campaign promise.