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Goff jury pool to be questioned on pretrial publicity exposure

Prospective jurors in the Megan Goff trial will be asked individually what they know about the case and that will likely be the only question that will get such individualized attention when jury selection for the murder trial begins Aug. 1.

The jury will likely be questioned about other facets of the case as a group, the judge in the murder case said Thursday.

Goff is accused of the 2006 shooting death of her estranged husband, Bill Goff, at his Hamilton Township home. She contends the shooting was in self-defense and was the result of abuse.

In a pretrial hearing Thursday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, visiting Judge Patrick McGrath, sitting by assignment, said 150 Lawrence County residents will be initially called as a pool from which to choose the eventual jury.

McGrath said he had yet to rule on motions to dismiss the case filed by defense counsel. Earlier this month, defense attorneys Paula Brown, William Bluth and Richard Parsons filed a motion asking McGrath to dismiss the case against their client because the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office did not record the entire grand jury proceedings and portions of the proceedings that were recorded were inaudible.

“Upon receiving a copy of the audiotape of the grand jury proceedings, counsel discovered that many portions of the tape were inaudible and all attempts to have the tape enhanced were futile,” the defense attorney’s motion stated.

“Most alarming, the prosecutor’s introduction and instructions to the jury are nowhere to be found on the tape and many of the questions the grand jurors asked were inaudible.”

But in response, Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Bob Anderson countered that grand jury proceedings were in fact recorded, although it is not uncommon for the prosecutor’s opening remarks to be omitted from the tape because they are not evidence.

“… And as the court can see from the testimony there is more than ample evidence upon which to base the indictment in the within case, regardless of what the prosecutor may or may not have said in the opening remarks,” Anderson wrote in his response. He also countered that it is not uncommon for parts of audiotapes to be inaudible.

“It is certainly not unusual that during the recording of the testimony at a grand jury that parts of the questions and/or answers are sometimes inaudible for various reasons,” Anderson wrote. “However the substance of all witnesses’ testimony is certainly apparent from the transcripts and the recordings, and the state has substantially complied with the rule requiring the recording of the grand jury proceedings.”

On Thursday, defense attorneys filed a second motion to dismiss the case based on what they contend was prosecutorial misconduct during grand jury proceedings.

In this motion, Brown, Bluth and Parsons requested a hearing before McGrath to discuss the matter. Their motion was filed under seal, meaning the supporting paperwork for their motion was in a sealed envelope.

The second motion was filed at 9:57 a.m. Thursday.

McGrath said Thursday he had made a decision on the request by defense counsel to suppress Megan Goff’s statements made to authorities immediately after the shooting and the 911 tape of her telephone call to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

He did not say what his decision was and it was not on file with the Lawrence County Clerk of Courts Office at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

There will be at least one more meeting between the prosecution and defense before the trial begins Aug. 1.

Goff is accused of going to Bill Goff’s Hamilton Township home in March 2005 and shooting him to death. She was arrested at the scene after calling authorities and telling them what had happened.

She contended she shot him in self-defense after years of abuse. A first trial before Visiting Judge Fred Crow in May 2006 ended with conviction and a 33-year prison sentence.

That trial was a bench trial, meaning Goff elected to have her case heard by Crow and not a jury.

But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled late last year that the testimony of prosecution witness, Dr. Philip Resnick, should not have been allowed, and thus unanimously decided that Goff should get a new trial. Goff has chosen to have this second trial decided by a jury.

She remains in the Scioto County Jail under a $2.5 million bond.