New motions filed in Goff trial

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, July 19, 2011

County changes lead prosecutor

With a little more than two weeks to go before a new trial begins, attorneys representing accused murderer Megan Goff have filed new, sealed motions in the case; meanwhile, the case will be tried by Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr., and Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson instead of Assistant Prosecutor Bob Anderson, who tried Goff the first time.

Visiting Judge Patrick McGrath has now ruled on a previous defense request to throw out Goff’s statements to authorities immediately following the shooting. Goff is accused of shooting her estranged husband, Bill Goff, in March 2006 at his Hamilton Township residence.

The new sealed motion

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Attorneys Paula Brown, William Bluth and Richard Parsons filed a sealed motion, Monday asking to remove the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office from trying the case and appoint a new prosecutor.

The motion also asks McGrath to disqualify Lawrence County Sheriff’s Detective Aaron Bollinger from testifying during the trial. The motion asks that McGrath schedule a hearing to discuss the contents of the sealed white envelope that contains their reasons for their requests.

The defense attorneys also filed a sealed motion as a follow up to Anderson’s response to one of their earlier motions. Goff’s defense counsel had asked McGrath to dismiss charges against Goff because the grand jury proceedings, during which Goff was indicted, was not taped in its entirety.

Anderson had countered that the only parts of the grand jury proceeding not taped were the prosecutor’s salutation and opening remarks.

The change in prosecutors

Collier said the change in prosecutors was to give the new trial a fresh start, acknowledging that, after a lengthy first trial and trips to the Fourth District Court Of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court, Bob Anderson “doesn’t have the enthusiasm” for the new trial.

The statements stay

McGrath ruled Monday that Goff’s statements to Bollinger at the scene of shooting will be admissible in the second trial. Defense attorneys had argued that Goff’s statements to Bollinger were not voluntary because they were so emotionally charged that she could not comprehend what she was doing.

But McGrath ruled that some 40 minutes had passed between the time Goff called 911 and Bollinger had arrived at the Bill Goff residence to speak with her, and during this time she had had a chance to calm down.

“There is no evidence of coercion or intimidation,” McGrath wrote in his ruling, “and in fact the deputies were attempting to calm her.”

“Defendant had called the deputies to her and reported shooting her husband multiple times and reported she had killed him.”

McGrath ruled that Bollinger told her he wanted to talk to her and tried to calm her; he had thoroughly explained the Miranda form and that Goff had said she understood each line.

McGrath further said Goff had begun to answer Bollinger’s questions and seemed eager to talk about what had happened and was able to provide a detailed, consistent account of the events.

“Defendant also explains in detail how she managed to have and use two handguns involved,” McGrath wrote. He said there was no evidence presented that Goff did not “act voluntarily.”

McGrath had earlier ruled that prosecutors could not mention to the jurors in the new trial that there had been a previous trial or that Goff had been convicted.

Then and now

Goff has contended she acted out of self-defense because she was a battered woman. She was convicted in a bench trial in May 2007, a trial that took parts of three weeks. Visiting Judge Fred Crow sentenced her to 33 years in prison. However, last year the Ohio Supreme Court overturned Goff’s conviction, ruling that testimony from an expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Phillip Resnick, should not have been allowed.

Goff’s new trial will begin Aug. 1. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Friday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court. This time, her case will be heard by a jury instead of decided by a judge.