Judge rules in Goff’s favor on motions

Published 10:35 am Friday, July 29, 2011

Greenfield may not testify for prosecution

The judge who next week will hear the case against accused murderer Megan Goff has denied a motion by the prosecution regarding self-defense and battered woman syndrome.

Goff is accused in connection with the 2006 shooting death of her estranged husband, Bill.

The Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office had asked visiting Judge Patrick McGrath, sitting by assignment, to require Goff to prove she did not cause the situation that led to the shooting of her estranged husband, and to prove she did not violate a duty to retreat (get out of the situation without anyone getting hurt) before she offers evidence that she suffered from battered woman syndrome.

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Ohio law also requires a person who claims he or she acted in self- defense to also prove they were in fear of imminent bodily harm or death.

McGrath ruled that neither state law nor prior case precedence requires the restriction the prosecutor’s office wanted him to place on Goff.

“It is a defendant’s burden to prove self-defense but that burden does not extend to doing so in a particular order of its elements,” McGrath ruled.

McGrath did grant the defense attorneys’ motion to bar an expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Daniel Greenfield, from testifying.

McGrath said the Ohio Supreme Court had overturned Goff’s earlier verdict due to the testimony and conclusions of another of the prosecution’s expert witness, Dr. Philip Resnick, his testimony, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled, went beyond independent forensic testimony on battered woman syndrome and ventured into Resnick’s  personal commentary on Goff’s truthfulness.

McGrath ruled that the state had inappropriately given Greenfield a copy of Resnick’s testimony, and although Greenfield wrote his own report, he quoted some of what he had read in Resnick’s testimony.

“One again the state is effectively placing Dr. Resnick’s testimony before the jury,” McGrath wrote in his ruling.

McGrath said although Greenfield had submitted a report stating he does not rely on Resnick’s report in drawing his own conclusions, the defense attorneys would either be forced to take Greenfield’s word on his independence or cross examine him and possibly have to discuss testimony of Resnick, who has been barred from the case by the Supreme Court.

“Such a restriction cannot abide in fairness or law,” McGrath wrote.

Goff is accused of going to her estranged husband’s home in 2006 and shooting him to death.

Her first trial ended in conviction but late last year the Ohio Supreme Court overturned that conviction and ordered a new trial, saying Resnick’s testimony should not have been allowed.

Goff’s trial begins with jury selection Monday.