Goff gets life with parole possible after 18 years

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2011

Attorneys asking for new trial

She got a life sentence with the hope of parole after 18 years, but her attorneys want her to get another new trial.

Megan Goff, 31, formerly of Hamilton Township, was sentenced in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Friday for her second murder conviction in the 2006 death of her husband, Bill Goff.

Visiting Judge Patrick McGrath Friday acknowledged he had no option in handing down the sentence for Megan Goff.

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Ohio law provides for life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for a murder conviction. However, because Goff used a gun to shoot and kill her estranged husband, an extra, mandatory three years was added to her sentence, making her total time before parole eligibility 18 years.

Goff’s attorneys had sought to delay sentencing in the first place, asking McGrath to wait until after Sept. 30 when a new law takes effect regarding sentencing guidelines. But Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson argued that new law will not affect Goff’s five-year-old case.

McGrath agreed.

“I don’t believe there is anything before this court to show this (new law) is applicable,” McGrath said.

Attorneys Paula Brown and Richard Bluth have also filed a motion seeking to overturn this most recent conviction and get a new trial.

The motion, filed Friday, alleges the jury was not properly instructed on the charge of voluntary manslaughter versus the murder charge the jury opted to find her guilty of; they contend if the jury had been properly instructed, they would have found her guilty of the lesser charge and hence, she would have gotten a lesser sentence.

McGrath has yet to rule on the motion because Anderson has not had time to file a response, given that the motion had only been filed that day.

During her sentencing, Bill Goff’s friend and neighbor, spoke. James Turner said he had known Bill Goff for more than 30 years.

“I honestly can’t say a bad thing about him,” Turner said. He told Megan Goff she did not understand how many lives she affected when she killed Bill Goff. In response to Megan Goff’s claim that Bill Goff had abused her during their marriage, Turner said, “If it was as bad as all that, all she had to do was walk across the yard to her parents’ home.”

But Brown, speaking for Megan Goff, said her client was a young woman with two kids and many people who care about her will continue to support Megan Goff throughout her appeal of this latest trial.

Goff’s attorneys told McGrath that Megan Goff is now indigent. McGrath accepted this and appointed Bluth and Brown to continue representing her during the appeals process.

McGrath said there was some discrepancy about whether Goff should get credit for 1,630 days in jail awaiting her first trial and subsequent prison sentence or more than 1,900, a figure that includes the days she spent on home confinement awaiting her first trial.

McGrath said state law does not allow the inclusion of home confinement when tolling credit for time served.

When Goff was arrested, she was first kept at the Lawrence County Jail and then transferred to the Scioto County Jail. She was later released on electronically monitored home confinement until her first trial.

Megan Goff was arrested in March 2006 and accused of shooting Bill Goff 15 times with two guns. She claimed he threatened her with a gun throughout their marriage and abused her psychologically and sexually.

Prosecutors contend Goff was never abused and had no right to claim self-defense because she went to her estranged husband’s home and shot an unarmed man. She was convicted of aggravated murder the following year during a bench trial.

Then-visiting Judge Fred Crow sentenced her to 33 years in prison. That conviction was overturned by the Ohio Supreme Court last year and the case was remanded for new trial.

The second trial was last month and the jury chose to find her guilty of murder, as opposed to aggravated murder.