The following letter arrived the other day from inmate Belynda Goff, now in her 22nd year of a life sentence at the McPherson Women's Unit for the 1994 bludgeoning murder of her husband, a crime for which she steadfastly maintains her innocence. Thought I'd share her message with readers whom I encourage to learn more about this Arkansas travesty at FreeBelyndaGoff.com.
"Dear Mr. Masterson: You have my deepest gratitude for bringing light into the dark matter of my wrongful conviction. Opinions may be everywhere, but if an opinion does not stand on facts, the opinion cannot stand.
"If one wants to know the actual facts of this case, court transcripts up to the most recent hearing are available. In 2014 the Carroll County [Circuit] Court demonstrated that the testimony given by law enforcement was indeed unreliable. His statements and the evidence did not corroborate. Testimony from the technician from the state crime lab substantiated that my husband's blood in a testable amount (which is very minute) was not on any swab or any other item. She could not test it.
"The prosecutor at the time [Brad Butler] informed the court on the record that no weapon was ever recovered. This is irrefutable. Further, the contamination of the entire crime scene by the 15 or so people in and out of the front door without restriction brings everything into question--except one thing--the door was, in fact, not blocked as only one person has claimed.
"DNA evidence had proven to be so critical Arkansas adopted legislation because innocent people are wrongly convicted. In a case such as mine, in which there is no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony, the preservation of physical biological evidence is paramount. To lose or destroy it is beyond unacceptable to say the least. It flies in the face of the law and due process.
"To villainize my husband in order to villainize me is abhorrent, an obscene tactic indeed. Further details are available in federal records.
"An Innocent Incarcerated, Belynda F. Goff."
Letters to Belynda
Goff's attorney, Karen Thompson of the Innocence Project, also forwarded the following (edited) letters Belynda received last month from other women of faith.
From Paula: "I missed you at 'Moms in Prayer' Tuesday night. ... I wanted you to know my husband shared a bit of your story (thank you for giving me permission). He told them about your strength of faith in the long wait. He used your very words, 'I trust in the sovereignty of God,' and then before the church family prayed for you. You, dear friend and sister, make a difference where you've been, where you are and where you will be. I look forward to the day we will worship God with you outside the walls. ... Know you are loved and not forgotten."
From Kay: "Dear Belynda, I am writing tonight to let you know you are not forgotten and not just a number. Your story breaks my heart because I believe you are innocent and I will be praying that the truth will come out and you will be returned to your family soon. I am sure it must be so hard not to lose hope but I want you to hang in there and keep your hope in the Lord. You were lifted up in prayer last Sunday here at Sylvan Hills Church of Christ."
From Barbara: "It is such a pleasure to be able to write this note to you. Many prayers are said ... for your well-being and that you can feel the prayers for you. John 10:29 tells us we will never be snatched from his hands. This verse brings me so much comfort and I pray it does for you. I know God holds us closely no matter where we are in our life. There is nothing that can separate us from his love. May God hold you close and may you feel the love and prayers that are lifted up for you in him."
From Britney: "My heart is so heavy for you. I'm so thankful I have gotten to meet and know you. Your story, your life at McPherson, how you shine so very brightly for Him has deepened my belief in God. I see Jesus Christ in your eyes and in your smile. I come and see you because I get to see him in you. This is true for everyone you have known at McPherson. ... You spread the love and light and goodness and kindness of God. God has grown and expanded his kingdom because of you and how you have chosen to live your life. ... You had a choice to die spiritually or continue to grow in love with Jesus; no matter where you were, no matter the amount of suffering, you have chosen over and over again, day after day, moment after moment, to obey and trust God.
"How many women are eternally impacted by your choice? ... I hurt for you, I cry for you and I cry out to Him about you. ... I believe in Him more because of the life you have lived at McPherson, and I'm just one among the many."
After spending 22 years compassionately touching others' lives under unimaginable circumstances, this mother and grandmother more than deserves her freedom.
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial on 02/10/2019
Print Headline: MIKE MASTERSON: Belynda speaks