I've previously written about the reader calling himself "Identification" who clearly harbors an odd 22-year beef against Belynda Goff of Green Forest. Now 57, Goff was convicted in 1996 of brutally murdering her husband, Stephen, in their apartment two years earlier.
After exploring this legal travesty of a case, supported by unproven scenarios and zero physical evidence, my columns clearly have touched a nerve with this anonymous commenter who I suspect must have a bloodhound in this hunt.
Most recently, "Identification" attached the response below to a column citing witnesses who were never called in Goff's defense:
"This taken directly from the Arkansas Supreme Court's decision of Stephanie Goff's appeal: 'Contrary to Ms. Goff's version of occurring events, the evidence clearly indicates that her husband had been beaten to death while present in the couple's apartment, and given the position of Mr. Goff's body, the undisturbed blood stains on the inside doorknob, and the undisturbed windows, Mr. Goff's attacker did not leave the apartment. Further, the hammers found in the kitchen are consistent with the type of weapon that would inflict the wounds that caused Mr. Goff's death. Mr. Goff's blood was found on the bathtub drain, and a large pile of wet towels--one with blood on it--was found in the master bedroom. Such evidence indicates that someone in the apartment had attempted to "clean up" the crime scene. Masterson--I don't need too many more reasons to disregard the NWADG opinion page, and this garbage far outweighs what good you might have done on the hog farm on a Buffalo River tributary. Give it up, or become irrelevant. I don't care how many witnesses line-up, unless one of them claims to have helped Stephanie Goff murder her husband, it doesn't add up to squat."
By the way, Mr. "Identification," the inmate's name is still Belynda, not Stephanie Goff. But, hey, when have facts and truth ever mattered in this disgraceful case?
I asked Goff's attorney, Karen Thompson of the Innocence Project, if she had a response to this phantom persecutor, since she's well familiar with the documented "facts."
As to "Identification's" comments about the position of Stephen's body blocking the killer's escape through the door and bloodstains on the doorknob, Thompson responds that the statement is proven wrong by lead investigator Lt. Archie Rousey's 1994 notes.
"Rousey writes how he 'was just able to squeeze through with the door open approximately one foot.' He also says that he is able to leave the apartment (wearing a white shirt) without getting any blood on him. No one doubts Stephen was killed in their apartment. The point is Belynda didn't do it.
"Identification assumes whomever committed this crime was dripping with blood and, when they left, it would have been all over the door frame. There's no reason to believe that to be true. Lt. Rousey states, undisturbed stains of blood were on the doorknob. This becomes his foundations for why Belynda must have done it. He thinks no one could have exited if there were small bloodstains on the knob that weren't smeared. This requires huge levels of assumption. Why does he think the murderer didn't wipe away other drops? Why does he think the perpetrator even closed the door during the quick attack? They wouldn't have had to touch the doorknob to exit.
"Using 'Identification's' logic, no one left the apartment after the murder, so why couldn't police easily find a murder weapon in the apartment? Where are all the blood-soaked clothes?"
Thompson went on, quoting "Identification's" comment that two hammers found in the kitchen are consistent with the type of weapon that would have inflicted the fatal wounds.
"This is disproved by the state's own forensic examiner's report. No one from the lab said [or testified] the hammers were consistent with Stephen's wounds," said Thompson.
To "Identification's" remark that "blood" in the bathtub drain, and a large pile of wet towels--one with blood on it--is evidence someone in the apartment attempted to clean up the crime scene,Thompson said blood also was found on the bathtub rail and bathroom vanity mirror and determined to belong the Goffs' child, Mark.
"Finding blood in a bathroom is not particularly important unless you can show its probative value. There was such a tiny sample from the drain the state couldn't even determine it was blood. Regardless, when Lt. Rousey took the drain sample, he used the same swab to take a sample from another officer's hand. We also have no idea what that officer was touching before they swabbed his hand. Regardless, finding Stephen's DNA in his own bathtub is not probative. If I swabbed your bathtub drain, I would find your DNA as well. I'd even find your blood if you'd shaved."
The attorney also wondered what "Identification" meant by "attempted to clean up" the crime scene.
"What evidence does [Identification] have of this, especially when blood from other family members was found in the bathroom? And remember, the upstairs neighbor who could hear when water was running in the Goff apartment testified she did not recall hearing any. The transcript of the police crime-scene video also has one officer clearly stating the towels weren't even wet."
Bottom line, Thompson tells me: "Not a single one of 'Identification's' allegations comports with witness evidence; not one. It relies on his tunnel vision that shoehorns contradictory evidence into his 'guilty' theory.
"It's also important to remember that in every one of the 360-plus DNA exonerations that have happened in the U.S., a person had been tried and convicted, often by a jury, and sometimes even sent to death row. At the time of their convictions, everyone thought they were 100 percent right. In all those cases, they were 100 percent wrong."
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web only on 02/23/2019
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