Another News Article by Mike Masterson

This past Sunday, September 2, 2018, another article was written about Arkansas Injustice by the journalist Mike Masterson. I have listed it below or you can follow the link to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette here.

Mr. Masterson goes on to point out police blunders, absolute lack of evidence, and the mystery of the DNA evidence that went missing while quite literally in police custody.

This is a twenty-four year old case. Why is it still seeing print? It is still in the news and fresh on people’s minds because Belynda Goff has served over two decades in a state prison without a single piece of evidence tying her to the crime. We have too many red flags with police discrepancies and obvious political agenda.

For instance, did you know that the police had multiple recorded interviews with Belynda Goff? When Goff read the transcript she immediately responded with “I didn’t say that”. Her attorney asked for the tapes. They sat down to listen to the tapes and every single one of them was blank. BLANK! The police said there must have been some technical error. Yet, their version of the interview became officially what she had said, though she actually didn’t. Is your eyebrow raised yet?

Reasons like this and many many others is what keeps this case going. There is more information and data supporting her innocence than anything the state has against her. That is what keeps this case in print two decades later. We are fortunate to have people still digging into this case, going below the surface and coming up with a profound prospective. Belynda Goff did not commit this crime.

Mr. Masterson’s article is below.

 

 

Innocents freed

Story by Mike Masterson
Sunday, September 2, 2018

Perhaps you read the story of inmate John Brown who has spent 26 of his 51 years in an Arkansas prison for a crime he apparently never committed. U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson ruled Brown was wrongly convicted of raping, robbing and murdering a 78-year-old Fordyce woman. His honor said Brown must be either released or charged again within a month. The present 13th Judicial Circuit prosecutor, who represents Dallas County, said he was still mulling whether to refile charges.

From what I read in reporter Linda Satter’s news story on this travesty, I agree with the judge and the Midwest Innocence Project (thanks for them), who spelled out just how flawed and flimsy–better make that virtually nonexistent–evidence against this man was when the Dallas County jury convicted him.

As with so many convict-the-innocent boondoggles within our criminal justice system, Brown went to prison based on a recanted false confession, as well as alleged bias among those investigating. Another man confessed in 2015 to committing the crime by himself.
This story struck close to home because I’ve experienced (up close and personal) these kinds of unacceptable, jumping-to-conclusions, fact-avoiding and corrupt injustices multiple times over my career.

Thank goodness for the good folks at the Innocence Project, which also has taken the similar case of Belynda Goff of Green Forest, who after more than two decades continues to serve life without parole for the murder of her husband, which I remain deeply convinced she did not do.

As with Brown, Goff’s case is filled with initial police biases that locked them into a contorted scenario that made no sense, dozens of discrepancies, no hard evidence or murder weapon, and even vital DNA evidence that inexplicably disappeared after a sheriff’s deputy signed it out at the state Crime Laboratory in Little Rock to return to his department.

The mess of her conviction smells to high heaven and is unacceptable for me and many others. Those responsible for administering truth and justice usually are the last ones to admit it when they err. After all, there’s that career and personal face-saving stigma to deal with, ya know.

Yet she remains behind bars in Newport after more than two decades, helping fellow female inmates cope while still praying for justice. I can’t imagine much worse than being innocent of a murder a jury insists you committed, then sentenced to life. I said upfront how familiar I became with incarcerated innocents earlier in my career and being led to evidence that resulted in their freedom. I’ve previously written about some of the cases.

There was Shelby Barron, the innocent African American father of two from Hot Springs who a Houston, Texas, grand jury indicted for rape and robbery, but who had not been in Houston and didn’t even have a driver’s license. Six weeks of digging and continually shedding light on his wrongful incarceration led to a judge initially freeing the stonemason from a Hot Springs cell awaiting extradition and after seven weeks prompting a stubborn Houston district attorney to drop those charges.

Some will recall the infamous James Dean Walker case from the early 1980s in which Walker, of Reno, Nev., was convicted of murdering a North Little Rock patrolman on a highway near town. Walker came within six days of the electric chair in the 1960s before being granted a second trial where he again was convicted but got life rather than a death sentence.

The deeper I looked into his case nearly 20 years later, the more discrepancies and outright falsehoods turned up. You know it’s a bad deal when the single fatal bullet taken from the slain officer went to the Crime Lab for ballistic testing, yet two different officers testified they returned that slug to the evidence locker.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals took a hard look at Walker’s conviction and granted him a third trial. That trial never happened and Walker was freed.
Then in the 1980s, I happened across the case of Ronald Carden of Bigelow. He was a man wrongly convicted of murdering a “Jane Doe” whose decomposing remains were discovered just outside Little Rock.

A circuit judge freed Carden after weeks of stories that revealed clear evidence of his innocence. A single questionable hair used by a Crime Lab technician as the only hard evidence against Carden was shot down by the FBI Crime Lab.
Some readers may recall the system’s gross injustices in the 1960s murder of Marvin Williams of Menifee, a black man who died in the custody of the Faulkner County sheriff.
A year of reporting contradictions and deceptions during the 1980s showed Williams’ death had not been from an accidental fall forward on the courthouse steps as claimed by two Conway patrolmen, but from his skull being fractured from top to bottom behind his ear.

A grand jury indicted those men for murder 20 years later. They were acquitted at trial.
Sorry to report there are other instances of Arkansas’ supposedly blind Lady Justice peeking, apparently now to include Mr. John Brown.
————v————
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.
Editorial on 09/02/2018

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Still Holding

At 9:30 in the evening on January 2, 2018 another transport officer arrived at the McPherson Prison to pick up Belynda Goff. She was held in transport mode for approximately 32 hours due to the ineptness of Carroll County.

Belynda arrived at the Carroll County Jail at around 12:30 a.m. Rather than placing her in the jail she was put into ANOTHER holding cell just off the entry to the door. The holding cell is a small concrete room with just a bench and no heating. Prior to putting her in the cell they took her coat that was issued to her by the prison. She was held in this literal FREEZING cell for TWELVE HOURS. This is not an exaggeration. See the weather conditions for that day below.

 

IMG_6818

 

 

Belynda was forced to remain without a coat in freezing conditions. After twelve hours she starting begging for help, Belynda began yelling through the window in the door that they had kept covered. By this time the next shift had arrived and they began processing her. It would still be DAYS until her hearing. They refused to let Belynda call her attorney. The jail staff continuously told her that her attorney was “in court and unavailable.” Another lie. Her attorney was not in court. Belynda was her only client in the entire county. But still they refused and she waited.

Finally on January 4th they allowed her access to the phone after business hours. Carroll County made sure that there would be no communication with her attorney before her scheduled hearing.

DNA Hearing Finally Scheduled. But Wait…

After months of delay by Carroll County Prosecutor, Tony Rogers, a hearing was held on January 5, 2018. Getting there was quite the battle. Not just in Rogers dragging his feet and stalling but physically.
At the correctional facility Belynda was forced to hurry and “pack up” her property and was rushed around to arrive at the prison sally port. She was shackled and belly chained as the lieutenant asked the Carroll County deputy for the court order for her transfer.

The Carroll County deputy did not have any paperwork and “figured” the prison would “just let her go” and that his BOSS told him to “give it a try”. We cannot even make this up. It is just like Carroll County law enforcement; they believe they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

GAG

Belynda was not allowed to leave the prison but was placed in a holding position because the deputy said that he would return that evening. He never showed up. This was January 1, 2018. The transport officer was paid by taxpayers to accomplish nothing but spending the entire day driving the country side on a major holiday.

CARROLL COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT SUPRESSES PHYSICAL EVIDENCE IN MURDER CASE

During the search for the evidence that “went missing” in Belynda Goff’s case it was discovered that physical evidence from the crime scene had been found and never shared in discovery to her attorney. This physical evidence was logged in on June 13, 1994 to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and has remained secreted away for twenty-four years.

Attention: Photo not from actual case as the “lead investigator” did not see the need to secure the crime scene. In the crime scene video you can clearly see a small child riding their bike on the other side of the door where Stephen Goff’s body was found.

When the New York Innocence Project’s attorney, Karen Thompson, moved to have this newly discovered DNA evidence tested, the Carroll County Prosecutor, Tony Rogers, dug in his heels fighting against the testing.

The prosecutor’s actions prompt an immediate question. Why? Why would any state or federal prosecuting attorney fight against DNA testing of evidence? Particularly when all transportation, testing, and analysis would be paid for by the Innocence Project. It would be completely free to the state.

What is NOT FREE are court costs. By refusing to allow DNA testing Tony Rogers cost Carroll County time and money in court fees and so on. What could be his reasoning in rejection of testing? Could it be that Mr. Rogers is aware that they convicted and incarcerated an innocent person? Many people believe this to be the case. It is apparent that any potential test results would be adverse to the state’s claims or interests. In other words, there is a good chance that the truth would be revealed. Hmm…

What About All of the Blood?

If you have paid any attention to this case you would know that there is absolutely no physical evidence tying Belynda Goff to the murder of Stephen Goff. Not a single shred. And yet she remains in prison for 21 years serving a life sentence for a crime that she did not commit.

During Goff’s trial, the jury heard a great deal of the massive amount of blood in the bathroom – indicating a crime scene clean up. The jury members heard Police Officer Archie Rousey go into great detail as he described the scene.

Let’s do a quick recap. I will quote verbatim from the trial transcript. This will verify what the jury was hearing.

“Sergeant Gage removed the bathtub drain plate. As he was removing it, as he turned it up, blood started running down his fingers. This blood was in liquid state” (T.489).

Rousey goes on to give a physical demonstration as he talks to the jury he lifts his arm up and lifts his other hand and motions blood running down it. Then he goes on to say:

“Officer Gage was in the bathroom trying to take out the drain with a screw driver. I was there to assist him… He took the drain out and there is was, it was running down his fingers and I had to get it as fast as I could. Blood and water is what it looked like to me, could possibly have hair…” (T.566).

Fast Forward to 2014. Belynda Goff is applying for clemency but Rousey has big issues with that. He tells the Arkansas Parole Board:

“In 1994 DNA analyses was still very new, and it took a lot of blood to obtain a complete DNA profile.”

———————————————-

WOW! With all of that blood and even alluded hair there can be no denying a clean-up, right? – Insert awkward record screech.

This is what Dr. Marcia Eisenberg (Director of forensic identity testing at Laboratory Corporation of America formerly known as Roche Biomedical) had to say:

Eisenburg.pdf

Wait a minute, how can that be? We have Police Officer Rousey stating that there is visible blood and possible hair oozing off of a fellow police officer’s hand.

Let’s fast forward again to a hearing in 2014. In this hearing, the prosecutor, Tony Rogers, is arguing that evidence in the Goff case should not be allowed for testing by the New York Innocence Project. Judge Crowe goes on to mention Rousey’s statements that were made under oath.

Crowestatement2

There it is folks. There is absolutely no evidence against Belynda Goff; only the numerous fabrications made by this police officer. You don’t have to take a blogger’s word for it. But maybe you can take put a little stock into a forensic laboratory’s results and an experienced judge. Our criminal justice system is broken and in Carroll County, Arkansas it is broken and dirty.

 

 

Belynda Goff

More awareness is being brought to this case daily. I hope that you will take the time to read this post. A woman is fighting for justice. She is fighting a state and system that is trying to keep their doings hidden while keeping her cries silent. The best way to move forward is with awareness and being proactive. We are all starting to see more wrongful convictions surface in the media. These convictions were made so that prosecutors and police can make a name for themselves at a mighty expense… the life of an innocent person. This is part of Belynda Goff’s story.

Wrongly Convicted Group Website

In 1994 Belynda, then 32 years old, lived in Green Forest, Arkansas and worked at the local Tyson plant. She was a mother of three – Stephen Lee, 3 years old, Mark, 7, and Bridgette, 15.

On the night of June 11, 1994 she was home with her husband, Stephen, and their son, Stephen Lee. Around 9:00 pm Stephen received a phone call and told Belynda he was going out for cigarettes even though, as Belynda told him, the store was closed. She headed to bed around 10:00 or 10:30 pm. Stephen was still not home. During the night Stephen Lee crawled into bed with her.

At about 2:00 am her upstairs neighbors heard a knock on the Goffs’ door, and then shortly later, what sounded like banging on the ceiling.

Between 4:00 and 4:30 am Belynda’s alarm went off. She went into the bathroom, then the living room. It…

View original post 121 more words

Arkansas Democrat Gazette Column

‘Wrong for years’

By Mike Masterson

This article was published May 13, 2017 at 2:03 a.m.

The shameful case of Belynda Goff, the Green Forest mother who many, including me, believe was wrongfully convicted of murdering her husband Stephen in their home 23 years ago, finally is drawing the national attention it richly deserves.

Writing for the liberal Huffington Post website, contributor Hannah Riley, director of communications for the New England Innocence Project, published her latest compelling overview of the Goff travesty. Riley laid out some of many oversights, deceptions, misassumptions and missing evidence that have plagued this sad case since Stephen Goff was murdered on June 11, 1994.

Since her conviction and life sentence without parole, Goff has maintained her innocence, just as she did at trial when she refused a plea bargain because she would not plead guilty to a crime she didn’t commit.

After 46 years in this business and in the process investigating three different Arkansas men convicted of heinous crimes in separate cases being freed when fresh facts were later revealed, I can say to readers without equivocation that I believe Ms. Goff, a prisoner in the McPherson Women’s Unit at Newport, did not murder her husband.

At 54, she’s now spent more than 20 years behind bars, and many feel largely it’s because those in the criminal justice system in Carroll County all those years ago wouldn’t want to admit they were wrong. That sort of thing could be downright humiliating. But then, the truth matters greatly, and as the poet William Cullen Bryant once reminded: “Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again.”

And now Riley has brushed a bit more earth off the truths of this case with her story headlined “Arkansas has gotten it wrong for years.”

“For years, Ms. Goff has fought the many injustices heaped on her, both alone and with her family,” Riley quoted Goff’s attorney, Karen Thompson of the Innocence Project, saying.

Riley’s article then reviewed basic facts, many previously reported since 2014 in this column: On June 11, 1994, at 9 p.m. Belynda and Stephen were spending Saturday evening at home in Green Forest.

Stephen received a phone call. After a brief conversation, he said he was heading to a convenience store for cigarettes. Belynda eventually nodded off in front of the television. She roused herself around 10:30 and went to bed alone.

Belynda awoke about seven hours later. Entering the living room, she initially could see Stephen’s feet “barely visible from behind a low wall. As she moved closer, she saw blood splatter on the wall and door-frame behind his body. She shook his foot in an attempt to rouse him, and then began to scream.”

Riley wrote that EMTs and Green Forest police arrived not long after she called, and police drew up a knee-jerk hypothesis: Belynda had killed Stephen.

Such a rushed theory, Riley continued, triggered tunnel vision, “a very human (and very dangerous) condition, one that ensnared the entirety of the case, and, ultimately, the next 22 years of the Goff family’s life.”

Tunnel vision, Riley wrote, caused authorities to ask Belynda where she “hid the gun” and what prompted them to test her hands for gun residue even though Stephen had been bludgeoned, not shot. It also caused them not to dust for fingerprints on either side of the doorknob. Riley reported that one detective at trial said, “I did not try to find prints at any particular point in the apartment … I had already made up my mind that it was not necessary.”

There also was an abundance of relevant evidence the jury never heard, Riley wrote. For instance, Stephen Goff had become involved in an arson scheme in Flint, Mich. Belynda’s brother Chris Lindley wasn’t called to testify at her first trial, but testified at her appeal that Stephen had repeatedly tried to solicit his involvement.

“Chris initially agreed to participate in the arson,” Riley wrote, “but changed his mind and backed out soon after. Stephen was terrified when Chris relayed his change of heart, telling Chris that he had already spent the money and would surely be killed if they didn’t both go through with the crime.”

A few days later, Stephen was found dead. Two days after that, Chris received a phone call threatening his life. In a panic, Chris moved his family. About a year after Stephen’s murder, the Goff family home was burned in a still-unsolved arson, Riley wrote.

“On June 11th, before Stephen’s death, a neighbor of the Goffs called the police to report two suspicious men skulking around the apartment complex, often returning to their car, which had two baseball bats visible in the backseat. She initially reported the men out of fear for her children’s safety, but called police again to reiterate what she had seen after hearing the news of Stephen’s death. Other neighbors corroborated seeing the strange men,” Riley reported.

Another man came forward, telling police “that in the early hours of the 12th, he and a friend heard a group of men discussing a ‘blood bath’ in Green Forest, saying that someone had been badly beaten with a baseball bat. One of the men, they reported, had been carrying a baseball bat.”

There’s so much more to this shameful case. Read Riley’s complete story at tinyurl.com/huff-goff.

————v————

Mike Masterson’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 05/13/2017

Print Headline: ‘Wrong for years’

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/may/13/wrong-for-years-20170513/

www.innocenceproject.org

 

A Mother’s Day Letter from Daughter to Mom in Arkansas Prison

Read original post here.

mothers-day-bridgett-jones

By Bridgette Jones

Bridgette Jones is the daughter of our client Belynda Goff who was convicted of murdering her husband in 1997. Goff, who steadfastly maintains her innocence, has been in prison for more than 20 years and has to spend yet another Mother’s Day in prison without her loved ones.


Dear Mom,

I want to wish you a happy Mother’s Day. Every time this holiday comes around I cannot help but think of you and how much you mean to me, to all of us. My brothers and I are who we are today because of you.

You have been a pillar of strength for us during this nightmare. This tragic injustice has affected us all. Every holiday ripped away, every moment we long to share with you we cannot because you were wrongfully stolen from our lives and forced to endure a punishment for a crime you did not commit.

Hold your head high this Mother’s Day and know that you are loved.

Though we cannot always be physically close, I depend on our frequent phone calls to hear you laugh, to guide me, and just so I can tell you we are all here for you! We are working and striving toward the day when you will be freed. When it is publicly acknowledged that there is absolutely no evidence tying you to this crime. That your trial was a travesty from the get-go. That the DNA evidence that could have led to your freedom suspiciously disappeared while in the custody of the police.

Matriarch

Your integrity has never wavered. You are a woman of character and strength that I admire in every possible way. I realize this holiday is difficult for you but know that we are celebrating you! My hope is that other mothers who may be facing similar circumstances have the strength to persevere, to fight the good fight, and know there are virtuous people out there that are taking a stand against wrongful convictions.

Hold your head high this Mother’s Day and know that you are loved. Know that you are not alone. Know that I will spend my last breath fighting until you are free.

Forever yours,

Bridgette

Related: Arkansas Has Gotten it Wrong for Years

 

 

Huffington Post Article by Hannah Riley

Arkansas Has Gotten it Wrong for Years

04/21/2017 09:00 am ET | Updated Apr 21, 2017
Belynda Goff.

It has not been a good week for the state of Arkansas. Their grotesque plan to speedily execute 8 men in 11 days hasn’t gone as smoothly as anticipated, with multiple last-minute appeals and stays. One man, Ledell Lee, was executed last night, before the DNA in his case could be tested. He had long maintained his innocence of the crime.

This is not the first time the state of Arkansas has gotten it wrong. The proof? Belynda Goff. “For years, Ms. Goff has fought the many injustices heaped on her, both alone and with her family,” says her attorney Karen Thompson, of the Innocence Project. “Her case should command the same amounts of outrage that the men on death row have received this week.”

At around 9 PM on June 11th, 1994, Belynda Goff saw her husband, Stephen Goff, alive for the last time. Belynda and Stephen were spending a quiet Saturday evening at home. It was a typically warm summer night in Green Forest, Arkansas, a small city of less than 3,000 in the Northwestern tip of the state. At a few minutes past 9, Stephen received a phone call. After a brief conversation, he told Belynda that he was headed to the nearby convenience store for cigarettes, and left the family’s apartment. Belynda stayed on the couch in the living room, eventually nodding off in front of the television. She roused herself around 10:30, turned off the TV, and went to bed alone in the master bedroom.

Sunday, June 12th, would have been a typical work day for Stephen. No less than 7 hours had passed when Belynda was awoken – with still no sign of her husband — by the early morning alarm. After snoozing the alarm for several minutes, she got out of bed. When she entered the living room, it was Stephen’s lifeless feet that she saw first, barely visible from behind a low wall. As she moved closer, she saw blood splatter on the wall and door-frame behind his body. She shook his foot in an attempt to rouse him, and then began to scream.

Belynda placed a call to the operator immediately, and pleaded for help. The EMTs and the Green Forest police officer arrived not long after. After spending just a few minutes at the scene of the crime, the police drew up a hypothesis: Belynda had killed her husband. This rushed theory sparked a very human (and very dangerous) condition, one that ensnared the entirety of the case, and, ultimately, the next 22 years of the Goff family’s life. Tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision is what caused the police to ask Belynda, as she was sitting on the front step, attempting to compose herself just after finding her husband’s body, where she “hid the gun”. Tunnel vision is what caused the police to test Belynda’s hands for gun residue, when Stephen hadn’t even been shot – he had been bludgeoned. Tunnel vision is what caused police not to dust for fingerprints on either side of the doorknob. (At trial, when asked why he neglected to look for fingerprints, the detective replied, “I did not try to find prints at any particular point in the apartment…I had already made up my mind that it was not necessary.”) Tunnel vision is a widely acknowledged investigative bias that has had a corrosive effect on the cases of hundreds – if not thousands—of innocent people. It prompts an intense focus on a theory of events, and, like putting blinders on a horse, cuts off the import of any evidence that might contradict the initial theory. It is not a phenomenon exclusive to police; prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, and jurors alike are all susceptible. But it’s the most destructive at the level of initial investigation, since all of the ensuing processes will feed off the first clues and theories culled by police.

The initial, unfounded suspicion of Belynda’s guilt led investigators – and eventually prosecutors, jurors, and a judge – down a rabbit hole of erroneous interpretations and outright fabricated evidence. She was arrested, tried, and, in 1996, convicted of first-degree murder. But perhaps, if the proverbial blinders had been taken off from the outset, the police would have been able to properly investigate the crime. If they had, here’s what they would have found.

In the year leading up to his murder, Stephen Goff was becoming precipitously involved in an arson scheme in Flint, Michigan. Though he was not called upon to testify at her first trial, Belynda’s brother, Chris Lindley, eventually testified at her appeal that Stephen had repeatedly tried to solicit Chris’ involvement in the arson of a building in Flint, which would purportedly conclude with a reward of a large sum of money (to the tune of $10,000). Chris initially agreed to participate in the arson, but changed his mind and backed out soon after. Stephen was terrified when Chris relayed his change of heart, telling Chris that he had already spent the money and would surely be killed if they didn’t both go through with the crime.

A few short days later, Stephen was found dead. Two days after his murder, Chris received a phone call threatening his own life; he was told that if he spoke out about the arson plans, he would find himself…”… laying [sic] right next to Steve. You will be dead; your family will be dead.” Panicked, Chris changed his number and moved his family. He’s now completely off the grid; his home has fallen into foreclosure and he hasn’t been heard from in over 5 years. The fear for his safety coupled with the burden of having a sister sentenced to life in prison for a crime she did not commit has effectively robbed him of his own life, too. And his fears were not unfounded: a little over a year after Stephen’s murder, the Goff family home was burned to the ground in a yet-to-be-solved arson.

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The jury at Belynda’s trial heard none of this.

On June 11th, before Stephen’s death, a neighbor of the Goff’s called the police to report two suspicious men skulking around the apartment complex, often returning to their car, which had two baseball bats visible in the backseat. She initially reported the men out of fear for her children’s safety, but called police again to reiterate what she had seen after hearing the news of Stephen’s death. Other neighbors corroborated seeing the strange men.

Another man came forward to police, telling them that in the early hours of the 12th, he and a friend heard a group of men discussing a “blood bath” in Green Forest, saying that someone had been badly beaten with a baseball bat. One of the men, they reported, had been carrying a baseball bat.

The jury at Belynda’s trial heard none of this.

Perhaps what is more shocking than what was not revealed to the jury, however, were the flat out lies that they were told.

The prosecution claimed that no one could possibly have left the apartment after the murder, because of the positioning of Stephen’s body by the front door. But people did enter and exit the home – the EMTs, the police, and Belynda and her son after the authorities arrived.

Once police latched onto the theory of the murderer remaining in the apartment, they had to find a murder weapon. The prosecution posited that a hammer found in the Goff’s home must have been the weapon, even though extensive testing revealed no evidence of blood. At trial, the jury was told that the hammer from the Goff’s home was unequivocally the murder weapon. The defense raised no objection.

A thorough search of the Goff’s apartment also found no blood – not in the laundry, not in the bathroom, not in the bedroom, not on any clothing. A minute DNA sample pulled from the bathtub drain was found to be consistent with Stephen Goff, but the presence of a man’s DNA in his own bathtub is hardly a smoking gun. Despite the sample being infinitesimally small, the jury was told that the lead investigator discovered enough of Stephen’s blood in the shower drain to “run down his hands.” Undeterred by the dearth of real biological evidence implicating Belynda, the prosecution posited that she must have cut up her bloodied clothes and flushed them down the toilet. During the investigation, police were so desperate to find any evidence pointing to Belynda’s guilt that they sent a team to the local sewage facility to search for the (non-existent) bloodied clothes, despite the fact that the theory had been concocted out of thin air. The multiple reports of strange men around the Goff’s building in the days preceding the murder were not once followed up on.

For Belynda, it’s not yet too late. It’s been twenty two long years, but it’s not too late. In 2014, her attorneys at the Innocence Project were granted DNA testing rights to the remaining biological evidence collected at the scene. While some hairs found on Stephen’s body were tested – and turned out to be his own – the remaining evidence, which included Stephen’s fingernail scrapings and more hair found on the body, has mysteriously gone missing after being picked up from the Arkansas State Crime Lab by a police officer in 2000. “I am thrilled that she continues to fight on,” said Karen Thompson, “and only wish that the important evidence that ‘went missing’ in her case (last accounted for in the hands of a Carroll County police officer), will be found so that we can conduct DNA testing.”

During the early years of her incarceration, Belynda tried to call her three children every morning so that she could still be the person waking them up for school. When her eldest son got married, the wedding was held on her birthday, and a seat saved in her honor. Her daughter named her first daughter – Belle – in honor of Belynda, and her second daughter – Liberty – in honor of the fight for Belynda’s freedom. To say that Belynda is fiercely dedicated to her family would be an understatement – yet she refused to plead guilty in exchange for a 10-year sentence, steadfastly maintaining her innocence even while facing the possibility of life in prison. Her children remain her most passionate defenders. “My mother has never given up nor denied her own innocence, though she would have been released years ago with a plea bargain, if she had,” her daughter Bridgette told me. “Her children haven’t given up either.”

Magic T-Shirt

First off, forgive the pause in postings. It wasn’t an oversight. We’ve been asked to keep a low profile while people are working behind the scenes. But we’re now officially back!

The other day I witnessed someone bust their lip open. The amount of blood was unbelievable and it trailed him as he ran.

It brought this case to mind, and for obvious reasons… How does one bludgeon a person to death and not get a drop of blood on themselves or the floor? Why, a magic T-shirt of course!

But don’t take my word for it. See for it for yourself. In closing arguments, the prosecutor (Kenny Elser) throws in a bit of new evidence that wasn’t discussed at all during the trial. He reasons to the jury that because there was no blood found on ANY of her clothing she wore a t-shirt while committing the crime. But this was no ordinary shirt. This magic shirt was capable of absorbing all of the blood as to not get it on her person or leave a single drop as Belynda scurried about to supposedly clean up a crime scene.

If that’s not magic I don’t know what is.

picture_20170206_102301162

Yes… How easy would it be to absorb an astronomical amount of blood with a t-shirt and tear it into tiny pieces with your fingers (of course no scissors or any other cutting/shredding device was found) and not get any blood on anything including yourself? Hmm… My guess is not easy at all. In fact, I’d say impossible but just to be sure, did they test the plunger to see if it had blood on it? NO…

But let us talk about the bathmat for a minute that the prosecutor mentions. It was there in the courtroom as an exhibit. Wow… How is it possible that after she cleaned up she placed the bathmat outside when they are so certain that Stephen Goff’s body was blocking the door?

Are you starting to see the red flags yet?