Mike Masterson has published another column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette urging Governor Hutchinson to grant Belynda clemency and he’s asking readers to write to the governor in support of her petition. Thank you, Mike, for helping the truth come to light!
Still hope for Goff
I’m concerned my column last week about the Arkansas Board of Parole recommendation to deny Belynda Goff her third request for clemency in 20 years might have left the mistaken impression that all hope for compassion and reason in her appalling conviction for a 1994 murder also was lost for the next six years.
The board gives its recommendation on executive commutations and clemency cases to the governor, who then can choose to either ignore or accept that suggestion.
In this instance, the mother from Green Forest whose case and conviction has been riddled with questions, contradictions, omissions and even crucial missing evidence from the beginning, still can hope Gov. Asa Hutchinson now will choose to do his own inquiry and actually examine her 233-page request carefully, then grant her petition after the 20 years she’s already spent behind bars.
Goff has vigorously insisted on her innocence in the bludgeoning death of her late husband, Stephen, from the time she was arrested. Her trial produced no direct evidence connecting her to the crime that occurred at their front door after her husband had become involved with an arson-for-hire gang that threatened to kill him only days before he was murdered.
Only five of the seven members of the parole board cast votes to deny Goff’s latest request. I can’t help but believe most of those commissioners didn’t invest the adequate time or energy required to actually analyze her request for a hearing and commutation to time served. Reporter Cheree Franco, who wrote about that, has done an admirable job of following Goff’s case.
Those who know me also will realize that I’d certainly not be harping on this matter if I didn’t see her request as not only reasonable but Goff as more than deserving of the governor’s empathy and assistance. Otherwise, this woman who has helped so many down-and-out female inmates during her two decades in prison must wait another six years before even being able to ask the board for its support again.
You also know I’m not alone here when the vaunted Innocence Project in New York now represents Goff, and when four members of her jury and even the bailiff at her sentencing hearing sent letters supporting this mother’s more-than-justifiable request for commutation. I’d encourage all Arkansans to let the governor know your feelings on this sad case. You can learn a lot more details by Googling Belynda Goff.