Was Bill Goff a sexual sadist who preyed on an innocent teenaged girl or a loyal, quiet friend and coworker who was too mild-mannered to abuse anyone?
Jurors in the Megan Goff case on Wednesday heard from friends who said he was the latter. Jury deliberations began today.
Megan Goff, 31, is accused of shooting and killing her husband, Bill Goff, in 2006. She has contended she shot him in self- defense and that she suffers from battered woman syndrome.
She was convicted of aggravated murder in 2007 but the Ohio Supreme Court overturned that conviction and ordered a new trial.
Assistant Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson Wednesday morning offered three rebuttal witnesses, all of whom testified Bill Goff showed no signs of being abusive or even aggressive.
Don Fraley, who said he had known Bill Goff since first grade, described him non-aggressive, even to the point of letting people take advantage of him.
"That was Bill, that was his nature. He was very easy-going, even to the point a few times I wanted to take up for him," Fraley said. He said Bill Goff was the kind of person he trusted "with my life, my wife, my daughter and my money."
Fraley said he had been best man at the Goffs' wedding and then saw them socially a half a dozen times after that, for birthdays and holidays.
Fraley said both he and Bill Goff were avid gunsmiths who liked to tinker with firearms and load shells but said his friend was safety conscious around guns.
His recollection of Megan Goff was that of a more outgoing individual than her husband.
"Megan always had that, not a dominatrix-type personality but, leading the conversation. I didn't think anything about it," Fraley said.
Under cross examination, Brown countered that, "Would you agree, people are different in their own home, behind closed doors."
"What do you mean by different?" Fraley responded.
"Relationships are complicated," Brown said. Fraley said sometimes they were.
"Do you keep a lot of loaded guns in your house?" Brown asked Fraley.
"Two, occasionally three," he replied.
"Are they loaded?" she asked.
"Yes, they're loaded," Fraley replied.
"Would you have thought less of Bill Goff if you had known when he was 42 he began a sexual relationship with a junior in high school?" Brown wanted to know. Fraley replied if there had been proof of such a thing he would have been disappointed.
"If you knew Bill Goff made his wife dance naked with a gun to her head and told her how ugly she was, would that change your opinion of him?" Brown queried.
"That's absurd," Fraley replied. But he said if she had actual proof such a thing happened, he would be disappointed.
Two men who worked with Bill Goff at Duke Energy said they overheard his conversation with Megan Goff at 6 p.m. March 17, the night before the shooting and at no time in that conversation did they hear him threaten his estranged wife or the couple's two children.
Megan Goff has said that the day before the shooting, Friday, March 17, Bill Goff contacted her and, during a 6 p.m. telephone conversation, threatened to kill her and the children on Monday, March 20, which was his day off.
Roger Lovett said he and Bill Goff were working in the control room at Duke March 17. When Bill Goff got the phone call, he asked Lovett and another man, James Sunderland, to listen in on the conversation. Lovett said he heard the entire conversation and Bill Goff made no threats at any time.
"He was calm and trying to talk to her," Lovett said. "He was thinking they were getting back together."
But under cross examination, Lovett admitted to defense co-counsel Paula Brown that even though he worked with Bill Goff, he had had only limited contact with Megan and only a few, brief instances where he interacted with both of them together.
"No one knows what goes on behind closed doors," Brown said to Lovett. He agreed.
James Sunderland also worked with Bill Goff the day before the shooting and overheard the telephone call during which Bill Goff is alleged to have threatened to kill his wife on his day off.
"He was a good guy," Sunderland said of Bill Goff. "Real smart; from a work standpoint he knew his job."
As for the telephone call, both he and Lovett said they heard his side of the entire conversation.
"Did Bill make any threats on that call?" Anderson asked.
"Never," Sunderland replied.
"How was his demeanor?" Anderson queried.
"He was cool about it," Sunderland said. "He wasn't mad or yelling."
"Did he threaten to kill Megan?" Anderson asked.
"No," Sunderland said.
"Did he threaten to kill the children?" Anderson wanted to know.
"No," Sunderland said.
But Brown countered that neither man had any real close contact with the Goffs as a couple. Neither man said he had ever gone on a picnic or to the movies with the Goffs. And neither man had heard what Megan was saying that day.
"You only heard one side of the call," Brown said to each man.
But during redirect Sunderland told Anderson he had heard Bill Goff say into the telephone, "'I can't meet with you, I can't, I won't' and proceeded to discuss a restraining order Megan Goff had filed against her estranged husband that was in effect when he died.
Today, both sides will give closing statements and then the jury will get their final instructions before they begin deliberations.
The case began Aug. 1 with jury selection that stretched over three days.
By Teresa Moore - The Ironton Tribune (MCT)
Copyright (c) 2011, The Ironton Tribune, Ohio
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