Gregory Goodman

In keeping with my recent trend of blogging about past cases from the area in which I currently live I came upon this case.  Unlike many of the others, this one is rather short and to the point.  There really is a lot less, in the legal sense, going on with this case and yet I still found it quite interesting and leaves us with some legalities to ponder.  

While the last case that I discussed, the John Matthew Stephenson case, was considered to be the longest in Indiana history, this case surely is not.  The trial lasted two days and the total time between when the murder occurred and the defendant was sentenced for the crime was less than five months.  To be honest, my first thought when beginning my research and discovering this was worry at just how fast this case was concluded. In the end that was not a concern as I realized that the defendant had admitted to the crime, but of course as defendants often do, claimed he did not intend to murder anyone.  In essence the trial came down to whether he would be convicted of manslaughter or murder, but a conviction was inevitable.  

In June of 1988 Gregory Goodman walked into a convenient store where his then ex-girlfriend worked in Boonville Indiana.  They had lived together but had broken up just a few days prior.  Goodman wielded a gun with him and threatened the woman.  As he saw a car approach the store he instructed her to lock the door but instead she ran outside with Goodman chasing her.  In the end officers arrived and they ended up shooting Goodman in the leg.  After his recovery he was found guilty and ordered to serve 6 years in a work release facility in nearby Evansville.  He was still in the facility in June of 1990 when he and Susie Steele applied for a marriage license and were married.  My research was a little vague on specifics (and sometimes wrong as I found) on just how long Goodman and Susie knew each other but it indicated that they worked at the same place, a local restaurant where she was a waitress and he was a cook. The facility he was in obviously allowed him to be released to go to work and it indicated that they would sometimes grant weekend passes, although I cannot say that Goodman ever received one.  

Apparently things were not going well with the marriage... imagine that. Some say by January of 1991 Susie was already thinking about filing for divorce. Earlier that month Goodman and filed for a transfer from the work release program to a local alcohol and drug rehab home.  This leaves me a bit perplexed.  Research says that due to his marriage problems and his anxiety surrounding those issues he had requested the transfer indicating he needed help for a problem with alcohol.  The rehab home apparently was well known and local authorities knew that they really had little to no security.  It was basically full of people who were voluntarily there and they could seemingly sign in and out at will. I am confused as to how or why authorities who apparently knew prior that there were marriage problems would allow someone who was serving time (although, a light sentence) for basically domestic violence be allowed to enter a facility known not to have security. At any rate his transfer was approved.

On January 18, 1991 Goodman signed himself out of the rehab home saying he was attending an AA meeting in downtown Evansville.  The facility provided a van for transportation to the meeting but apparently no one stayed.  Goodman would later admit that he had left the meeting before it started and walked the nearly 1.5 miles to his wife's home.  He would later state in his trial that when he had been at the home on January 10th he had found some letters in his wife's purse from a man who was serving time in the Henderson County Kentucky jail just over the state line. He said that when he returned on the 18th he saw more and that the letters were romantic in nature. At some point, after seeing the letters Goodman went into the kitchen and obtained a knife, hiding it under his jacket. He indicated to Susie that he was going to leave and leaned down to kiss her goodbye.  As he did so he took the knife from his jacket and began stabbing her.  Her screams awakened her three children who were 6, 8 and 10 at the time.  As they entered the room she yelled for them to get help.  They ran outside and to a neighbor to report what was going on.  Goodman was found a short time later allegedly walking his way back to the rehab home.  He freely admitted what he had done.

So, as I said when it came to a trial it really came down to what was his intent at the time of crime.  Even when people admit to committing a crime you will also find that they will plead not guilty when it comes to court.  This is what happened here, but this was not a case in which after confessing to the crime the defendant went on to later recant.  The not guilty plea was simply to the charge of murder.  I do not believe anyone disputed that Goodman was responsible for Susie's death, not even Goodman but his lawyers attempted to argue a manslaughter charge.  When the jury retired to deliberate they had three options, murder, involuntary manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter. Ultimately the defense lost their fight and Goodman was convicted of murder. Honestly I never saw in my research, or noticed that is if there was a degree with the murder charge.

As I said in the beginning this was a short, rather cut and dry case where there was really no question who committed the crime, or even really why the crime was committed. The interesting issue for me in this case stemmed from the fact that he was allowed to have so much freedom when supposedly serving a conviction sentence.  The rehab home reported (and law enforcement confirmed) that they had no obligation to inform anyone that he had left the facility for any reason what so ever.  I see this as being wrong.  He was justifiably convicted of a violent (although not deadly crime) and was allowed to walk away when they knew a case at least somewhat similar as the one that placed him in jail was coming to a boil and no one felt the need to keep a closer eye on things.  

Comments

  1. This blog is about my sister-in-law, Sue Steele, I have tried to print it but been unsuccessful. can I get a copied email to me?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe try highlighting it and copy/paste it to a word doc

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maybe try highlighting it and copy/paste it to a word doc

    ReplyDelete

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