David Goff was a Board Member of the Lamp of Hope. He has an execution date of April 25th, 2001.

INTERVIEW: DAVID L. GOFF
Part 1

by Paolo Pergolizzi
   

Q. O.k. let us get it out of the way. You were convicted of murder, robbery and kidnapping and sentenced to death.
A. Correct

Q. Did you know the victim? Were the crimes committed at the same time?
A. No I didn't. And yes, the crimes took place against the same person.

Q. And you maintain your innocence. Is that to say that you had nothing to do with the crime at all?
A. The first I knew about the crime I was being arrested.

Q. A matter of someone saying that you did this, this and that?
A. That's about it.

Q. O.K. Where were you born?
A. Fort Worth, Texas

Q. And you are 32 now?
A. Yes. January 9th (1969). I feel older sometimes. A lot older.

Q. What do you remember most about your earlier years?
A. Never having enough of anything...Well, that is not really true. There was enough of things like food, clothing, heat, water, concern and love, my mother just seemed to keep it all out of reach from us. At one time she used to put locks on all of the cabinets and refrigerator so that we could not get at the food when she was gone. And she would turn off the water and electricity.
It would not have been so bad, I guess, if she would net have been gone for days, even weeks at a time. And of course there were the constant beatings whenever she was in a bad mood. Which seemed like it was all of the time.

Q. Seems bleak.
A. Yeah, I guess. Though there are some memories of her when she would laugh and play with me and bake and sew and do all the things that a normal mother does.

Q. What brought about the change?
A. I really don't know. Looking back I think that she may have always in her life that she did not deal with well. Like the divorce from my father made matters worse. And the alcohol and drugs did not help either.

Q. You had a rough upbringing in Fort Worth?
A. Yes, I guess you could say that. But when you are dealing with all of the drama as a kid the only thing that you can think about is getting tough enough to be able to deal with what comes. Because you know every day will bring something new. Something more insane.

Q. Tough, physically?
A. For some, I guess, but for me it was focusing on getting tougher emotionally, mentally. Enough beatings and you sort of feel that That you can deal with. It is more of the pain of feeling uncared for; unwanted, unloved that a kid finds the most difficult. It takes emotional strength and a mental toughness to be able to deal with that and not blow your brains out...or someone else's. That is why some kids who never get beat, never abused or neglected, physically, will pick up a gun and go about shooting classmates and others. They feel a sense of pain of being unwanted, uncared for and unloved. They experience emotional torment. No doubt I got that from my mother along with the physical abuse and neglect. It was the most difficult to deal with.

Q. You lived with your older sister, two older brothers, your mother and...?
A. Well, first, my mother and father separated when I was a toddler. They would remain legally married until I was 13. In the years between my mother allowed a number of “friends” to live with me, my sister, brothers and herself. And even at one time we all moved to another state to live with my father. My mother as well. But the only person that I ever looked to as my father was a guy named Vincent Diggs. A stepfather, you could say. He was a real caring guy with me and I thought the world of him. I still can remember the first present that he gave me for my 5th birthday. It was a plain checkers game. For years I carried the pieces of that game in my pocket until I lost the last red checker.

Q. Your “stepfather” did something that shattered everything.
A. We had lived with him and he with us for about four years or so. He and my mother had purchased the house we were living in; a nice wood framed home that he, helped by us much as we could, did some remodeling on to make it more economical for a family. My mother didn't have to work because he made a pretty good living working for the railroad in Texas and in Louisiana and Mississippi. We took vacations and had a stable life for a while. And then one day I came home from school and all of our stuff was packed and sitting by the door and my mother was ranting about hurrying to get gone before Vincent came home. My sister was no where to be seen and my two brothers came home minutes later and were just as confused as I was.

Q. He harmed your sister?
A. Yes. I won't go into the details but he sexually assaulted her when she was about twelve. She stopped smiling after that. She used to smile all of the time. It took years for me to see that smile again. Many years.

Q. But he never harmed you or your brothers?
A. No. And that was why I doubted that it had ever happened at all. My sister simply looked at me and turned away with tears in her eyes when I asked weeks later if Vincent had really done what they were saying that he had. At that point the relationship between us changed. Where we had been close - she had often looked after me when my mother would not—a distance formed that never quite disappeared. I think that every time she looked at me she remembered my asking that question. And because I was close to Vincent I always thought that she was reminded of him when I was around. But then that may just be my guilty feelings for having asked a stupid question because I didn't want my life to change.

Q. What happened to Vincent?
A. He was never prosecuted, though the police did investigate—if that is what you want to call it. And...let me think...I have five uncles on my mother's side and a few of them—don't know which ones exactly—took a few shots at him and almost killed my sister by a few inches as well as Vincent. Neither were hit. After we moved to live with my biological father in another state we heard nothing of him. But on our return my sister, brothers and myself soon learned that our mother was seeing the guy again! I can recall that my sister didn't say anything but just turned away with tears in her eyes and went to be alone as she had been doing often since the assault.

Q. That had to be tough.
A. Yeah. But see, this is where things get weird. Apparently my mother had some sort of odd plan to “get” Vincent for what he had done. Though even oddly she had stated on several different occasions that she didn't believe my sister's story of the attack. That she (my sister) had somehow led Vincent on. At twelve! But my mother went out with Vincent a few times without ever bringing him to the rat and roach infested hovel that we were living in. The next day after one such “date” we heard the adults (our uncles and aunts) while over at our grandmother talking about Vincent having had his throat cut. That someone had tried to kill him. Eventually the full story came out that one of my uncles, with my mother sitting in the front seat of the car Vincent was driving used a knife to try killing the man. I was ashamed that I was both angry and sad.

Q. Why were you angry and sad?
A. Vincent had been a decent guy to me. He treated me like I was his son and was one of the kindest persons that I knew. A part of me was sad that anyone would try to kill the only dad that I had and still loved despite what he had done. And that was why I felt sad. I loved a guy who had done something terrible to someone else who I loved. I was confused and ashamed. Vincent survived the cutting but years later when I heard that he had died in Mississippi I was angry.

Q. Why?
A. By that time I had grown and came to believe my sister totally and it angered me that it had taken me so long to do so. I was angry at hearing of his death because I would have liked to have confronted him with what he had done. I had no doubt that despite everything he really did love me and saw me as his son. My confronting him and shouting that I hated him, as I planned, would have destroyed him, I believed.

Q. You didn't have anything else on your mind? Like “getting” him for what he had done to your sister and your family?
A. In the visions of me confronting him that was the biggest fear that I had. That I would do something to “get” him back. But do y you know how that feels? To want to hurt someone you should hate but still love?

Q. Though Vincent never abused you your mother did?
A. Yes.