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

Part 2

by Paolo Pergolizzi

Click here for Part 1

Q. Was the abuse by her physical only or was there sexual abuse as well?
A. My mother used to beat us for anything that she would think of. If she was having a bad day she would find some reason to give us for beating us like slaves. Mercy unknown. I think that I was beat with everything but a belt. Never a belt. Being the youngest did not shield me from any of the beatings. My mother was very fair about insuring that everyone got an equal share of the madness. When I was seven she beat me so badly with a bed-slack (a wooden support that helps shore up the mattress) that I swelled up twice or three times my size and couldn't go anywhere for a week. My brother taped up one of my fingers with a Popsicle stick because he said it was broken. It felt broken. She also beat everyone else with the same bed-slack the same day so they would not think that she had gone soft. There was a lot of that sort of abuse over the years. And after I was the only one still living with her there was what you could call sexual exploitation if not abuse.

Q. First, what happened to your sister and brothers? Where did they end up?
A. My two brothers went to live with my father in another state and my sister started living with a guy and got pregnant.

Q. So that left you with your mother. And she sexually exploited you?
A. I guess that is the best way to say it. She had been drinking and drugging for years. Living a life within the streets of Fort Worth and Texas that was dark and depraved. The beatings continued, turning more into physical assaults with her hands, fists and feet at times. And a few times I was either with her or came home to find her romping around the house naked with someone I did not know. Sometimes men, sometimes women, sometimes both. And she would weakly tell me to get lost or leave and come back later. And whomever was present would say to let me stay. The men never touched me. Only wanted me to watch as they had sex with my mother. But the women would want me to touch them or have sex with them. Once that happened while a man was having sex with my mother right next to me.

Q. How old were you?
A. I was about 10 or 11. It happened when I was 10 and 11.

Q. Wow!
A. So, though I was not forced in the sense of the word there was a feeling of being compelled to participate. It made me hate my mother even more than I was growing to hate her.

Q. And your sister was living with someone who was an adult and she became pregnant by them? And your mother knew about this?
A. Yes. After the incident with Vincent my mother and my sister never really talked much afterwards. And when my sister decided that she was moving out my mother didn't really try to stop her. Not really. But then she couldn't have anyway because she was hardly around. I was pretty much staying mostly with my sister and her boyfriend. But my mother would show up. She always showed back up.

Q. At 12 you went to live with your grandparents.
A. Yes. But here and there I had “lived” briefly with several different relatives and family friends and strangers that my mother “left” me with until I called a relative or she came back to get me weeks later. But finally my grandfather, Tome Johnson (who was actually my step-grandfather) got tired of my mother's neglect and declared that he wasn't going to stand for it any longer. He informed my grandmother that I was going to live with them. So there I was living with the second man I loved with all of my heart like a father. He was a great guy.

Q. You must have longed for stability.
A. True. He was like any grandfather. Loving and kind and yet demanding in his own way. I had to do my chores and lessons and respect my elders and be a kid. That was one thing he always was clear about. That I should just focus on being a kid. He would tell my grandmother that any time he felt she was trying to demand that I “be an adult”.

Q. You got along well with your grandmother?
A. Yes. She was a hero - or is that heroine? - and I was very glad to have the chance to be around her more than what I had up to that point. She was larger than life to me. She never invented anything. Never wrote a book. Never built anything larger than a doghouse. But she raised eight children, some who I thought were really great people. She never failed to help anyone who asked her (though I never understood how she allowed my mother to treat us like she did for years without putting a stop to it).

Q. Last time you heard from your biological father?
A. Ten years. Spoke with him on the telephone.

Q. Before that time?
A. Uh...I...it had to have been 6 or 7 years before that. He was in Texas visiting his mother who lived not too far from my mother's mother with whom I began living. I had happened to go by there and there he was standing in the front yard. He had been in town for a week and had never tried to get in contact to see how I was doing.

Q. How is your relationship with your mother now?
A. Besides the fact that I have not heard from her in a year I would say o.k. She stopped the drinking and drugs many years ago before I was arrested on this case. She had been clean and sober for about three or five years. And though all of the stuff that she did in the past was done sober as well as when she was on something it was not hard to let go of some of the pain. She was a different woman in some ways and I tried to be a friend to her. A mother son relationship between us came to an end long ago and we both knew. And to her credit she never tried to re-establish one with me. That would have been the end of any friendship I was trying to give her. So, I would say that I don't hate her anymore and understand that she was troubled and needed help those years she put me and my sister and brothers through hell. I care about her and love her as a human being. One of God's creatures.

Q. Say something about your father, Roy Goff, Sr.
A. [Just looks blankly]

Q. But when Mother's Day [holiday honoring mothers] comes do you think of your mother?
A. Yes

Q. Despite everything in the past?
A. Make no mistake. I hated her. Hated her with everything I had. But after I got older—and it wasn't until then—I took a long hard look at her. Clean and sober standing before me with a look that was fearful of how I would react toward her. I no longer saw the madness that had always been in her eyes. I saw a little girl lost. A lot like the little boy lost I saw in the mirror every day. I like to think that I had compassion for her but it was more likely pity. She was like a mad beast that simply ran out of steam. Didn't have the energy or heart for chaos any longer. How could I continue to hate her and grow as a person at the same time? I knew that I couldn't. She couldn't never pay the debt she owed to me and my sister and brothers. So I released her from that debt in my heart and soul and mind.

Q. Were you an unruly child at any time during your stay with your mother, relatives or family friends?
A. No, I don't think so. And I don't think that anyone would say that I was. I was very quiet. It was my belief that the less people had to deal with me on any level the better they treated me. with my mother/to be noticed was to be in trouble, so I perfected becoming invisible. My grandmother told me to be at home 6,1 was home by 4. Didn't want to cause any problems. With my mother it was the fear of being brutalized and with others it was the fear of being sent back to live with my mother to be brutalized.

Q. O.K., but did you ever steal anything as a kid?
A. Yes. I used to steal candy. I was about eight and I would steal candy because my mother didn't allow us to eat candy but once a week and then only a few pieces. I am not blaming her just pointing out my motivation. So I stole candy.

Q. But you got caught.
A. Well technically I didn't get caught I got turned in. My brother Roy and his friend turned me in to the store clerk for a reward. This was after they took the time to eat a good portion of the candy. I stood near the store not believing that my brother would go along with his friend. But he did and I found myself being taken back to the store and knew that they could not do anything to me that would be worse than what my mother would do. She came to the store and talked the police out of taking me to the station to scare me. She said that there was no need for that. She was right. I was scared to death already. At home she acted as though nothing had happened and made dinner and we ate. Then she calmly declared that I should get naked and wait in my room for her. The trusty bed slat came out and she began beating me and beating me and no amount of screaming and blood would make her stop. She beat my older brother Roy for not stopping me. She beat my other brother Robert for not keeping an eye on us. She beat my sister Doris...well, she said she didn't like the way Doris had been walking about like she was Miss High And Mighty. From that day on stealing was not something that I did. The best way to make me leave the scene is to say you are going to steal something. I'm gone!

Q. Harsh but effective, huh?
A. Yeah, yeah, you could say that.

Q. Briefly explain the facts surrounding your arrest and conviction at the age of fifteen.
A. In 1984 my grandfather was dead and my grandmother was growing somewhat restless. Understandable after years of raising eight children and continuously looking after them in some ways. And then she took on raising a grandson. I understand. But at the time she told me that I was going to live with my mother again I didn't understand and told her so.

That was major. It was like sassing off to her. She had packed my bags while I was at school and had me ready to go. She was only waiting on my mother to come and get me. I remember asking over and over if I had done something wrong. That I was sorry if I had. That I didn't want to go and live with my mother. To let me go and live with one of my uncles or aunts. But she was adamant about who I was to live with. After waiting for two hours she drove me to my mother. The house was more like a shack and she didn't seem happy to see me no more than I was to see her. She was not drunk but just that buzzed look she always had. Everyday.

Within two weeks she had disappeared and I was there alone going to school and returning to a empty house. After the food ran out I went to my aunt who called my grandmother. My grandmother came and asked me if I wanted to stay at the empty house or go back to stay with her until she found my mother. There was emphasis on “until”. I felt so lost at that moment. True, my grandmother and I rarely talked during the time I lived with her. And while I would easily say that I was closer to my grandfather before he died than I was to my grandmother, I believed that we had a bond like mother and son. She had been more of a mother to me than the one who had given birth to me. And—sorry that I am not being brief, but the story is difficult to tell without certain things known.

Q. Don't worry about it. Tell it the way you feel comfortable.
A. O.K. Well, and I was just crushed that she didn't want me around anymore. That she wanted me to be with the one person everyone knew I should not have been with. Like any kid I became defensive. If she didn't want me then I didn't want to be with her. No sense in that.

I stayed at the empty house now with some food bought by my grandmother. In the coming days my grandmother's youngest son would show up along with a in-law of his who was 19. Both had criminal records. The uncle having just been released from prison and having problems with his wife and the in-law on probation and having problems with his mother. So my grandmother directed them to take up residence at the house I was at—which my mother had paid the rent for three months prior and three months in advance.

Before I knew it the place was a hang-out for all sort of types. With school out for the summer break I tried to stay gone most ,of the time and eventually the in-law began following me. After a time he and I were the best of friends. Actually I thought that he was the only true friend that I had. Someone who thought I was worth something. That was when I started drinking. We would drink most days. My uncle kept trying to get me to join them in doing the things that they were doing that were illegal. The in-law would go along with him but I did not. I knew how my uncle was and had no desire to be around him really during that time in his life. But it was not him that I should have been concerned about. The in-law, my friend was the one.

After drinking heavily one night I found myself being roused my the in-law and we were not where we had been. We had gotten miles from where I last recalled being. And then he told me that he, we, had just robbed someone. I didn't believe him at first until he showed me some money, more than he had had. Much later there was talk about if he got caught he would go to jail for a long time and I let him know that I wouldn't let that happen (I was 15 and never had been in trouble with the police before).

24 hours or less later I found myself drunk again but this time it was not the in-law rousing me it was a police officer and I was in the front seat of his car handcuffed. I passed out again (or blacked out) and was roused again on our arrival at the police station. I was informed that a female had been shot twice once in the back and once under the chin. She was close to death. I was also told that the in-law had said that I had committed the crime and was given his signed confession to read. It said that. I recall thinking “Someone could die? That's terrible. What can I do to make it right?” The police officer began saying that I could give a statement about the crime. I said that I couldn't remember. That I had been drinking heavily that night. He said something about the alcohol that was found in a bag that was with us apparently. He then started typing and asking me yes or no questions to which I told him whatever it was that he wanted to hear. I kept praying for the woman and believed that by keeping the in-law from a long prison sentence (and a cousin of his who was with us that night from jail) I was making it right. After all my life was worthless any way. The longest I had any peace in my life was three years during the time I lived with my grandparents. But that had ended. I was again a throw-away. A unwanted. Uncared for. Unloved. Maybe I could help someone and they would remember it.

I was eventually ordered to stand trial as an adult and was sentenced to prison for 15 years. The in-law received far less time and was out in months. I spent almost five years in an adult prison with no special treatment. Surrounded by murders, rapist, robbers and molesters. I fought to survive like most and was lucky that nothing major took place that put me in the position of my life or someone else's. I was blessed though at some point during that time I lost any faith in a God. To me I was surviving on my wit and toughness (emotional and mental and physical). My mother had prepared me for hardships and despair. But you know I never complained all that time. I had been on the verge of blowing my brains out because I admittedly was not as emotionally or mentally tough as I believed. And prison devoid of pretense. No one cared about me and pain and death was right around ever corner. By being able to focus on my physical well-being I was unconcerned about my emotional wellness. Though I did take steps to do something about my mental wellness by finishing school and going on to college. I may not have actually did the crime (the in-law testified during this case that I did not. That he robbed and shot both individuals in 1984. That my pleading guilty kept him from receiving a life sentence because by law he was an adult and on probation at the time for another crime) but I felt that it didn't matter. What was done was done and that included my being where I was. I could not see how much different where I was was different from where I had been and treated by others. Again I am sorry that it took me so long.