No appeal: Prosecutors won’t challenge Goff’s release

Friday, August 2, 2019

By Scott Loftis

Carroll County prosecutors won’t appeal a recent ruling that freed Belynda Goff after more than 22 years in prison.

Prosecuting Attorney Tony Rogers announced the decision in a brief press release issued Friday, July 26.

“The State has decided it will not exercise its right to appeal in this matter,” Rogers said in the two-paragraph press release.

Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson ordered Goff’s release after a resentencing hearing on June 26 in Berryville. Goff, 57, had twice been sentenced to life in prison for the 1994 murder of her husband, Stephen, in their Green Forest apartment. Her conviction came under scrutiny, however, because no DNA evidence has ever linked her to the crime and no murder weapon has ever been conclusively identified.

Goff’s case eventually drew the attention of The Innocence Project, a nonprofit legal organization based in New York that works to exonerate wrongly convicted people, primarily through the use of DNA testing. Attorneys with The Innocence Project have represented

Goff since 2014.

In his ruling, Jackson noted that physical evidence in the case — fingernail clippings from Stephen Goff and hair samples taken from his hands — that had been in the custody of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office has been lost.

Jackson’s ruling does not set aside Goff’s conviction. Instead, Jackson sentenced Goff to 393 months in prison, with 120 months suspended. He also ordered that she be given credit for 273 months — the amount of time she had already served in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Goff was released the following day from the Carroll County Detention Center in Berryville.

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