Trumbull prosecutor opposes parole for murderer who violated parole
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins argued against parole for Gary A. Betz in 2005 and 2007, saying the way he murdered Ronald Goche in Goche’s Newton Township tavern in 1977 showed he shouldn’t be in society.
By Ed Runyan
Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins argued against parole for Gary A. Betz in 2005 and 2007, saying the way he murdered Ronald Goche in Goche’s Newton Township tavern in 1977 showed that he didn’t deserve to be in society.
Betz did get released in 2007, after serving 30 years in prison on a possible life-prison sentence.
However, he went back to prison again in January 2011 for violating terms of his probation by committing drunken-driving offenses in 2010 and 2011 in Minerva.
Betz, 59, also was charged with drunken driving in 2007 in Carrollton, but the charge was reduced to “physical control.”
Watkins is arguing again against Betz’s release, saying the murder of Goche was bad enough, but Betz’s driving offenses since his parole indicate he’s still dangerous.
“I have no doubt he could harm someone again,” Watkins said. “The best indication is your track record, so why should society take a chance?”
Betz will be eligible for parole in February.
Testimony at the trial indicated that Betz and Carl “Willie” Oyer spent the day before the murder drinking heavily, smoking marijuana and taking pills.
Oyer testified that Betz fired the fatal blast into Goche’s face from a sawed-off shotgun. Goche died instantly. Betz said he’d known Goche for six months and went to Goche’s bar, the Riviera Inn, to collect $30. Betz said he brought a shotgun to scare Goche. Watkins said he doesn’t believe Goche owed Betz money.
Another man was sleeping in the bar at the time but woke up to hear the confrontation between Betz and Goche. He testified Betz broke into the tavern and took the $138 that Goche had earned at the bar that day.
Goche told Betz to take the money and leave, that Goche wouldn’t report the theft to police, but Betz shot Goche in the face anyway, Watkins said.
Watkins said Betz told the parole board in 2007 that he had an autoimmune deficiency that causes skin and joint problems and that 50 percent of victims die within five years, but Watkins never was allowed to examine medical evidence of the condition to check its legitimacy.
Watkins said refusing to allow Watkins to examine and challenge information used as a reason for parole isn’t fair.
“It’s our hope that he will serve the rest of his life in prison,” Watkins said in a letter to the parole board.