Best place for Betz: behind bars

Best place for Betz: behind bars

The best that can be said about Gary Allan Betz is that he is a mean drunk who has already been given more breaks than he deserves. The worst is that he is a cold-blooded killer. Arrest and court records too long to recount here support that description.

It is the combination of those antisocial traits that argues for Betz, 59, to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Betz was convicted of murdering Ronald Goche at the Riviera Inn, a tavern Goche ran in Newton Township, in 1977. Betz, who already had a juvenile court history and an aggravated burglary conviction as an adult, had been on parole when he shot Goche 10 days before Christmas in 1976. The following August he was sentenced to consecutive terms of life for aggravated murder, plus 7-to-25 years for aggravated robbery.

Plea for compassion

But after Betz served 30 years, a sympathetic parole board freed him. His lawyer argued that he had been a trouble-free prisoner and he was suffering with an auto-immune illness that proved fatal within five years for 50 percent of its victims. Six years later, Betz is still alive. And, to the relief of society, back in jail.

Betz got to enjoy 21/2 years of freedom, during which he wracked up three drunken driving arrests before being sent back to prison to serve out his term A condition of his parole was that he not drink.

The parole board will once again be asked next month to release Betz. Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins has once again made what should be a persuasive argument against Betz’ release.

The record shows that the only time Betz is not a danger to society is when he is behind bars. The parole board, fooled once by the image presented to them of a repentant, rehabilitated and dying man, should not allow itself to be fooled again. Betz was sentenced to life in prison, and life it should be.

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