Killer up for parole again

WARREN – If convicted local killer Gary Betz ”fools” Ohio’s Parole Board for the fourth time, Trumbull County’s prosecutor says it would be a travesty of justice.

Trumbull Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said Friday he questions why he was never given prison medical records and reports in 2007 that described the 59-year-old Marion Correctional Institution inmate as having a severe muscular disease that would likely lead to his death within five years.

Watkins said he would have had medical experts review Betz’ records before he argued more than five years ago to keep him behind bars.

Instead, Betz was released in 2007 only to be arrested three times since then on drunken driving charges. After convictions in Carrollton and Minerva in 2008 and 2010, the latest DUI case in Lisbon in 2011 was never prosecuted after Betz was returned to prison on a parole violation.

Betz was convicted of murdering a Newton Township bartender, Ronald Goche, inside his tavern in 1976. Prior to that, Watkins said the former Columbiana County man had been paroled twice for burglary.

The prosecutor has written Ohio’s Parole Board opposing parole once again for Betz, who has a hearing scheduled for next month.

”The guy is just a ticking timebomb and shouldn’t get out of prison,” said Watkins.

He said Goche’s brother, Galen, and his wife are actively opposing parole this time for Betz, along with a former fiancee of Betz.

In March 1977, Betz was sentenced to seven to 25 years in prison for aggravated robbery and life in prison for aggravated murder for killing Goche, who was 30 at the time of his death and running the Riviera Inn.

Testimony at the trial indicated that Betz and Carl “Willie” Oyer, who was 20 at the time of the crime, 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 Goche owed him money and he went there to collect it. He testified he brought the shotgun along to scare Goche.

Goche had closed up the bar and taken the receipts to a back area in the building when Betz came in with the shotgun as Goche was letting his dog outside. Unknown to Betz at the time, a witness was sleeping in the back area and heard the two talking before the shotgun blast.

Betz left with $138 in cash receipts from the bar.