Admitted Intentions in Tape Played at Trial : Goetz Told of Wanting ‘to Murder’
Bernhard H. Goetz intended “to murder” the four youths he shot on a subway car--"to make them suffer as much as possible,” he told police in a recorded statement played Wednesday at his trial.
“I admit, for those guys, all this time I wanted to do the worst possible that a human being could do,” Goetz, sounding nervous and at times emotional, told police in Concord, N.H., where he surrendered on Dec. 31, 1984.
Nine days earlier, Goetz drew a gun and shot four young men he claimed were trying to rob him on the subway. His trial on attempted murder charges began Monday in state Supreme Court, the trial-level court in New York.
Goetz described his own actions as “disgusting” and “monstrous” in the two-hour audio tape, interspersing descriptions of the subway encounter with digressions on his background and explanations of his fear of being victimized.
“You have to think in a cold-blooded way in New York,” said Goetz, 39, an electronics specialist. He had carried a gun since he was mugged in 1981, he said. In the winter, he went without gloves so he could draw the weapon.
The tape included Goetz’s statement that after shooting the youths, he checked one, Darrell Cabey, and said: “You seem to be all right. Here’s another,” and shot him again.
If he were thinking more clearly, Goetz said on the tape, he would have “put the barrel against his forehead and fired.”
Cabey was paralyzed by his wounds and suffered brain damage.
‘Full of Stress and Fear’
Goetz’s prosecutor, Gregory Waples, on Monday called Cabey’s shooting “little more than a cold-blooded attempted execution.” But defense lawyer Barry Slotnick said that Goetz, “full of stress and fear,” told the police things that did not actually happen.
Goetz told Concord police Officer Warren Foote and Detective Christopher Domian that his contact with the youths began when one, Troy Canty, lounging on the subway bench on his right, turned toward him and asked: “How are you?”
He felt “a very strong implied threat” at the approach, Goetz said. “I just looked up at him and I said, ‘fine.’ But you kind of keep them in the corner of your eye.”
Soon, Canty and another of the youths rose and stood on his left, Goetz said, while the other two stood on his right. “He said, ‘Give me $5,’ ” Goetz said. When he looked at Canty’s face, he said, “his eyes were shiny. He was enjoying himself. . . . At that point, you’re in a bad situation.
“They wanted to play with me,” he said. “You know, it’s kind of like a cat plays with a mouse.”
Verified Demand for Money
Before he drew his gun, Goetz said, “I needed absolute verification” that he was being robbed. “So I asked one more time. . . . He said, ‘Give me your money.’
“When I saw what they intended for me, my intention was worse than shooting,” Goetz said, according to a transcript of the tape.
Domian asked: “OK, was it your intention to kill these people?”
Goetz: “My intention was to, to anything I could do to hurt them. My intention, you know, I know this sounds horrible, but my intention was to murder them, to hurt them, to make them suffer as much as possible.”
The youths have said they were only panhandling, although Cabey told an interviewer that they intended to rob Goetz. Prosecutors charge that Goetz had no justification to open fire.
Wished to Face Judgment
Goetz said on the tape that he turned himself in because he would have been caught eventually. But he also indicated that he wished to face judgment for his acts.
“If what I did is wrong then what I did is wrong, OK, and I have to live with that,” he said.
Later, Sally Smithern testified that she saw the shooting from the next car.
“I heard a loud bang which I perceived to be a shot. I saw the hand go like this, in a sweeping motion, and each time it stopped I heard a shot,” she said. “I just knew at least three people had been shot.”
Asked by Waples to demonstrate, Smithern swung her arm and said four “bangs” in about three seconds.
The four-woman, eight-man jury followed the tapes over earphones and a printed transcript, occasionally glancing at Goetz, who sat at the defense table with his chin resting on his palm.