Accused Baseline Killer Mark Goudeau: The Exclusive Jailhouse Interview – Times Publications, October 2010
The heavy steel door of a secured cell inside Phoenix’s Fourth Avenue Jail slowly creaks open, and I get my first glimpse of inmate #P209966, Mark Goudeau. The accused Baseline serial killer is flanked by imposing armed guards in matching beige corrections officer uniforms. Each guard grasps Goudeau by the back of the arm, guiding him into the small cell on the fourth floor of the jail where I have been waiting.
Wrists cuffed, legs shackled, Goudeau shuffles uneasily around the plastic table which takes up most of the width of the cramped space, used for private client-attorney meetings and media interviews.
Unlike images I’ve seen of Goudeau in mug shots, he doesn’t appear forbidding. He looks deflated. The dull black-and-white striped prison garb he’s wearing hangs loosely over a worn light-pink thermal. His dark complexion has taken on an almost yellowish-grey pallor from years of being locked away in solitary confinement.Goudeau carefully maneuvers into the plastic chair across from me and waits patiently as one of the guards secures his shackles to the floor. We are sitting just a few feet apart. I introduce myself, and he leans forward, as much as the chains will allow, to shake my hand.
The guards exit the cell, and with a low thud that reverberates off the concrete walls, the steel door is locked behind them. I am now alone with Mark Goudeau, the man authorities believe to be one of the most notorious serial killers in the state’s history.
For four years Goudeau has been behind bars awaiting trial for the murder of nine people. During that time, he has never once spoken publicly—not to the police, not to the media.
Now, just months before his scheduled trial, he has agreed to speak with me one-on-one in an exclusive interview. Granting unprecedented access over the next three hours, with no attorney present, Goudeau revealed—for the first time—details of his life, his time behind bars, the charges against him and why he believes he will be vindicated.
For a moment, our meeting cell is hushed as Goudeau shuffles through a thick manila folder of police reports and court documents. I break the silence by speaking of his wife, Wendy, with whom I have been communicating for several years about the case.
At the mention of Wendy’s name, Goudeau drops his head, his eyes welling with tears.
“I’m so sick by the whole thing,” Goudeau says, his face flushed. “I still can’t shake it. I’m in shock. I’m still in shock… I still can’t believe this is happening.”
Authorities say all the physical, ballistic and DNA evidence prove Mark Goudeau is the Baseline Killer. Since his arrest in 2006, however, Goudeau has maintained his innocence in court. He tells me now plainly he is an innocent man. He maintains he has been wrongfully accused of horrific crimes and says the toll it has taken on his family has been devastating.“I’m not the guy. I am not no serial killer. I am not no killer period. I am not no rapist,” he says firmly. “I’ve got six sisters. I’ve got a wife. Just the thought of something like that makes me sick to my stomach. I did not commit those crimes. I had nothing to do with it.”
Throughout the interview, Goudeau is candidly emotional, often sobbing. In his upcoming murder trial, the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. While his life is at stake, Goudeau is most visibly distraught when he speaks of Wendy, who has faithfully stood by his side.
“I never had anyone who cared about me as deeply as Wendy,” Goudeau says, voice cracking. “My wife would say I’m the toughest person in the world… but I’m not.”
The last time he saw Wendy outside of a prison cell or a courtroom was more than four years ago. It was September 6, 2006, Goudeau’s 42nd birthday and the day of his arrest. The morning began like any other. He left home before sunrise and headed to his job at a Phoenix construction site.
That night, Mark and Wendy had plans to celebrate. She had wrapped birthday presents and skipped her night class so they could go out for a nice dinner. At about 5 p.m., Wendy was on the phone with her sister when she heard the loud sound of helicopters outside. Glancing out her back window she saw a man dressed in black, aiming a rifle in her direction.
She says her first thought was that there must be a criminal on the loose in the neighborhood.Then came a knock on the front door. She peered through the peephole and saw several uniformed officers. Outside police cars lined the block in all directions. Immediately, Wendy recognized the red truck parked in the middle of the street, boxed in by police cruisers.
Her heart sank. It was Mark’s truck. Down the street, Goudeau was handcuffed and being read his rights.
“I kept asking, ‘What’s going on? What’s he being arrested for? What are the charges?’ No one would talk to me,” Wendy recalls. “Finally, one of the detectives said, ‘Rape.’”
Wendy didn’t believe it; she still doesn’t. Not until the following morning on the news would she learn that the rape charges were connected to the Baseline Killer investigation.
When Goudeau was confronted with the charges, he says he was equally stunned and refused to speak to police. Now, reflecting on the moment, he still acts astonished.
“It was like, ‘What do you mean? Is this really happening?’” he says, shaking his head. “I was sitting there thinking, I know this is a dream. I know I’m going to wake up.”
It was no dream. Mark Goudeau was under arrest for two counts of sexual assault. And he was about to be accused of serial murder.
For a year prior to Mark Goudeau’s arrest, the Valley had lived in fear of a serial murderer dubbed the Baseline Killer. The murders were savage; the crimes had no discernable pattern or motive.
The Baseline Killer’s 11-month crime spree began in August 2005 with a series of robberies and sexual assaults inflicted upon young women, occurring mostly along Baseline Road in South Phoenix. By September, the murders had begun.
The homicide victims, eight females and one male, were abducted from bus stops, restaurants and carwashes. Sophia Nunez was found dead in her bathtub from a gunshot wound to her face. The badly decomposed remains of Kristin Gibbons were discovered behind a storage shed, hidden under a pile of debris. Phoenix mothers Romelia Vargas and Mirna Palma-Roman were found shot to death inside their lunch truck in West Phoenix. All the victims had been shot in the head.
Police tied the murders together using ballistics. Shell casings found at the crime scenes were determined to have been fired by the same gun. The suspect was described as often wearing disguises such as a Halloween mask or a dreadlock wig. In some instances, he was said to have been impersonating a homeless man or wandering drug addict.
Initially, police were confounded by the violent nature of the killer’s crimes and seemingly random pattern. As the attacks became more brazen, pressure on Phoenix police intensified. Billboards went up across the Valley depicting a composite sketch of a dark-skinned man with a soft mustache and dreadlocks, wearing a fisherman’s hat. A team of veteran detectives assembled a special taskforce, spending thousands of hours patrolling and following up on tips in an effort to capture the elusive killer.
By the summer of 2006, frustration and fear gripped the city. It was a particularly tense time in the Valley. Not only was the Baseline Killer’s number of victims mounting, but two “serial shooters” had also murdered several victims in random drive-by shootings.
Then on July 14, 2006, a tip was received on the Phoenix police’s Silent Witness hotline referring to Mark Goudeau and suggesting that he resembled one of the composite sketches of the suspect. It was the first time Goudeau’s name had come up in the investigation.
When he was questioned by police six days later, Goudeau says he cooperated fully.
“I had nothing to hide,” he says. “I told them they could take my I.D., fingerprints, whatever they want.”
By that point in the investigation, hundreds of African-American men resembling the sketch had been added to the growing list of potential suspects. Goudeau was an ex-convict on parole who lived near several of the crime scenes. He says he wasn’t surprised when he was contacted by police.Nine of the 23 Baseline Killer attacks occurred within three miles of the Central Phoenix home Goudeau and his wife shared. One of the victims, 37-year-old Carmen Miranda, was killed just around the corner from their residence.
“The only reason they targeted me is because they could put me in that area,” Goudeau says. “That’s how it all came about.”
The Goudeaus’ home was searched, but nothing incriminating was discovered. Still, because of his criminal past and the proximity of his home to the Baseline Killer’s crimes, he was placed under surveillance.
For the next several weeks, unbeknownst to him, police monitored his every move—following him to work, his weekly appointments with his parole officer and on errands with his wife. During that time, no criminal behavior was reported.
One month later, Phoenix police made the decision to gather evidence from numerous crimes collected throughout the investigation and send it to the Department of Public Safety’s forensic lab for DNA testing. Among that evidence were two swabs taken from one of the first sexual assaults attributed to the Baseline Killer.
On September 20, 2005, two sisters had been walking in the park near 31st Avenue and Baseline when they were attacked and sexually assaulted by a man brandishing a gun. After the rape, saliva believed to be from the assailant was found on one of the victims. As part of the investigation, evidence swabs were taken for DNA testing.
The Phoenix crime lab had been unable to obtain a DNA profile and for nearly a year, the swabs sat in an evidence locker. Although severely degraded, DPS retested the swabs and were able to obtain a profile. In September 2006, DPS forensic technician Lorraine Heath compared it to the DNA of dozens of potential suspects police had considered during the investigation. Among the names on that list was Mark Goudeau’s.
Heath obtained what she considered a “match” to Goudeau and, based on that evidence, police arrested him for the sexual assaults.
“I can’t even describe how it felt,” Goudeau says, recalling the day of his arrest.
In an instant, Mark Goudeau’s life irrevocably changed. Suddenly, the world saw him as a monster, a heinous serial killer.
He says the charges were astounding. While, admittedly, he had a criminal past, he says he had changed. At 42, he was married and had a steady job as a construction worker.
“I couldn’t have been in a better place,” he says. “I felt like everything was great. I had a beautiful wife, a beautiful house, a beautiful car.”Born and raised in Phoenix, Mark was one of the youngest of 13 children. His mother was a maid; his father, a lot attendant for car dealers on Camelback Road.
Goudeau attended high school at Corona del Sol in Tempe, where he excelled in sports and played football.
Trouble began for Goudeau in his early 20s. He was arrested on minor charges including driving while intoxicated and trespassing. At the age of 24, Mark met Wendy Carr at a Phoenix nightclub. They began a serious relationship and soon moved in together.
In 1989, he was arrested on charges of sexual assault and battery. The sexual assault charges were never forensically substantiated and eventually dismissed, according to police reports.
The charges were disturbing. Goudeau was accused of beating a woman with a shotgun and chasing two witnesses at the scene. Goudeau contends he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not commit the assault. It was his first serious offense and he hoped to receive probation. A year later, however, he was arrested again on charges of robbing a Phoenix grocery store at gunpoint. This time the punishment would be severe. Goudeau took a plea bargain and was sentenced to 21 years behind bars.
He began serving his sentence in 1991. Through it all Wendy stood by him, and that same year, the two were married in prison.
“Wendy was being faithful to me, visiting every weekend. That meant something to me,” Goudeau says. “I decided to change my path and that’s what I did.”
In prison, Goudeau took advantage of education and rehabilitation programs. He says he stayed away from drugs and prison gangs. According to Arizona Department of Corrections records, Goudeau received no disciplinary infractions while in prison. For the final five years of his sentence, he worked outside the prison, earning minimum wage.
“I didn’t have the best past, but I totally changed,” he says. “Being put in that environment, it really woke me up. I realized I wasn’t in the place I wanted to be at. I had to do something.”
In August 2004, after serving 13 years, Goudeau was released.
Several friends and relatives wrote letters on his behalf. “Mark’s transformation from a young, sad boy to a mature, remorseful, ambitious and introspective man has been inspiring,” one family member wrote. “Although Mark could have fallen into the abyss of bitterness and anger, he has chosen to see the positive side of life and the many possibilities it offers.”
Upon his release, Goudeau, then 39, found a job as a construction worker, where he often worked 10-hour days. Typically leaving the house before sunrise, he says most nights he was in bed by 8 p.m. During his first month on the job, he was awarded “employee of the month.”For the next two years, Goudeau continued to work and spend time with his family, including his nieces and nephews with whom he was close. During his incarceration, Goudeau says his relationship with Wendy matured, despite the prison barriers, adding that after his release, their marriage had never been stronger. They spent all their free time together—on weekends hiking, riding bikes and going to the movies.
Today he says those days with Wendy seem like a lifetime ago. After being behind bars for so long, he says his two years of freedom feel like they went by in an instant.
“When I was in prison, I got to know God firsthand,” Goudeau says wistfully. “When all this stuff happened, I lost my faith. I was mad… The whole thing really shook my belief, for awhile.”
On September 7, 2006, the morning following Mark Goudeau’s arrest, Phoenix police held a press conference announcing they had made an arrest for one of the crimes associated with the Baseline Killer.
The Goudeaus’ modest, 1,000-square-foot home was searched, but no evidence was initially discovered linking him to any of the Baseline Killer crimes. Two additional searches turned up no physical evidence. It wasn’t until the fourth search that police discovered evidence linking Goudeau to any of the Baseline Killer victims.
On that fourth search, a plastic bag of jewelry was found in the bedroom closet, tucked inside a shoe. Inside the bag was a ring that police say belonged to one of the first victims, Tina Washington, 39, who was murdered in December 2005 while waiting for a bus. No DNA or fingerprints were discovered on the jewelry or the bag.
In October 2006, a month after the arrest, the crime lab also determined that trace amounts of blood found on a ski mask and shoe belonging to Goudeau were a match to victims Kristen Gibbons, 26, and George Chou, 23.
Disguises, including the infamous wig and fisherman hat witnesses had described, were never discovered. The murder weapon, a .380 caliber pistol, has also never been found.
“Where’s the dang gun?” Goudeau asks during our interview. “There’s nothing in this case that links me or ties me to any of this.”
What about the blood, DNA and the ring? The evidence seemed difficult to dismiss, I tell Goudeau.
“How did that stuff get in your home?” I ask.
“I have no idea,” Goudeau says. He points out that all the evidence was discovered after he was already in police custody. After his arrest, Goudeau believes there was immense pressure on the police to connect him to the other crimes. In jail he says he has come to believe that evidence may have been planted in order for police to prove their case against him.
“I feel like everybody in the police department and the county attorney’s office are against me because what’s at stake,” he says.The other murder victim linked to Goudeau through DNA is Sophia Nunez, a 37-year-old Phoenix mother who was found shot to death in her bathtub by her eight-year-old son in April, 2006.
All other DNA evidence in cases attributed to the Baseline Killer is either inconclusive or rules out Mark Goudeau as a suspect, according to police reports. Fingerprints found at the crime scenes also exclude Goudeau.
None of the victims has ever positively identified Goudeau in photo lineups. The Baseline Killer was often described by witnesses as being between 5’6” and 5’9”, and weighing less than 170 pounds. At the time of his arrest, Goudeau, who is close to 6 feet tall, weighed over 200 pounds.
“Did you know any of the victims?” I ask Goudeau.
He says he knew victim Sophia Nunez from high school and admits that they reconnected in 2005 after his release.
“That was the only victim that I knew,” he says.
After Goudeau’s arrest, several of Nunez’s family members told police that Nunez had met Goudeau at the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, and that Goudeau had been to her house to fix a security screen door. Goudeau denies ever being at Nunez’s home.
“I never did do any work for her,” he says.
Cell phone records show that Goudeau and Nunez exchanged several phone calls between March and October 2005. Goudeau admits they were friends but says they fell out of contact months prior to her murder.
“Was your relationship ever romantic?” I ask.
“No, no no,” Goudeau shakes his head. “Nothing like that.”
While the prosecution contends the evidence against Goudeau is strong in all of the nine murders with which he has been charged, not all those who worked on the case agree. In several of the cases the evidence is far from overwhelming, says a former Phoenix police detective who worked on the Baseline Killer case.
“There really isn’t that much. There’s no eyewitnesses, there’s no confession, no fingerprints and the physical evidence is disputed,” says the detective who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity. “There really are a lot of holes in this case.”
For months after Goudeau’s arrest, police continued to investigate leads and obtained DNA samples from dozens of additional potential suspects, including many of Goudeau’s seven brothers.
Then, in December 2006, Mark Goudeau was formally charged with all of the Baseline Killer crimes– 74 criminal charges in all– including 15 sexual assaults, 11 kidnappings and nine murders.
Since his arrest, Goudeau’s family, including his older sister Jean Belt, have continued to support him.
“To this day I still don’t believe it,” Jean says. “There’s nothing in this world that can make me feel like he’s capable of doing anything like that. It’s just crazy.”
As for Wendy Goudeau, she says she has no doubt her husband is an innocent man. When the killer was on the loose, Wendy says Mark was protective of her, and did not want her taking walks around the neighborhood for fear that she could be attacked. Never once, Wendy maintains, did she see any indication that Goudeau was living some sort of double life.
“I would have seen a change in Mark. I would have seen something,” Wendy says. “There were no violent outbursts, no attitude, no strange disappearances, no odd or changed behavior, nothing. We’re talking about a crazy person on a serious crime spree. I would have noticed something had it been Mark.”
Not everyone connected to the police investigation was convinced Goudeau was the murderer.
“It was all circumstantial until the blood and the ring was discovered,” says the former Phoenix police detective. “There were several detectives on the task force, including supervisors, who felt he was not the murderer, that maybe there were two people—one rapist, one murderer.”
Questions were also raised about how the ring—the one piece of physical evidence linking Goudeau to the victims—had been overlooked during the previous searches of the his residence.
In 2009, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association sent a letter to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office concerning a shocking complaint made by a high-ranking Phoenix police supervisor about the handling of “potentially exonerating evidence that may have had exculpatory value to Mark Goudeau.”
“This supervisor communicated to PLEA that there would be no surprise on their part if other Violent Crimes Bureau managers engaged in planting evidence,” the letter reads.
Allegations of planted evidence have never been substantiated, and Phoenix police declined to comment for this story.
“It will all come out at trial,” said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
Throughout the Baseline Killer investigation, many potential suspects emerged. The 20,000 pages of police reports primarily concern other suspects and make very little mention of Goudeau.
Before arresting Goudeau, police followed up on more than 8,000 leads. The only solid forensic evidence points to Mark Goudeau, former Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill told The Times in 2009.
“There were many, many people that had a criminal history or that had information, or that lived in the area, or the general area that would cause us to look at somebody,” said Hill, who retired from the Phoenix Police Department in May. “But there was only one suspect (Goudeau) identified in the case.”
In July 2007, Mark Goudeau was tried for one of the crimes attributed to the Baseline Killer – the 2005 sexual assault of the two sisters. The remaining 74 counts, including the nine murders, would later be heard separately.
The sexual assault trial, at times contentious, lasted nearly eight weeks.
Neither victim identified Goudeau as their attacker outside of court. In multiple photo lineups one of the sisters actually misidentified four different men.
The case hinged primarily on the DNA, which had been obtained from the left breast of one of the victims. The defense would argue that the DNA was inconclusive. During the investigation, DPS was able to retrieve only trace amounts of male DNA from the evidence swab. DPS forensic technician Lorraine Heath identified that DNA as a match to Goudeau, though it was later determined to be consistent with only three out of 13 genetic markers, prompting Judge Andrew Klein to ban the term “match” from being used in court.
On the stand, Heath testified that Goudeau was almost undoubtedly the source of the male DNA.
“Mark Goudeau’s DNA is on this left breast,” Heath testified, adding that it is 360 trillion times more likely that the DNA is Goudeau’s “than if it was an unrelated African-American man.”
Defense attorney Corwin Townsend stated Heath’s calculations were grossly exaggerated. Under cross-examination, Heath acknowledged that Goudeau’s DNA was consistent with only three of 13 genetic markers. Thousands of other men could have contributed to the DNA, Townsend argued. The defense wanted the evidence tested by independent experts but the DNA had already been consumed.
In jail, I ask Goudeau about the DNA.
“They don’t got my DNA,” he says. “It was inconclusive DNA.”He continues to deny that he committed the attacks.
“I’ve never seen those two girls in my life,” he says.
In September 2007, one year after Goudeau’s arrest, the jury delivered their verdict: guilty on all counts. Goudeau was devastated. He says he truly expected the jury would find him not guilty.
“I was looking forward to trial. I was hoping the truth would come out because I wanted to get out of this situation,” he says. “I just knew they were going to find me not guilty. I just knew.”
At the sentencing, both victims asked for the maximum punishment—70 to 285 years. Judge Klein delivered aggravated sentences totaling 438 years.
“It’s clear that you can’t function in a civilized society,” Klein told Goudeau at the sentencing.
Goudeau says he was numb.
“It just felt empty,” he says. “I felt ashamed of who I were for no reason to hear a jury say ‘guilty’ for a crime like that.”
Mark Goudeau has appealed the conviction. The sentence of more than 400 years in prison essentially means he will die behind bars. And if convicted in his upcoming murder trial, he knows he will likely be sentenced to death.
“I am fighting for my life,” he says.
By this point, Goudeau says he was well aware that most people had already made up their minds that he was a serial killer.
“The whole world is against me,” he says. “It’s just me and my wife and my attorneys.”
Then, last year, a controversial report surfaced identifying another potential suspect in the Baseline Killer case. The report focused on Terry Wayne Smith, a 38-year-old convicted felon with a long rap sheet for armed robbery and aggravated assault in both California and Arizona. Smith, who had served time in a Tucson prison with one of Goudeau’s brothers, had been paroled just months prior to the first sexual assault attributed to the Baseline Killer.
In 2006, Officer Rusty Stuart, a 20-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, began an investigation into Smith as part of his duties in the Career Criminal Transient Program.
During the Baseline Killer crime spree, Stuart learned Terry Wayne Smith had exhibited abnormal criminal behavior and had been interrogated by police at 14 separate locations, each in the area of crime scenes that had been attributed to the Baseline Killer.
Eleven hours after police believe the Baseline Killer shot and killed two women inside their lunch truck in West Phoenix, Smith was interrogated at a bus stop on Baseline Road, where he was reportedly bragging to witnesses about how many people he had murdered. A few miles from where four other victims were discovered in South Phoenix, Smith was interrogated by police on three separate occasions for following women around in parking lots and inside a hardware store. According to police reports, twice within 48 hours of being released from jail, a murder in the Baseline Killer case was committed within blocks from where Smith was living.
“It is certainly unclear whether Terry Smith had any involvement in any of the cases attributed to the Baseline Killer,” Stuart wrote in his report. “However, he definitely has strong connections to the suspect identified as being involved by the homicide task force and strong evidence of criminal activity in each area the suspects have struck.”
Stuart also learned through interviews that Terry Wayne Smith had bragged to his family about the number of people he had killed, and on more than one occasion, had come home with blood all over his clothes. During one interview, Stuart claimed Smith’s mother even hinted that she thought her son could be the Baseline Killer.
In a peculiar twist, shortly after Goudeau’s arrest, Terry Wayne Smith was also arrested on unrelated charges.
Based on his investigation, Stuart was concerned that Smith may have been involved in some of the crimes attributed to the Baseline Killer, or possibly an accomplice of Goudeau’s.
Mark Goudeau contends that he has never met Terry Wayne Smith.
“I heard about Terry Wayne Smith in the beginning of 2008,” he says. “Someone came forward and said look into this. And that’s the first time I heard his name.”
In October 2006, Officer Rusty Stuart wrote a 166-page document concerning Terry Wayne Smith and provided it to Alex Femenia, the lead detective on the Baseline Killer task force. Femenia condensed and summarized the findings of Stuart’s report into just a few pages, filing it along with tens of thousands of pages of police reports.
Dave Kothe, of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, says the findings outlined in Stuart’s investigation were largely dismissed by Femenia and the task force who believed the correct suspect was already in custody. Two years after Goudeau’s arrest, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association obtained Stuart’s entire report and provided it to prosecutors. It would take another year, and extensive legal wrangling, before Goudeau’s defense would finally obtain the report in 2009.
Goudeau says he believes the report was covered up in an effort by police to protect their case against him.
“I know there is a reason why all this was being covered up because they realized they had the wrong person,” Goudeau says.Terry Wayne Smith, who was sent to prison shortly after Goudeau’s arrest, is currently serving a four-year prison sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2012. He vehemently denies any involvement in the Baseline Killer crimes and is not considered a suspect in the case. In a letter to The Times, Terry Wayne Smith wrote that the allegations in the report were “obviously false,” and were concocted by “Phoenix police officer Rusty Stuart, a cop with a personal vendetta.” In 2009 Phoenix police met with Smith at the state prison in Buckeye and swabbed him for DNA. It was determined that his DNA was not a match to any evidence in the Baseline Killer case, according to police reports.
In 2009, former Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill told The Times that Stuart’s information was investigated and subsequently dismissed. The report was never concealed and all information was provided to the county attorney’s office, he said.
“There was no Terry Wayne Smith report. There was a supplement written about that person as one of many, many investigative leads,” said Hill. “His information was taken and that information was investigated by the lead investigator (Detective Alex Femenia) on the case. In the official report he was looked at as one of many, many suspects, but ruled out.”
Goudeau’s defense attorney Randall Craig says the Terry Wayne Smith report will factor heavily in the upcoming murder trial.
“It is extremely important to our case,” he says.
Last year Craig filed papers claiming the report is “rife with exculpatory information pertaining to Mark Goudeau’s defense.”
Due to the pending trial, Mike Scerbo, a spokesman for the County Attorney’s Office, declined to comment on the Smith report or the Goudeau case.
Mark Goudeau’s murder trial is currently scheduled for January 2011. Over the past four years it has been rescheduled more than six times. The delays have been frustrating for the victim’s families. At an August court hearing, several victims’ family members spoke about the agony they have endured while awaiting justice.
“We want some kind of closure. This has been going on for too long,” said Gilbert Martinez, former boyfriend of murder victim Sophia Nunez. “We want someone to get in trouble for this. We just want this chapter of our lives to be over.”
Inside the shadowy jail cell, the air is stale. After three hours the concrete walls appear looming, as if the room is slowly shrinking.
Earlier this afternoon I was being escorted through a maze of jail corridors and metal detectors. In the steel elevator, on the way to the fourth floor, one of the corrections officers turned to me and asked, “Goudeau—has he ever been interviewed before?”
“No,” I replied. “This is the first.”
Over the past four years, Goudeau says he has received countless interview requests from CNN, Fox News, the Associated Press and nearly every local television station and newspaper. He has consistently turned them all down, agreeing to speak to me alone, only after reading previous stories I had written concerning inconsistencies in the case.
Behind bars, Goudeau says he has become somewhat of a DNA expert, spending hours every day studying the thousands of pages of police reports to assist with his own defense. He says he’s been able to find startling discrepancies on every single case. Over the course of our interview, he brought several of these to my attention. Time will tell whether the discrepancies are enough to convince a jury of reasonable doubt in his upcoming murder trial.
With the outcome of the first trial, Goudeau says he is petrified.
“I’m so beat up that I don’t know what to believe or what to expect,” he says. “I have no faith in my judicial system anymore.”
Meanwhile, Wendy remains his most ardent supporter. She attends every court hearing and visits him weekly in jail, where they communicate solely through a video monitor.
Toward the end of our interview, I flag down a guard to unlock the steel cell door. But before I leave, I ask Goudeau one more question: “Do you have hope that you will get out one day?”
Goudeau pauses. If he were ever able to get out of jail he would not only need to beat nine murder charges but also successfully appeal his sexual assault convictions. Still, he says he has to believe that one day he will be a free man.
“I am going to get out because the world will know before long that I had nothing to do with this,” Goudeau says. “I will still tell you that it feels like I’m in a nightmare. It feels like I’m going to wake up one day and this all will be done. And that’s the day I’m waiting for, for this all to be done.”