Why Would It Matter If Deputy Goforth Was Having An Affair?

The personal life of the slain sheriff’s deputy is no one’s business, but it could be important to his alleged killer’s defense.

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(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Let’s put this right out there at the beginning: In the scope of the tragedy, it doesn’t make a bit of difference if Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth was having an affair. His personal life is none of our business, and any attempt to use the woman who claimed to be his mistress  to smear the slain officer is vile. Talking about it does nothing for us except to hurt his family, who are already suffering enough. Goforth’s death is tragic and horrible regardless of the veracity of this woman’s claims, and no one should suggest otherwise.

A story like the one from the New York Daily News on Tuesday, which speculated on Goforth’s personal life, fails readers by introducing an irrelevant, but lurid, suggestion about the deputy. But there is one place where the detail, if it’s true, could be relevant: court. And Anthony Osso, the defense attorney representing alleged killer Shannon Miles, is in the very difficult position of trying to defend someone accused of doing something horrible.

As the Houston Chronicle reports Osso is relying on the testimony of the woman claiming to be Goforth’s mistress to explain what the deputy was doing at the gas station that night. If Goforth wasn’t there in an official capacity as a peace officer as he was said to be initially, the capital murder charge Miles faces for killing an officer in the line of duty would be downgraded to a murder charge, which could save him from the death penalty.

“My understanding is that he was at this station meeting with this young lady who has been identified as a witness,” said Anthony Osso, who is representing Shannon Miles, charged with capital murder in the case.

Standing outside his downtown Houston office, Osso said determining why Goforth was at the Chevron is crucial. For the killing to be considered a capital murder in this case, it would need to involve a deputy acting in the “lawful discharge of an official duty,” Osso said.

If Goforth was there to meet with the unidentified woman, rather than to gas up his patrol car, that could prove critical to the defense, Osso said at the press availability.

“From my client’s standpoint, this would no longer be a capital murder but it would be murder,” Osso argued. “I want to get (the death penalty) off the table.”

It’s a complicated issue—and Osso, who is defending a less-than-sympathetic client, may be grasping at straws. But he’s correct that “filling the gas tank on a patrol car” is carrying out an official duty, but “meeting a woman at a gas station for personal reasons” is not. The Texas penal code only treats killing a police officer as a capital offense if “the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter at all if Goforth was having an affair—it matters only if he was at the gas station for a personal reason, rather than an official reason, at the time of his death. An affair doesn’t make his death less tragic or less of a crime.

That’s a tough line to walk. But Osso’s job is to defend his client to the best of his ability, even when the act of doing so brings up things that have no relevance outside of a courtroom. It can be a rotten job, but in an adversarial criminal justice system, if the defense isn’t willing to go to those places, then the deck is stacked against the accused from both sides.

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  • Eloyce Toliver-Grimes

    IT
    OPENS UP A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY, THIS WAS NOT AN RANDOM ACT IT WAS
    FROM A PERSONAL ACT OF HIM HAVING AFFAIR..THERE’S IS A DIFFERENT..THIS
    MAN DIDN’T SHOOT SOME STRANGER BUT A MAN HE HAD CONFRONTED BEFORE WHAT
    WAS HAVING AFFAIR WITH HIS LOVE ONE,,,

    • Ripshed

      Turn off the caps locks for starters. Nowhere is it stated that the killer and the officer knew each other or had ever seen the same partners.

      • james hook

        If the murdered Officer was screwing the Defendant’s OWN mother w/consent it matters not in the eyes of the law its still 2nd degree murder charge at best.

        • DEEGEE

          exactly!!!

    • wesaymwah

      How do you know? Evidence, please.

    • james hook

      That DOG needs to enroll in a spelling Class.

  • Statistic

    It matters because every time a cop is on trial their victims whole life story is thrown on stage for the world. Yet when it’s their turn it’s not right. The hypocrisy of trialing a cop vs a citizen.

  • Terry Ramsey Haskins

    it does matter. it paints a different picture.

  • Robert Reynolds

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone

  • wesaymwah

    For sure, a heinous crime was committed. That said, and this is of very minor importance in the light of what happened, but I wouldn’t want my local park or street named for someone who receives more public trust than most, but who abused his wife’s trust in him. Sneaky!

    • Teresa Cobb Rye

      you mean like a street named after
      Sandra Bland

      • wesaymwah

        Not even remotely the same issue at all. Bland was not an officer of the law abusing a spouse’s trust.

  • Connie Carol

    It does matter. Especially since the Sheriff chose to paint this as the motive being attributed to black lives matter or a supposed war on police which is just stupid…

  • Craig Anderson

    The act of refueling his vehicle is “an official act of duty” end of story. I could make a case very easily that he was shot because he was in uniform…had he not and not been refueling a patrol car, he would likely be alive today.

    • ML

      I dont think it is a coincidence that the woman was there.

      • Teresa Cobb Rye

        does that make him less murdered ?

        • ML

          Who said it did?

  • booth1860

    How much gas did he buy? Was the car on empty or just a place to meet!

  • Craig Anderson

    And how many juries have you served on..?

  • WITSION

    Why would it matter? It’s a reflection on the character and integrity of the officer. That’s why. If he would commit adultery against his wife then one has to ask what else would he do?

    • soccermomx3

      Thank you for saying it so well! I would also have to wonder if his judgment would be clouded if he would make a choice that could do great damage to his family.

    • Teresa Cobb Rye

      Does it make him any less murdered ?… 15 bullets to the back and head….

  • JodyMT

    To me what matters is the fact that the cops were hiding this knowledge. They knew about this woman the day he was killed, and I am sure many knew of her existence in his life for a long time. Why put him on a pedestal when they knew he was a cheating scumbag?

  • soccermomx3

    It’s a terrible shame the officer was killed but if the claims about the witness are true, it matters – to me anyway.

    • Robbin Page

      I agree. It makes a huge difference in my eyes. This police officer goes from a hero to a lying, cheating SOB.