Getting out of prison early takes a special effort, and Morris "Mel" Goldberg has provided his fellow prisoners with a lesson on how not to make it.
"If you feel it is better for me to remain incarcerated," the 78-year-old Monroe inmate recently told the state Clemency and Pardons Board, "so be it."
Goldberg was seeking a pardon from a 26-year-term, based on his age, health and promise he is a changed man. He was convicted with his wife of the Nov. 18, 1991 Spokane murder of their son-in-law Peter Zeihen, who they - without proof - suspected was a child molester.
But Goldberg, via phone to the board, seemed to drum up little sympathy and provided some classically lame responses - explaining he'd been asleep a few moments earlier.
About "this homicide that occurred," he said, "I errored in my judgment." He was sorry, but he wasn't the "one who actually performed the function," his wife did, blowing most of Zeihen's head off with a shotgun. (Zeihen was wearing a bullet-proof vest after the grandmother and grandfather tried but failed to shoot him earlier).
Board chair Margaret Smith pointed out that at his trial, Goldberg admitted to his role in the shooting and said "I'd do it again." Goldberg responded: "I was still under the influence of my ex-wife at the time." He now regrets participating. "I would gladly yield up my own life if he could have his [back]..." he said. His Heavenly Father, Goldberg said, has changed him from "that creature that I was."
When told the board had received many letters in opposition to his release because he "had struck fear in the heart of people," Goldberg responded: "I have? Should have been my wife!"
The now-grown daughter whom Zeihen allegedly molested gave a brief, dramatic statement supporting her grandfather: "Words are cheap," she said sitting before the board, "and you may not believe what I have to say, but he was right. The abuse did happen. The evidence was thrown out of court. That man saved my life. I wouldn't of had him do anything different."
But Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker told the board there was "no evidence ever found of any child molestation" and the grandparents were "wrongly and mistakenly" informed. He also noted that Goldberg's wife Joann Peterson (now doing 25 years) wanted Zeihen to see who was about to kill him, and made him look down the barrel as she fired. Because Zeihen was given no mercy, said Tucker, neither of the killers have earned it.
Goldberg still wanted out - maybe. "Whether I remain in prison or not is irrelevant to me, because I'm going to wind up, in too few short years, underground anyway. So all these things are just temporal, my life is temporal, just like yours [the board's]. So was Peter Zeihen's, apparently."
"If you feel it is better for me to remain incarcerated, so be it. I am tired. I am tired of life itself. I really have no more comments to make. You make your decision."
They quickly did, stamping his file "Don't pardon." It was unanimous. ..Source.. by Rick Anderson in Crime & Punishment
Killer should remain behind bars – pass it on
Today’s column in three easy steps.
1. Morris “Mel” Goldberg should rot in prison.
2. I want to do all I can to make that happen.
3. Help me advocate for Goldberg’s continued incarceration in a letter to the Washington attorney general’s office. The deadline is Nov. 13. Sign your name “concerned citizen” if you have any worries about identifying yourself.
Then mail your letter to …
Spokane County Prosecutor
c/o Annette Ingham
1100 W. Mallon Ave.
Spokane, WA 99260
Internet users should put their remarks to the attorney general in a Word file and e-mail it to Ingham at aingham@ spokanecounty.org. She will forward the correspondence she receives to the AG’s office.
Now, while you’re thinking over my call to action, let me tell you about this slug, Mel Goldberg.
He drove the stolen getaway car the night JoAnn Peterson, his ex-wife, hid in darkness outside her son-in-law’s Spokane Valley apartment.
It was Nov. 18, 1991.
Peter Zeihen drove his Audi into his carport. Peterson stepped up to the car window toting a 12-gauge shotgun and calmly blew the man’s face off.
Zeihen, 40, never had a chance.
This killing was as calculated as any mob rub-out. Peterson and Goldberg, who also helped with the planning, are cold-blooded monsters.
It was the second attempt on Zeihen’s life. Two weeks earlier, Peterson, masked and dressed like a man, shot at Zeihen six times with a handgun – and missed.
Zeihen started wearing body armor. It wasn’t enough.
Finally ratted out by family members, Peterson was sentenced to 25 years in 2001 after pleading guilty to premeditated murder.
The Inland Northwest’s version of Ma Barker had her own ridiculous request for clemency rejected in 2004.
Now, just as ludicrous, Goldberg seeks a pardon from the 261/2-years he was given after his previous life sentence was overturned on appeal.
In December, the state Board of Clemency and Pardons will meet in Olympia to examine Goldberg’s request and vote on the outcome. Either way, Gov. Chris Gregoire will make the final call.
If he’s turned down, Goldberg could be released with good behavior in 2022.
Let’s keep it that way. He’d be in his 90s if he can last that long.
The bottom line is that this louse doesn’t deserve any breaks.
During a sentencing Goldberg told the judge he felt no remorse for the role he played in Zeihen’s murder and would do the same thing all over again.
Zeihen had been embroiled in a vicious custody battle with his estranged wife over their 2-year-old daughter.
Goldberg and Peterson contend Zeihen had molested the little girl. That’s how the pair tries to justify their assassination.
But the claim against Zeihen was thoroughly investigated at the time.
And guess what? Nobody bought it.
Not one shred of evidence ever surfaced to support the charge as anything but empty and malicious.
I can’t imagine a sane human being ever wanting to let Goldberg go free.
But weird things have been known to happen. That’s why it’s important to let the clemency board know that we’re keeping an eye on what they do.
It’s also important to support Jewel Zeihen. Now in her 80s, the Chewelah woman told me Wednesday that she thinks about her son, Peter, every single day.
And every day she asks herself the same question.
Pardon Morris “Mel” Goldberg?
Let me paraphrase what Jewel’s late husband, Frank, once said about Peterson.
Goldberg should get out of prison when Peter Zeihen gets out of his grave. ..Source.. by Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review.