KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Kansas judge on Wednesday declined to order a new trial for two men who claimed a disgraced police detective helped convict them for a 1997 murder they did not commit.
Brian Betts, 46, and Celester McKinney, 52, alleged that former Kansas City, Kansas, detective Roger Golubski and another detective coerced their uncle into identifying them as the shooters in the death of 17-year-old Gregory Miller.
Judge Gunnar Sundby ruled the men did not prove their case, despite a “cloud of doubt” over Golubski, The Kansas City Star reported.
Golubski was indicted in September on federal charges that accuse him of sexually assaulting and kidnapping a woman and a teenager from 1998 to 2002. He also faces a separate federal indictment alleging he was part of a sex trafficking ring involving girls between 1996 and 1998.
The FBI has been investigating allegations that Golubski, who is white, sexually assaulted Black women for decades in Kansas City, Kansas, and exchanged drugs for information during criminal investigations.
Golubski, who is under house arrest, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
During a hearing in October, Carter Betts said Golubski and another detective, identified as W.K. Smith, said Betts and his family would suffer if he didn’t testify against his nephews. Betts originally didn’t remember Golubski’s name, but identified him in a photo, noting the detective’s distinctive mustache.
Betts and McKinney, who are Black, both testified that they were at their homes sleeping when Miller was killed and they had no motive to kill the teenager.
Golubski testified at the hearing that he never pressured witnesses into false testimony and did not help investigate Miller’s murder. He also said he had no connection to Miller’s family, although he had been married to Miller’s aunt.
Sundby, who is retired but heard the case as a senior judge, said he wasn’t convinced by Betts’ testimony. He noted Betts testified several times about his interactions with Kansas City, Kansas, police, including times when he did not allege coercion or claimed it was Smith who pressured him.
“It would be easy, under this new cloud of doubt cast about Mr. Golubski, to use that as leverage to secure relief from conviction,” Sundby said. “I do not find his testimony to be credible.”
Brian Betts’ mother, Ellen Betts, said the family plans to appeal Sundby’s decision.
Miller’s family believes Betts and McKinney are guilty. They created a petition urging officials to keep them in prison, saying they were “trying to use the situation” with Golubski to be freed.
The allegations in Betts’ and McKinney’s case came to light when another Kansas City, Kansas, man, Lamonte McIntyre, was freed after serving 23 years in prison for a double murder he did not commit. McIntyre alleged Golubski framed him because his mother rejected the detective’s sexual advances.
The local government settled the lawsuit for $12.5 million.