Price sentenced in Goodin case

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By Dave Taylor

Logan Robert “Robbie” Price will serve 60 days in jail, 60 days of home incarceration and eight months probation for his guilty pleas on 12 counts of terroristic threatening 3rd degree and six counts of attempted theft by extortion in connection with threats that were made on the life of the late cystic fibrosis victim Christopher Goodin and other members of Goodin’s family, and attempts to extort money from the family in late June, 2013.

The 21-year-old Milton resident was sentenced by Trimble District Court Judge Jerry Crosby Thursday following about 90 minutes of testimony from Goodin’s parents—Keith and Jennifer Goodin—and a licensed clinical psychologist who appeared as a witness for the defense.

At the time of the offense Goodin was hospitalized in the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington where he was on a waiting list for a lung transplant. Goodin succumbed to his battle with the disease on July 13, 2013—two weeks after the threats were made.

The Commonwealth, represented by Trimble County Attorney Perry Arnold, opened the hearing by presenting 14 signed letters of victim impact statements from family members, friends and members of the staff at the University of Kentucky Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit. “All of them were personally impacted by what occurred that led to criminal charges being taken against the defendant,” Arnold said.

Judge Crosby ruled that only Keith and Jennifer Goodin would be permitted to make victim impact statements during the hearing. As to the written statements, “I will read those. I will take them into consideration before I pronounce sentencing.”

Keith Goodin testimony

Keith Goodin testified that he received the first text shortly after 5 a.m. on Sunday, June 30. Goodin said that the sender of the texts first identified himself simply as “Charlie.”

After receiving the initial series of threats, “I had to change my objectives for that day, which was trying to provide health care support for my son.”

Goodin said he slipped out of the ICU, notified the nursing staff and doctors of the threat to Christopher and the family, and contacted law enforcement and the hospital security staff and asked them to provide extra security. He also contacted family members back in Trimble County who were taking care of his 12-year-old daughter Elisabeth.

Law enforcement officers advised Goodin to continue to communicate with the perpetrator through text messages “and try to identify how much they knew about the family and how viable the threat was.”

Goodin said because of the threat hospital officials changed the protocol the hospital used in allowing visitors. The amount of time and frequency of visits from loved ones and friends was limited whereas the staff had previously been quite lenient with regard to visitors. The new, more restricted protocols are still in place today, Goodin said, and continue to affect families of other patients.

In the two weeks remaining before Christopher’s death the restrictions “limited the time that loved ones and friends could spend with him,” Goodin said. “It made him question how people would respond to someone who is sick. He often asked why groups of people couldn’t come back. We explained to him that hospital protocol had changed. Christopher was extremely intelligent. I think he could comprehend why the actions were taken by the hospital.”

Goodin said the people who had been coming to visit Christopher were a distraction from the clinical surroundings and “the tubes running out of his body. Diminishing that support had an impact on his mood.”

Christopher’s condition “was deteriorating at a very rapid pace,” the father said. “He was struggling for air. He was losing his ability to communicate. We knew that the time we had with Christopher was becoming short.”

Keith Goodin said he initially didn’t let his wife know of the threats to the family. He said his son kept asking why his father had to leave the room and wasn’t there for him. He tried to explain to his son that “I was taking care of something extremely important.”

Goodin testified that not knowing from where the texts were originating he contacted his cell phone provider to attempt to put a trace on the phone. He was told it could not be done but that the phone had a Michigan calling code and was not a landline.

On questioning by Arnold, Goodin detailed the “overwhelming support” of fundraising efforts that had been conducted in the community to help the family with the expenses of the hospitalization of their son and the medical expenses of their daughter who also suffers from cystic fibrosis.

Had a donor lung become available for Christopher the boy and his mother “would have had to live in Lexington for up to a year, post-transplant,” Goodin said. “We received funds from China, Australia—all around the world in support of Christopher.”

“I knew that some of the things he was asking for I couldn’t deliver,” Goodin said. He conveyed his concerns to the perpetrator but the demands continued.

“The person who initiated the attacks against my family did so with an extensive plan of what to do, picking the most vulnerable moment to contact us,” Goodin said. “He originally thought he was contacting my wife. He didn’t target the most wealthy person in our community. He went after someone who had a little bit of money, who was very vulnerable. It was very consciously planned and executed by targeting the weakest, most defenseless person he could possibly approach. It is without doubt the sign of a true predator.”

Jennifer Goodin testimony

Jennifer Goodin testified that at first she didn’t know why her husband kept leaving their son’s room. She said she saw some of the texts but after awhile she chose not to read them, calling them “evil.” Ultimately, Keith learned the name of the person who had been making the threats. He asked Jennifer if she knew someone named Robbie Price.

Jennifer Goodin said she came to make the acquaintance of Price while she was doing substitute teaching at Trimble County High School. As part of those responsibilities she was in charge of directing the Drama Club in their production of a Christmas play. Price was at the rehearsals with his then-girlfriend who was the play’s student director, Jennifer said.

“In order for him to be in the school I had to take responsibility” for him. Price, she said, wanted to learn how to operate the sound system and the spotlight and she taught him how to do those things. She said there were times when Price was present at rehearsals that her son and daughter were there as well. She said Price and Christopher would sometimes engage in conversation.

Jennifer said her first reaction to what she saw in the text messages was “What kind of person does that to a kid who can’t even breathe and is suffering? I was truly appalled that someone could be that evil.”

In the Saturday night and early Sunday morning before the text messages began, Christopher Goodin was on life support, Jennifer said. He needed oxygen and “became what they call air hungry… He was having anxiety attacks,” she said, and was trying to pull his tubes out.

In the days following the threats, when the visitations were limited, Christopher would ask why no one was coming to see him.

“We didn’t explain everything to him because he didn’t need that stress,” Jennifer said. “I think he knew he was dying and he wanted his family and friends there with him.”

In closing her testimony, Jennifer said Price had stolen time between Christopher and his family that can never be given back. “You’ve never said you’re sorry,” she said to Price. “You’ve never acted like it was a big deal. I think it’s time that you learn there are consequences for your actions and letting you off with a slap on the wrist, you’re just going to do it again.”

Clinical psychologist testimony

Defense attorney Ed Bourne called Dr. Edward Conner, a licensed clinical psychologist in the states of Kentucky and Indiana, to the witness stand. Conner, of Erlanger, Ky., testified that he had conducted tests of Price and determined that he was competent to stand trial. The doctor said that in his sessions with the defendant he had tried to help Price “understand the magnitude of what he had done.”

Conner said the defendant had the approximate brain equivalency of a 10th grade high school student. “I’m not saying he is mentally retarded. What is apparent is he is very high on dependency, he is easily led astray, he is highly suggestible and has difficulty making decisions himself. In layman’s terms he is very simple minded. He functions as a late adolescent. He has a very simplistic view of his world. His cognitive processing is quite limited.”

Conner said in his opinion Price would be low risk for re-offending, that he “has very strong support of his parents” and that he is in need of treatment.

Conner said that he doesn’t believe the defendant yet understands completely the magnitude of pain he has caused for the Goodin family.

“My concern, based on my experience, is if he is incarcerated he needs to be on a suicide watch,” Conner said.

On redirect, Arnold asked the doctor if he thought that Price’s plan to extort money from the Goodin family and the threats against them showed “cunning” on the part of the defendant. “You don’t find that to be a sophisticated plan?” Arnold asked.

“It shows some level of cunning,” Conner said. “I have difficulty attributing the term sophisticated to Mr. Price.”

Arnold also pointed out that in one of the defendant’s earliest texts he indicated that ‘I am a millionaire and I want to give you some money to help, whatever you need.’ So he begins by trying to deceive this family that he knows is in need.”

Price made no statements on his own behalf and sat without expression of any emotion throughout the proceedings.

Bourne, in his closing statement, asked for leniency for his client and said he personally was “very sorry” for the pain the Goodin family has experienced. “It’s a horrible experience what they’ve been through and the pain that they’ve suffered,” he said.

Bourne said his client “sent the text messages. He should be punished for that. We’re not trying to minimize what he did in any way shape or form. He has a very supportive family and they will continue to support him throughout this case.” Bourne said the family was willing to keep him in counseling with Dr. Conner.

In his closing statement Arnold said Price’s actions on June 30 consisted of “a very methodical, well thought out plan that the defendant carried out. This is not the work of somebody that’s immature. It’s not the work of someone who is acting because he is subjectible. He was completely deceitful. This was calculated.”

Arnold stated that the people of this community “have been impacted by what this defendant did. Our entire community is a victim here. The sentence must be commensurate with the crime. They’ve asked for probation and that would seriously diminish the crime that the defendant committed.”

Judge Crosby’s statements

Following the testimony and closing statements by the attorneys, the judge called a recess to read the written victim impact statements and determine the sentence to be adjudicated. Returning to the courtroom, Crosby first addressed the Goodin family and their supporters in the courtroom.

“Nothing that I’m going to say here today, nothing that I am going to do today can make up for the loss that you’ve experienced,” he said. “It would be futile for me to attempt to try and replace the time that you lost with your son. I personally pray that with time and a lot of love from those people that surround you and your family and from this community as a whole that you will heal.”

To the defendant Crosby said, “You stole something from them and that was their faith and their security. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to make them whole again. I took into consideration factors that are related to your cognitive abilities. You knew right from wrong when you entered into this.” Based on the testimony of Dr. Conner, “you still do not have the ability—even after all the sessions you have had with him—to truly appreciate what you did to this family.”

Crosby then passed what he called the “maximum” sentence of 12 months in jail. “However,” he said, “the sentence will be broke out in two parts. You’ll spend the first 60 days incarcerated at the Carroll County jail. After the first 60 days, then you’ll spend another 60 days on home incarceration. The balance of eight months will be probated to the Department of Probation and Parole for a period of two years.”

Crosby ordered Price “to continue to undergo the counseling treatment that the court previously described by the doctor who testified here today. You will pay the cost of these proceedings. You are to report to your probation officer as directed. You are to have no contact with the victims involved in this case. Additionally, when you complete your what amounts to four months in jail you’ll have 10 months of community service where you must complete 10 hours of community service each month.

“That’s the sentence of the court. I don’t expect everybody to be satisfied with it,” Crosby said. “It also ensures the public its safety at least for the next two years. He will start his incarceration immediately.”

Following the hearing Arnold expressed disappointment with the sentence.

“It was a joke,” he said bluntly. “The sentence seriously undermines the seriousness of the crime and does nothing to give any confidence to the community that people are going to get punished for what they do.”

Price was booked into the Carroll County Detention Center at 12:08 p.m. on Feb. 13. He is scheduled for release to home detention on April 9.