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Now-retired KCK police detective Roger Golubski has been accused of putting an innocent man in jail and terrorizing Black women for decades. KCUR 89.3 and the Midwest Newsroom will continue to follow developments.

Former KCKPD detective testifies he ‘never’ pressured witnesses into false testimony

A man wearing a brown suit and tie sits in a witness stand in a courtroom
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Former Kansas City, Kansas, Police Detective Roger Golubski testifies Monday in Wyandotte County Court.

A hearing for two men convicted of a 1997 murder once again focuses on whether Roger Golubski coerced a witness into falsely testifying and whether he fed crucial information to the victim’s family.

Former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective Roger Golubski on Monday made a rare public appearance and denied any involvement in a 1997 homicide investigation in which he is accused of pressuring a witness to offer false testimony.

Golubski took the stand in the Wyandotte County Courthouse and refuted a central claim made by two men — Celester McKinney and Brian Betts — convicted of killing 17-year-old Gregory Miller.

Attorneys for the two men accuse Golubski of threatening their uncle, Carter Betts, if he did not testify that they murdered Miller. Carter Betts' testimony helped lead to Betts' and McKinney's convictions.

Carter Betts later recanted, saying that “my conscience cannot allow me to live with this.”

His claim mirrors other allegations made about Golubski during his 35 years with the KCKPD, including coercing fabricated testimony, often from vulnerable members of Wyandotte County's Black community, in order to clear his cases.

Golubski is currently on home arrest following last month’s federal indictment charging him with violating the civil rights of several women by raping and kidnapping them back in the 1990s.

Attorneys for the two men convicted of the 1997 murder, Celester McKinney and Brian Betts, hope to pattern their innocence case after that of Lamonte McIntyre, another Kansas City, Kansas, man who was exonerated in 2017 after being convicted of a double homicide he didn’t commit.

McIntyre was convicted solely on the false testimony of two eyewitnesses, who say they were forced into it by Golubski.

Carter Betts testified Monday that a Black detective, W.K. Smith, and a white detective with brown hair and a large mustache — who he didn’t know at the time — forced him to say his nephews did it and that if he didn’t, they’d charge him with murder.

Shown a photo of Golubski, Carter Betts said that he was the detective who said, “You’re going to do what you’re told.”

“If you don’t, I’m gonna make you suffer,” Carter Betts remembered Golubski saying.

But Deputy District Attorney Kayla Roehler countered, saying Carter Betts had previously testified eight times and had said the only detective who pressured him was W.K. Smith.

A man wearing a gray suit and tie sits in a witness stand in a courtroom
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Wyandotte County Judge Daniel Cahill testifies Monday in the hearing for Brian Betts and Celester McKinney. Cahill was the prosecutor on the original 1997 case.

Attorneys are also trying to paint Golubski as interfering in the case because the victim, Miller, was the nephew of his ex-wife, Ethel Spencer. Golubski said he didn’t seek information in the 1997 murder case for the victim’s family because it was “none of my business” and that he wasn’t close to the Spencer family.

Ethel Spencer, who has since remarried and goes by Ethel Miller, also testified that Golubski did not offer any information to the family and that the couple had divorced by the time of the 1997 murder.

Also questioned Monday was Wyandotte County Judge Daniel Cahill, who was a prosecutor on the Betts-McKinney trials. Carter Betts said he told Cahill his testimony was false but Cahill “said ‘you have to go along’ or he would charge me,” Carter Betts said.

Cahill denied that, but admitted that he needed Carter Betts’ testimony to get Brian Betts and McKinney convicted.

“There was a very, very weak case without Carter’s testimony,” Cahill said.

The hearing resumes Tuesday at 9 a.m. when retired Judge Gunnar Sundby, who is overseeing the hearing this week in a senior judge role, will decide whether District Attorney Mark Dupree will have to testify.

A new podcast from KCUR investigating Roger Golubski and corruption in the Kansas City, Kansas, police department.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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