Defense rests in sex crimes trial of former East Gaston High wrestling coach

08/06/2014 8:40 PM

08/06/2014 8:41 PM

The defense rested its case Wednesday in the trial of a former East Gaston High School wrestling coach charged with molesting team members, but jury deliberations won’t begin until next week.

Gary Scott Goins, 46, is accused of committing sex crimes against three former members of his wrestling team between 1998 and 2004. All three have testified in the trial.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Jesse Caldwell excused the jury until Monday at 9 a.m. He has a conference to attend on Friday, and a juror needed several days off for a personal matter.

Twice, Caldwell overruled defense attorney Brent Ratchford’s motions to dismiss the charges for insufficient proof.

“I believe it’s a jury question,” Caldwell said. “Let the case go to the jury.”

Goins took the witness stand Wednesday for the fourth day as Ratchford followed up on questions asked by Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell during his cross-examination of Goins on Tuesday.

Goins admitted he became defensive during cross-examination but said he felt frustrated with prosecutors because “they’ve accused me of things I didn’t do.”

The state is “intentionally ignoring things,” he said, “and using other things to suit their needs.”

Bell had questioned Goins on Tuesday about an incident one of the accusers brought up earlier in testimony – a suicide plan Goins allegedly brought to the accuser in April 2013, saying he wanted to die and needed the accuser to help kill him.

The Observer’s policy is not to publish the names of sexual abuse victims.

The accuser said he accompanied Goins to a park and followed Goins’ instructions to choke him until he was unconscious. He put a rope around Goins’ neck, planning to twist it tightly for eight minutes – the amount of time Goins had set on his watch timer, the witness testified.

The witness said he ran away when he thought he heard the watch go off. Goins came to and walked back to East Gaston High School, the witness said.

Earlier this week, Goins testified he remembered little about the day in question and had been told by doctors he either suffered a seizure or amnesia before waking up in the woods. He testified there was no suicide plan.

On Wednesday, under questioning by Ratchford, Goins described the day in question as “traumatic” and acknowledged that at some point in his life he’d suffered a concussion.

When asked by Ratchford whether committing suicide would affect his family, Goins replied “yes.” Goins said he had a good relationship with his three daughters, who were headed into their teen years, and he wouldn’t want to miss that experience.

Goins has testified this week that he never had any sort of sexual contact with his athletes.

The prosecution on Wednesday called two rebuttal witnesses, Hulda and Rosa Elswick, who lived next door to Goins and his wife, Angela, when they lived in a duplex apartment in Mount Holly. Gaston County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hamlin said trial testimony from last week triggered their memories and they came forward with the information.

Angela Goins has testified that her husband’s wrestling team members didn’t visit the Mount Holly apartment.

But Rosa Elswick, a 2005 graduate of East Gaston High School, said she recognized one wrestler who “was over there all the time, morning, night, during the day.”

The wrestler she mentioned is one of Goins’ accusers.

Elswick told the jury she found the relationship “very unusual.”

“I thought it was odd when I was in high school,” she said. “I didn’t feel that’s appropriate. When I heard about this (trial), I felt it needed to be shared.”

Under questioning by Ratchford, Hulda Elswick said she didn’t call the school or parents about the wrestler being at the Goins residence so often. “I had no reason to,” she said.

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