Witness: Former East Gaston wrestling coach wanted to die

A witness testifying for the second day in the trial of his former high school wrestling coach charged with molesting team members told a Gaston County jury on Thursday that the coach wanted the witness to kill him.

Gary Scott Goins, 46, is accused of committing sex crimes against three former members of his wrestling team at East Gaston High School between 1998 and 2004.

In earlier testimony, the witness, now 27, told the jury he’d been sexually abused by Goins in the ninth through 12th grades. He’s the third man to testify during Goins’ trial that he’d been molested by the wrestling coach.

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

On Thursday, the witness recalled staying in touch with Goins after high school and keeping him informed about questions police were asking when Goins was being investigated early in 2013.

The witness said Goins was nervous and “wanted me to help him kill himself.”

He recalled Goins saying, “I committed these acts against you and you’re the one who should do it.”

During a meeting at a Gastonia restaurant, the witness recalled, Goins said: “You’re going to have to shoot me.”

The witness told the jury that Goins’ initial plan was for the witness to use a gun his father had given Goins as a present. The shooting was to take place in a secluded area behind the new gym at East Gaston High, the witness said.

The plan was for the witness to fire a shot at the base of Goins’ skull for a death the witness described as “quick and painless.”

The witness said Goins gave him money to buy all-black clothes for the killing.

“It’s kind of weird when someone approaches you about taking their life,” the witness said.

Eventually, the witness said, Goins concluded the shooting would be “too messy” and the gun might be traced.

Goins instead settled on strangulation, the witness told jurors.

The two discussed the plan on disposable cellphones, using the code names “Romeo” and “Tragedy.”

When time came to put the plan into action, the witness said, he picked Goins up one night at East Gaston High. They drove to Gaston County’s George Poston Park.

Describing himself as “paranoid as heck,” the witness recalled that even though it was “dark and thundering,” people were still out playing softball and he worried about being seen.

It then started thundering and pouring down rain, the witness said. He recalled Goins saying, “How appropriate.”

The witness also said he remembered Goins saying, “Take care of my family.”

After responding, “I will,” the witness told the jury, Goins said, “I was talking to God, not you.”

The witness then testified that when Goins got down on his knees he choked the wrestling coach until he was unconscious. Next, the witness said, he put a rope around Goins’ neck. The plan was to twist it tightly for eight minutes – the amount of time Goins had set on his watch timer, the witness testified.

As Goins’ body convulsed, the witness recalled, his former coach lay face down in the mud.

Above the noise from the storm, “I thought I heard the watch go off,” the witness said.

Whether it was prompted by a “sign from God” or the “devil staring me in the face,” the witness said, he took the rope off Goins’ neck and ran back to his car.

Later that night, he got a phone call – from Goins, the witness said.

“He said, ‘I had an accident,’ ” the witness recalled. “I said, no s---.”

The witness said Goins told him he woke up at the park and walked all the way back to the school and that his wife had been wondering where he’d been.

A police report on the incident was filed, the witness said, but he’d never been interviewed about it by authorities. But somebody told him a version of what supposedly had happened – Goins had been kidnapped and assaulted.

The witness testified that he finally told a Gaston County police detective about the incident in April or May of 2014 and that the officer, who knew about the report, commented, “It makes sense now.”

Calling Goins “a very affectionate coach” who “invested a lot of time in me,” the witness said the years of abuse had torn his life apart.

“I wanted to be known as a good wrestler,” he said. “Looking back now, what price did I pay?”

Under cross examination by defense attorney Brent Ratchford, the witness acknowledged that Goins pushed him hard on the wrestling team and that “he was a very good coach. I learned a lot from him.”

The witness said that when he was in college, Goins was a changed man and had accepted Christ.

When Ratchford described the plan to kill Goins as “attempted murder,” the witness called it “a failed suicide.”

“I wanted to help someone I trusted at the time,” said the witness, who finally told police the full story of the sexual abuse in June 2013. By then, the witness said, he had stopped talking to Goins.