UPDATE: Day 2 of murder trial for Hephzibah man accused of strangling girlfriend

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News 12 First at Five/ Tuesday, April 1, 2014

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- The murder trial continues in the case of Todd Goff, the Hephzibah man accused of strangling his girlfriend. He's charged with malice murder and felony murder.

Tuesday's testimony focused on the evidence investigators found at the scene.

Some family members left the room when graphic pictures of the crime scene and autopsy were shown, but a few stayed to see it.

"The forensic scientist showed evidence of old bruises on her entire body," Pamela McKinney, a close family friend, said.

Seeing all the evidence laid out in court took McKinney right back to that July day when she heard sirens near Tiffany's house.

"There were police cars everywhere, they had shotguns. I saw all of this and called John Salter and said something is going on," she said.

Deputy Coroner Johnny McDonald was the first witness to take the stand today. He mentioned a conversation he had with the suspect's mother at the scene.

"She told me her son, Todd Goff, called her and made the statement, 'I think I killed her, I don't remember anything," he said.

The lead investigator took jurors through every step of the investigation, starting with his first look at the crime scene.

"I could see Ms. Salter laying in kind of a cleared area, and I walked over, observed her, a shovel, a tea bottle and a hole dug in the ground," he said.

The defense showed video and photographs from the scene, and the investigator explained Tiffany's pajama bottoms had been rolled down, indicative of being drug through the woods. They also noted dirt and loose debris on her face.

Two GBI forensic scientists testified, one explaining why they ruled the death as manual strangulation.

"In this case, the carotid arteries and jugular veins would not allow blood flow into the brain," she testified.

They found abrasions on her neck, popped blood vessels from lack of oxygen in her eyes, a broken piece of cartilage and a broken bone in her neck, all leading them to the strangulation ruling.

Things are expected to resume Wednesday with closing arguments from the prosecution and defense. We are expecting a verdict before the end of the day Wednesday.
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News 12 at 6 o' clock/ March 31, 2014

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's been nearly two years since 22-year-old Tiffany Salter was murdered. Monday, the trial finally started, with her boyfriend and accused killer, Todd Goff, at the center of it. Goff pleaded not guilty to malice murder and felony murder.

The victim's family was in the courtroom.

"I got up this morning, and it kind of felt just like that Saturday morning all over again," John Salter, the victim's father, said.

He's talking about the Saturday morning in July of 2012 when he found out his little girl was dead. An autopsy revealed she was strangled to death.

"I want to know why, like any parent would. But my biggest question now, he's pleading not guilty still. Who are they saying did it? I don't understand," he said.

The defense says Todd Goff did strangle her, but they claim he didn't mean to kill her. His lawyer making the case that the two had been drinking heavily, got into an argument, she tried to choke him first, then he started to choke her.

The first witness for the prosecution was the dispatcher who took the 911 call. The call came from Goff's mother, Joanne Cissio.

During the 911 call, Cissio told the dispatcher, "He said she won't move... he said she was choking him and he choked her, I don't know! Just please hurry."

Goff's mother took the stand soon after the 911 call was played. She says she doesn't recall a lot of what she said in the 911 tape, or her recorded statement with investigators because she had taken two Ambien, a Paxil, a Valium, an anti-depressant, and some wine the night before. She said she was also in shock after her son called her.

"A lot of that stuff is so scrambled up in my mind," she said on the stand.

She told investigators she noticed scratch marks on Todd's neck a few weeks before the incident, and asked Tiffany about them.

In the recorded statement, she said, "Well where did he get the scratch marks? And she had a couple bruises on her arm. I said tell me the truth, please tell me the truth, she said, I swear to God we've been getting along fine. She said Todd's been acting a little strange. He's been distant from everybody."

Cissio goes on to say Goff had been off his anti-depressants and other medication, a statement she says under oath she doesn't remember making.

At one point on the stand, Cissio said she felt guilty, like she was the reason her child was behind bars. It'll be up to a jury to sort out the evidence. The trial is expected to last 3 days.


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