Carl Goldberg shot his father in his Hannibal home with a crossbow, administering the fatal blow 20 minutes later
The man who pleaded guilty to shooting his father twice with a crossbow and stashing the body in a Hannibal home’s freezer in 2015 will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Carl S. Goldberg, 32, received the maximum sentence of life imprisonment after entering an open guilty plea on Feb. 28 to the charge of second-degree murder in the killing of his father, Carl Maxwell. Judge David Mobley presided over the sentencing hearing at the Ralls County Courthouse on Thursday, June 7. Mobley reviewed exhibits and testimony on behalf of the defense and the prosecution, along with Goldberg’s Sentencing Assessment Report from the Department of Corrections and a psychiatric evaluation from Jacqueline Landess, MD. The prosecution, led by Marion County Prosecuting Attorney David Clayton, requested the maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and the defense requested a 15-year prison term.
Mobley reminded Goldberg about the details of his open guilty plea, which included the state dropping a related felony charge of armed criminal action. Each side presented evidence and interviewed witnesses as Mobley listened to each aspect of the case, including a history of abuse throughout Goldberg’s childhood.
Clayton called Hannibal police Detective Jordan McAdams to the stand. He recounted how home inspectors entering the Broadway home in October 2015 for winterization work discovered a human leg inside of a freezer in the home. When he and fellow detectives and officers arrived at the home with a search warrant, they also found a Barnett Recruit Tactical Compound Crossbow near a table in the room. After determining Maxwell’s identity, McAdams and Detective Brian Allen traveled to Las Vegas, where Goldberg had moved following the homicide. McAdams said that Goldberg admitted to shooting his father during a five- to six-hour interview. He waived extradition and was transported to the Marion County Jail.
McAdams said that Goldberg did not show remorse when he confessed to the crime. In the 2 1/2-page written confession, Goldberg said he and Maxwell were involved in an argument, which ended with Goldberg going to his bedroom and Maxwell falling asleep in a chair. Goldberg continued to think about the previous argument while laying in bed, then he picked up the crossbow, walked into the other room and shot Maxwell once in the chest as he slept. For about 20 minutes, Maxwell was gasping for air and “in a lot of pain,” McAdams said. Goldberg admitted to shooting Maxwell a second time in the head.
Public Defender Jenniger Richardson said Goldberg “felt [Maxwell] was suffering” when he fired the second shot.
But Clayton argued that Goldberg had different intentions.
“I think he wanted to let [Maxwell] suffer,” he said.
Clayton put on evidence gloves and held up the crossbow, asking McAdams how the weapon operated. It required between 50 and 80 pounds of force to retract, before loading the arrow, aiming and firing the trigger. Clayton said that the multiple, deliberate actions involved in shooting Maxwell twice indicated Goldberg posed a “potential danger” if he didn’t receive the maximum sentence.
Richardson discussed Goldberg’s troubled past, including how he was removed from Maxwell’s home at the age of four — court records indicated the home was uninhabitable, with 27 or 28 dogs living inside. At the time, Goldberg was found with his hair matted with dog feces. He was subsequently adopted by another family, where he was subjected to further abuse.
Goldberg was in his mid-20s when he returned to Maxwell’s home, Richardson said — the only offspring to care for his father following his recovery from a hip fracture. Clayton confirmed with McAdams that Goldberg had been charged with fraud for taking money from Maxwell against his wishes as his father’s power of attorney. Goldberg withdrew money from Maxwell’s account before and after his death.
Richardson said that Goldberg took responsibility for what he did, and she argued that the sentence should be closer to the average sentence in the Sentencing Assessment Report, which is 21.4 years.
No victims of the crime were present in the courtroom, but Goldberg addressed the court.
“I should have acted like a normal human being,” he said. “I know my actions were wrong, and I am truly sorry for what I have done.”
Richardson pointed out that Goldberg had no prior criminal history and was honorably discharged from the military for health reasons. However, Clayton said Goldberg’s multiple attempts to conceal what he did made this a particularly “grisly” murder. The defendant invited a friend and his young child into the home, with the knowledge that Maxwell’s body was in the freezer and could have been discovered by the child.
Mobley said he thoroughly considered each detail of the case, stressing that children in abusive situations do not have a choice. But he stressed that Goldberg was no longer a child when he made a series of choices that led to his father’s death — coming back to Hannibal, remaining in a toxic environment where past abuse had occurred and ultimately shooting his father as he slept. He said Goldberg’s multiple attempts to conceal the crime and failure to seek the psychiatric help he knew he needed also weighed on the court’s decision for a sentence of life in prison. Clayton thanked the various agencies and department involved in the case.
“It really was a team effort that made this happen,” he said. “Justice was served today for this man.”
Goldberg was remanded to the custody of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department for transportation to a Missouri Department of Corrections facility.
Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org