Court will consider former KCK detective Roger Golubski’s involvement in murder convictions of two men

Roger Golubski has been charged with deprivation of civil rights for sexually assaulting victims while under color of law enforcement.
Published: Oct. 23, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2022 at 10:31 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Two men, convicted of murder, are getting yet another day in court this week. They’re hoping a judge will consider old information with a new perspective.

When Greg Miller was shot and killed in Kansas City, Kansas 25 year ago, Brian Betts says he was asleep, in bed with his fiancé and baby, in a house nearby. Betts talked with us by phone from the Wyandotte County jail.

“I heard gunshots,” said Betts. “I was briefly awakened by them. I didn’t really think much of it; gunshots were pretty common in our neighborhood.”

He says he later learned someone was murdered. And it was shortly after that, he and his cousin, Celester McKinney, were charged with the murder.

“I went into trial extremely confident,” said Betts. “I had faith in the justice system. There was no way in the world that I thought I could be found guilty doing something that I did not do.”

But he and McKinney were convicted in separate trials. Their uncle testified that he saw them with guns the night of the murder. That uncle recanted and claimed he was pressured by detectives to give false testimony, or he would be charged with the murder.

Betts and McKinney are serving life sentences. Both have always maintained their innocence.

“I had nothing to do whatsoever with that,” said Betts. “I was not there. I was not involved in it. I had no knowledge of it whatsoever.”

Familiar refrain

It’s becoming a common story involving murder cases in Kansas City, Kansas. Young black men convicted of murders they swear they didn’t commit.

Our investigative team has reported on three other cases. Ahmon Mann is serving time, even though the eyewitness in his case has recanted saying he was pressured by detectives.

And John Calvin’s case is also getting media attention. In his case, the man who admits he was the gunman has said the wrong man is in prison.

So far, only Lamonte McIntyre’s story has had a happy ending. He was exonerated in a double murder case after serving 23 years in prison. He now works to free other prisoners who he believes were wrongly convicted, including Betts and McKinney.

All of these cases have the dark shadow of retired KCK police detective Roger Golubski. While Golubski was not the detective working on Greg Miller’s murder case, there was still a connection, Miller was Golubski’s nephew by marriage.

Golubski is facing federal charges connected to rape and kidnapping, but he’s also accused of fixing murder cases out of revenge. His link to the case is a key factor in this hearing.

Supporters call for justice

The families and supporters of Betts and McKinney have fought long and hard for their cases to get another look. They say the connection to the disgraced detective cannot be denied. They’ve organized rallies and hired attorneys thought the years arguing that Golubski was a factor in the case.

“His name didn’t just come about,” said Ellen Betts, Brian’s mother. “Brian and Les have been saying his name for the last 23 years or more.”

Both men have new attorneys on the case: Kevin Shepherd and Sarah Swain are working for free. They argue Golubski was a part of the case, even if he wasn’t officially assigned to it. Attorneys say there is no physical evidence tying their clients to the murder. And that witnesses gave “wildly different versions” of what happened to police as time rolled on in the investigation.

“It’s no longer rumors on the street that Roger Golubski is a menace to society with a badge,” said Swain, McKinney’s attorney. “Now there’s federal charges.”

“To not look at it at this point--come on,” said McIntyre. “It’s criminal at this point because you know who is involved. You can’t act like it’s not there. It’s there.”

Victim’s family believes right men are in prison

Greg Miller’s family is fighting, too — to keep Betts and McKinney locked up. They say blaming Golubski is a literal “cop-out.”

They’ve started a Change petition with the headline: “Do Not Set These Cowards Free.” The petition reads in part, “his family is trying to use the situation with the then Detective, Roger Golubski for his benefit.”

We spoke by phone with Ethel Spencer, Miller’s aunt and Roger Golubski’s ex-wife. She had something to say to the men convicted in her nephew’s death.

“You took my nephew’s life,” said Spencer. “He’s doing life underground. You got charged with life. Do your time for doing your crime!”

Brian Betts told us what he wants everyone to know: “I’m actually innocent. I have been wrongfully convicted, I’ve been falsely imprisoned for the past 24 years and eight months for something that I did not do and that I have no knowledge of. I was not involved in any type of way.”

For more stories on the Roger Golubksi investigations, click here.