Convicted child killer loses her latest appeal

Relates to:
Date: 2000-06-24


TOMS RIVER - There is a mountain of evidence that proves convicted child killer Kathleen D. Golebieski is guilty in the slaying of her adopted son, a state appellate panel ruled yesterday in rejecting her belated claims of innocence.

Superior Court Judge James N. Citta in 1995 first rejected her appeal for relief when he said he saw no reason to change the prison sentence he gave Golebieski, now 43, in September 1994.

Golebieski accepted a plea bargain in 1994, pleading guilty to the charges of aggravated manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. In the current appeal, she argued that her trial counsel failed to establish her guilt when she entered her plea.

In her earlier appeal, Golebieski wanted a reduction in her 20-year prison term for aggravated manslaughter, saying she was unclear about what happened to her 3-year-old adopted son, Kyle, and that the time she has spent in jail have been "excruciatingly painful."

A state appellate panel on April 22, 1996 affirmed that sentence and the state Supreme Court on Jan. 7, 1997 declined to hear the case.

Golebieski, Brick, then filed a motion for post-conviction relief and on March 5, 1999, Superior Court Judge Edward J. Turnbach declined to reconsider the sentence.

Golebieski argued in this latest appeal that Turnbach erred in not letting her have a hearing on her allegations of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.

This appellate panel found Turnbach did not err.

"Judge Turnbach aptly characterized defendant's initial argument as a `masquerade' because defendant waited four years to challenge the factual basis for her plea and now belatedly asserts a claim of innocence," the panel found. "While defendant was reluctant to admit that she struck her son in the head, she admitted to beating him and stated that she did not contest the state's proofs."

The appellate panel, consisting of Superior Court Judges James M. Havey and Donald Collester, noted the autopsy report indicated Kyle died from a blow to the head. Neighbors told authorities they saw Golebieski screaming at her son and hitting him in the back of the head with an open hand. A family friend saw her lift the boy from his chair by his face, punch him in the head, shake him and throw him into chairs, according to the court papers.

"There was an adequate factual basis for this plea," the appellate panel found. "Therefore, there could be no ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel on this issue."

Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Thomas Cannavo represented the state and Alan I. Smith argued for Golebieski.

Golebieski in 1994 was ordered to serve at least 10 years of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Kyle died from head injuries July 1, 1993. Golebieski admitted corporal punishment was a common practice in her household and that she had crossed the line when disciplining Kyle that day. She doesn't recall administering the fatal blow to the top of the boy's head.

Golebieski adopted Kyle and his biological brother, Ryan, two months before she was married. Ryan, who was 2 when Kyle died, was placed in a foster home.

Golebieski had been abused sexually at the hands of her brother and uncle, her trial lawyer Robert L. Tarver had said. She also was physically and psychologically abused and had a medical problem that left her unable to conceive. She also had a hormonal imbalance at the time of Kyle's death.

Tarver said she was not ready to handle the pressures of motherhood. Golebieski's then-husband, Joseph, pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of endangering the welfare of a child with the understanding he would be sentenced as a third-degree offender, meaning he would not go to jail.

Citta sentenced him to five years' probation, fined him $15,000 and ordered him to perform 300 hours of community service.

ce? Carol Gorga Williams: (732) 557-5732 or at


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