Hearing postponed for two prisoners who claim they are innocent of 1997 KCK murder

A hearing during which attorneys were expected to call disgraced former Kansas City, Kansas, police detective Roger Golubski to the stand has been postponed until later this month.

The two-day hearing for prisoners Brian Betts and Celester McKinney, who maintain they are serving time for a 1997 murder they did not commit, was expected to begin Wednesday. But it was rescheduled for Oct. 24 and 25 because one of the men’s lawyers was undergoing emergency surgery.

Betts and McKinney appeared briefly in court wearing gray, striped Wyandotte County jail uniforms.

Golubski, a white officer who worked at KCKPD from 1975 to 2010, has long been accused of terrorizing Black women and threatening to “put cases” on their relatives. He was indicted last month on federal charges that he sexually assaulted and kidnapped a woman and a teenager from 1998 to 2002, though prosecutors say he preyed on or raped additional women. Now 69, he has pleaded not guilty.

On house arrest in his own case, Golubski was expected to testify at the hearing Wednesday before it was canceled.

Betts and McKinney were convicted in the killing of 17-year-old Gregory Miller, who was gunned down in northeast KCK. McKinney’s brother, Dwayne McKinney, was also charged but was acquitted. No physical evidence tied the men to Miller’s killing.

Dwayne McKinney, brother of Celester McKinney and cousin to Brian Betts, stood outside a family home near North 5th Street and Greeley Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. McKinney traveled to Kansas City from his home in Georgia earlier this year to attend a rally to call for the release of Betts and Celester McKinney, who family members say were wrongly convicted in a shooting down the street. Dwayne was also charged in the murder, but found not guilty.
Dwayne McKinney, brother of Celester McKinney and cousin to Brian Betts, stood outside a family home near North 5th Street and Greeley Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. McKinney traveled to Kansas City from his home in Georgia earlier this year to attend a rally to call for the release of Betts and Celester McKinney, who family members say were wrongly convicted in a shooting down the street. Dwayne was also charged in the murder, but found not guilty.

Attorneys for Betts and McKinney contend Golubski was Miller’s uncle through marriage and the brother-in-law of a witness for the prosecution. In 2020, the Court of Appeals granted a hearing — the one now set for later this month — on the issue of if Golubski was involved in the homicide investigation, considering his connections to the victim and witness were not disclosed at trial.

The prosecution’s main witness at trial was Carter Betts, who is the uncle of Celester McKinney and Brian Betts. His testimony implicated his nephews. But after the trial, he recanted, saying he was “pressured and threatened” to make false statements.

Last month, The Star published an investigation examining several questionable Wyandotte County convictions, including that of Betts and McKinney. The convictions reviewed by The Star illustrated allegations raised in recent years about the practices of former KCK detectives, including Golubski. In those cases, spanning from 1997 to 2009, detectives are accused of coercing witnesses or falsifying evidence against suspects who, now in prison, maintain they are innocent.

The next hearing in Golubski’s criminal case is a status conference set for Oct. 12.