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Archive for Saturday, January 7, 2006

Hays resident to face trial in death of college student

21-year-old died from suffocating on dirt

January 7, 2006

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— A Hays man was bound over for trial Thursday in the suffocation death of a Fort Hays State University student after a 911 dispatcher testified that she heard the victim screaming as dirt apparently was being shoved down her throat.

Robert Jason Land, 32, has been charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 29 death of Angela May Goddard, 21. He could face a life sentence if convicted.

Among those testifying during the two-day preliminary hearing that ended Thursday was dispatcher Debbie Cox, who received the cell phone emergency call from a woman identified as Goddard.

"All I was hearing was a woman screaming," Cox said. "I could pick out bits and pieces of words. She screamed and said 'No, Jason' and 'Help me' and 'I trusted you.' There was a lot of pleading."

Goddard's body was found a short time later near an oil-field tank battery a couple miles southwest of Hays.

Dr. Lyle Noordhoek, the coroner, estimated that more than three handfuls of dirt were in Goddard's mouth and airway.

"She died as a result of the mud," Noordhoek said. "With the large amount of mud and debris, it is impossible for air to pass into the lungs."

The slain woman's mother, Jill Goddard, of Russell, testified her daughter was trying to break up with Land.

"She said she was afraid of him," Goddard testified. "He never hit her, but would get violently angry and drive crazy with her in the car."

Jill Goddard said she became more concerned after her daughter said Land assisted with a Nov. 8 suicide attempt.

"She said Jay (Land) had been there and made her feel worthless," Jill Goddard said. "He said he'd mix drugs to make her die. He helped her mix it up. He told her before she passed out that he'd done this before with other women."

Ellis County Undersheriff Bruce Hertel testified that Land said a third person had beaten the couple. But neither canine units nor an aerial search could substantiate Land's claim.

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