Brian Golsby told the jury he was sorry for the crimes he committed against Reagan Tokes and asked them to have mercy on him, in a brief statement Friday afternoon.
“Today I would like to apologize to the Tokes family for the conduct committed against their daughter, friends, and family,” he said at the start of his 30-second statement that concluded the first day of his sentencing portion of his trial after being found guilty Tuesday of the kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder of the 21-year-old Ohio State student on Feb. 8, 2017.
The statement was unsworn, meaning Golsby was not subject to cross-examination by the prosecution.
Golsby went on to explain that “T.J.,” the friend he told Grove City Police in a taped interview was responsible for Tokes’ murder, does not exist, a fact his defense team acknowledged during the trial.
“When I first got locked up I lied about everything,” Golsby said. “I said there was a T.J. There is no T.J. T.J.’s not real. I made T.J. up.”
His statement concluded with a plea to the jury.
“The only other thing I have to say is please have mercy on me,” he said.
The statement came after several hours of testimony from witnesses for the defense who painted a portrait of Golsby as a victim of a traumatic childhood that included sexual abuse.
Much of the day consisted of testimony from defense witness Howard Fradkin, a licensed psychologist of 35 years who met with Golsby in jail following his February 2017 arrest.
In his three meetings with Golsby — which totaled 2 hours and 47 minutes — Fradkin heard accounts from Golsby that led Fradkin to conclude Golsby had been subjected to 13 adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.
ACEs have been linked to risky health behaviors and low potential to excel in life, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Fradkin said Golsby had experienced 13 of 23 known ACEs and that such a high number can be extremely damaging.
Among the ACEs Fradkin said Golsby experienced were physical violence, having a mentally unstable and drug-dependent mother, being a victim of bullying and gang violence and being sexually assaulted at the age of 12, Fradkin said.
Having never received proper therapy for the trauma from his sexual assault and from gang violence might have led Golsby to begin sexually assaulting others and to have become a violent gang member himself, Fradkin explained, in a behavior he called “reactive perpetration.”
Such behavior includes multiple accounts of such perpetration on Golsby’s part, beginning with Golsby raping multiple 5-year-old boys when he was 12 and raping 6-year-old girls when he was 13, according to a juvenile sex-offender assessment filed by the Ohio Department of Youth Services — the state’s juvenile corrections system, commonly referred to as DYS — when Golsby entered into custody there in 2006.
Additionally, the report said Golsby was a member of the Crips, a known violent youth gang. The accounts were highlighted during cross-examination of Fradkin by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.
Throughout the 40-minute cross-examination, Fradkin reiterated that Golsby did not receive the proper care for his traumas, particularly in the sex-offender programming at either DYS or at Buckeye Boys Ranch, where he was enrolled before his time at DYS.
“The proper treatment is to give trauma-informed treatment,” Fradkin said during cross-examination, adding that such treatment both acknowledges the patient’s perpetration as well as the underlying traumas that lead to that perpetration.
Golsby might be a different man today, Fradkin said, had such a treatment plan been utilized.
“Had he received proper treatment, trauma-informed treatment, it’s a much better likelihood that he would’ve had a fighting chance at being very different,” he said.
Another witness for the defense, Kim Tandy, testified that DYS had an unsafe and abusive environment at the time Golsby was there.
As the founder and former executive director of Chidren’s Law Center, a legal advocacy group for youth where she spent 28 years, Tandy filed three lawsuits against DYS between 2004 and 2007 for allegations of physical and sexual abuse against many of the children in custody.
Tandy testified that a 2007 investigation of the Circleville, Ohio, facility — where Golsby spent the majority of the time he was in DYS custody — was found to be rife with violent gang activity and heavily used solitary confinement. Having reviewed a report about Golsby’s time at DYS prior to testifying, Tandy said Golsby likely was subjected to both conditions.
Sentencing will continue on Monday. Golsby will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years; parole after 30 years; life in prison without the possibility of parole; or death.
Updated at 7:12 p.m. to include details of testimony from Golsby’s sentencing hearing.