Related topics

Wife sentenced to life in slaying of ‘Black Bart’

October 14, 1997 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ Black Bart made his living by being a quick draw, but he wasn’t quick enough when a hit man hired by his wife and stepson came calling five years ago.

Black Bart _ a gunslinging Wild West show performer whose real name was Charles Gold _ died with his gun still in its holster. He was shot eight times, finished off with a bullet between his eyes as he reached for his pistol.

On Tuesday, his wife, former Playboy bunny Carole Gold, was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and conspiracy.

``I had nothing to do with this crime,″ the 58-year-old Mrs. Gold said at her sentencing. ``I have always loved Charles Gold.″

Prosecutors said Mrs. Gold and her son Kenneth Ashton Cottini hired a hit man to murder Black Bart. The motive: Gold’s $150,000 life insurance policy and control of his horse stables.

Robert Pryor, who has been identified as Cottini’s drug dealer, testified that he hired hit man Dan Goddard to kill Black Bart at the behest of Cottini and Mrs. Gold.

Gold, 51, was gunned down at his Phoenix home in 1992 as he came home from a convention. He was wearing his gun, as he always did. The hit man was waiting behind a wall. Gold’s body was found in the kitchen.

Cottini pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and could get up to 20 years in prison. Pryor likewise cut a deal and is serving 20 years. Goddard was given immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony.

Gold and his performers would dress as gunfighters complete with boots, chaps and gun belts for an old-fashioned showdown _ without the real bullets. The troupe performed at Western-theme restaurants, rodeos and other venues, often for charity. He had also done a few TV shows and movie cameos.

Black Bart played the villain, dressed in black from head to toe. His bushy mustache only added to the look. Sometimes he played the role offstage, too.

Ron Nelson, a friend of the Golds who used to be a gunfighter in Black Bart’s show, said he was surprised someone hadn’t killed Gold earlier, because he often used his wit to berate and belittle people. Many of his employees and acquaintances despised him.

``You either loved him or hated him,″ added Sharon Novoselski, another of Gold’s former gunfighting partners.

Mrs. Gold will not be eligible for parole until she serves at least 25 years in prison.

Stephanie Gold, the victim’s daughter and Mrs. Gold’s stepdaughter, said she is satisfied with a sentence she waited five years for.

``Those eight shots did more than kill my father. You took my family,″ she said in a statement read in court. ``You took Grandma’s son. For that reason alone, I hope you burn in hell.″