Murder suspect Jon Goldberg told a psychologist he shot Timothy Smith by accident when Smith grabbed his gun, the psychologist testified yesterday.
Clinical and forensic psychologist Andrew Renouf, hired by the defense, said Goldberg told him that when he arrived at Smith’s house he was “surprised and shocked” to see Smith home. Goldberg said Smith walked out of his house and “smirked” at him, then realized that Goldberg had a gun.
Smith then reached into his pickup truck, where Goldberg believed Smith kept his hunting guns, and Goldberg drew his weapon.
“Mr. Smith rushed at him and grabbed the gun and it went off,” Renouf said Goldberg told him.
“He fired several more times; he didn’t know why.”
Renouf said that in his opinion, Goldberg has no mental health problems or personality disorders. He also has no unusual propensity for anger and aggression, and in fact is the type of person who would try hard to control his anger.
But under extreme stress, Renouf said, a normal person may not think clearly and rationally.
Goldberg is accused of shooting Smith to death on Sept. 26, 2016, a few hours after he learned his wife Rachel and Smith were having an affair.
Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal informed Renouf of several facts he didn’t know. He didn’t know that after the shooting, Goldberg had a friend drive him home. Goldberg told Renouf he was having car problems, so he abandoned his car and hitch-hiked home.
He also didn’t tell Renouf that about an hour before killing Smith, he told his neighbor “I’m going to kill that motherfucker.”
“There was no discussion of that,” Renouf said.
Renouf summarized Goldberg’s attitude toward the shooting as feeling threatened and being prepared to defend himself, “but the actual shooting was accidental.”
Bernthal asked whether Goldberg told him the second shot was accidental.
“He made no statement about that.”
“Did he tell you the third shot was accidental?
“He made no statement about that.”
And on down through the fifth shot.
“Did he talk about how he had to angle his firearm down to continue shooting Mr. Smith?”
Renouf testified under questioning by Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo that when a person is under extreme stress and not thinking rationally, it can be difficult to stop an action he’s already started.
This afternoon Russo also called Goldberg’s mother and cousin to testify on his behalf.
Janet Goldberg, holding back tears, said her son called her the morning of the shooting and told her he’d just learned his wife was in a relationship with Smith.
“He was just devastated,” the mother recalled. “He was very quiet, speaking slowly … He didn’t really know what to do. He was kind of lost.”
Janet Goldberg got a very different kind of call from her son after Smith was shot dead.
“He was totally crazed,” she said:
“Mom, I just shot a man.”
“Oh my God! Is he dead?”
She doesn’t remember whether he answered that question, but he told her he would be going away for awhile. She took that to mean he was going to jail.
Bernthal, cross-examining Janet Goldberg, asked whether her son had told her he shot in self-defense, or that the shooting was an accident.
“He didn’t say any of those things.”
Janet Goldberg said her son was never in trouble as a boy, never got in a fight. She said he was a peaceful, non-violent person.
“Would it change your opinion to hear that less than an hour before the shooting, the defendant said ‘I’m going to kill that motherfucker’ “?
“No. That doesn’t sound like Jon at all.”
Both Janet Goldberg and her cousin Pamela Singh, whom Goldberg calls “Aunt Pam,” had some harsh words to say about Rachel Goldberg. She would drink and become combative, they said, screaming “You don’t love me!” at her husband or anyone else around.
Goldberg’s response, they said, was to put his arms around Rachel and tell her he loved her, that everything was going to be OK.
Rachel Goldberg, finishing up her testimony yesterday as a defense witness, refused to say anything incriminating against her husband. This was despite the fact that, over and over, Bernthal discredited her testimony with recorded or written statements she had made.
Rachel’s standard response to nearly every prosecution question was “I don’t remember.” Confronted with recorded statements she made to police and a defense investigator, she only acknowledged it was her voice on the recording.
She continued to say she had not seen Goldberg with a gun the day of the shooting. Bernthal, showing her the investigator’s report, reminded her she had said “I first noticed that Jon had a gun after he’d been drinking.”
Rachel also told the investigator she “saw Jon come out of the shop and he was holding a handgun.”
Yesterday she testified her husband was sad, not angry, when he learned she was having an affair with Smith. But previously she said he became more and more “angry, irate and frustrated.”
She did admit that on the day of the killing, Goldberg called her “a dirty bitch.” And she recalled him telling her she was not allowed to leave their property and she didn’t deserve to have David, their then 6-year-old son.
“So you remember these things,” Bernthal said, “but not him having a gun.”
“I don’t remember a lot of things, Sir.”
Testimony was expected to continue today before visiting Judge Graham Cribbs, who is presiding over the trial. Goldberg himself is scheduled to take the stand at some point.
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY ONE: Ruthless Revenge Killing or Unfortunate Tragedy? Murder Trial Underway for Man Accused of Murdering Wife’s Boyfriend in Fortuna
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY TWO: Witness Testifies That Accused Murderer Physically Fought With His Wife, Fired Weapon Near Her on Morning of Crime
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY THREE: Nearby Construction Workers Testify They Saw Murder Suspect Casing House Before Tim Smith Was Shot Dead
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY FOUR: Victim’s Wife Testifies She Heard Gunshots Then Ran Outside to Find Her Husband Dying on the Ground
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY FIVE, Part I: ‘I just held my mom and told her it was going to be OK,’ Victim’s Son Testifies
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY FIVE, Part II: Suspect Said He Was Going to Kill Wife’s Boyfriend, Neighbor Testifies
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY SIX: The Victim’s Son and a DA Investigator Testified Today, Along With a Man Who Was Flipped Off By Murder Suspect on the Day of the Shooting
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY SEVEN, Part I: Four of the Five of the Bullets That Struck Tim Smith Could Have Killed Him On Their Own, Medical Examiner Testifies
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY SEVEN, Part II: Friend Testifies He Drove Murder Suspect Home Day of Shooting, Told Him Cops Were Coming and to Be Nice
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY EIGHT, Part I: Expert Witness Tells Jury About Communication Between the Victim, the Suspect and Each of Their Wives on the Morning of the Shooting
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY EIGHT, Part II: Defense Witness Call Goldbergs a Bridgeville ‘Power Couple’; Attorney Seeks to Raise Doubts About Whether Victim Was Unarmed
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY NINE: Murder Suspect’s Wife Gives Tearful Testimony, Says She Had Sex, Shared Explicit Photos With Victim