When murder suspect Jon David Goldberg encountered his friend Timothy Smith on Sept. 26, 2016, he was expecting Smith to apologize for having an affair with his wife.
“I thought I’d get ‘Hey sorry, man,’ or ‘Hey you’re my friend.’ I didn’t get none of that. I got a smirk. And then he reached into his truck with both hands like you’d reach for a rifle …. It looked like one hand went for the stock and the other hand went for the barrel.”
Goldberg, testifying today in his own defense, said he heard something hit the truck seat. He drew the gun from the holster at his hip. He said Smith then took a couple of steps toward him.
“He grabbed the hand I had the firearm in,” Goldberg said. “I recoiled and the firearm went off. He grabbed with his right hand around my wrist and I tried to pull back.”
Goldberg said it all seemed to happen in a split-second.
“There was no time to think,” he said. “When the gun fired I just kept firing. I closed my eyes and kept firing … The only thought in my head was that he was going to kill me.”
Smith was shot five times about 12:40 p.m. A pathologist testified that four of the five shots were fatal on their own. Goldberg shot him just a few hours after learning that Smith was having an affair with his wife, Rachel Goldberg. But he insisted today that he wasn’t expecting to find Smith home and had come there only to speak with Smith’s wife, Jessica Springer.
He just wanted to find out, he said, what Springer knew about the affair. And he wanted to tell her what he knew. That morning Rachel Goldberg first admitted to exchanging explicit photos with Smith. Then she said she had kissed him a couple of times. Finally she confessed to having sex with Smith once.
Goldberg testified he believed he and Smith were “good friends.” They had been fishing together a few times, including the day before the killing. Smith had been driving up to the Goldbergs’ property to hunt deer, and the two men hung out together. Goldberg said he was blind-sided and devastated by news of the affair.
Goldberg testified, under questioning by Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo, that he was shocked to see Tim Smith’s truck in the driveway when he arrived to speak with Springer. He’d been told Springer had kicked Smith out, and he also thought Smith was going on a hunting trip that day.
He was the only one who thought that. Both Springer and Rachel Goldberg knew Smith wasn’t planning to go hunting for several days.
Goldberg drove by the house a couple of times, he said, trying to decide whether he should stop. He thought maybe Smith’s hunting partner had picked him up, and that’s why his vehicle was home. So he parked his van behind Smith’s truck. Then he realized both truck doors were open. He clipped on his .357-magnum revolver, remembering the firearms Smith had shown him the night before.
“Tim walked out his front door,” Goldberg said. “As he was walking toward his truck I walked toward the tailgate. … He didn’t even look at me. There was no acknowledgement of me being there. He kind of smirked at me in an odd way.”
He remembers saying something like “I thought you were my friend,” and then the shooting occurred.
After Smith was killed, Goldberg went to the Rio Dell home of his friend Steve Shapiro. He left his van on Avenue of the Giants and Shapiro drove him home. Shapiro told him the police would be coming and to surrender quietly.
“I went up my driveway,” he said. “I went to my shop and got my son’s pillow and blanket. I grabbed them and smelled them and hugged them.”
He said he had just taken a couple of puffs of marijuana when the SWAT team arrived.
He’s been in jail since that night. It was the first time in his life he’d been arrested.
Goldberg admitted he put his gun on that morning while he was still at home. He said Jessica Springer had indicated she was coming up to talk to him, and he didn’t know else might show up. Tim Smith’s family or friends, or maybe Smith himself?
Goldberg acknowledged that in his frustration, he fired a couple of rounds into a tree on his property. But he denied firing shots at or around his wife, as she reportedly told a friend later.
Goldberg said he and Rachel had some problems. Money was tight because the marijuana he sold barely covered the expense of growing it. And Rachel had a fondness for Captain Morgan rum, which she apparently drank every night and “sometimes during the day.”
At times his wife would become physically aggressive toward him, Goldberg said, but he never once abused her.
When Russo asked why he stayed, Goldberg responded “I love her with all my heart.”
He did admit that he and Rachel mentioned divorce at least once that morning, and both of them wanted custody of their young son David. Goldberg feared Rachel was going to take David and go to her parents’ home in Tennessee, and he told her “no way.”
Under cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal, Goldberg maintained he still loves Rachel and she has brought their son to the jail to visit him “10 or 15 times.”
Bernthal then produced a copy of a Feb. 10 phone call between Goldberg and his mother. The jail recorded the call. Unfortunately the recording was inaudible in the back of the courtroom, but Goldberg apparently made some very unkind remarks about his wife.
Bernthal asked Goldberg whether that was his voice on the recording.
“Sounds like it, yes,” he said.
Bernthal also questioned Goldberg about why he felt the need to strap on a gun that morning at his home, asking if he was planning to shoot Jessica Springer. Goldberg said he didn’t know who might arrive.
“Isn’t it true that you’re a liar?” the prosecutor asked at one point.
Bernthal then brought up that the psychologist who interviewed Goldberg said Goldberg told him he had shot Smith by accident.
“Now you’re saying it’s self-defense?”
Bernthal is expected to continue his cross-examination tomorrow morning.
- 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
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY TEN: Mother of the Accused Testifies About What He Was Like as a Boy; Psychologist Says Goldberg Told Him Shooting Was Accidental
- GOLDBERG TRIAL, DAY 11, Part 1: Murder Suspect Takes the Stand, Tearfully Recounts Learning of His Wife’s Affair With Victim