Jon and Rachel Goldberg were a “power couple” in Bridgeville, their next-door neighbor testified during the eighth day of Jon Goldberg’s murder trial.

David Vegliano, the Goldbergs’ neighbor for seven years, said the couple were active members of the community, donating much time and energy to the annual “Bridgefest” celebration in town.

“It was nice to find somebody reliable,” Vegliano said under questioning by Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo, who called him as a character witness. “They put in a lot of work.”


Vegliano agreed with Russo that Goldberg was a peaceful, honest man and a loving and devoted father to his young son David. He said he saw the Goldbergs “weekly,” and “the couple always got along well together. They were kind of a power couple.”

Vegliano never saw any marks on Rachel Goldberg that would indicate she was being abused.

He brought a few photographs to court, which Russo displayed to the jury. One showed Jon in front of Pierson’s Building Center, next to the figure of a 6-foot space alien he’d created and painted for the Bridgefest event. Another was of Jon and Rachel smiling and relaxing while taking a break from community work. And a third depicted the Goldbergs’ little boy, struggling to sweep the town bridge with a large broom.

Vegliano’s portrayal contrasted sharply with testimony from previous witnesses: Jon and Rachel in drunken arguments that escalated over the years, Rachel with bruised arms and legs, telling a friend she and Jon had been fighting. Rachel confiding to a friend that on Sept. 26, 2016, the day he learned she was having an affair, Jon fired shots around her.

And finally, later that same day, Jon Goldberg allegedly driving to Fortuna with a loaded revolver and shooting Timothy Smith, his wife’s boyfriend, five times.

During cross-examination of Vegliano, Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal asked whether he had ever heard gunshots, yelling or fighting at the Goldberg property, which abuts his land. Vegliano said no.

“Can I ask you how your hearing is?” Bernthal said.

“How my what is?”

That drew laughter from jurors and spectators. Then Vegliano said his hearing is very good; he doesn’t need hearing aids.

Another defense witness today was Sabrina Shaha, the court reporter during Goldberg’s preliminary hearing in December 2016. Russo wanted the jury to hear portions of testimony from Tim Smith Jr., son of the slain man.

During that hearing, Smith Jr. said his father’s truck door was open after the shooting, and he didn’t know for sure whether there were guns in the cab. He said he saw one of his dad’s guns on the bed in his parents’ bedroom.

While testifying during this trial, Smith Jr. said his father’s guns were in their cases. If one was on the bed, he said, it was because he took it out during a brief moment of wanting to kill the man who shot his father.

Russo’s defense hinges on his assertion that Tim Smith Sr., when Goldberg showed up, reached into the cab of his truck for a gun.

Although the defense has begun calling witnesses, Bernthal is expected to call more before he rests his case. Today he recalled Fortuna police Detective Ryan Richardson to clarify how the FPD began to suspect that Goldberg’s friend Steve Shapiro helped him after the shooting.

Richardson said he had always thought Goldberg had assistance. His mini-van was found on Avenue of the Giants, yet he was at home near Bridgeville when a SWAT team arrested him a few hours after Smith was killed.

Bernthal asked about a meeting early this year that included him, district attorney’s investigators and Fortuna police officers. They were discussing who might have driven Goldberg home. It was decided to focus on people who showed up at FPD headquarters the day of the killing. One of those was Shapiro, who arrived at the station drunk and offered to help bring Goldberg in peacefully. He didn’t mention he had taken Goldberg home.

On Feb. 1, Richardson said,  he and another officer went to a house in Eureka and spoke with Shapiro’s wife. They asked her to tell him they wanted to talk to him about the Smith homicide.

Shapiro, who was working in Oregon, contacted them by cellphone “in about 10 minutes,” Richardson recalled. He admitted Goldberg came to his house and asked for help, saying he’d shot the man who “dicked my wife.” He said he followed Goldberg to Avenue of the Giants, where he left his van, and then took him home.

Testimony was expected to continue Monday morning before visiting Judge Graham Cribbs, who is presiding over the trial.