Jon Goldberg sentenced to 15 years to life in 2016 Fortuna murder

Request for new trial over allegations of juror misconduct denied

Jon Goldberg was sentenced to 15 years to life for killing Tim Smith in Fortuna in 2016, a visiting judge ruled Friday. (Times-Standard file)
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A judge denied a request for a new trial for Jon Goldberg, who was convicted of killing Tim Smith at his Rohnerville Road home in September 2016.

Visiting Judge Graham Cribbs also sentenced Goldberg to 15 years to life for the murder and struck a weapons enhancement that could have added another 25 years to the sentence. He was convicted in March.

Goldberg, 38, fatally shot Smith, 42, with a .357 caliber revolver shortly before 1 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2016. The killing came after Goldberg learned his wife was having an intimate relationship with Smith.

Jon Goldberg

“I have struggled with this case all year long,” Cribbs said Friday afternoon in Humboldt County Superior Court.

“We’re all human beings. We all have frailties,” Cribbs said. “It’s a human tragedy that Mr. Smith is gone.”

Cribbs also clarified what striking the weapons enhancement meant for Goldberg’s sentence.

“His maximum exposure is not 40 years to life, but 15 years to life,” Cribbs ruled.

Cribbs denied a request for a new trial, a motion filed by Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo, who represented Goldberg. Over the course of the week, behind closed doors, both Russo and Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal, who prosecuted the case, were given the opportunity to question the jurors over allegations of misconduct in the case. Eleven of the 12 jurors in the case were questioned by the attorneys.

Cribbs ruled Friday to deny the request.

Goldberg, who was wearing an orange jail-issue jumpsuit, sat quietly next to Russo for the more than two-hour hearing Friday.

But several friends and family of Smith did take the opportunity to speak to the judge, with many stating 15 years was not nearly enough of a sentence.

Tim Smith worked in various local fire districts. He was killed in September 2016 by Jon Goldberg. Goldberg was sentenced to 15 years to life Friday. (Times-Standard file)

Gigi Morss, who was Smith’s sister, was emotional as she stood to talk about the loss.

“It’s not OK. It never will be,” she said. “It’s been two long years. … He was not only my brother. He was like a father to me growing up.”

She expressed anger toward Goldberg.

“F— you, Jon Goldberg. He never deserved it,” she said. “You took him from the family and it was not your decision to do that. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m devastated.”

She later apologized to the judge for her “f-bombs.”

Jessica Springer, Smith’s widow, expressed frustration that her husband was taken from her at a time when both her sons “were just becoming men.”

“My 20-year-old saw this happen,” she said. “He couldn’t believe it. He didn’t know what to do. He still doesn’t know what to do.”

She said the two had been together since she was 13 and he was 14.

“We planned on getting old together and retiring,” she said.

The two both worked in emergency services, Smith as a firefighter, a job she said he loved as “an adrenaline junkie” and she as an EMT.

“The thing that gets me is that Mr. Goldberg has been constantly fighting this,” she said. “He has not taken responsibility for his actions.”

Later she added she does not seek revenge for the actions.

“I seek no violence or death for anybody. That’s not me,” she said. “I seek justice. I pray he be held accountable for his actions.”

Laurie Church, a long-time friend, said it’s not just the family and friends who are feeling the repercussion of the murder.

“They meant a lot to the community,” she said. “It didn’t affect a few people. It affected a whole community. “

The prosecution echoed a similar sentiment.

“This is something his family and the community will have to deal with for years to come,” Bernthal said.

He also characterized the case in no uncertain terms.

“This case has always smacked to me more as an execution,” he said.

Goldberg’s attorney said that it was an act of a man who could not think straight.

“He wasn’t in his right mind,” Russo said. “He was not in his right mind when he went to Mr. Smith’s house.”

Russo also characterized Goldberg as a person who was “devoted to his family” and noted that he had no prior record.

Goldberg will appear in court Nov. 1 for a hearing on how much credit will be applied from the 754 days he has been in the county jail since arrested. He also has 60 days to appeal the ruling.

Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.

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