An American engineer convicted of trying to murder a Saanich couple four years ago will learn Friday if he will face more time behind bars, or be sent home a free man.
David Ross Goldberg, 40, was found guilty last October of the attempted murder of Tatcha Aroonjaratsang and her husband Jeremy Walsh after a violent confrontation at their Cedar Hill-area home on Sept. 24, 2008. He was also convicted of making or possessing explosives.
Crown and defense councils squared off in Victoria Supreme Court at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday. Prosecutor Nils Jensen argued Goldberg coldly planned to kill his victims and should receive between 10 and 17 years in prison. Defense attorney Robert Mulligan said his client should get a month – enough time to be deported to the U.S., where he can restart his life.
Jensen painted Goldberg as a man obsessed with his former fiancée, who stalked and harassed her over social media, devised ruses to find where she lived and travelled from California to Victoria with the intent to kill her and Walsh.
Goldberg confronted Aroonjaratsang and Walsh outside their Merriman Drive home late in the evening on Sept. 24, 2008. Jensen told the court Goldberg pointed the gun and laser sight at the couple’s foreheads while uttering threats. In an ensuing fight with Walsh, the gun fired into the air and Goldberg was stabbed six times.
The prosecutor pointed out Goldberg bought a handgun and shotgun in the U.S. and purchased chemicals in Canada that could be melded into an explosive.
“This was an attempt at first degree murder. He practised with handguns, he bought a shotgun, he bought night vision goggles,” said Jensen, who is also the mayor of Oak Bay. “This attack against his ex-fiancée was planned and deliberated upon, not only with guns and explosive substances, but he left a will and a note to his dad.”
Mulligan conceded his client did indeed cross the line to be technically guilty of attempted murder – choosing his words carefully before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Gaul, the judge who convicted Goldberg – but he maintained that Goldberg never intended to kill anyone.
Mulligan described his client at the time as a broken man in a deep depression, and who had lost his job as an top microwave engineer after his relationship with Aroonjaratsang dissolved.
“He lost what he thought was the love of his life,” Mulligan said. “The fact is this man had not formed clear plans, but was acting in the depths of darkness and despondency.”
Mulligan suggested Goldberg was motivated by recovering some $30,000 he had given Aroonjaratsang for her family in Thailand. The engineer could have easily shot the pair, the defense lawyer said, but did not.
“In the darkness of that street in Saanich, Mr. Goldberg brought a handgun with a laser sight, but he did not shoot them,” Mulligan said. “He did not come there to execute a plan to kill them. He engaged them in an awkward, frightening conversation trying to recover money he lost.
“His was a mixed up, terribly troubled mind, a despondent mind who contemplated his own end. It’s not the same as a hitman-type case where there is a planned, deliberate process.”
Goldberg has been held at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Saanich for three years and seven months, the longest or one of the longest serving inmates at the remand centre. Mulligan said that “extraordinarily long time” in a remand should be worth eight years of prison time, based on the practice of awarding double time for time served.
Mulligan submitted to the judge that Goldberg should only be sentenced long enough for Canada Border Services Agency to deport him back to the U.S.
“He has in this case served all the time he should serve in prison,” Mulligan said. “He has spent a long time in remand. I’m not trying to minimize (his crimes), but I say it’s enough.”
Goldberg, shackled at the legs but wearing a blue dress shirt and a tie, took notes during proceedings and was later revealed to be reading a technical manual on microwave theory.
Given a chance to speak, Goldberg didn’t directly apologize for the crimes he was convicted of, although he said there are a “great many things I am sorry about.” He thanked his friends and supporters in Canada and the U.S., and maintained he never intended to shoot Aroonjaratsang and Walsh.
“I didn’t try to kill these people. I hurts to hear it. It’s not accurate,” Goldberg told the court. “I have learned a horrible lesson the hard way.”
Goldberg’s sentencing hearing continues Friday morning in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria.