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Jilted scientist was a broken man, court told

May 09 2012

David Ross Goldberg was a broken man with mixed-up, disordered and despondent thoughts. He'd lost his job and what he thought was the love of his life, his defence lawyer told his sentencing hearing in B.C.

Supreme Court Tuesday.

"But even at the last moment, in the darkness of that Saanich street, when he had wrongly brought his handgun with the laser sight, he did not shoot his ex-fiancée and her husband," said Robert Mulligan. "If his simple plan was to go and kill them, he could have done that. He didn't."

Last October, the 40 year-old American rocket scientist was convicted of the attempted murder of Tatcha Aroonjaratsang and her husband, Jeremy Walsh, outside their Saanich home in 2008.

Justice Geoffrey Gaul found Goldberg had the specific intent to murder when he aimed the gun at the young couple and said he was going to kill them.

Goldberg was almost killed in the ensuing altercation, in which he was stabbed six times. He has been in custody since.

Goldberg and Aroonjaratsang met online in July 2007 and became engaged that September. Following Thai custom, he gave her mother gold bars worth about $30,000. In early 2008, Aroonjaratsang stopped returning his emails and phone calls. Goldberg became ill and lost his job.

He emailed her obsessively. In July, Aroonjaratsang told him she was married.

On Sept. 24, 2008, Goldberg was waiting with a loaded handgun outside the couple's house. He moved the laser between their foreheads, asking: "Do you know you are going to die tonight?"

Prosecutor Nils Jensen asked for a sentence of 10 to 17 years.

The victims were traumatized by what happened and court-ordered reports show Goldberg has little insight into the harm he has caused, Jensen said. In addition, he has not accepted responsibility and shows little remorse.

"The doctor indicated Mr. Goldberg is not likely to make progress until he accepts his own culpability," Jensen said. "There is little assurance that Mr. Goldberg is able or willing to move beyond what motivated him in the first place to decide to murder Tatcha and Jeremy."

Mulligan said an appropriate sentence would be seven to 12 years. He asked for Goldberg's release in 30 days to give authorities time to arrange his deportation. It is expected he will be credited with seven years, three months for the time he has already spent in prison.

Mulligan objected to Jensen's portrayal of Goldberg's crimes as planned and deliberate.

"The ambivalence in his mind about what to do continued for a considerable period of time," he said.

"This was not a carefully formulated plan he carried with him to Victoria to execute- It's not the hitmantype case where there is planned and deliberate process."

After training the firearm on the couple, Goldberg engaged in an awkward, frightening conversation, trying to get back the money he had lost, said Mulligan. "He could have killed them; he didn't."

Gaul will deliver his senence on Friday.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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