A saga of jilted love and attempted murder in Saanich came to an end today in B.C. Supreme Court after an American man was sentenced to two years, minus one day, in prison.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Gaul sentenced David Goldberg, 40, to nine and a half years for the attempted murder of Tatcha Aroonjaratsang and her husband Jeremy Walsh outside their Merriman Drive home four years ago.
But the judge awarded Goldberg seven and a half years of time served for spending the last three years and eight months held at the Vancouver Island Correctional Centre on Wilkinson Road, leaving a sum total of two years behind bars.
Another 18 months was tacked on for the conviction of making an explosive, but the sentences run concurrently.
Defense lawyer Robert Mulligan said his client could seek parole within a year. When released from prison, Goldberg will be deported immediately from Canada, likely to California.
Once released, Goldberg is prohibited from entering Canada for three years under his probation order, and Mulligan said it is likely Canadian Border Services Agency would prevent his client from ever entering Canada again.
“The question will be raised if there is any need to keep him here until the very last day because he will be deported to the U.S.,” Mulligan said outside the Victoria courthouse. “Mr. Goldberg is a good man who made a terrible mistake. I’m optimistic he will make a persuasive argument to the parole board.”
Mulligan called his client a “survivor.”
“His overall approach is like any human in custody,” he said. “He’d like to return to his friends and family. Naturally he’s disappointed. On the other hand its not an extraordinarily long period before he is released.”
Mulligan wouldn’t say if Goldberg would appeal is sentence, but noted he has 30 days to do so.
Crown counsel had argued for a sentence from 10 to 17 years and Mulligan suggested one month to allow the process for Goldberg to be deported. The judge found a middle ground.
In his arguments for sentencing, Gaul noted that Goldberg didn’t have a criminal record, suffered serious, life-threatening injuries in the Sept. 24, 2008 confrontation with the victims, and has a likelihood of restarting his career as an electrical engineer and a productive member of U.S. society.
On the other hand, Goldberg went to great lengths and deception to locate Aroonjaratsang, his former fiancée, after she had broken off their relationship in early 2008, and after he had given her family $30,000.
He bought a handgun and shotgun, and assembled equipment and materials that could be fashioned into a bomb, the judge pointed out. During the confrontation on Merriman Drive, Goldberg “cocked and pointed the firearm directly at (Aroonjaratsang and Walsh) and told them they were both going to die.”
The gun discharged three times during his struggle with the couple, and the engineer was stabbed six times and nearly died.
Despite a certain amount of planning for a violent confrontation, Gaul said he isn’t convinced that Goldberg committed first-degree attempted murder, that he didn’t have a clear plan in mind and believed he still could reconcile with his former girlfriend.
“He hadn’t made up his mind until he realized effort in speaking to Ms. Aroonjaratsang was futile,” Gaul said.
“It hadn’t crystalized until Sept. 24 when he confronted them in front of the house … He went to great lengths to prepare for killing, but his intentions were not clear until Sept. 24.”
Gaul admonished Goldberg for acting in an extremely reckless fashion by walking into a dispute with a loaded gun in a residential neighbourhood. The judge noted that during the trial, Aroonjaratsang and Walsh testified that they remain emotionally traumatized and fearful Goldberg will seek retribution.
“He brazenly entered a quiet neighbourhood in Saanich, brandished a firearm, pointed it at two people,” Gaul said. “Only by sheer luck no one was hit by any bullet and Mr. Goldberg didn’t face a murder charge.”
Mulligan said his client hasn’t contact either person since his arrest and new understands the consequences of his actions. In jail, the Cornell University graduate has kept up his studies of microwave engineering, the lawyer said.
“He his no longer in that dark, despondent, weakened state when these things happened.”