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Shooting victim testifies about rocky affair with suspect

The second day in the trial of a San Miguel man accused of shooting a woman pregnant with his child centered on the woman’s tearful testimony as a defense lawyer drilled her with questions.

Gina Stanko, 35, broke down at one point Wednesday in a San Luis Obispo Superior Court room when defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu questioned her about the shooting.

Ilan Funke-Bilu also questioned her about profanity-laced comments, including text messages that she’d directed at the defendant, Steven Smith.

Smith has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and burglary in the shooting of Stanko and their baby (unborn at the time) at her Paso Robles home Nov. 6, 2009.

Smith fired five shots, three of which struck Stanko in the skull, chin and hand, according to the prosecution.

The baby was proved to be Smith’s through a DNA test, and he was the only man Stanko was with at the time, she testified.

Funke-Bilu played in court a recorded phone message Stanko left Smith with numerous “f-bombs,” as the lawyer stated it, and derogatory language about Smith’s fiancee.

Smith was engaged at the time to a woman who was threatening to leave him because he’d impregnated Stanko.

Stanko also said during the cross-examination that if she’d seen Smith’s fiancee together with him, Stanko would have beaten her up or tried to do so.

Stanko testified that Smith lied to her by saying he had a female roommate but not a girlfriend or fiancee while Stanko and Smith had a relationship that was “just about sex” over the course of several weeks after they met at a bar in Paso Robles.

Stanko said she was angry because Smith wasn’t taking responsibility for their child. The baby was born six days after the shooting incident at her home.

That included Smith’s reluctance to pay her $25 during her pregnancy, which she said would have indicated his willingness to help her financially with the child, she said.

“I belittled Steven because he didn’t want to take responsibility for being the father,” Stanko said.

After more than an hour of detailed questioning about the turbulence in the relationship, Funke-Bilu asked Stanko to go over again the sequence of events the night of the shooting. Stanko then broke down and sobbed, which led Judge John Trice to call an early lunch recess.

Prosecutor Andy Cadena asked Stanko whether the insults went both ways, and whether “in all fairness” she may have lobbed more harsh words toward Smith. Stanko said that was accurate.

During testimony in the afternoon, Cadena called two Paso Robles police witnesses who responded to a dispatch shortly before midnight the night of the shooting.

One officer, Daniel Bigelow, said that while he was placing Smith into a patrol car before taking him to the police station, Smith said, “I can’t believe I just did that,” “I just snapped,” and “She harassed the heck out of me.” Bigelow also said he found a gun in Smith’s jacket, which was in his car.

Funke-Bilu asked Bigelow whether Smith explained exactly what he was referring to in his comments, and Bigelow said he didn’t.

The trial resumes at 10:30 a.m. today in Trice’s court.

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