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Woman tormented alleged shooter, defense contends

A San Miguel man who allegedly shot a woman he was sleeping with testified Thursday that he was hounded and manipulated by her, and in one encounter, she forced herself upon him in a park.

Steven Smith, 27, was called to testify in San Luis Obispo Superior Court about his relationship with 35-year-old Gina Stanko. He’s accused of shooting Stanko in the head and hand with a 22-caliber gun on Nov. 6, 2009.

Before Judge John Trice called for the evening recess, Smith detailed a series of Stanko’s abusive remarks in an attempt to establish his mental anguish leading up to the shooting incident.

Smith testified that a friend introduced him to Stanko at the Crooked Kilt bar in Paso Robles nearly a year before the shooting incident.

She tracked him down on his MySpace account, Smith said, and they started talking online as friends.

Smith said his friends were telling him that Stanko wanted to “jump your bones” and that “she just wants to rape you.”

Smith, who had a girlfriend at the time, said he and Stanko eventually exchanged phone numbers and went to her home to watch television, and she asked for “a little kiss” before he left.

“I’m a man,” Smith said during questioning from his attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu. “I’m not a perfect man.”

Smith testified that the kiss led to unprotected sex. The next morning, Stanko sent him a text message that said they’d be “friends with benefits” with no emotional strings attached, and that she already had a boyfriend, he said.

Smith said that he didn’t tell people close to him about Stanko, including his girlfriend and father, because he felt bad about his actions.

“I felt pretty pathetic,” he testified.

Smith said Stanko demanded rapid text message responses from him, and if he put her off she’d often send profanity-laced insults, calling him a liar, dumb or a loser, he said.

Smith testified he went to Barney Schwartz Park one day with Stanko, and he wasn’t interested in becoming intimate with her, but she urged him to have sex, slapping him on the arm and trying to hit him in the face.

Smith said she ripped a hole in her shorts and grabbed at his pants and positioned herself on top of him, making it difficult for him to control what he was doing. A couple days later, she said she was pregnant.

In previous testimony, Stanko said that Smith came to her home months after trying to get him to take responsibility for their child and fired shots at her. Stanko’s teenage daughter testified she came downstairs and saw Smith fire a shot at her mother’s head.

Smith returns to the stand when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. today.

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