The San Miguel man accused of shooting a woman he impregnated in 2009 testified Wednesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court that the gun went off in a tussle between the two.
But prosecutor Andy Cadena cited statements Steven Smith made to police after his arrest in the Nov. 6, 2009, incident indicating he shot Gina Stanko without any physical provocation. In the fourth day of his trial on attempted murder charges, Smith testified that he brought a gun to Stanko’s home to protect himself.
He has alleged that Stanko physically assaulted him over the span of several months with pushes, slaps and blows that left marks on his body. The abuse continued after Stanko became pregnant and wanted Smith to take financial responsibility for the child, he said.
Smith said he went to Stanko’s home to plead with her to leave him and his fiancee alone, but he never made that pitch, he acknowledged.
Stanko taunted Smith that night for looking at the TV and not her, made an insulting remark about his fiancee and then said she wanted him to give her some “lovin’, ” Smith said.
Cadena pointed to Smith’s statements to police — he said he told her to lie on the couch to give her “some lovin’ ” — and suggested Smith’s actions were meant to get Stanko in a vulnerable position so he could shoot her.
Smith said she eventually came at him and started hitting him when he flinched and squeezed the trigger.
“She grabbed the gun first and then hit me on the forearm,” Smith said in court. “That’s when she was shot in the hand.”
Stanko was struck by bullets in the hand, chin and skull but survived the shooting.
Cadena spent much of the day questioning Smith about what he suggested are contradictions in his testimony and the transcript of his police interview.
Cadena emphasized that Smith told police “his blood was boiling” before the shooting and told detectives that he fired the gun before she charged at him.
The police transcript of his interviews states Smith told police “I pulled it and that’s when it — it went all the way back cocked and —and fired and, uh, and then she started coming at me and I was like backing up like whoa, whoa, whoa, um, and I know a couple — that’s when the couple rounds went off. I was all trying to dodge and she was coming at me.”
Cadena said that nowhere in the taped interview does Smith say that she was hitting him as the gun fired. But Smith pointed to his statements that she was “trying to, like, kick and swat” at him.
Cadena also asked Smith what he meant when he told police, “I lost it and tried to hurt somebody.”
“I didn’t go there with the intention of anyone getting hurt,” Smith answered.
Cadena asked Smith why he didn’t show police marks on his arms that he has testified Stanko caused. He said that nobody asked him about it.
During his questioning, Smith’s lawyer, Ilan Funke-Bilu, asked his client why he didn’t tell police the full, accurate story of the incident — which didn’t include all the details in his testimony.
“I’m a nice guy,” Smith said. “I don’t want to make anybody look bad.”