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'All I was concerned about was Kristina.' Man testifies in his trial on attempted murder of his girlfriend
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Clinton Smith appears in Hall County Superior Court Monday, May 9, 2022, for his trial for attempted murder. Smith is accused of shooting Kristina Rosenberg at their Cool Springs Road home. - photo by Scott Rogers

When Clinton Smith pulled up Aug. 9 to his Cool Springs Road home, he heard his dogs raising hell.

Smith said he has had problems with other dogs coming into the yard and fighting with his dogs.

The Gainesville man grabbed his revolver that he always keeps for protection and clicked it over to the rat shot cartridge, a round with small pellets.

Smith, taking the stand as the last witness in his trial for attempted murder of his girlfriend, Kristina Rosenberg, said he was going to shoot the gun at the other dog. He said he believed that would not hurt the dog from a far range but scare the dogs back to their respective homes.

Smith said he walked toward the house because he was unsure if his girlfriend’s daughter was still there. Rosenberg had a birthday party for her daughter at the house earlier that day.

Catch up

Day 1: The victim testifies

“All I wanted to do before I shot that gun was go inside and ask if (Rosenberg’s daughter) was still here, because both her and her mama are terrified of guns,” Smith said on the stand in the second day of the trial before Judge Jason Deal in Hall County Superior Court.

Rosenberg testified Monday that she encountered Smith on the porch and moved the gun out of the way, saying she believed her “pulling it down made his hand hit the trigger.”

Smith testified his hand was on the trigger but that he did not pull it. He is facing charges of criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated battery and aggravated assaultl.

Smith’s voice wavered through many of his answers to defense attorney Rob McNeill, who has attempted to show the gun was unsafe.

Smith said he was not mad at Rosenberg, and he denied either of them was cheating.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Shuler asked Smith why the dog story never came up in any conversations with law enforcement. Smith said he was never asked. 

“All I was concerned about was Kristina,” Smith said. “There was never a point when anybody asked me why I had a gun in my hand that was loaded.”

The prosecution brought a number of witnesses Tuesday, including medical professionals and Hall County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jerry Phillips, who painted a different picture from the one Rosenberg painted in her testimony the previous day.

Multiple witnesses who spoke with Rosenberg in the hospital said the woman was unsure if the shooting was accidental. 

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Richard Sinyard took the stand as Shuler showed test fire videos of the revolver.

Officers hit the hammer of the revolver multiple times with a baton to see if it would come forward and strike the revolver’s firing pin, which would cause the gun to shoot.

The prosecution wanted to demonstrate the gun would not fire without a trigger pull, and the videos showed that the hammer also had to be fully cocked to fire.

Sinyard said the gun was damaged and in poor condition, clarifying that those problems would make the gun less likely to fire.

The investigator said it would take roughly 3.5 pounds of trigger pressure to shoot the gun.

The defense called its own firearms expert in Chris Robinson.

Robinson said he was previously able to perform a trigger pull analysis on the revolver where it took less than a pound of pressure, but he was unable to recreate it in court Tuesday.

“If two people are struggling over this gun, it’s going to go off,” Robinson said. “There’s no doubt about it. So it could have been a complete accident.”

Robinson called the baton strikes on the revolver “completely inappropriate,” saying it was not the proper way to perform that type of test.

Deal asked the jury to return at 9 a.m. Wednesday to hear closing arguments and his instructions before entering deliberations.