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A Gainesville man asked a judge if he could 'be there' for the person he shot. This is the sentence he received
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Clinton Smith and attorney Rob McNeill speak Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Hall County Superior Court during sentencing for Smith's guilty verdict of reckless conduct and aggravated assault. - photo by Scott Rogers

A day after being convicted in the shooting of his girlfriend, Clinton Smith asked Superior Court Judge Jason Deal for a way to keep his job and “be there for the person that I did hurt.”

Smith was found guilty Wednesday, May 11, on two counts of reckless conduct and aggravated assault in the Aug. 9 shooting of his girlfriend, Kristina Rosenberg.

Before he was sentenced, Smith told the judge he deeply cares for Rosenberg and her daughter.

Deal listened to Smith then gave him a 20-year sentence Thursday, May 12, with the first 3-and-a-half years in prison and the rest on probation. Smith will get roughly four months of credit for time previously served.

Smith was originally charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and aggravated assault.

The jury was allowed to consider lesser offenses of reckless conduct and pointing a gun at another for each of the three counts.

Roughly five hours after leaving the courtroom for deliberations, the jury convicted Smith on two counts of reckless conduct instead of attempted murder and aggravated battery. They also found him guilty of aggravated assault.

Smith testified in his defense Tuesday, May 10, saying he had the loaded revolver because he wanted to scare away a dog to prevent it from fighting with his dogs.

Smith encountered Rosenberg on the porch of their Cool Springs Road home, as Smith said he wanted to check if Rosenberg’s daughter was still there. 

Rosenberg testified Monday, May 9, that she moved the gun and that she felt her pulling the gun down made Smith’s hand hit the trigger.

The prosecution, however, brought witnesses to show that Rosenberg was originally less sure that the shooting was accidental and that the gun would be less likely to fire unintentionally.

Assistant District Attorney Patrick Shuler asked for all of the counts to run consecutively for a 22-year sentence with 20 years in custody.

“I feel like it’s what’s deserved in this case, and I feel like that is the punishment that Mr. Smith has earned for himself,” Shuler said.

Defense attorney Rob McNeill said he felt that his client was overcharged and that the jury returned a compromise verdict.

Placing his hands like four walls around Smith’s head, McNeill said the biggest prison his client is in is inside his head.

During his testimony, Smith said he and Rosenberg were drug users though he was trying to get clean.

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Clinton Smith and attorney Rob McNeill, left, confer Thursday, May 12, 2022, following Hall County Superior Court Judge Jason Deal's sentencing for Smith's guilty verdict of reckless conduct and aggravated assault. - photo by Scott Rogers

McNeill suggested for Smith to be in Drug Court and be in Deal’s direct supervision. The defense attorney thought Smith “could be the poster child for the Drug Court.”

“You’ve got the power to shape this man’s life and make him a productive (citizen),” McNeill said to Deal.

Shuler said Smith may need substance abuse treatment, but those services need to be given outside of the community.

“He needs to be treated in the prison system where he cannot do harm to another human being,” Shuler said.

Deal said he didn’t think the case warranted 20 years in prison, but it’s also not a case where he would feel comfortable giving probation only.

“Throughout the trial, I just thought the evidence doesn’t seem to be gelling other than Mr. Smith was not so much malicious but just foolish,” the judge said.

Deal told Smith he believed Smith was being genuine.

“I think when that gun went off, you did everything you could to fix what had happened,” Deal said. 

After Smith finished his statement to the court, Deal warned him that “no relationship is ever going to work if y’all are using drugs.”

Deal recommended Smith for the Re-Entry Accountability Court Transition program, a program that allows for substance abuse and vocational training, or a residential substance abuse treatment program.

Smith can have no violent contact with Rosenberg nor “harass, threaten, intimidate, physically or verbally abuse or harm” her.

Smith cannot have a gun, and he will enter a 12-month residential treatment after his time behind bars.

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Assistant District Attorney Patrick Shuler, left, speaks to Hall County Superior Court Judge Jason Deal Thursday, May 12, 2022, during sentencing for Clinton Smith. - photo by Scott Rogers