Man accused of shooting girlfriend testifies

Leslie Edward Smith

August 27, 2010 3:58:16 PM PDT
There was more drama Friday in the trial of a Wake County man accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Sixty-three-year-old Leslie "Lester" Smith is on trial for shooting 48-year-old Jaquelyn Larue Gore in his Wake Forest home July 26, 2009.

Smith's attorney has argued an unusual 'suicide by boyfriend' defense - telling jurors Gore actually wanted Smith to shoot her.

He put Smith on the stand Friday to talk about Gore's history of alcoholism and suicide attempts in an attempt to bolster that claim.

Smith talked for two and a half hours - telling jurors he wished he was the one who died.

"I feel horrible. I'd much rather it had been me. And I still do," he said.

Smith admitted he shot Gore.

He said he was under extreme emotional stress at the time. He had just lost his job of 20 years, was facing a possible cancer diagnosis, and was once again feuding with Gore.

He says he came home to find that she was selling his beloved guitar collection, and she told him that there was nothing he could do about - then started coming at him screaming.

"When she started coming towards me, I took the gun out of the holster and pushed the safety off and pointed it in the direction she was coming," said Smith.

But the prosecutor jumped on that testimony - trying to prove premeditation.

"Why did you take the safety off?" asked prosecutor Colon Willoughby.

"Can't fire a gun with the safety on," Smith replied.

"So at that point you had decided that you were gonna need to fire the gun?" asked Willoughby.

"No sir, I told you I was scared. I was reacting. I was not thinking," said Smith.

In a taped confession the day of the shooting, Smith told an investigator that when Gore got close he "put the gun on her" and pulled the trigger.

He says a month later his memory improved.

"Sorta dawned on me - I think she tripped on one of the guitar cases and was falling forward," said Smith.

The DA hammered Smith on that point - saying he found it interesting that his story changed after he talked with an attorney and a psychiatrist.

This case will likely wrap up early next week.

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