Victim who was shot, disfigured testifies at Lundberg's sentencing

2012-07-18T11:43:00Z 2013-07-08T17:14:26Z Victim who was shot, disfigured testifies at Lundberg's sentencingBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A woman who was shot in the head by Crystal Lee Lundberg in 2010 told Lundberg on Wednesday that she had failed.

"You missed," Lindsey Marie Smith said. "Meaning, I think we know what you were there for that day and that was not accomplished."

Smith spoke before District Judge Russell Fagg sentenced Lundberg to 35 years in state prison, with 10 years suspended.

Smith apologized for whatever she had done to upset Lundberg and forgave her for the shooting.

Smith spent several months in a coma after the shooting, had brain tissue removed and underwent numerous medical procedures and treatments.

"I feel what you did was a very selfish thing," Smith said. "You have destroyed my life in so many ways."

After slowly approaching the bench with the help of a cane in one hand and Deputy County Attorney Ed Zink holding her other arm, she testified that she has nightly seizures, takes numerous medications and undergoes continual therapy. She said her children have nightmares and dislike sitting the back seats of cars because of the shooting.

In an agreement reached in March, Lundberg pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, enhanced because she used a weapon, and a felony tampering charge.

The deal called for prosecutors to ask for the sentence Fagg imposed, and included dismissal of attempted murder, tampering and criminal endangerment charges.

Police arrested Lundberg after the Dec. 10, 2010, shooting of Smith, whose last name was then Schmaing, in South Billings during a gunfight at a storage facility on Underpass Avenue.

Lundberg shot Smith in the eye with a 0.22 caliber pistol from a pickup. Smith was sitting in a car in the parking lot with her husband and two children, according to charging documents.

When Fagg asked Lundberg if she had anything to say before sentencing, she tearfully read a prepared statement in which she said she shot in Smith's direction out of fear for her life but didn't actually mean to shoot her.

"I refuse to accept all the responsibility" for the shooting, she said.

She later added that "responsibility of the violence" lies with Smith for her actions leading up to the shooting, which Lundberg said included death threats and manipulation of others surrounding the shooting.

Smith's then-husband, Steven Schmaing, told investigators that he watched Lundberg lean across the driver’s side of a pickup truck pulled up next to the passenger side of their car and fire a single shot at them with a pistol.

He said he fired five shots in return as the pickup sped off. Nobody was injured from his shots.

When Fagg asked Smith why the shooting happened, she replied, "Honestly, I think it was about a boy."

But Zink said there was more to it than that.

"This case is more than about a boy," he said. "It's perhaps about what Lindsey knew about that boy."

Court records filed in March indicate that the shooting may have been an attempt to keep Smith from talking about the August 2010 theft of 133 guns, rifles and shotguns from several freight trucks in Billings, believed to be the largest gun heist in Montana history.

The documents say that Smith, then separated from her husband, left Billings for California with a man named Lloyd John Romero and her two sons just a few hours after the gun theft.

They go on to say that Smith learned that Romero was involved in the thefts with several other people who came along on the California trip in another vehicle.

The group dropped off Smith and her children, but not before she learned they had traded the guns for drugs and money, according to court records.

Romero never returned to pick Smith up as he had promised and began a relationship with Lundberg. He also had some of Smith's property in the storage unit off of Underpass, the documents said.

"Lindsey told Romero in this time frame that he should keep her happy given all she knew," according to court documents.

However, Lundberg said during Wednesday's sentencing that Smith's belongings had been cleared out of the storage unit and accused her of being obsessed with Romero.

By the time of the shooting, Smith had reunited with her husband, and the two brought their children to Billings for Christmas.

She tried, with no luck, to contact Romero about getting her belongings out of storage and eventually contacted another man, Ben McChesney, who made the California trip.

Smith and Romero eventually began trading heated phone and text messages until the day of the shooting, when the two decided to meet at the storage unit so she could pick up her items, according to the documents.

Lundberg said Wednesday that Smith made death threats to both her and Romero during that time and that she came to the storage unit armed because she read one of Smith's texts as intent to harm her.

As Lundberg left a motel for the storage facility with Romero and several other people, she became upset, said she would shoot Smith and grabbed a pistol, witnesses told investigators.

She told Fagg that they arrived to find Schmaing pointing a gun at them and "fired a single shot with no other intention but to disperse" a hostile situation.

Schmaing is serving a three-year deferred sentence for his role. Romero was arrested about a month after the gun heist and is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

McChesney failed to appear for his trial for felony domestic abuse and drug possession. Authorities think he fled the country.

Lundberg's public defender, Matthew Claus, said she doesn't have any kind of history to prove that she's a danger and described the shooting as an aberration.

"She was motivated by the fear of the situation," he said.

During the sentencing, Fagg said he believed that Lundberg didn't mean to shoot Smith but that it didn't change the seriousness of the situation.

"You intended to shoot the gun and the consequences by your hand were dramatic," he said.

As for Smith, she said she prays for Lundberg and her family but wanted a tougher punishment.

"Her sentence, as opposed to my life sentence, I think isn't enough," Smith said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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