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By Emanuella Grinberg, Court TV
Thursday, June 3, 2004 Posted: 11:25 AM EDT (1525 GMT)
(Court TV) — The chain of events leading up to the evening Gordon Jacobs fatally shot his wife began months before the shooting itself, his lawyer told 12 jurors in a West Palm Beach, Florida, courtroom Wednesday.
“To have an understanding of the events that occurred on April 18, 2002, you have to look at the man himself,” attorney Randall Berman told the six men and six women during his opening statement in the Florida businessman’s second-degree murder trial.
But after prosecutor Jeffery Jones gave the same jury a systematic rundown of the events surrounding Joan Jacobs’ death, including Gordon Jacob’s admission to a 911 operator that he had shot his wife, he said he was confident that those facts alone would be more than sufficient to convict Jacobs.
Neither Jacobs, 62, nor his attorney deny he shot Joan, 50, after a heated argument in their West Palm Beach home.
Jacobs claims he is not guilty by reason of insanity; he says he acted in a flash of psychosis provoked by stressful circumstances in his life combined with the side-effects of an antidepressant he was taking.
“Gordon Jacobs was going through an extremely stressful period in his life,” Berman said. “He had just lost his business and his wife was cheating on him with his best friend.”
Soon after the Jacobs’ jewelry business went under in late 2001, forcing the couple to sell their Cypress Island home, Berman said, Joan began an affair with the couple’s golfing buddy, Charles Steadman.
He claimed Steadman tried to manipulate Joan for the couple’s remaining $250,000 in assets from the sale of their home by convincing her to move in next door in his gated-community home with Gordon.
Berman claims the affair and Joan’s wish to leave her husband for Steadman was the topic of the argument they were having before he shot her.
He told her he would leave if she gave him $50,000 of their remaining assets from the sale of their home, according to police reports. Joan refused, the defense claims, because Steadman had already bilked her for most of the money, which was in her name.
Berman also accused Steadman of talking Joan into calling 911 to claim domestic abuse against her husband to decrease her culpability in potential divorce proceedings.
“My husband is attacking me,” Joan shrieked on the line to a West Palm Beach 911 operator before the line went dead.
When the 911 operator called back, Gordon Jacobs answered and abruptly hung up. Four minutes later he called back.
“I think I killed my wife,” Jacobs told the operator.
His statement to the 911 operator, along with similar statements to police who arrived at the scene to find Joan bleeding from the head as she lay on the den floor, make up the heart of the prosecution’s case.
When police asked Gordon what had happened to Joan, he simply replied, “I lost it.”
Berman claimed he would also introduce evidence that an antidepressant drug Gordon was taking is known to produce psychosis when the user has other mental health issues.
Jacobs has been in custody since the night of his arrest. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.