ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Neal Zumberge has been found guilty on all counts in the murder of his New Brighton, Minnesota neighbor, Todd Stevens. Zumberge stared straight ahead, seemingly into space, as the verdict was read.
'I hope you rot in hell'
Minutes after the guilty verdict, Jennifer Cleven tore into her former neighbor. Cleven was injured in the May 5, 2014 shooting that took the life of her long-time boyfriend.
“Justice was served for Todd today. But we should not be here today. We should not be here,” Cleven said. “I have nothing to say to that man. All I could say is, I don’t forgive you. I will never forgive you. I hope you rot in hell.”
A Ramsey County jury deliberated less than 3 hours Tuesday, finding the 58-year old guilty on 4 counts, including first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. The verdict comes with a mandatory life prison sentence.
“He got what he deserved,” said Kim Higgins, a cousin of Todd Stevens. “Nobody deserves to be gunned down and shot for no reason.”
Zumberge and his attorneys had tried to convince the jury that the shooting was a case of self-defense -- so-called “mistake” by a fearful husband, supposedly scared that his wife was in mortal danger during a verbal neighborhood confrontation.
The two households had been feuding for years, with much of the strain related to Stevens and Cleven feeding deer on their property. But in the end, the state prevailed.. Prosecutor Anna Christie, in her closing argument, called Zumberge’s actions “cold-blooded murder.”
“He showed no emotion,” Cleven said. “He never showed emotion except for hate and meanness. He was a very mean man who hated a lot of people.”