NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (KMSP) - From day one prosecutors called this a case of cold-blooded murder and on Tuesday a jury agreed, and one of the most critical pieces of evidence that convinced them was surveillance video from the victim’s home that showed how the shooting unfolded.
In the foreground, you can make out Todd Stevens’ girlfriend, Jennifer Cleven, coming home on the evening of May 5, 2014.
Across the street is Paula Zumberge, Neal Zumberge’s wife storming down her driveway. She gets to the edge of the street. Paula is angry about a recent episode involving the two households, and she appears to be berating Cleven.
On the left side of the Zumberge house, you can make out a pixelated Neal Zumberge crawl out a basement window with a loaded shotgun. He peeks around for a few seconds, steps out, and opens fire. Stevens is killed, Cleven injured, Paula flees, Zumberge returns to his house and is later arrested.
Investigators photographed the murder weapon in the Zumberge home, a 12-gauge semiautomatic weapon. Zumberge said it just kept going off and that he didn’t mean to shoot four times. Jurors also looked at Todd Stevens’ belt from the night of the shooting, the black phone clip visible. Zumberge’s defense team tried to argue he thought he was some kind of gun holster and that Stevens was threatening Zumberge’s wife when he stepped out from his house in the middle of the verbal confrontation. Finally, evidence included one of the letters Zumberge penned to neighbors in the years before he killed Stevens focused on his anger over deer feeding in the neighborhood.
It took the Ramsey County jury less than three hours to convict Zumberge of first-degree murder.
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