MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Ramsey County Judge has found Paula Zumberge not guilty of charges stemming from last May’s fatal neighborhood dispute in New Brighton.
Zumberge was cleared of all counts suggesting she encouraged her husband, Neal Zumberge, to keep shooting at neighbors who were feeding deer.
That shooting killed Todd Stevens and seriously wounded his long-time girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven.
The state’s case against Paula Zumberge relied largely on the words she allegedly spoke, as her husband was firing off four rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun.
Damerow-Cleven testified that Paula Zumberge was egging on her husband, saying “shoot, shoot, keep shooting.”
But Judge Leslie Marek’s order said the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In her order, Marek wrote: “None of the witnesses heard any words of encouragement spoken by the defendant to Neal Zumberge.”
Damerow-Cleven, who was shot in the May 5 attack, said Tuesday that justice had not been served.
Sitting outside the home she shared with Todd Stevens, Damerow-Cleven voiced displeasure with the not-guilty finding.
“I do not agree with the verdict,” she said. “I was there and saw what happened, and like I said I stand behind my testimony.”
Marek wrote in her order that Damerow-Cleven’s testimony “differed between direct and cross examination,” adding that Paula Zumberge, “did not play a significant role in the dispute.”
Defense attorney Gary Wolf, who represented Paula Zumberge, said the facts simply didn’t add up.
“There just was no proof, certainly beyond a reasonable doubt that Paula Zumberge knew this was going to happen, or said those words,” he said.
Paula Zumberge spent over 100 days in the Ramsey County jail from the time of her arrest to the trial. She was released around noon on Tuesday, after the order was filed.
Meantime, Neal Zumberge, who is accused of firing the fatal shots, will stand trial on November 10.
Paula Zumberge will likely be called to the stand to testify — something she didn’t have to do in her own defense.