MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Jurors heard some riveting audio Thursday in the murder trial of Neal Zumberge.
He’s the New Brighton homeowner accused of shooting his neighbor to death in a long-simmering dispute over feeding deer.
Zumberge is accused of killing Todd Stevens in May 2014, and blamed Stevens and his girlfriend, Jennifer Cleven, for spreading Lyme disease by feeding deer in their front yard.
On Thursday, prosecutors played a gripping recording of Zumberge’s 30-minute phone call to a 911 dispatcher.
As police and paramedics tended to Stevens, lying without a pulse at the front steps to his home, his accused killer was across the street, on the phone to police.
In the recording, when the dispatcher asks, “Did you do the shooting?” Zumberge replies, “I’m not going to say anything.”
She keeps Zumberge on the line for another 30 minutes, eventually giving the call to a commander, who persuades Zumberge to come outside and surrender.
When asked about the gun, Zumberge says, “It’s a shotgun,” adding, “It’s in the basement.”
He assures the dispatcher, “I’m not going to shoot police, they can go help the guy.”
He adds, “I’m not surrendering to New Brighton officers … They’re a bunch of kooks.”
Zumberge mistrusted local police for their handling of the ongoing dispute with Stevens.
“People don’t listen to me around here,” he says in the recording.
Zumberge’s wife, Paula, was in a heated argument with Cleven, Steven’s girlfriend, just moments before the shooting.
He told the dispatcher he was alone in the house with his dog.
“My wife had nothing to do with this,” he says in the recording. “I told her to get in the car and go. She’s not an accomplice.”
Paula Zumberge was acquitted a year ago.
It’s looking like the state may call its final witness as early as Friday afternoon. Then the defense will present its case, claiming he acted in self defense.
In the recording, Zumberge makes reference to Stevens having guns and having made past threats to kill the Zumberges.
There has been a lot of questioning of witnesses about what they saw on Steven’s belt that night.
He was known to wear a large case for his cellphone, but not a gun.