Judge to decide fate of wife in New Brighton neighbor shooting


A judge will decide the fate of a New Brighton woman accused of urging her husband to keep shooting their neighbor after a long-simmering feud boiled over last May.

Paula Zumberge, 50, is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and two counts of second degree assault for allegedly encouraging her husband to "shoot, shoot, keep shooting" as he allegedly fired away at his neighbors, Todd G. Stevens and his longtime girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven.

Stevens was killed and Damerow-Cleven was injured.

The fatal shooting on May 5 reportedly grew out of a feud that revolved around the feeding of deer.

Paula Zumberge's husband, Neal, 57, is charged with second-degree murder with intent, and attempted second-degree murder.

The trial came to a surprising end Wednesday after Paula Zumberge's lawyer, Gary Wolf, told the judge that neither she nor her husband would take the stand in the defense's case.

This came after portions of a highly-anticipated surveillance video that captured the fatal shooting was played in court. The video showed Paula Zumberge before and after the shooting, and her leaving the home in a car, but little else is clear, FOX 9 says.

Wolf later said there was enough reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case to convince him that Paula and Neal Zumberge didn't need to testify, the Star Tribune says.

Wolf says Damerow-Cleven lied on the witness stand and was acting out of vengeance by accusing Paula Zumberge of telling her husband keep shooting at them.

Prosecutors argued that the Zumberges hatched a plan to lure Stevens and Damerow-Cleven outside so Neal Zumberge could shoot them, KARE 11 reports. Prosecutors say their plan called for Paula Zumberge to be out of the line of fire and that she would then escape the scene so she wouldn't be held responsible, the station notes.

Paula Zumberge waived the right to a trial by jury, so judge Lezlie Ott-Marek will decide the case. She expects to reach a verdict within the next week.

Long-simmering feud

The fatal shooting and pending murder trial reportedly grew out of a feud that had been simmering for years between the neighbors, who lived across the street from one another.

The complaint against the Zumberges says they were upset by deer feeders on Stevens’ property and blamed the animals for a case of Lyme disease Neal Zumberge said he’d contracted. Last year Damerow-Cleven had obtained a restraining order against Neal Zumberge, who she said was harassing her.

Damerow-Cleven had called police the week before the shooting to report that the Zumberges' son, Jacob, had threatened to kill her and Stevens, authorities say.

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