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New Brighton man convicted of killing his neighbor admits he lied, gets life in prison

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Before a New Brighton man convicted of fatally shooting his neighbor following a years-long dispute was sentenced to life in prison without parole, he apologized and admitted he lied during his trial.

Neil Zumberge was found guilty last month in the May 5, 2014, shooting death of his New Brighton neighbor, 46-year-old Todd Stevens. He also injured Stevens' girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, 49, in the shooting.

In addition to the life sentence, Judge Margaret Marrinan sentenced Zumberge to serve 15 years in prison for the attempted first-degree murder charge, which will be served consecutively with his life sentence, the Star Tribune says.

Zumberge had admitted to the shooting, but claimed self defense during his trial, while prosecutors said Zumberge had a grudge against Stevens because of previous disputes, including how he feed deer in his yard.

At Wednesday's sentencing hearing, Zumberge apologized and also said he lied on the witness stand about some facts involving the shooting, telling the court he was "coached."

"I'd like to tell the truth and possibly start the healing process and make peace with God. The victim's family is entitled to this," Zumberge told the court, according to the Pioneer Press.

"The shooting didn't happen like I said, that the gun kept going off," Zumberge said, the newspaper notes. "That's not true. That I saw him reaching for his cellphone which I thought was a gun, that's really not the truth. That was the result of coaching I received."

He also said he didn't intend to shoot Damerow-Cleven, the Pioneer Press says.

He also apologized in a jailhouse interview with the Star Tribune on Tuesday, saying: “I’m sorry for his family and my family, and all the hurt that I’ve caused. It was my fault, too. I was being pigheaded.”

Zumberge plans to appeal his life sentence. FOX 9 says Zumberge has also made it clear that he wants to fire his attorney because he didn't feel he got the representation he needed.

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