Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Self-defense or premeditated? Trial opens in New Brighton neighbors' fatal feud

Author:

Did a New Brighton man who was feuding with his neighbor over deer feeding kill the man in self-defense or in a cold-blooded calculation?

A Ramsey County jury will spend the next few weeks considering that question, as they weigh the fate of Neal Zumberge.

As FOX 9 reports, Wednesday's opening statements in Zumberge's murder trial portrayed him alternately as a man protecting himself and his wife from a neighbor he thought was drunk and possibly armed ... or as a killer who carried out the murder he'd planned.

Zumberge (right) is charged with first and second-degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting death of Todd Stevens in May of 2014. Stevens' girlfriend, Jennifer Cleven, lived with Stevens in the home across the street from Zumberge's and was injured in the shooting.

Cleven and Zumberge's wife, Paula, were arguing across the street when the men came out of their respective homes; Zumberge with a shotgun.

WCCO reports that after defense lawyers said Zumberge thought Stevens was reaching toward a holster, Cleven testified that Stevens was unarmed and wore a large cell phone pouch around his waist.

WCCO says Cleven testified that she and Stevens had a good relationship with the Zumberge family for years, but it changed after Neal Zumberge lost his job.

Zumberge sent a letter to neighbors in 2012 complaining about Stevens' habit of putting out food for deer, saying that he'd contracted Lyme disease from deer ticks, the Star Tribune reports.

The following year animal parts and carcasses began showing up in their yard, leading Cleven and Stevens to get a restraining order against Zumberge, the newspaper says.

After defense lawyers argued Wednesday that Stevens had been vulgar and threatening toward Zumberge and frequently drank in his yard, prosecutors questioned a young couple who lived next door to Stevens and testified he had helped them with yard work and was typically more friendly when he drank, the Star Tribune reports.

WCCO says his lawyers indicated Zumberge will take the stand in his trial, which is expected to last two or three weeks.

Next Up

Cam Talbot / Minnesota Wild

Talbot leads Wild to 7th straight victory

The Wild opened a four-game road trip with a win in Edmonton.

Paige Bueckers

Paige Bueckers out 6-8 weeks with injury

The Hopkins native was hurt during Sunday's matchup with Notre Dame.

Anthony Barr

Vikings' defense could get reinforcements against Steelers

Several starters could return for a critical Thursday night matchup.

Mercer ATV accident fundraiser

High schooler in coma, fighting for his life after ATV crash

Family members found the teen on the ground and unresponsive.

Nolan Sprengeler - muskie record - nov 2021

Angler officially breaks 64-year-old state muskie record

The muskellunge he caught on Nov. 22 weighed a whopping 55 pounds, 14 ounces.

coronavirus, ICU, covid-19 hospital, doctor

4th teen COVID-19 death reported in MN is the 2nd in as many weeks

All four teenage COVID-19 deaths in the state have been reported in the past two months.

Anil Menon

Minnesota native named to NASA's new astronaut class

When he's done training, he could be sent to the space station or the moon.

broadway pizza interior facebook

Gallery: Original Broadway Pizza auctioning off everything

Get your hands on some classic Broadway signage, train-themed decor and more.

art shanty projects

Art Shanty Projects to return to Lake Harriet this winter

The festival has made some creative changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

flickr - gov tim walz - mn senate dfl

After 'extraordinary' revenue growth, MN projects $7.7B surplus

But finance officials note there is still "significant risk" due to economic uncertainty.

Related