Defense disputes 'Keep shooting' claim as trial begins in New Brighton

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A survivor of a shooting in New Brighton testified Monday that Paula Zumberge (right) urged her husband to keep shooting on the May evening when Todd Stevens was killed. But Zumberge's lawyer raised doubts about the surivor's credibility, suggesting she was exaggerating.

Those descriptions were provided in accounts of the opening day of Zumberge's trial before a Ramsey County judge. The Pioneer Press says Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, who was wounded in the shooting that killed Stevens, testified that she heard Paula Zumberge yelling "Shoot him, shoot him" as Neal Zumberge fired a shotgun from the porch across the street from Stevens' home.

Paula Zumberge was charged in Ramsey County District Court in May with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. As KARE 11 reports, prosecutors on Monday added new counts of assault to the charges against Zumberge. Her husband, Neal Zumberge, 57, is charged with second-degree murder with intent, and attempted second-degree murder.

Long simmering feud

The fatal shooting on May 5 reportedly grew out of a feud that had been simmering for years and revolved around the feeding of deer.

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.

Words, credibility disputed

According to the criminal complaint, Damerow-Cleven told investigators that as she crawled into her home to call the police, she heard Paula Zumberge yelling, “Shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting,” as her husband continued to fire the shotgun at her boyfriend.

The Star Tribune reports Zumberge's attorney pressed Damerow-Cleven on that point under cross examination Monday and she acknowledged the exact words provided in a request for a restraining order the next day were "Shoot 'em, shoot 'em."

According to the newspaper, defense attorney Gary Wolf also noted that Damerow-Cleven had made no mention of Paula Zumberge's behavior on the night of the shooting, but rather added that to her account the following day.

Wolf then asked “Could it be that you’re so hurt and angry about the situation … that you’re simply exaggerating to punish the entire family?”, which Damerow Cleven denied, the Star Tribune says.

Paula Zumberge waived her right to a jury trial, so testimony is being heard by Ramsey County District Judge Lezlie Ott Marek, the Pioneer Press reports.

KSTP says Neal Zumberge is expected to testify in his wife's case later this week and a ruling from the judge is likely before the end of the month.

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