A Ramsey County jury has found Neil Zumberge guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder, in the shooting death of his New Brighton neighbor last year, KARE 11 reports.
Zumberge, 58, of New Brighton, was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder for the May 5, 2014, killing of Todd Stevens and the wounding of Stevens’ girlfriend, Jennifer Damerow-Cleven, who lived across the street from him. The two families had been feuding for years.
Attorneys on both sides presented their closing arguments Tuesday morning before turning the case over to the jury, according to KSTP.
The defense hoped to prove that Zumberge was acting in self-defense when he fired the fatal shots. The prosecution argued he had planned the act ahead of time.
Zumberge testified on his own behalf Monday morning, telling jurors he shot his neighbor, Todd Stevens, last year because he thought Stevens was going to harm Zumberge’s wife, Paula.
On the evening of the shooting, Damerow-Cleven and Paula Zumberge were arguing with each other in front of the Stevens house when the men came out of their respective homes. Zumberge brought a shotgun.
Zumberge testified Monday he fired the gun at Stevens because he believed Stevens was threatening Paula. He said he could read Stevens’ lips and saw him say “I’m going to kill that [expletive] [expletive],” according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Prosecutor Anna Christie said in her closing argument that Zumberge prepared his shotgun and set it by the window, and noted that Stevens was shot more than once from nearly 150 feet away, according to KSTP.
“This was not a whoopsie,” Christie told the jurors.
A feud between the two families had been simmering for years.
Prosecutors say the Zumberges were upset by the deer feeders on Stevens’ property and blamed the animals for a case of Lyme disease Neal Zumberge said he’d contracted. The disease is spread through deer ticks.
Last year Damerow-Cleven had obtained a restraining order against Neal Zumberge, who she said was harassing her.
Damerow-Cleven had called police before the shooting to report that the Zumberges’ adult son, Jacob, had threatened to kill her and Stevens, authorities say.
Paula Zumberge was acquitted in August 2014 of several charges in connection with the case, including aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Prosecutors claimed that she had helped her husband plan the attack and encouraged him to keep shooting.
Neal Zumberge's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 14, according to KARE 11.