Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Trial begins in fatal feud over deer feeding

ST. PAUL — A trial began Monday for a woman accused of encouraging her husband to shoot their neighbor, and the case could center on what — if anything — she was saying at the moment shots were fired.

Paula Zumberge, 50, of New Brighton is accused of threatening her neighbor's life, then egging on her husband to open fire. Charges against her include aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Her husband, 57-year-old Neal Zumberge, is charged separately with shooting and killing Todd G. Stevens and wounding Jennifer Damerow-Cleven in May. No trial date has been set in his case.

Neal Zumberge, 57, blamed his Lyme disease on Stevens' practice of feeding deer in their backyard, investigators said. The neighbors had a series of mild confrontations, but Damerow-Cleven testified that things escalated when the Zumberges' son approached her at a bingo event.

Jacob Zumberge was angry because his father was dying of Lyme disease, she said. She tried talking to him but Jacob Zumberge said "he was going to kill us and burn our house down," she said.


She called police, who arrested him May 5. Damerow-Cleven testified that when she arrived home that evening, Paula Zumberge swore at her for putting her son in jail.

At some point Neal Zumberge came out with a shotgun, and Stevens, 46, also stepped outside. Zumberge opened fire, and Stevens turned to his girlfriend and said, "He shot me," she testified.

Damerow-Cleven initially told investigators that Paula Zumberge was shouting, "Shoot, shoot, keep shooting!"

But under cross-examination she acknowledged that Paula Zumberge instead said, "Shoot 'em, shoot 'em." Then she acknowledged not telling police that information, and said it was her sister who wrote down that phrase after the shooting as she accompanied Damerow-Cleven to court to get a restraining order.

During opening statements, defense attorney Gary Wolf said no other witness would testify to having heard Paula Zumberge say any such thing.

The case is being decided by a Ramsey County judge after Zumberge waived her right to a jury trial.

What To Read Next
Get Local