Woman shot by neighbor in New Brighton fears losing home

  • Article by: CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 10, 2014 - 6:17 AM

The victim called for justice as shooting suspect’s wife went in front of a judge.

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Jennifer Damerow Cleven

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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Her longtime boyfriend is dead, and her medical bills are mounting. Soon, Jennifer Cleven fears, she may also be homeless.

Nevertheless, Cleven showed up Friday in Ramsey County District Court to see the first court appearance for the woman charged with aiding and abetting in the shooting attack Monday night that killed her boyfriend, Todd G. Stevens.

“I’m here today because I want some justice,” she said.

Cleven and Stevens were standing outside the New Brighton home they shared when their neighbor Neal C. Zumberge, 57, allegedly sprayed them with buckshot, killing Stevens and wounding Cleven twice in the abdomen.

Zumberge was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder for allegedly emptying a semiautomatic shotgun on his neighbors because they fed deer and because Cleven had called the cops on his son. His wife, Paula A. Zumberge, 50, was charged a day later with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. She appeared in court on Friday.

Questions for the future

Cleven said Friday that since the house she shared with Stevens is in his name, she won’t be able to take ownership and fears it will be repossessed by the bank.

“Now I don’t know where I’m going to live, but I wouldn’t want to live in that house anyway,” she said. “How could I?”

Stevens, 46, was shot multiple times in the upper torso and died at the scene. Cleven, 48, was treated and released from the hospital Tuesday. She said that it wasn’t until she returned home a few days after the shooting that she realized that Stevens’ boxer dog, Lacie, had also been shot through the foot by buckshot that went through the house.

“That was his baby,” Cleven said.

The couple’s longtime vet treated the dog, who survived, and waived the $300 fee, Cleven said.

Attorney Dennis Casey represented Zumberge at her hearing Friday and requested that Ramsey County District Judge Joy Bartscher set bail at $50,000 given Zumberge’s clean record.

“The only allegation that Mrs. Zumberge had anything to do with this is one statement in the complaint,” Casey said.

According to the complaint: Paula Zumberge allegedly said, “Shoot, shoot, shoot, keep shooting,” as her husband fired on Stevens and Cleven about 8:30 p.m. Monday. Paula Zumberge fled the scene and turned herself in on Thursday.

Earlier that Monday night, Cleven had called police about the Zumberges’ 23-year-old son, Jacob Zumberge, who was wanted for an April 29 incident in which he threatened to burn down Stevens’ house. He was arrested about 6 p.m.

The Zumberges, who lived across the street from Stevens and Cleven, allegedly believed that Stevens’ long history of feeding deer led to Neal Zumberge’s contracting Lyme disease from a deer tick.

Bail set at $1.5 million

Sabrina Yates, a certified student attorney representing the county attorney’s office, argued Friday for bail of $1.5 million.

Bartscher granted Yates’ request and issued a no-contact order between Paula Zumberge and Cleven. Paula Zumberge must also stay a mile away from Cleven’s house.

A benefit fund for Cleven has been set up at TCF Bank. Donations can go to: Jennifer D. Cleven Benefit Fund, TCF Bank, Acct. #2443185605.

 

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib

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