The attorney for convicted murderer Neal Zumberge said his client should receive a new trial because of court errors made before and during his trial.
Attorney William Orth says in his motion filed Monday that the court wrongly allowed Zumberge to be tried for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, which require premeditation, and should not have prohibited the defense from introducing character evidence at trial about the victim.
Zumberge, 58, was convicted Aug. 18 of first-degree murder, second-degree murder with intent, attempted first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder with intent for fatally shooting one neighbor and wounding another last year.
On May 5, 2014, Zumberge killed Todd Stevens, 46, and wounded Jennifer Cleven, 49, who lived across the street from him in New Brighton.
Orth's motion, filed in Ramsey County District Court, says Zumberge should not have been tried on the first-degree counts because there was no proper evidence presented to the grand jury that indicted him on those counts. Instead, Orth wrote, improper evidence for those counts was presented at trial in the form of Zumberge's post-arrest interview with authorities.
"Such irregularity in the proceedings affected a substantial due process right …" the motion says.
Orth argued that the court's other mistake was prohibiting him from presenting evidence at trial of "multiple" 911 domestic assault calls involving Stevens and Cleven.
Zumberge claimed self-defense, and testified at trial that he shot Stevens based on years of witnessing his drunken behavior and threats.
The prosecution argued that Zumberge shot his neighbors because he was frustrated with their habit of feeding deer, and was pushed to the brink when Cleven called the police on one of Zumberge's sons.
The first-degree convictions carry automatic sentences of life in prison. Zumberge is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16.