This alternate version of this story was submitted by Friends and Family of defendant: Paul Zumot who Mrs. Zuzu and others believe was wrongfully convicted in Santa Clara County, California Superior Court. (Case Number: BB943863)
On October 15 of 2009, Jennifer Marie Schipsi was murdered, and the cottage she and her boyfriend, Paul Zumot, used to live in was set on fire. A passerby saw the fire and called 911 at 6:39 pm that evening.
Paul was at his hookah shop smoking when the landlord called to inform him of the fire. Paul threw the phone and ran outside and drove his car to the cottage. The road was blocked, and he was stopped by the Palo Alto Police, who stopped him on his way to the cottage and prevented him from going there. Paul told them he was concerned about his girlfriend because he had been trying to reach her all day but she wasn’t answering. Paul called the landlord and the landlord told him her car was in the driveway.
Paul was very frustrated with the police and just wanted to go to the cottage and check on his girlfriend. Paul called Jennifer multitude of times, but her phone was turned off. He had left her 3 voicemails and sent a few text messages to check on her. Jennifer’s mother and her best friend Roy said they were trying to reach her too (Her phone record does not show calls from either of three. As per AT&T only calls that last over 30 seconds get registered on the phone bill).
The Palo Alto Police took Paul to the police station and questioned him in the interrogation room. They asked him if he knew anything about the fire. Paul stressed that he did not know how it started and that the last time he saw his girlfriend was around 12:45 pm of that day. He then left and never went back until he attempted to get to the house after that call from the landlord.
The Palo Alto Police asked the neighbors if they have seen or heard anything unusual that day, and no one said that he or she did. However, the neighbor who lives behind the cottage said that between 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm, and while the construction workers working in his backyard took a break for lunch, he heard a woman’s voice coming from the cottage. He said that the voice was raised, and sounded like the woman was talking to someone in another room. The neighbor said after realizing it was a woman’s voice and not the old neighbor’s teenage kid, he lost interest and did not try to listen who the woman was. He said that it did not sound like the woman was in distress, but rather talking to someone in a different room.
Paul was seen around 1:00 pm of that day at the Palo Alto Police station, where he went to pick up paperwork he was called to pick up. Paul had alibi between for the whole afternoon into the evening hours when the landlord called him about the fire. The alibi consisted of surveillance cameras and cell phone towers.
The landlord and a guest in his house that day said that they passed by the cottage at 6:25pm and at 6:35pm and did not see anything amiss. None of them saw Paul, or Paul’s car or heard or saw anything. At 6:39 pm, a passerby saw the fire and called the Palo Alto Police. He then called the landlord and the guests, and they managed to distinguish the fire before the firemen arrived. The firemen described the fire as “hot and fast.” Gasoline was used to start it.
The cottage was 900 square feet, and only the bedroom was engulfed in fire. The fire was “hot and fast,” since gasoline was used to start it and was found in other areas of the cottage, and since the landlord and his guest did not see any fire from 6:25 pm to 6:35 pm, it was established that the fire started sometime between 6:36 and 6:39 pm.
After Paul arrived at the scene after 7pm, the Palo Alto Police took him to the police station and told him that they needed to ask him some questions. Since Paul did not hear from Jennifer since he left the cottage around 1 pm, and since the landlord told him that Jennifer’s car was parked in the driveway, Paul was starting to get very worried about Jennifer. He tried to call her several times, he called her mother and her best friend to ask if Jennifer was with them, and he called his workplace and asked his employees if Jennifer had stopped by. Jennifer used to go and help Paul at his business at night, so Paul told his employees to call them if Jennifer shows up to work. He called Jennifer at her workplace and could not find her either. Paul still had hope that perhaps Jennifer had gone for a walk that evening, as Jennifer also used to jog in the evenings.
Paul kept asking the detectives, who already knew then that Jennifer’s dead body was found in the house, about Jennifer. They kept telling him that they knew nothing about her whereabouts in order to get as much information from him as possible. Paul also kept asking them if he could go to the cottage to check on Jennifer, but the police prevented him from going anywhere near his place.
When the Palo Alto Police questioned Paul about his whereabouts on the day before the fire, he gave them an alibi from 1PM to 7 PM. The alibi was later verified by cell towers and on surveillance cameras. Paul was also very cooperative with the police and answered every question they asked him.
After about three hours of interrogation, Detective Sunseri broke the news about Jennifer’s death to Paul. Paul broke into tears immediately collapsed to the floor. He was sobbing and was inconsolable. He begged the Palo Alto Police to let him go and be with his family, but they told him he was not allowed to leave.
The detectives started searching Paul’s pockets, and Paul did not mind them doing that. They asked him if they could take his car keys and clothes, and Paul agreed, replying, “go ahead and take anything you want, just please let me go to the house and see Jennifer.” The detectives still rejected to let him go. Paul was not allowed to grieve the death of his girlfriend, but instead, the detectives continued to question him even as he was weeping and mourning the death of his girlfriend.
When Paul was finally able to reach Jennifer’s mother and when she told him she hasn’t heard from Jen all day Paul broke into tears. That is when the mother told him to bring her back accusing him of murdering her daughter without even knowing what had happened. The mother told the police to hold Paul and not let him go and the Palo Alto Police listened to her and turned a murder investigation into building a case around Paul. Little did the police know that Jennifer’s mother had mental illness and was in and out of a mental institute. At the time of her murder Jennifer made sure her mother did not know where she resided (according to Jen’s best friend Roy).
During the interrogation, Paul was more than cooperative with the police and signed consent to search his person, cars, business and anything they wanted. All what he was concerned about was Jennifer’s well being.
Jennifer Marie Schipsi
Theories of the DA.
1. Jennifer was killed immediately after the argument around 2 am on October 15 2009.
Gillingham suggested that Paul went home and the argument escalated and Paul killed Jennifer. And since the mother said that it was unlikely of Jennifer to turn her phone off, the DA believed that she was dead when the mother first called at 9 am.
2. Jennifer was killed at 4 am since they found the sex tape that showed Jen alive around 4 am.
3. Jennifer was killed around 11 am after she sent angry messages to Paul (when Paul had told them about the messages they did not believe him). When they retrieved the messages and found that they were angry messages Chuck decided that they were valid messages and not made by Paul like they suggested before, and decided to use them as the motive.
4. Jennifer was killed around 1 pm since the neighbor testified on the stand that he was sure he heard a woman’s voice between 12 pm and 12:30 pm.
However, Paul left the house around 12:45 and Jennifer started texting soon after.
The landlord testified that around 1:15 while he drove out of the drive way and into the street he saw something strange. He said he saw a white car parked facing the cottage with a white male covering his face with a magazine. He testified that as he drove past the driveway, the white male inside the car moved the magazine to keep shielding his face from the landlord.
Lab results come back.
Since the accelerant dogs are only a tool that ATF does not recognize their findings without validation from the ATF labs, Paul’s clothing were sent to the lab where they came clear of accelerants
Jennifer’s body was found in a position that clearly indicate she had put up a fight. However, Paul’s face, hands, neck, back, legs and every inch of his body showed he did not have a nicks or scratches or bruises.
A melted gas can was found on the bed where Jennifer died. PAPD sent multiple detectives the first 24 hours to over 25 gas stations with Paul’s picture to see if he ever purchased a gas can. They came back empty handed. Sgt Maloney, the supervisor, testified on the stand that until that day in trial when he testified they were still looking to see if Paul ever purchased a gas can by going to 100s of gas stations and other places as well as looking at his credit card purchases. They came back empty handed also.
During the initial investigation, police searched the shed that is about 3 to 4 meters from the cottage for a gas can but they didn’t find any. When the landlord was asked whether he had a gas can he said he didn’t and that the gasoline operated lawn mower in the shed was not used because he had someone to come and do the lawn for him.
The lock on the shed was cut by the police, and the next morning the lock was replaced by the landlord. The landlord testified that Paul had no access to his shed and that he was the only one with the key to the shed.
In trial, the landlord testified that while cleaning up the shed he found a red plastic 5 gallon gasoline can.
The gas can was never tested for DNA nor dusted for fingerprints
The coroner found that Jennifer was strangled and then set on fire since they found no soot in the lungs. However, the coroner testified that the time of death could not have been determined due to the state of the burned body.
The coroner never took a vaginal swap from the victim although her inside was still intact and looking at the picture you can see that all her internal organs looked red and fresh and not yellow and did not show signs of burn. Her plastic breast implants were also intact.
The coroner took a DNA swap from the victim’s neck and back (which were not burnt) but they were never tested in the lab.
Other “evidence” the DA produced
The DA used a silly and laughable argument to say that Paul tried to explode the cottage because they had his finger print on a foil that covered one of the stove burners. Any hookah user knows that you have to cover the burner so that charcoal residue does not mess up your stove.
The DA tried to say that Paul had Jennifer’s phone on his person during the day, something that AT&T expert testified never happened.
The ATF expert testified that she smelled cologne on paul’s clothing. When the accelerant sniffing dog was sent to search paul’s business she alerted on a piece if luggage in the basement. The dog handler told Paul to open the luggage (which belonged to a Friend). Paul opened it and in it was a bottle of cologne.
In his closing argument Chuck claimed that Paul drenched himself with cologne to throw off the dogs and an empty cologne bottle was found outside. LIE. Every one who knows Paul know that Paul wears cologne every day. (Ken talking about cologne). Also there is absolutely no mention of anyone finding empty cologne bottle as chuck claimed. There was an empty Petfume sample outside SAMPLE not cologne bottle.
What the jury did not get to see:
Mental illness records
Psychiatric expert was prevented from testifying to the 7.5 hour interview she had with Paul neither was she allowed to testify on her assessment of Jennifer after reading thousands of pages of police reports and listening to tapes made by Jennifer.
The jury did not get to hear the judge who sealed the records say that Jennifer never mentions even once to her psychiatrist that she was afraid for her life from Paul.
Restraining orders and police report on other men
Declaration from Jen that she was afraid for her life from the two brothers just couple of weeks before her murder.
Threats from other individuals
Declarations from Jennifer that she lied when she said Paul threatened her.
Audio recordings that prove that Jennifer was a liar. Fraud cases by Jennifer and theft from others.
Destroyed tape by the Palo Alto Police Department.
The Hearsay Factor ( California Evidence Code Section 1390 )
Chuck Gillingham dragged the trial into January 2011 where evidence code 1390 would take effect. 1390 is a hearsay law that was used first on Paul Zumot’s case in the state of California. Paul was the first one to get convicted solely based on that hearsay rule. Absent of any other evidence of wrongdoing, judge David Cena still allowed hearsay to enter as evidence after the District Attorney felt that the shaky theory started to crumble under his feet. Three weeks into the trial Paul was offered a plea deal by Chuck, which was they would drop the arson charge and drop the first degree murder charge into a second degree. Paul said he will not plead guilty even for time served.
It is believed that Heather Marie Winters who took the stand, lied about seeing Paul playing cards 2 days after the death of his girlfriend. Many witnesses and coworkers stated to the police that Paul was in a state of disbelief and was grieving and crying all the time. Paul had closed his place of business the day after Jennifer died in mourning.
Heather Marie Winters also said that she witnessed bruises on Jennifer that were done by Paul. Jennifer never ever claimed that she was hit by Paul and there is not ONE SINGLE picture for Jennifer with bruises on her. Jennifer was the type that calculated everything, if she had been hit, she would have taken picture. Jennifer ran to the police over a spit, you think she would let physical abuse just go like that? Besides, she does not have a single doctor or hospital report on any physical harm. She had one on her ex-boyfriend Raj and she ran to the police and made sure she took pictures of the bruises.
This is what heather bragged about on her FaceBook page:
The judge allowed people to take the stand to testify to something they said Jennifer said without verification that this thing ever happened.
When Jennifer accused Paul of cheating, Paul told her he is fed up with her lies and threats and took his blanket and left the house. She chased him to his business and when he refused to answer her calls and msgs she kicked the door and broke it. Paul called 911 but before the police got there she ran to the police station and accused Paul of threatening her.
The officers at the Palo Alto Police Department had Jennifer make a call in order to have his voice recorded threatening her. Paul’s reaction was a shock and told Jennifer he loved her and would never harm her and he doesn’t know why she would say that.
Guess what? Paul’s defense lawyer asked for that tape but was told by detective Sunseri that officer Jared Monroe had “mistakenly” stuck a sticker on the wrong side of the tape and ruined it.
Over two months after the police report Jennifer filed, PAPD wrote a supplimental report to say that Jennifer had said Paul planned a perfect murder. There is no evidence wheresoever that suggests that. Jennifer never recorded that on her tape, nor had told anyone of such thing. Paul’s computer’s show nothing about arson, murder, CSI, or any slight indication he was searching for anything sinister. However, since Paul had a solid alibi, a push like that helped the PAPD put in the heads of the jurors that Paul was capable of murder.
Two weeks after that incident Jennifer wrote a sworn declaration and submit it to a judge that Paul never threatened her. Judge David Cena did not allow the jury to see that declaration.
All hearsay witnesses said that Jennifer sounded frantic when she called them to say Paul had threatened her. Listen to her in her own voice talking to two of them minutes after the police left her house. Is this the voice of someone who is frantic?
On the same tape that Jennifer recorded illegally Jennifer lies about her life and about her father dying of cancer when he is very healthy, and still alive almost three years after that tape.
After the taped call that Jen made while angry at Paul for breaking up with her, she and Paul started getting death threats from the man she called and promised to take his side in an upcoming court then changed her mind.
The Joe Martinez statement that made him the “star witness” for the prosecution.
Joe was questioned by PAPD for 5 hours but the interview did not get taped for some mysterious malfunction of the tape recorder. Joe admitted to the interviewer detectives that he had done some ILLEGAL searches on citizens on his sherif’s computer. Joe Martinez was never disciplined by the sherif’s department. This offense gets other officers fired from the job for civil rights violations of American citizens yet Joe got to keep his job, why?
Joe had told the detectives that Paul told him that he stopped at the cottage for 15 mins before he went to the cottage, something that Paul denied every saying since he never stopped there. If Paul had stopped there for 10 to 15 mins like Joe claimed, then there is no way that Paul showed up at work the time he was there. Paul told everyone that after he went to the PAPD to pick the papers he went back to the house for 15 mins and then to the hookah spot where he counted the money and prepared the shop for the weekend.
The jury said that they believed Joe over Paul not knowing that Joe had broken the law, and that Joe allegedly had sex with a minor with four witnesses and the alleged sex is taped on the camera system.
If PAPD wanted to know if Paul ever went to the house, they would have checked the tracking system or GPS that Jennifer installed on Paul’s computer to monitor his whereabouts. They either did but did not like the results, or let that application expire so there is no evidence that he never went there.
California Evidence Code Section 1390 States:
(a) Evidence of a statement is not made inadmissible by the
hearsay rule if the statement is offered against a party that has
engaged or aided and abetted in the wrongdoing that was intended to,
and did, procure the unavailability of the declarant as a witness.
(b) (1) The party seeking to introduce a statement pursuant to
subdivision (a) shall establish, by a preponderance of the evidence,
that the elements of subdivision (a) have been met at a foundational
(2) The hearsay evidence that is the subject of the foundational hearing is admissible at the foundational hearing. However, a finding
that the elements of subdivision (a) have been met shall not be
based solely on the unconfronted hearsay statement of the unavailable
declarant, and shall be supported by independent corroborative
(3) The foundational hearing shall be conducted outside the
presence of the jury. However, if the hearing is conducted after a
jury trial has begun, the judge presiding at the hearing may consider
evidence already presented to the jury in deciding whether the
elements of subdivision (a) have been met.
(4) In deciding whether or not to admit the statement, the judge
may take into account whether it is trustworthy and reliable.
(c) This section shall apply to any civil, criminal, or juvenile
case or proceeding initiated or pending as of January 1, 2011.
(d) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1,
2016, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted
statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2016, deletes or extends
that date. If this section is repealed, the fact that it is repealed
should it occur, shall not be deemed to give rise to any ground for
an appeal or a postverdict challenge based on its use in a criminal
or juvenile case or proceeding before January 1, 2016.
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I want to welcome everyone and everyone to utilize
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