Paul Zumot is a 37 year old young man who was convicted of a murder and arson of his girlfriend whom he was about to ask to marry.
On October 15th 2009, the day after his birthday, 911 call @ 6:39 was made about a fire at the cottage. Paul has been trying to call Jennifer that afternoon but she never answered.
Paul was in San Jose for his domestic violence class that was part of him pleading guilty to harassing text messages and he headed to work in Palo Alto around 6:00 pm. Paul arrived at his place of business at 6:40 after parking his car in the parking lot and calling his employee to fix tea and hookah for him.
Paul was called by the landlord and told about the fire 10 minutes after he got to the shop. Paul rushed to his house but was stopped by the police. He was taken to the police station and interrogated even before the coroner could call the death murder.
Paul was forthcoming about everything with the police. Paul broke down and fell to the ground sobbing when he was told his girlfriend was found dead in the house.
The landlord and guests had told police and testified that the fire started sometime after 6:35. So between 6:36 and 6:39 is when the fire started. Paul could not have set the fire, and drove in Palo Alto at 6:30 at night through 16 traffic lights and stop signs in traffic time to be at work in 2 minutes.
The police never investigated anyone, but they brought a dog who sniffed accelerants on Paul. However, the lab report from ATF said all his clothes came negative to accelerants. His shoes indicated gasoline, but also said this is typical of shoes.
In court, the jury was made to hear three witnesses testify that Jennifer told them Paul threatened to kill her. However, Jennifer had signed affidavit that said that Paul did not threaten her. She said in the affidavit that she was afraid for her life and Paul's life from two brothers (with a long rap sheet) who told her they will take care of Paul and she would never have to hear from him again. Jennifer said in the affidavit that her interpretation to that is that they will either kill Paul or lock him up for life. The DA and judge did not allow the jury to see the declaration.
The jury also were not allowed to see the interrogation tape where it shows Paul cooperating with police and agreeing for his clothes to be taken while when in court they denied that he was cooperative and said that he deleted messages so they don't know about the argument between them although on tape he is the one who told them about the argument.
The judge and DA also denied the defense from presenting a restraining order and domestic violence Jennifer filed against an ex. This evidence, would have shown that Jennifer had the habit of filing restraining order on men who dump her.
The prosecution claimed that Jennifer was a battered woman when in fact it was Paul who was constantly threatened by her and hit by her.
The defense hired a psychiatric expert to evaluate Paul and interview him for 7 hours. She also read thousands of pages on the case and evaluated Jennifer. The judge did not allow the expert to testify.
The prosecution claimed that Jennifer was afraid of Paul and that he was psychologically abusive to her. However, Jennifer had anxiety and other psychological problems before she met Paul. Jennifer was seeing a psychiatrist every six weeks a year before she met Paul and the visits continued until she died. The judge denied the defense from looking at those records, but said that nothing in the records show that Jennifer was afraid of Paul.
In court, the prosecution claimed that Paul was only seen on Camera at 6:47 while in fact he walked in the shop at 6:40 but the never showed that footage to the jury. Paul went through the door and upstairs where there are no cameras. However, the camera SHOULD show him walking in. Also, the phone records show Paul at work or around work at 6:39 (the call he made to his employee).
Jennifer died of strangulation. The way the body was discovered indicates she put up a big struggle, however pictures taken of Paul on that day shows he has not one scratch on his hands or face.
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