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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional

New Trial Granted in Drive-By Shooting

November 19, 1998

VENTURA — A 24-year-old Ventura gang member convicted of attempted murder two years ago was granted a new trial Wednesday, after a judge found the defense attorney failed to present evidence that could have cleared his client.

Danny Zizumbo, who has been serving a 38-year sentence for his alleged role in a January 1996 drive-by shooting in east Ventura, is being held at the Ventura County Jail on $250,000 bail pending the second trial.

Prosecutors said they are considering whether to appeal the decision by Superior Court Judge Brian J. Back.

A Ventura gang member, Zizumbo was convicted in 1996 of shooting a teenager in the leg and chest during a gang attack. The prosecution presented evidence that Zizumbo was the man wielding a semiautomatic gun from the back of a moving van.

But troubling questions about the case were raised on appeal--questions serious enough for the California Supreme Court to send the case back to Ventura County for a hearing.

At that August hearing, a tape recording of a 911 call was played, in which several witnesses are heard identifying another teenager as the gunman, not Zizumbo.

"When questioned as to why he did not incorporate into the defense the identification of another shooter," Back wrote, "defense counsel indicated that due to his anticipation that witnesses would change their respective stories, he felt that it would not be beneficial."

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