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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Retrial Is Scheduled for Attempted Murder Case

November 28, 1998|TRACY WILSON

VENTURA — A Jan. 5 trial has been set for Danny Zizumbo, a gang member whose conviction on an attempted murder charge was overturned this month in an unusual court ruling.

Superior Court Judge Brian J. Back granted Zizumbo, 24, a new trial after finding that Zizumbo's attorney failed to present evidence during a 1996 trial that suggested another person was the gunman. During a hearing in August, the defense attorney testified he didn't think the information was necessary.

A known Ventura gang member, Zizumbo was convicted of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and deadly assault after a five-day trial in August 1996.

Prosecutors said he shot a teenager in the leg and chest during a January 1996 drive-by shooting in east Ventura.

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 on whether Zizumbo was represented at trial by effective counsel.

Back presided over a two-day hearing in August, in which Zizumbo's appellate attorney presented evidence not introduced during the first trial, including a tape recording of a 911 call in which several witnesses are heard identifying a 16-year-old as the gunman.

Failure to present that evidence, Back ruled, constitutes ineffective assistance of counsels and provides grounds for a new trial.

Zizumbo, who was serving a 38-year prison sentence before the conviction was overturned, is now being held at the Ventura County Jail on $250,000 bail awaiting the new trial.

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