General Crime

* Da Hookah Spot Owner Bulos “Paul” Zumot Denied Bail In Trial for Murder of Jennifer Schipsi

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A 36-year-old Palo Alto man facing murder charges for allegedly killing his girlfriend and setting their bedroom on fire with her body inside was again denied bail in Santa Clara County Superior Court today. Superior Court Judge David Cena told defense attorney Mark Geragos only a change in circumstances since the last bail motion hearing in February would justify bail for Bulos “Paul” Zumot. Zumot hired the Los Angeles-based lawyer to replace his former attorney, Cameron Bowman, following the February hearing. Zumot, who owns the Palo Alto smoking lounge Da Hookah Spot, was arrested in October 2009 and charged with murder and arson after fire fighters responded to a fire at the home he shared with his girlfriend, 29-year-old real estate agent Jennifer Schipsi. Fire fighters found Schipsi dead in the couple’s bedroom. Investigators determined Schipsi had been killed before the fire and that the fire was intentionally started at the home, located at 969 Addison Ave., to conceal evidence. Zumot has pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces a maximum sentence of 33 years to life if convicted. In a brief hearing today, Geragos appealed to the judge to set the bail at $1 million, arguing that a surveillance video that was previously unavailable shows Zumot was at Da Hookah Spot at the time of the fire. “The timeline is essential,” Geragos said. “That videotape in and of itself constitutes sufficient change of circumstances.” Cena disagreed and said Bowman had mentioned the surveillance video at a previous bail hearing. He also denied Geragos’ motion to compel the prosecution to immediately turn over computer drives belonging to Zumot and Schipsi. Geragos said the prosecution told him he would receive the computers by Monday in preparation for the preliminary hearing. He said he believes there is evidence on the drives that would show Zumot is not guilty. “They have the duty to not let people rot in jail,” Geragos said.  Prosecutor Chuck Gillingham said the evidence is not the property of the prosecutor’s office and that its availability depends on the forensics laboratory. He said the initial request was for Schipsi’s computer but that the defense had expanded its request to seven computers and two phones. Cena set a Wednesday deadline for the prosecution to turn over computer evidence to the defense. The preliminary hearing was set for July 12. After the hearing, Schipsi’s father, Jim, said even with the change in attorneys, he was not surprised by the judge’s decision. “Hopefully on July 12, it will start to happen,” Schipsi said.

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