The attorney for a man charged with his brother in the 1989 murder of the man’s wife in San Jose said today that prosecutors want to consolidate the criminal cases because their cases against each man individually are “weak.” Michael Cardoza, lawyer for murder defendant David Zimmer, said the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office wants to use emotional arguments against his client and misleading DNA evidence against the second defendant Robert Zimmer. ”
The district attorney is taking a very weak case against my client and trying to bolster an equally weak case against Robert,” Cardoza said. Prosecutors are seeking to take “a lousy case and put them together to make them stronger,” Cardoza said. David Zimmer, 66, and his brother Robert, 70, are accused of murder in the strangulation death of David’s 38-year-old wife Cathy, whose body was found wrapped in a quilt in the rear of her car parked at San Jose International Airport on March 10, 1989. On Wednesday, a judge in Santa Clara Superior Superior Court in San Jose is scheduled to rule on a motion by prosecutors to join the cases against the Zimmers and try them together. The court is also scheduled to set a date for the start of David Zimmer’s murder trial.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani could not be reached for comment today, but has said that David Zimmer had a financial motive to kill his estranged wife and that DNA evidence implicates Robert Zimmer. Kajani has also said that prosecutors have additional proof of the Zimmer brothers’ guilt that has not been released to the public. The district attorney’s office announced on March 7 that the Zimmer brothers had been arrested on suspicion of murdering Cathy, who was last seen on March 8, 1989. David Zimmer was arraigned on March 10, the 25th anniversary of when Cathy’s body was found, and pleaded not guilty. Robert Zimmer was arraigned earlier on Feb. 27 but did not enter a plea. Both men are being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Main Jail.
Prosecutors questioned David and Robert Zimmer before a grand jury but filed complaints against them instead of obtaining indictments, according to Cardoza. District Attorney’s Office investigator Michael Brown stated in court documents that David and Cathy Zimmer separated in November 1988 after David had begun a relationship with a female co-worker that July. After Cathy’s death, David Zimmer told investigators he and Cathy planned to divorce, Brown reported. The district attorney’s office claims that David Zimmer had a motive to kill Cathy Zimmer because he collected about $409,000 from the sale of his and Cathy’s house on Venice Way in San Jose and two life insurance policies covering Cathy at the time of her death.
Robert Zimmer was arrested based on DNA evidence and statements he and his daughter made to investigators, prosecutors said. In 2012, the district attorney’s crime lab reported that Robert Zimmer was a possible contributor to a mixture of DNA from a swab taken from the zipper and button of pants worn by Cathy when her body was discovered.
In a statement last January to an investigator, Robert Zimmer said he did not recall ever being alone with Cathy in her car. Prosecutors also stated that Robert Zimmer’s daughter Paula told San Jose police on Nov. 9, 2010, that she recalled her father saying he had met Cathy on the day the woman died and that he feared his fingerprints might be on the car.
But Cardoza said that the DNA found on Cathy’s pants was indirect “transferred DNA” that she could have picked up after touching something Robert Zimmer had and was not evidence that he touched her himself. Cardoza said that in David Zimmer’s case, the prosecution “is running its case on sheer emotion” by using the money David collected after Cathy’s death as a motive and the fact he did not pay for his stepdaughter’s educational expenses. “That’s not evidence,” Cardoza said. “He (the prosecutor) is trying to portray David as a bad person.” Defense attorney Steve Defilippis is representing Robert Zimmer.
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