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Defense: Someone else did it

Somebody other than Frank A. Zupan killed his wife, the man’s defense attorney told a jury on the first day of testimony in the murder trial Wednesday.

Zupan previously told investigators someone in a passing car had shot his wife, Shauneen A. Zupan, as she drove their minivan on McCourtney Road on the evening of Nov. 15, 2005.

“What Frank Zupan said happened that night is simply not true,” Quin Denvir, Zupan’s defense attorney, said in his opening statement.



“He lied to police, and that is circumstantial evidence,” Denvir said. “But you could say he was there when someone else killed her, and he lied for fear they would kill him or other members of his family.”

Zupan, 61, is charged with first-degree murder, with two special circumstances of murder for financial gain and lying in wait.




Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson showed a picture of Shauneen Zupan in happier times. Later, he showed a photo of her with two bullet holes in the left side of her head.

Another bullet was found lodged in her right wrist and a fourth bullet was in the web of her fingers.

“She must have seen him coming,” Wolfson said. “She threw up her hands in a defensive gesture in a futile attempt to defend herself against those bullets she saw coming, those bullets that ended her life.”

Wolfson also showed pictures of two green rubber gloves found near the crime scene. The state crime laboratory found that the gloves have Zupan’s DNA on the inside and gunshot residue and his dead wife’s blood on the outside.

He also painted Zupan as a liar and a cheat.

“He had affairs and went trolling for women on the Internet,” Wolfson said.

Denvir, of Sacramento, told the jury that although his client may have been a bad husband, he did not kill Shauneen.

“Like many long-term marriages, there was tension,” Denvir told the jury of nine women and three men, most middle-aged, while some appeared to be in their late 30s. “You will find he was not the most truthful or the best of husbands. You may think he’s a jerk, but none of this proves he killed her.”

Sacramento woman denies affair

Sacramento-area resident Jean Machado took the stand and denied having an affair with Zupan during the several years she has known him, while two of her friends testified Machado was undoubtedly having a sexual relationship with Zupan.

“I’ve never been attracted to Mr. Zupan,” said Machado, a 54-year-old divorcee who said she met Zupan through the dating Web site Match.com. She said she lied to her friends – telling them she had sex with Zupan – so she would not appear desperate and lonely in their eyes.

The lies were “white lies that you expect would eventually burn out,” Machado said.

On the stand, Machado often laughed, smiled at the judge and jury, and sometimes covered her face to hide her smile in what appeared to be embarrassment.

Machado’s friend Sharon Fells said Machado was very explicit in conversations the two had about her relationship with Zupan. Fells relayed a discussion about one of the dozens of horse camping trips Machado and Zupan took together.

“She said she was all hot and sweaty after a long ride and (Zupan) got frisky,” Fells said. “He threw her on the floor of the (horse) trailer and they had great sex.”

Machado admitted to the conversation but said she lied. She said she did have sex in the trailer and her partner was not Zupan, but another man she met on the Internet.

After Zupan and Machado broke up for a period, Fells talked with Zupan over the telephone to invite him to Machado’s birthday party, Fells testified.

“He said, ‘No, I can’t do that’ because (Machado) was not financially secure enough for him,” Fells testified. “She was very upset over it.”

Machado also testified she currently visits Zupan in jail every Tuesday evening and talks to him on the phone, and she always tells him she loves him.

Fells said Machado stopped talking to her after Fells began communicating with investigators.

Co-workers testify

In other testimony, two of Zupan’s co-workers at the California Department of Social Services in Sacramento said Shauneen Zupan had tried to cover injuries on her face with make-up on the same day she was killed.

“I saw her the day she was murdered,” said Shauneen Zupan’s former co-worker, Robert Caldwell. His eyes filled with tears and his bottom lip shook through much of his testimony.

“She was organizing a holiday party, and I noticed the makeup on the side of her face was thicker than usual on her left cheek below her left eye,” Caldwell said. “There appeared to be a bruise.”

Shauneen Zupan was planning to sell her second home in the Bay Area to benefit her two sons from her first marriage, Caldwell said.

“She said Frank was adamantly against it,” Caldwell testified.

Lisa Bradley, a paralegal for a Sacramento divorce attorney, testified Shauneen Zupan had scheduled an appointment with the attorney six days before she was murdered. The appointment was scheduled for Nov. 29, 2005, so she never made it.

In today’s proceedings, slated to begin at 9 a.m., Wolfson said he plans to call crime scene investigators, more of Shauneen Zupan’s co-workers, and investigators who served a search warrant on Zupan’s Retrac Road home.

To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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