Zupan trial details emerge
Murder suspect Frank A. Zupan asked a passing motorist to give him a ride to his Retrac Road home after his wife of 20 years was shot, rather than a ride to the hospital where she was later pronounced dead, a witness said Thursday during the second day of testimony in the trial.
“The whole thing was unusual, when you look back on it,” said Larry Daniels, the man who stopped to aid Zupan on the side of McCourtney Road at Indian Springs Road the night of Nov. 15, 2005.
Daniels tried to breath life into Shauneen A. Zupan, 58, as Frank Zupan stood by appearing distraught, Daniels testified.
“I tried to revive (Shauneen Zupan) until paramedics got there,” said Daniels, a gray-haired, barrel-chested man who said he learned CPR by working with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. “I think (Zupan) was pretty upset.”
In other testimony in the trial at the Nevada County courthouse this week:
• A West Virginia woman said she met Frank Zupan, now 61, for a date after meeting him in an online romantic chat room in September 2005.
• A coworker of the victim said Shauneen Zupan wanted to hack into her husband’s computer.
• A neighbor said Frank Zupan had told him he would divorce his wife if she sold her house in the Bay Area to give the money to her sons from a previous marriage.
• A coroner said one of the four bullets that hit Shauneen Zupan caused the most serious damage.
Defense lawyer Quin Denvir is slated to call his witnesses after Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson finishes with prosecution witnesses. The trial is expected to last five to six weeks. No testimony will be heard next week, as Judge Robert Tamietti will not be available.
Testimony during this first week of the trial, combined with evidence presented in an earlier hearing, paint a fuller picture of what happened the night of the shooting – but conflict with what Zupan told investigators right after the incident.
After the incident, Zupan told investigators that he and his wife had dined at Lyons Restaurant in Grass Valley earlier that night, then drove home on MCourtney Road in their Chrysler minivan with Shauneen Zupan at the wheel.
Zupan had told investigators he heard the sound of pebbles on the driver’s side window. Shauneen slumped over the wheel, he threw the van into low gear and steered it into some brush, arriving at the intersection with Indian Springs Road.
Someone driving the other way must have shot his wife, he told police then.
But in a preliminary hearing in August 2006, with the aid of evidence and expert witnesses, Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson proved Shauneen Zupan in fact was shot in a turnout at Patterson Valley Road half a mile away from where the van came to rest. She was shot through the driver’s side window at close range.
Broken glass from the van in the turnout, blood evidence and an acceleration mark in the turnout showed the van was moved after the shooting.
On Thursday, Larry Daniels testified that he stopped at the intersection of McCourtney and Indian Springs to help Shauneen Zupan. After California Highway Patrol officers arrived, Daniels said, he planned to take an apparently distraught Frank Zupan to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where Shauneen Zupan had been airlifted. A CHP officer told Zupan to ride with Daniels, he told jurors.
But Zupan wanted to be dropped off at his home instead so he could pick up his truck. On the way, they stopped.
“(Zupan) asked me to stop at Patterson (Valley) Road,” Daniels said. “He said he was feeling sick to his stomach.”
Daniels said Zupan got out of the truck at the same spot later proved to be the murder scene, and he made “coughing” sounds. He was outside of Daniels’ truck for approximately five minutes, Daniels testified.
“I guess we all (throw up differently),” Daniels said.
Daniels said he then dropped Zupan off at his home on Retrac Road.
The murder weapon was never located by investigators, and Wolfson said Wednesday Zupan had plenty of time to dispose of it after the shooting.
Zupan’s attorney, Quin Denvir of Sacramento, does not dispute the place and manner in which Shauneen died. His client lied to police, Denvir said this week, but he maintains someone else shot Shauneen Zupan through her minivan window.
In the first day of testimony Wednesday, North Highlands resident Jean Machado denied having a three-year affair with Zupan after they met on an Internet dating Web site in spring 2002.
On Thursday, Raechel Daniels of West Virginia testified she met Zupan in an online romantic chat room in September 2005.
Zupan told her he was widowed, she said.
The two arranged to meet for lunch at the Buttercup Pantry Restaurant in Placerville. Daniels thought they were supposed to go horseback riding afterward.
“He changed his mind,” Daniels testified. “We went to a bar later. At one point, he asked about my sexual preferences. He said he would let me have my way with him.”
She didn’t respond, and she wasn’t interested in sex, Daniels said. She said Zupan drove her to her stepfather’s home in Placerville, where her stepfather told Zupan a woman had called the house looking for him.
“I looked at (Zupan), and his eyes got huge,” Daniels said.
Zupan later said the woman who called must have been a “wacko” that he had dated and perhaps she had found a way to hack into his computer, Daniels said.
Apparently, Shauneen Zupan was trying to find ways to gain access to her husband’s computer, which he kept in their barn at their Retrac Road home.
“(Shauneen) asked me how to get into a computer if you don’t know what the password is,” testified Jordan Owens, a computer technician Shauneen Zupan worked with at the California Department of Social Services in Sacramento.
“She wanted to get into the computer in the barn,” Owens told the jury. “She was looking for e-mails or communications between individuals.”
Owens said he handed Shauneen Zupan the software she needed as she left work on the day she was killed.
In other testimony Thursday, Zupan’s former neighbor, Laird Eastman, testified that Zupan told him he was having marital problems, and that Zupan was angry at the prospect of Shauneen Zupan selling her house in the Bay Area. She planned to give the money to her two sons from her first marriage.
Zupan told Eastman “the party’s over” if Shauneen Zupan sold the house, Eastman said. He testified Zupan planned to leave his wife and sell their Retrac Road home if she sold her Bay Area house.
One bullet, serious injury
In other testimony Thursday, the coroner who performed Shauneen Zupan’s autopsy, Dr. Don Henrikson, said she died from one of two 22-caliber bullets to her head.
All four bullets contributed to her death by causing shock and blood loss, Henrikson testified. But one of two bullets that entered her head caused the most serious injury, he said.
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4236.
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