Murder charges against a man and his brother for the 1989 murder of the man’s estranged wife have been dismissed due to the discovery of an affair between the prosecutor and a key state witness as well as the prosecution’s failure to disclose 10,000 pages of evidence. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office dismissed charges against David Zimmer, 66, and Robert Zimmer, 70, in the strangulation death of David’s estranged wife Cathy Zimmer, whose body was found wrapped in a quilt in her car parked at San Jose International Airport on March 10, 1989.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani and DNA lab technician Amanda Cardenas were reassigned to other duties after their secret relationship came to light. Kajani had alleged that DNA found on the victim’s clothing was linked to her husband’s brother, Robert Zimmer. He also alleged that David and Cathy Zimmer were having marital problems at the time and that David Zimmer stood to benefit from a life insurance policy he took out on his estranged wife.
Kajani had alleged that DNA found on the victim’s clothing was linked to her husband’s brother, Robert Zimmer. He also alleged that David and Cathy Zimmer were having marital problems at the time and that David Zimmer stood to benefit from a life insurance policy he took out on his estranged wife. Assistant District Attorney Marc Buller said in a statement that “prosecutors will now reassess the case”. Prosecutors can refile charges. The case is being reevaluated not only because of the conflict of interest, but because the prosecution failed to follow discovery rules.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement, “We offer our deepest apologies to the family of the victim, but based on the totality of the circumstances, we simply cannot proceed without taking the time to reexamine and reevaluate the case to ensure we have not violated the rights of the accused, or compromised the integrity of the criminal justice system.”
David Zimmer’s attorney Michael Cardoza said that the case was wrong from the start, “He was an innocent man that was arrested because of an overzealous young district attorney that looked at evidence and interpreted it in the wrong way.”
It is rare for a high-profile case to fall apart in such a manner. The case had national coverage, including the Nancy Grace show.
Steve Clark, a legal analyst with a local California station said, “This is something that is very much an embarrassment. But it’s also a tragedy for people who may have been in jail wrongfully, but also for a victim’s family looking for answers.”
It was not publicly disclosed whether either state employee was disciplined.