Zinda, 31, came home from a friend's house at 3 a.m on March 20, 2011, to find his garage door open. He told sheriff's detectives that when he went into his house in the 7200 block of Second Street from the garage, he saw burglars running out the front door.
In his interview with a sheriff's investigator, Zinda said when he went outside to chase the burglars, he saw a man later identified as David Valdez, 20, standing on the corner drinking out of half-gallon rum bottle. Authorities said that Valdez was waiting for friends to help him after he had run his car into a ditch.
When Zinda approached Valdez with an ax, he said the victim ran away. Zinda then chased Valdez more than 1,000 feet into a field and hit him several times with the ax. Authorities said Valdez died in the field of the chop wounds to the head administered by Zinda.
Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco argued to Zinda's Sacramento Superior Court jury last week that the defendant would not have been justified in killing Valdez even if the victim had been involved in the burglary, which the prosecutor said he wasn't.
Defense attorney Tom Johnson said the burglary provoked Zinda into the attack and that he should have been convicted of voluntary manslaughter and not murder.
Photo caption: Steven A. Zinda listens to proceedings during a preliminary hearing in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. Photo by Randall Benton / firstname.lastname@example.org