Following 14 hours of deliberation, the jury found Kenneth Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder.
John Michael O’Sullivan was originally from Valentia Island, County Kerry but had married and settled in Fiddletown in Amador County, around 45 miles from Sacramento. His murder was the culmination of a quarrel between the two neighbours.
O’Sullivan’s widow, Krista Clem-O’Sullivan, who sat with her three children, smiled at the judge and jury entered the room. Zimmerman sat motionless as the verdict was announced.
He was found guilty of second-degree murder, with special enhancements of discharging a firearm, and using a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Zimmerman’s, Amador County Public Defender, Richard Cotta said he believes that his client could receive 15 years to life for his crimes. He will be sentenced on November 29 at 2pm and will be held without bail until that time.
District Attorney Todd Riebe was pleased with the outcome of the case. "The jury listened carefully to all the evidence and worked hard to uncover the truth of what transpired…Most importantly, this verdict holds Mr Zimmerman accountable for what he did by taking away the life of a husband and father, and hopefully provides some measure of justice for his family."
Speaking to the Ledger Dispatch outside the court, Zimmerman’s attorney, Cotta, said “I'm disappointed with the jury's verdict…I could understand if they returned with manslaughter, but I'm going to have to struggle to understand this.”
When asked about his client’s state-of-mind he said, “I'm sure he's crushed. Wouldn't you be?”
In August 2009, on the night of the murder, Zimmerman rang the emergency services. He said that O’Sullivan had rammed a tractor through his gate, smacked him in the face and tried to run him over.
Zimmerman can be heard on the tape saying ‘better hurry up…before I shoot him.’ The next phone call to the emergency services was from O’Sullivan’s wife who said she had her gunshots and could not find her husband. He was found dead in his tractor.