The timeline of Bulos Zumot's actions on Oct. 15, 2009, continued to take center stage at Zumot's trial Tuesday (Feb. 1) as the prosecution rested its case and the defense began to call forth its witnesses.
Mark Geragos, who is representing Zumot in the arson-and-murder trial, is seeking to prove that his client could not have gotten to the Addison Avenue cottage by 6:39 p.m. -- the time the fire was called in -- and then enter his hookah lounge less than 10 minutes later.
Police believe Zumot had killed his girlfriend, Jennifer Schipsi, earlier that day and then drove to the cottage, started the fire, and proceeded to his place of business, Da Hookah Spot, on University Avenue.
Ahmed Alaghbash, who worked at Da Hookah Spot in late 2009, testified Tuesday morning that he saw Zumot at the hookah lounge shortly after 6:30 p.m. Alaghbash said he was getting in to work at around 6 p.m. when he got a call from Zumot, who asked him about routine lounge-related business.
About 30 minutes later, another hookah lounge employee, Gehad Al-Bataeneh, arrived at Da Hookah Spot. Minutes later, Zumot arrived and sat down to smoke a hookah, as is his custom, Alaghbash testified. He said Zumot was acting normal that day.
"Same thing. Like always," he said through an interpreter.
Alaghbash, who spoke Arabic, said he noticed a fire truck passing by on University about 5 to 10 minutes after Zumot arrived. After the truck passed, the phone at the lounge rang. Zumot picked it up and ran out of the building.
Alaghbash said he received a call from Zumot about a half an hour later.
"He called me and asked me about Jennifer," Alaghbash said. "He was crying."
Under cross-examination, Alaghbash said he remembers what happened that evening, but acknowledged that he couldn't recall exactly how much time passed between each event.
Last week, the jury saw surveillance videos from Da Hookah Spot showing a fire engine passing and Zumot entering the lounge about a minute later, at 6:47 p.m.
Another witness who talked about Zumot's actions on Oct. 15, 2009, was Ziad Zumot, the defendant's third cousin. He testified that he received a phone call from Bulos Zumot that afternoon, shortly after 2:30 p.m. Minutes after the call, Bulos Zumot stopped by Ziad's Mountain View store, Earthly Delights Gourmet Food.
He also said he received no indication from Zumot's demeanor that anything was amiss.
"It was nothing special, nothing wrong," Ziad Zumot testified. "I didn't see anything."
The trial will resume Wednesday morning.