Two Palo Alto officers who used cell-phone records to help convict Bulos Zumot in the October 2009 murder of Jennifer Schipsi were recognized this week by a consortium of law enforcement and security professionals.
The International High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) awarded its annual "Case of the Year" honor this week to Palo Alto Det. Aaron Sunseri and Sgt. Con Maloney, both of whom played critical roles in the investigation and testified during Zumot's trial.
The consortium is also recognizing Jim Cook, a consultant who used cell-phone records to map out the location of Zumot's and Schipsi's phones on the day of the murder; Det. James Eichbaum from the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office, who helped recover deleted text messages from the two phones; and Deputy District Attorney Charles Gillingham, who prosecuted the case.
Zumot, former owner of Da Hookah Spot in downtown Palo Alto, was charged with killing his girlfriend, Schipsi, on Oct. 15, 2009, and then burning the cottage they shared on Addison Avenue to cover up the crime. Gillingham relied heavily on text messages and phone records from Zumot's and Schipsi's phones to detail their history of domestic violence and to describe the events leading up to Schipsi's death.
The text messages included several heated exchanges between Zumot and Schipsi on the night before and the day of her death. Zumot had admitted during the trial that he deleted many of these messages from his phone on the day of the fire. Investigators were able to recover most of these deleted messages.
The jury found Zumot guilty on Feb. 10 of first-degree murder and arson. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
The case received heavy publicity and was the subject of hour-long segments on NBC's Dateline and ABC's 20/20.
"People v. Zumot shows the extent to which investigators must collaborate with one
another to put together both digital and physical pieces of a case," Duncan Monkhouse, president HTCIA, said in a statement. "Promoting this kind of collaboration was the reason HTCIA was founded, and we are pleased to support our members who live that mission every day."