Steven Zuber of Allentown, Pa., pleaded no-contest yesterday to shooting a 7-year-old girl in the buttocks with a BB gun — but he still says he didn’t do it, and that the little girl made up the story due to “mental health issues.”
Zuber, 33, acknowledged that he too has mental health issues. He takes medication for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, he told Judge James T. Anthony.
Anthony, in a no-jury trial, found Zuber (pictured) guilty of attempted murder for an incident on Aug. 31 of last year when he shot his girlfriend, Ashley Johnston, in the chest and arm through the a car window as she tried to drive away with the couple’s 3-year-old son in the back seat.
At his trial, Zuber said that he was simply trying to scare Johnston, but that his gun fired by accident — two times, with both bullets striking her. Johnston, 31, still has the bullet lodged in her chest.
Two weeks prior to the shooting, according to the account given by Lehigh County Chief Deputy District Attorney Bethany Zampogna, Zuber very deliberately shot Johnston’s young daughter in the backside with two BBs.
The girl was in her mother’s bedroom when Zuber called her into the living room of his home. He then told the girl to raise her hands and face the wall. When she complied, Zuber for some reason fired a BB gun and hit her in the buttocks with two shots.
The seven-year-old felt a stinging sensation, then began bleeding. She had to go to a nearby hospital for treatment.
But Zuber told Anthony that the girl merely suffered from a “rash.”
“That doesn’t look like a rash to me,” the judge said upon examining hospital photos of the child’s injury. “That looks like a welt.”
When the judge asked why someone would shoot a 7-year-old in the buttocks, Zuber’s public defender had no answer.
Zuber pleaded no contest to child endangerment, which means that he does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that there’s enough evidence to convict him anyway.
He said that he entered the plea only “to get it off the table.” Zuber continued to deny shooting the girl.
His sentence wil be served at the same time as his 20-40 year term for his attempted murder conviction.
Sources: Allentown Call, Lehigh Valley Live