Girlfriend of Man Shot in Feud Over Shrubbery Relives Fatal Afternoon
Evelyn Zeller’s boyfriend was shot dead by a neighbor in a crazy argument over some shrubbery. Now, in an exclusive interview with INSIDE EDITION, she relived the dreadful day one guy killed the man she loved.
Zeller told INSIDE EDITION, “He destroyed a human life over nothing.”
Watch Zeller's Interview with INSIDE EDITION
Economist Michael Vilkin owned a piece of land near San Diego. He had a long-running dispute with the couple who lived in the house to his left—John Upton and Evelyn Zeller.
Zeller says Vilkin burned undergrowth and dumped loads of dirt on the property, all without permits.
She said, “Mr. Vilkin was a nuisance without regard for anybody else living in the neighborhood.”
The final straw came when Vilkin cut down some bushes. Upton, an Emmy-winning filmmaker, came out of the house and confronted him. That is when Vilkin pulled a gun and shot Upton, who fell dying in a pool of blood. Vilkin then threatened Zeller too.
She said, “He points the gun at my chest from very close range. I threw my head up and my hands up ran back into the house and called 911.”
Zeller said to a 911 operator: "My partner just got shot. Please hurry. Hurry. He's bleeding. He got shot in the head."
The 62-year-old Russian-born Vilkin was charged with murder. At his trial, the prosecutor used a mannequin to show the jury where the bullets struck the victim.
Vilkin claimed Upton had pulled a gun on him first, saying, "I saw a pistol in his right hand. It was like one second and I pulled out my revolver and shot him."
But the jury didn't buy his tale and found him guilty of murder.
Zeller said, “It confirmed how crazy this whole thing was, and just how messed up and bizarre.”
Vilkin faces 35 years to life in prison. He'll be sentenced on August 27th.