The case of the State of Florida against George Zimmerman is fast approaching. Jury summons have been mailed, subpoenas for witnesses are being mailed, all moving towards what seems like an unavoidable very public trial. As I mentioned in a previous post, the prosecution is trying to line up its ducks to prepare for its case, the guys at Rumpole’s site decided to do a little exercise on what sort of case the prosecution has and how they would have it presented. H/T to John Galt and Chip Bennet.
John Galt, presented the prosecution’s case, Chip Bennet did the rebuttal, my comments are in red.
GZ Background: Neighborhood Watch, prior calls to police about youth burglars, Neighborhood Watch meeting, training, not supposed to pursue or carry gun, GZ lives in neighborhood, familiar with neighborhood and streets. GZ criminal justice training. Knows the law. Implication: GZ knows how to conform his story to requirements of law. While I agree that BDLR will attempt to introduce prior calls by GZ to the SPD, he had to be careful with this, as it opens the door for the Defense to introduce evidence of the over 400 calls made to 911, for a variety of issues in the neighborhood. It also bears saying that GZ did not call 911 but the Non-Emergengy number, the distinction being that if GZ truly “profiled” TM as a criminal he would have called 911 for a faster response. In other words he saw something suspicious, rather than confront, he wanted the police to handle it.
NEN call: GZ profiled TM as a criminal because he was walking in the rain with a hoodie: fuarking punk, azzholes always get away. GZ followed, even after dispatcher told him not to follow. Looking for an address excuse is BS, GZ was still pursuing TM. BDLR will reference NEN call as containing running and wind noise from running. BDLR will reference GZ’s prior calls to cops, purchase of gun as demonstrating GZ’s evolution into crazed vigilante who wants to stop azzhole fuarking punk from always getting away. The Prosecution has made a lot of hay out of 2 ‘off the cuff’ statements, trying to prove malice in GZ, IMO this is the prosecution reaching, if the call is listened to objectively, the frustration and resignation in GZ’s voice is evident, not as the prosecution projects. I believe BDLR will try to use the call to suggest at least stalking by GZ, and that he was following TM, I don’t doubt that he will try to imply that GZ disregarded the police (though the dispatcher is not a LEO) was reckless and an escalation. This is a reason the wording use is important like the use of the word “profiling” without any context makes it look as a crime. If the prosecution used the words GZ determined that TM was suspicious, it loses the intent, and it makes the jury think, why would GZ determine that TM was suspicious. The word profile puts the onus on GZ, and removes TM from the equation. The Defense picked up on this at the 1st bond hearing and grilled Investigator Gilbreath about it. They need to continue.
TM returning from 7-11: This is a big problem. I think W8 would get shredded. Chad might fold and his story is inconsistent with purchase of a single WMFJC(Arizona Watermelon Fruit Cocktail) and a bag of skittles. Not two drinks and no snack for TM. There is also the half time basketball game problem and why Chad didn’t hear shooting and sirens and other commotion. The 7-11 video shows a scary hooded, pants sagging thug. 3 stooges drug deal might surface. So if I were BDLR, I would be inclined to skip the 7-11 trip and have cop testify about what was found at scene of the shooting: WMFJC and candy. Not really pertinent where or why he bought items. No drugs, burglary tools, stolen property, no bag for carrying burglary tools or stolen property and no weapons. Just simple facts: We found the dead kid with WMFJC, skittles, lighter, a small amount of money (no drugs or big drug dealer cash), headphones, cell phone, button. No gang tattoos, has his momma’s name on his arm. Nothing consistent with any intention to commit a crime. Dead kid was staying with father and girlfriend in the neighborhood. [That simple little last part might be a problem, maybe just have cop testify that he subsequently located TM father staying in neighborhood and looking for missing kid. Don’t want to open the door into why TM was staying in the neighborhood. Maybe Nelson helps out by banning mention of anything bad about TM.] I agree with JG in this regard, the prosecution will have to thread carefully with this area. As the motions filed by the State prove they want to conceal as much of TM past as the Judge will allow. How did TM get to Sanford if he does not live there? Where did the WMFJC and skittles come from? Both of the prosecution’s witnesses in this regard are problematic, Chad, may have to answer questions that the State does not want to answer and W8 has other issues that we have address in other posts. I believe that BDLR will call W8 and not Chad. She can establish that TM went to the 7-11 and could alibi TM for the length of time it took him to get back as well (was raining, they were talking, etc.) Chad can open a can of worms the State does not want and for that reason I don’t think he will be called to testify.
Timeline: If GZ was returning to his truck after NEN call, he would have been at his truck. GZ had no intention of returning to his truck as evidenced by telling dispatcher to have the cops call him upon arrival, rather than meet him at his truck. “have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at” GZ was hunting TM, didn’t want “fuarking azzhole punk to always get away” If I was BDLR, I would make that my mantra. Try to say it as many times as possible. GZ evolved into an obsessed gun-toting Neighborhood Watch vigilante, falsely profiled TM as a criminal, and consistently pursued him to keep “the fuarking azzhole punk from always getting away.” Depraved state of mind. I also think that the State will try to get as much traction from this as possible. Speculation aside, the timeline does provide enough time to GZ to return, not that he was doing anything illegal by him slowly walking back or just standing at the point he last saw TM, but the prosecution will attempt to paint this as reckless, and demonstrative of GZ lack of fear or concern about TM. It is not much but it is all the State has and needs to make the most out of it.
Confrontation / Fight: TM body and phone 30 or 40 feet away from T where GZ alleges he was attacked. GZ chased TM down the T. Witness heard confrontation moving in that direction. GZ advancing, chasing fuarking azzhole punk to prevent him from always getting away. TM retreating. No GZ blood found in vicinity of T. TM has only one tiny cut on his knuckle (autopsy actually calls it an abrasion, which is more consistent with a fight). Inconsistent with administering MMA beating. GZ has minor scrapes on head, inconsistent with beating head repeatedly against sidewalk. GZ sustained broken nose after he chased TM down and attempted to keep him from getting away. GZ started the fight. Sybrina & Cutcher – TM was screaming for help. Poor little boy was screaming for help. [I think Nelson would be doing BDLR a favor if she banned the flaky voice experts. Cross-ex and rebuttal would be extremely ugly, and would make it appear that BDLR is engaged in a desperate attempt to BS the jury. Don’t put Tracy on the stand for voice ID. Just Sybrina and Cutcher.] I would also call W 6 so that the jury won’t be surprised later, dark, not sure who was screaming for help, guy in red was on the bottom, but didn’t see or hear blows struck, didn’t hear head hitting sidewalk. Austin saw somebody on the ground, doesn’t know anything else, didn’t see anybody on top throwing blows, didn’t hear blows or head hitting sidewalk. I agree that the State will try play up the distance as proof of a chase. 40 feet without context sounds like a long distance but if you say that the body was 13 yards or 15 steps from the T it suddenly does not look as bad. Even though there is a debris trail that leads down the path from the T to the location of the body, the defense will try to claim the fight started at or near the final location, giving the appearance of a least following by GZ. I believe BDLR will try to claim the screams came from TM, the voice analysis is inconclusive, in fact one report asserts that GZ was making the screams that really transfixed the nation, the other report hinges who has the younger sounding voice; anyone that has heard GZ will have doubts as them not coming from GZ. If the voice experts are allowed to testify their testimony will be more confusing than probative. Sybrina saying it is her son may help in the matter but only to some extent and it would open the door for the Defense to argue that Tracy did not think it was TM. W6 and Austin (boy walking dog) have limited value in this regard and could actually help GZ, so I would be careful with their testimony.
Medical / Gunshot: Kid is dead, shot in the heart by Z’s gun. Shot placement intended to kill, not merely disable or stop attack. GZ shot to kill. Pretty straight forward stuff here, as GZ has admitted to shooting TM, only interesting aspect will be if the State will try to present testimony that the angle of the wound somehow show malicious intent on the part of GZ. Make absolutely no mention of the toxicology report or get an expert to testify that it was not a factor.
Aftermath: GZ astride TM, holding his hands apart, down, still trying to prevent the fuarking, azzhole punk from trying to get away. GZ still obsessed, depraved: keep fuarking azzhole punk from trying to get away. Depraved Neighborhood Watch vigilante gone wild. Not trying to help TM, not lying or sitting on ground as if he had a serious head injury or had sustained repeated blows to the head. GZ lucid and nonchalant, tells neighbor to call wife and tell her he just shot somebody, tells cop he shot the kid. No big deal, not agitated or distraught or dazed or confused. [BDLR has already filed motion to exclude GZ’s “I was screaming but nobody would help.” as a self-serving statement. This is a very important motion, imho.] GZ declined medical treatment beyond cleaning up blood from superficial abrasions. Definitely, bringing up the injuries and what are perceived as minor abrasions will be part of the State case, the law is clear that this is not a consideration but to some jurors it might give them a pause. Combined with the attempt by the prosecution of suppressing statements by GZ, give the indication that this is part of their argument. GZ actions will be analysed thoroughly and this is one area that will be examined.
Then rest and see if defense puts GZ on the stand. Cross GZ with inconsistent statements if he testifies. Make him look absurd. You’ve lived in the neighborhood for how long? You are Neighborhood Watch and regularly patrol neighborhood. You have previously called police numerous times, yet you still don’t know the names of the streets? Serious injury? Fear for your life? You thought you were sustaining life threatening blows to the head, but you refused to go to the hospital. Isn’t it true that you had determined in your mind that TM was a “fuarking punk” ? Isn’t it true that you had determined in your mind that TM was an “azzhole who always gets away” ? Isn’t it true that you had determined in your mind that TM was a criminal intending to commit a crime in the neighborhood? Isn’t it true that you called the police because you believed in your mind that TM was a criminal intending to commit a crime in the neighborhood? My belief is that the whole prosecution’s strategy is to force GZ to testify on the stand. I feel that is the prosecution’s best scenario for obtaining a guilty verdict. Disallowing or at the very least inserting enough doubt into GZ story of self-defense so that either their theory or one of the included lesser charges are considered is their goal. I don’t see how they can outright prove the charges with the evidence they have presented.
List of witnesses for the State:
Gun dealer employee(s) where Z bought gun, took class
Custodian of records from GZ criminal justice school
Woman at SPD that exchanged emails about Neighborhood Watch program
Cop that made neighborhood watch presentation
Custodian of records at SPD regarding Z’s prior calls
NEN and 911 call dispatchers & custodian of records to authenticate recordings
cops responding to TM shooting scene
cops that examined, mapped, photographed scene and collected evidence
EMT responding to TM shooting scene
W6, I would add W8
other 911 caller that heard confrontation moving down from T.
witness at scene that GZ told to call his wife
Medical Examiner & gunshot expert
John Galt’s counter argument is brief but to the point:
The counter argument is that there is no evidence that GZ started the physical conflict and that the location of the physical evidence corroborates GZ’s statement that he was attacked by TM at the T while returning to his vehicle. Following TM to attempt to maintain visual observation (as arguably requested by NEN dispatcher) is not a crime. Self-defense does not require actually suffering serious physical injury, but rather reasonable belief of imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. Basically the position taken by the SPD from the outset: GZ should not have been charged in the absence of probable cause.
I just don’t think that adding a bunch of absurd easily rebuttable BS (W8 and voice experts) strengthens the state’s case.
I assume that the defense would object to the relevance of any of this information? Background does not help prove the instant charge, does it?
Also: Florida CCW law preempt any law, statute, regulation, or rule prohibiting concealed carry. Zimmerman’s knowledge of neighborhood and its streets is pure speculation. The defense may object but some background will ultimately be admitted about GZ in this regard. The NW information should be irrelevant unless the State can prove he was on duty at the time. As for addresses, I agree pure speculation.
Speculation. Zimmerman said that he “looked like he was up to no good”, and that he was just “wandering about”, and “looked like he was on drugs or something“. Insert toxicology report here. If Nelson prohibits it, one more obvious point for appeal. Again this is more about the prosecution setting GZ state of mind than actual evidence of anything.
Give BDLR some extremely minor points for motive. I am not conceding any points to BDLR, that is his assertion, GZ saw a suspicious figure and wanted the LE’s to respond.
Evidence? Without evidence, this is speculation, and I assume the defense will object on grounds of arguing facts not in evidence, or speculation. The most the NEN call can prove is that GZ kept within eyesight of TM until he lost him once TM turned on the dog path down the T. W8 testimony is at best confusing, but only give the indication of GZ following, not anything else.
Speculation. No evidence. Since GZ was unable to communicate with LE’s afterwards due to the incident, BDLR can assert this, but can’t prove it.
More speculation. No evidence of the cause/nature of the wind noise. And most importantly: even if it is evidence of Zimmerman running (moving quickly – defense will argue that he was in poor health/bad back, wearing work boots, and thus incapable of running), the wind noise stopped a few seconds after the “We don’t need you to do that,” “Okay” exchange. Another issue where the prosecution will assert something but has no proof.
More speculation, and arguing facts not in evidence. Zimmerman purchased his handgun in December 2009 (after obtaining his CCW in November), in response to a menacing dog in the community, and at the specific advice of the police officer who responded to Zimmerman’s report about the menacing dog: “Don’t use pepper spray,” [the police officer] told the Zimmermans, according to a friend. “It’ll take two or three seconds to take effect, but a quarter-second for the dog to jump you. Get a gun.“. The defense will have to get someone to testify to this. Once that is done this point will be nullified.
And all of it is irrelevant to the matter at hand: what happened to instigate and escalate the physical altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. I agree that Witness 8 has already served her complete purpose, and will never grace the inside of a courtroom. I am going to disagree slightly, I think the prosecution will call W8 and roll the dice.
Zimmerman was under no obligation to go directly to his truck, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Obvious rebuttals:
– Zimmerman’s stated timeline, including walking to the front side of the building, looking for a sign, and then walking back, fits entirely with the timeline of events
– The timeline, which includes 2 1/2 minutes from Zimmerman hanging up with NEN to the first witness 911 call connecting, does not provide sufficient time for Zimmerman to traverse 380 feet to Brandi Green’s home, to chase Martin 380 feet back to the sidewalk T, engage in a verbal confrontation, and then engage in a physical altercation.
– If Martin was attempting to return home, he had more than ample time to do so, before Zimmerman ever ended his NEN call.
On its own, this point proves nothing – and there is GPS/ping evidence that will show, to some degree of detail/resolution, the relative paths of both Zimmerman and Martin.
We are missing a part of the puzzle, which I hope the GPS/ping logs would clarify, but baring evidence to the contrary if GZ choose to stand at the T, he has every right to do so. Ascribing thoughts or intentions without proof is wrong and discriminatory.
Speculation. BDLR is not clairvoyant, and cannot state as fact anything regarding Zimmerman’s intent. Claiming the fact that he eventually shot Martin as evidence of Zimmerman’s intent is logical fallacy, begging the question.
More assertions without facts or merit.
More speculation. More arguing facts not in evidence, specifically: “hunting”. Agreed.
I would expect the defense to object every time BDLR attempts to do so. Such statements are speculative, represent facts not in evidence.
While BDLR will not probably use those words, he imo, will attempt to portray GZ as such
Speculation. Facts not in evidence. Also: Zimmerman indicated that Martin “looked like he was on drugs”. Toxicology report confirms that suspicion. That confirmation corroborates Zimmerman’s suspicion, and corroborates his state of mind/contradicts depravity of mind.
I mentioned the word profile before, I hope the Defense addresses it, further.
Facts not in evidence. Where are the GPS/ping location maps?
Prior police/incident reports will corroborate that fear/concern regarding “punks always getting away” is perfectly justified.
Evidence of chase? None so far.
– 30-40 feet during an assault is nothing, and easily fits Zimmerman’s statements
– Martin disappeared around the side of the building several minutes before the altercation took place. How/why was he anywhere near 30-40 feet from the sidewalk T?
– Debris field corroborates that the altercation started AT the sidewalk T
– The timeline does not provide sufficient time for a chase
– The dog walk path/area between the houses would have been dark, due to lack of lighting, and particularly so, given the weather. Zimmerman’s sight distance would have been no more than a few feet (as corroborated by Witness 6 testimony)
– Zimmerman indicates that he lost sight of Martin before he ever exited his vehicle, and when standing in the vicinity of the sidewalk T, told the NEN operator, “I don’t know where this kid is”
More evidence that the altercation started in the vicinity of the sidewalk T – direct contradiction to the pursued/chased/hunted speculation.
Speculation. Facts not in evidence. Where are the GPS/ping location maps?
Speculation. Facts not in evidence. Where are the GPS/ping location maps?
Irrelevant. Proves nothing. Why should there be any of Zimmerman’s blood in the vicinity of the sidewalk T? He could have been sucker-punched in the nose by Evander Holyfield, and he probably would not have bled (much less, sprayed blood to the extent that any would be found at the location of the punch) immediately at the sidewalk T.
Did everyone forget it was raining that night? Any blood diluted by the rain would easily wash off, same applies to clothing with water-resistant coating which GZ was wearing.
Plenty of witnesses corroborate that Martin was on top of Zimmerman. Witness 6 testimony refutes speculation regarding inconsistency.
More speculation. Also, mis-characterization. The wounds were lacerations, not “minor scrapes”. Blunt force trauma (such as head banging the ground/sidewalk) can present as either internal or external injuries. Mere existence of head injuries corroborates claim that Martin was aggressor and Zimmerman was victim.
Prima facie evidence that Martin was the initial physical aggressor.
Speculation. Facts not in evidence. Where are the GPS/ping location maps?
Speculation. Facts not in evidence.
Further: no evidence that Martin reasonably feared that Zimmerman would imminently use unlawful force against Martin; thus, no evidence that the broken nose was a justifiable use of force in self-defense.
This is an important point, as even the testimony of W8 disproves that TM felt afraid of GZ. In fact one gets the notion that he was annoyed.
Speculation. Facts not in evidence.
Cutcher impeached herself. No “little boy” was present.
Sybrina: on cross, will be forced to admit that she has never heard Trayvon scream bloody murder as recorded on the 911 call, and thus cannot reliably state that the voice was her son’s.
Rebuttal: eye-witnesses. Tracy Martin’s admission (as witnessed by 3 SPD officers)
If the voice experts are allowed: another point for appeal. Also, I agree that they will be detrimental to the State’s case.
Witness 6 corroborates Martin’s use of force against Zimmerman, and disparity of force (full MMA low mount, punching/knocking to the ground, forcibly restraining) that would itself justify reasonable fear of imminent risk to life or great bodily harm.
I’m not sure Austin gets called. His recanted testimony would open up doors that the State/Scheme Team would not want opened.
Use of a gun is inherently deadly force. Shot placement does not make the use of the gun any more or less deadly, statutory.
Lots of more speculation, facts not in evidence. Neighbor eye-witness testimony, EMT statements, responding police officer statements all support Zimmerman’s self-defense claim, and refute such attempted nonsense speculation.
W6 who was closed to the scene was unable to clearly see the incident, but someone at twice the distance was able to make out GZ activities around the body?
How could this possibly be inadmissible? More grounds for appeal.
Not relevant. Justifiable use of deadly force in self-defense does not require a severity-of-injury threshold. (Insert anecdote about the Utah soccer referee here. )
If this is all the State presents – speculation, theory, and no evidence – then I would expect the defense to file a motion to dismiss/acquit due to lack of evidence.
Basic conclusion, as illustrated by this exercise in which we tried to use the discovery to convict GZ. In order to do so the prosecution has to make jumps. speculate on things and avoid certain facts of the incident. For the prosecution to make a case it has to ignore distances, completely ignore conditions and assume malice on GZ’s part based on 2 phrases. For instead the State cannot prove a chase, as there was none, the distances and timeline preclude that. Some of the witness testimony is suspect because of the conditions of that night. It was raining, very dark and visibility only a few yards. This further complicates the implication of a chase as unless GZ was within a few yards of TM he would have lost him, and not have caught 15 steps from the T as some on TM’s camp have asserted. The voice testimony from the prosecution is contradictory at best, exculpatory at worst. W8 testimony obfuscate a large portion of time that may not be to the State’s benefit to get into. Attempts to demonize GZ have failed, and they now concede that GZ did not have a Felony record, this is a clear indication that after further investigation the State was unable to prove a history of violence as many claim. Right now the prosecution imo is reduced to trying to force GZ to testify in order to make something out of nothing.
This travesty is set to go on trial June 10th help the Defense Fund if your able.