home

Judge Orders Release of George Zimmerman's Statements to Police

The Judge in the George Zimmerman case has ruled that George Zimmerman's police interviews and statements are not confessions because they contain no admission of guilt and therefore must be supplied to the media within 15 days. A copy of the order is here. It states:

Upon an in camera review of the Defendant's statements, they do not qualify as confessions, as the Defendant does not acknowledge guilt of the essential elements of the crime. The only element conceded by the Defendant is that he shot and killed the victim, but he does not concede any other elements of second-degree murder. Fla. Stat. §119.071(2)(e) does not exempt the statements from the public record. Since the Defendant admitted at his bond hearing that he shot the victim, disclosure of those statements will not impact the Defendant's right to a fair trial.

[More..]

Does this include the video of his walk-through at the shooting scene the day after the shooting?

Also to be disclosed: all crime scene photos and the full autopsy report. Only photos showing the body of Trayvon Martin will be withheld.

The names and addresses of witnesses will be redacted, except for those who voluntarily went on TV or other media. The order doesn't say the redaction only applies to those who disclosed their identities on TV. It could be an oversight or the Judge may believe anonymity on TV is no shield.

These findings apply only to previously unidentified witnesses. The media interveners may provide to the parties the name of any person who has voluntarily appeared or given a statement in a media outlet, including the time and date of the appearance or interview. The State shall, within fifteen days, provide the person's full identity as required by Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.220 and shall identify which statement in evidence was provided by that person. The State shall satisfy this burden by tiling a Notice of Supplemental Discovery in the Court file.

This requirement would not apply to witnesses who were filmed from afar on the night of the incident while speaking with law enforcement. The above limitations apply also to audio or video recorded statements. The State may remove the speaker's name and address from the copy of the recording.

Witness #9's uncorroborated accusation of some past act of Zimmerman's that she believes shows his racial animus will be provided. Her identity will not be provided. That doesn't seem fair. The state says it was unable to corroborate her information. She clearly has some agenda (she called in on Feb. 28, 2 days after the shooting, and spoke with Inv. Perkins. While the call is not date-stamped, Inv. Serino provides the date on page 6 of his 13 page report dated 3/13/12.) It's obvious from listening to the call who she is. If she's not going to be a witness and she's smearing the defendant, I don't see why her identity is being withheld.

The "test results" (voice stress test which Zimmerman passed) will be disclosed. (The order states the parties wanted it sealed, but I think only the state to seal it on the grounds it wasn't clear it would be admissible, which as the judge and media noted, is not the test.) Was this request just an attempt by the state to shield items that might favor the defense from public view?

Also unclear (the Judge's style of writing renders his orders difficult to comprehend: Cell phone records. He never mentions Dee Dee or Trayvon's records. George Zimmerman's cell phone records to Sanford Police emergency or 911 the night of Feb 26 will be released. His later cell phone records will not be.

CELL PHONE RECORDS: The Court has not been provided basis to find that the Defendant's cell phone records are relevant or should even be considered evidence. The persons contacted by the Defendant in the days surrounding the incident should not be connected to the case merely because their telephone numbers appear on the Defendant's bill.

The State shall provide a list of dates and times that the Defendant contacted the Sanford Police Department, either on its non-emergency line or via 911. All other cell phone records should be exempt.

What about his text messages after the day of the shooting? The judge doesn't say.

In the state's motion for protective order which the court denied on June 1, the state asked to seal:

Cell phone records of the Victim, the witness identified in Redacted Discovery Reply as W8, and the Defendant. The telephone records would identify witness W8, the Victim's parents, and other innocent people whose telephone numbers are listed in said records. Additionally, the dissemination of such information would subject all of them to potential harassment and concerns for their safety. See Section 119.071 (S)(d) and cases already cied.

I assume that means DeeDee and Trayvon's cell phone records won't be released but he didn't say so. According to the media lawyer, the court can redact only the name and address of the subscriber, which would be DeeDee or Trayvon, not the numbers of those they called or got calls from. Cell phone records don't have the names of the person called or calling in, just the city and phone numbers. Couldn't the numbers be partially redacted, leaving the date, city, time and length of call and say last four digits of the phone number? DeeDee's calls in particular seem to me to be relevant both the night of the shooting and after, when she was in contact with the Martin family and Team Crump, and do Trayvon's calls the day and night of the shooting.

The state acknowledged in its Redacted List of Discovery Exhibits it has:

  • Cell phone records ---Victim (11/1/11- 3/1/12) (CD)
  • Cell phone records ---W8 (DeeDee) (2/26/12- 4/2/12) (CD)

What about Zimmerman's medical records. They were described in the discovery provided but not released as far as I know:

Medical records- Altamonte Family Practice --Defendant 2/27112

Another unknown: On the jail calls, the Judge rules that transcripts of those calls the state has transcribed have to be turned over but the state doesn't have to make transcripts of the other calls.

RECORDED TELEPHONE CALLS FROM The JAIL;

The State cited to excerpts of conversations held between the Defendant and his wife, Shelly Zimmerman. which were recorded while the Defendant was incarcerated at the jail To the extent that those particular conversations have already been transcribed, the transcripts should be released. The State is under no obligation to transcribe any additional transcripts. If there are any confessions by the Defendant in those statements, as defined above, the State shall provide the transcripts to the Court for an in camera review. The transcripts should be provided within fifteen days of this order.

But the state supplied audio recordings of all Zimmerman's calls calls to the judge. Shouldn't the media get the tapes? Under Florida records laws, anything the state gives the defense that is not exempt must be turned over.

I hope there are no attorney client calls in Zimmerman's jail calls. Florida's open records law is really extreme. It also seems to provide a way to game the system. All the state has to do to get something into the hands of the media is request it and turn it over to the defense as discovery. Clearly all of Zimmerman's jail calls as opposed to those pertaining to the bond funds, are nobody's business but his, yet the state, having asked for all of them and turned them over to the defense, now gets to turn them over to the media.

Moving on: E-mails to the city of Sanford will be released, but if they are from witnesses, their names will be redacted.

Basically, anything that the defendant says, whether relevant tot he case or not, and accusations against him by anonymous people will be released, even though the state has no intention of calling them as witnesses and has not corroborated their accusations (W-9 and W-22.) But names of witnesses and their addresses will not be. I disagree with the court as to addresses, since connecting the witnesses to their homes is essential for analysis of their statements about the shooting. For example, were they in a position to see what they claimed to see?

I have a hard time comprehending this Judge's orders and rulings. Today's order seems confusing in some respects and incomplete in others.

Ideally, in my view, no discovery would be public until trial. Trials are public, criminal investigations should not be. Evidence may be released that is later suppressed by the court. The public (and potential jury pool) will already have heard it. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. Being charged with a crime or a witness to a crime shouldn't result in the lives of either becoming an open book. But since Florida's law is what it is, it needs to be applied.

< George Zimmerman: Written Order vs. Oral Ruling at Bail Hearing | No Retrial for John Edwards >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft


  • Getting beaten up = bad judgment? (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by citizenjeff on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:27:52 PM EST
    That's interesting logic.

    The bad judgement... (none / 0) (#60)
    by unitron on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:46:19 PM EST
    ...was what put him into the position of possibly being at risk of getting beaten up.

    Unless you think Martin was so enraged that he was going to come back and put his fist through the windshield to get to him.

    Parent

    unitron, are you saying... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by citizenjeff on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:35:27 PM EST
    ...that Zimmerman showed bad judgment no matter how far away from Martin he was, and no matter how briefly he followed him? Or are you objecting to something in particular about the manner in which Zimmerman followed Martin?

    Parent
    The bad judgement... (5.00 / 0) (#133)
    by unitron on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:53:15 PM EST
    ...was to get out of his vehicle and go chasing off in the dark after him when the police were on the way and he could have driven south on Twin Trees to look back north along the sidewalk between the houses for Martin and could have checked the back entrance and looked back north up the east leg of Retreat View.

    Parent
    that comment was deleted (none / 0) (#79)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:07:49 AM EST
    there is no evidence GZ "lost control" of the situation before he was attacked.

    Parent
    Using currently know facts could you: (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by lousy1 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:58:19 PM EST
    So yes, it seems like he exhibited bad judgement at some point when he lost control of the situation by whatever means occurred.  

    Please define this "situation" and explain how GZ lost control of it.

    For extra points you can specify why this exhibited bad judgement.

    The victims of the beltway sniper could have stayed home until the terrorists were apprehended. Do you think they exhibited bad judgement because they lost control of the situation?

    current facts: unarmed minor dead. adult in jail (none / 0) (#68)
    by willisnewton on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 08:41:49 PM EST
    Yes, yes.  the "but for" argument.  We've all heard that one.  But GZ is an adult and had to take some responsibility for his actions at some point in his life.  He chose to carry a loaded weapon, legally, sure but only a fool would run into the dark after a stranger for no good reason.  he himself admits he lost control when he tells the dispatcher he doesn't know where the teen is, and obviously can't see too well.  

    Was that a criminal act?  No.  Was it the smartest thing he ever did?  Hard to say.  Looks brilliant next to his "code" talk, but you get the gist of what I'm saying here.

    Basic gun safety means the gun stays in your control.  Not that I think TM ever touched the weapon.  

    Drowning while boating, because you decided to go swimming drunk in the ocean at night three miles from shore is also not a criminal act either.    But again, we are talking about taking responsibility for actions, not what is provable at a trial.  The smart move is to never get out of the boat.

    As far as that goes, I am of the opinion that the location of the body, and the discarded objects and the witness statements strongly suggest that GZ was involved in an altercation that did NOT include him being struck to the ground with the initial blow while walking towards his vehicle.  In other words, I don't find his surrogates story to be credible.   If Gz was returning to his car, why is the body between the town homes?  That's my question to you.  

    I also think he can get a fair trial and that he is innocent until proven guilty.  And, that he was battered about the head to some degree by the teen.  After he lost control of the situation, by which I mean observing a suspicious person from a reasonable distance, or not.

    If you buy GZ's story without even hearing it, how can you be expected to remain objective?  You seem to START from the point of thinking he was jumped, and struck to the ground with the first blow.  Where did that take place?  

    I think he's got a decent shot at trial since the case against him will be difficult to prove, but I think what the prosecution is saying is pretty much also what I have come to think is what actually happened - GZ lost his cool, and after they addressed one another something caused him to chase the teen down after an initial event up by the T.  Now he's in the situation of having given statements that are inconsistent with evidence and testimony, specifically that the evidence and testimony show the fight moved and that it didn't start where and how he says it did.

    And now the host of this blog will likely delete this comment because of her rules.    But keep in mind we have no idea what GZ told the cops.  I'm refuting what his surrogates say.   And I don't know if that makes him guilty or not, but what they say doesnt fit the testimony and evidence.  

    Parent

    No good reason? (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by citizenjeff on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:42:36 PM EST
    willisnewton claims "only a fool would run into the dark after a stranger for no good reason."

    I think keeping track of a suspect's whereabouts until the police arrive is a good reason. Saying he ran into the dark suggests you know something about the manner in which Zimmerman followed Martin. Do you?

    Parent

    He was cooperating with the dispatcher (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Redbrow on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:33:04 PM EST
    who twice asked him to keep an eye on the suspect.

    911 dispatcher: OK.Let me know if he does anything, OK?

    Zimmerman: OK...see if you can get an officer over here.

    911 dispatcher: We've got someone on the way. Just let me know if this guy does anything else.

    Zimmerman: Okay.


    Parent

    What the dispatcher said (none / 0) (#75)
    by citizenjeff on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 11:25:46 PM EST
    Great point, Redbrow!

    Parent
    keep in mind (none / 0) (#78)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:04:11 AM EST
    it's the state's burden to prove the charge beyond  a reasonable doubt which means disproving Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

    I'm not deleting your comment because you stated it as your opinion. But unless you are on the jury, your opinion won't matter and it's not a substitute for proof.

    The evidence will be what the state and Zimmerman present. The state has not released any evidence to date that indicates it shares your opinion. Or even if it does, that it can prove it.

    Zimmerman on the other hand, has photographic proof of his injuries and medical records, and an eyewitness who saw him wrestling with Taryvon, when he was on the bottom, struggling to get up. The other witnesses heard sounds growing louder from the top of the T to where the body was found and the cries for help were heard,a distance that spanned two houses -- 1211 to 1221. There is no evidence Zimmerman ever followed Trayvon south of 1221 TTL, and there's plenty of evidence he didn't.

    Parent

    Acutally, Willis (none / 0) (#80)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:10:58 AM EST
    your comment is objectionable in two respects: You claim as fact he lost control and he admitted it, and he followed him in the dark. Those are all either non-existent or disputed facts.

    Please make sure your future comments don't state your opinion as undisputed fact.

    Parent

    From what I've seen (5.00 / 0) (#43)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:10:02 PM EST

     and read so far GZ's willingness to talk to the police without a lawyer present fits perfectly with all the rest of his personality reported to date. I'm certainly no psychologist, but it seems pretty obvious he was envious of the police persona and was, to use a common term, a cop "wannabe." I'm pretty certain he felt that "lawyering up" would send the message that he's guilty to the police.

    He may even have welcomed coming in and talking to his "buddies" for so long. And, from the little bit I've seen, the police encouraged that feeling. Referring to him as "George," not "the suspect," and the "squeaky clean" description, and, not to forget, the officer on the scene the night of the incident consoling a witness by telling them something like, "if it's any consolation, the person laying there is not the one you heard yelling.".........something that has not yet been proven.

    All in all, I think GZ welcomed the interrogation, felt it would help him, and, who knows, in the end it may very well have.


    Of course, a law enforcement officer (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:32:36 PM EST
    hoping a person will talk usually uses a friendly type name for the person.  Well, at least in the U.S., I hope.  

    Parent
    I agree that cooperation is good with the caveat (none / 0) (#45)
    by lousy1 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:46:01 PM EST
    the GZ should have "asked permission" to have his lawyer present so he didn't get confused. Most police officers I know would regard that action as wise, not suspicious.

    The obvious benefit is insuring that a consistent set of statement regarding the relevant facts are put into the record.

    Another less obvious protection is also afforded by the attorney's presence present. It minimizes the risk  of getting contradicted on some seemingly unrelated ancillary fact.

    As an example:

    Lets say early that day GZ was shopping and bought grocery's but did not buy any alcoholic Beverages

    Latter when questioned about his actions earlier that day he recites the facts correctly.

    Lets also assume a witness, Mr Magoo, surfaces. Magoo knows GZ; has no reason to lie; and mistakenly believes he saw a six pack in GZ's shopping cart that afternoon.

    The prosecutor would rail on Zimmerman.

    Does Mr Magoo bear your any malice?
    Why did you lie about the alcohol?
    Were you given a sobriety test?
    What else did you mislead the police about?

    So an innocent totally unrelated aside by the deendant can risks convicting n a GZ by contradicting his/ factually correct,statements and raising the suspicion that a friendly PD allow a inebriated 'good guy' to skate

    IMO A good Lawyer would not allow the police interview to turn into a fishing exhibition.

    Parent

    Why would you think Zimmerman (none / 0) (#46)
    by Anne on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:55:31 PM EST
    should have to ask permission of law enforcement to have an attorney present?

    Parent
    It was a figure of speech. (none / 0) (#48)
    by lousy1 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:31:25 PM EST
     A contrivance to avoid breaking a cooperative atmosphere without putting your self at risk.

    However- no matter what response you get from the police - get the Lawyer before you speak.

    Thanks that was bad choice of words.

    Parent

    No, what he should have done was tell them (none / 0) (#47)
    by Angel on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:28:32 PM EST
    "I am going to call my lawyer.  I am not making any statements at this time."

    Parent
    GZ did not have access to an attorney (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by lily on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:50:21 PM EST
    his action reflect the thinking of a innocent of a crime working class person without the LUXURY to hire an attorney.


    Parent
    He had access to a phone - he could have called (none / 0) (#56)
    by Angel on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:23:01 PM EST
    Daddy.  And I note in your earlier comment that GZ was a couple of credits shy of his two year course completion in a law enforcement field.  If that is correct you'd think he would have learned that you never, ever talk to the police without an attorney present.

    Parent
    Daddy was neither an attorney or a judge (3.00 / 2) (#59)
    by lily on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:45:06 PM EST
    His function as a "magistrate" was more of a hearing officer for low level infractions and code enforcement violations.

    Not to mention his father was recovering from recent heart surgery,if I recall from news reports, it was about 7-10 days before the shooting and GZ was worried about him. Likely he would hesitate to call his father in the middle of the night on a Sunday. Again, perfectly reasonable judgment, yet typical of those you are so sure of TM's innocence in this tragedy, you display absolutely no compassion for the Zimmermans and assign privileges they do not possess.

    When in fact it was the Martins who had access to influential and well connected attorneys within a few days of the incident. Attorneys who constructed and promoted a false narrative through their media partners.  


    Parent

    It is quite possible.... (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by unitron on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:53:48 PM EST
    It is quite possible to have compassion for the Zimmermans without being convinced that Martin was guilty of anything in what was most likely a tragedy of errors.

    As for the Martin family having access to those lawyers, I haven't noticed any of them being powerful enough to bring their son back to life.

    Parent

    You are wrong. (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Angel on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 05:00:35 PM EST
    I didn't say the elder Zimmerman was a lawyer, did I? The facts are that his father is or was a magistrate and would know how to best help his son in the situation.  If you are a person who doesn't have a lawyer on speed-dial then you call someone who you think might be able to help you.  Sheesh.

    As far as your allegations "...yet typical of those you are so sure of TM's innocence..." - you have no idea - none - what I think about anyone's guilt or innocence because I have not said.  I have said I will wait for all the evidence to come out before I make my judgment.  Period.  

    Parent

    Zimmerman's father (none / 0) (#61)
    by Redbrow on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:49:35 PM EST
    is not a lawyer. He was not a judge either, just a low level magistrate.

    Zimmerman's father was present during the reenactment but only as a concerned family member.

    Parent

    Didn't say the elder Zimmerman was a lawyer. (none / 0) (#64)
    by Angel on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 05:01:21 PM EST
    I said he could have called him.  Period.

    Parent
    In direct response to (3.50 / 2) (#65)
    by Redbrow on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 06:16:54 PM EST
    GZ did not have access to an attorney. We all know what you meant.

    Parent
    Yes, I meant what I said and said what I meant. (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Angel on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 06:50:21 PM EST
    You apparently have a reading comprehension problem.  I've noticed that before with some of your comments.

    Parent
    Another Silly Talking Point (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 03:30:04 AM EST
    The police first want to respond to his concerned presence . . .

    The dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he wanted 'to meet with the officer when they get out there'. Officers were being sent to check out the suspicious person, and would do so even if Zimmerman went about other business.

    sniping around the edges (1.00 / 1) (#87)
    by willisnewton on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 10:47:23 AM EST
    Get to the point.  Do you feel GZ was in control of the situation at all times or not?  Do you presume TM to be innocent until proven guilty?  Do you think GZ can get a fair trial or not?  And lastly, what was GZ personally responsible for on that evening?  There are commenters here laying blame at the feet of the police dispatcher, for crying out loud, as though he was compelled somehow to leave his vehicle by "let us know if he does anything."    

    I don't think leaving his vehicle was a crime.  Running down the cut thru path, if that is admitted, isn't criminal either, possibly.  The prosecution seems to imply it might be part of an overall pattern of guilt, but I disagree.   I don't think walking down the dog walk path between the townhouses is a crime, either if provided that it happened in an innocent manner, and not while GZ was trying to detain TM.  

    We don't know why George ended up between the town homes, just that he did.  But the idea that he was in John's back yard because he was struck to the ground with one blow by TM while GZ engaged in the act of walking to(wards) his car is more than speculation at this point - it's unlikely speculation in my opinion that flies in the face of witness statements and physical evidence and basic geography.  That particular story strains credulity to me, yet many commenters are using this idea as a STARTING point to examine other evidence, which seems unproductive to me.  

    GZ never returned to his vehicle.  At what point did he cease that activity?  Seems to me it would be hard to prove in court that he ever started that activity.  It's just his story, if even that.  We don't know.  

    Parent

    Loss of Control (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:06:48 AM EST
    -- Do you feel GZ was in control of the situation at all times or not? --

    That depends on which account you believe.  The state says he was in control, and murdered Martin.  Zimmerman says he was temporarily incapable of defending himself, to the extent that his nose was broken, the back of his head bloodied, and if you believe (I forget if it was his brother or father) him, he was being smothered.  If you believe that, then you believe there was a period of time that Zimmerman was not in control.  It hardly seems fair to assign Zimmerman responsibility for this loss of control.

    -- Do you presume TM to be innocent until proven guilty? --

    While there is of course a presumption of innocence, that only works in light of the evidence.  There is evidence that Martin committed the crime of battery and maybe aggravated battery.  There is no evidence that would tend to establish that an extended battering of Zimmerman was justified.

    -- Do you think GZ can get a fair trial or not? --

    It's too early to tell.  As of now, the judge has demonstrated a mixed bag of following the law, and following his anger.

    -- And lastly, what was GZ personally responsible for on that evening? --

    Both he and Martin will have to justify all of their actions.  The only evidence I am aware of that has Zimmerman doing something "wrong" is DeeDee's speculation that Zimmerman shoved, pushed, grabbed, or similar, based on no more than verbal input from Martin.  I don't put much weight on that testimony because she wasn't there.

    Parent

    Interesting comment (5.00 / 0) (#106)
    by LeaNder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:19:53 AM EST
    "Both he and Martin will have to justify all of their actions."

    How do you think Trayvon Martin is going to do that?

    Parent

    IMO! (none / 0) (#107)
    by DebFrmHell on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:41:16 AM EST
    Young Mr. Martin will have physical evidence, DNA Reports, Ballistics and Trajectory Reports, witnesses, timelines, etc to speak on his behalf.

    Same goes for Mr. Zimmerman.

    It will be up to a judge or a jury to determine if either was justified as to their actions.

    Anywhoooo.  That is how I read that comment.

    IANAL.

    Parent

    He's dead, Jim (none / 0) (#109)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 06:09:13 AM EST
    -- How do you think Trayvon Martin is going to do that? --

    My point was that the law (is supposed to) works the same way for and against everybody.  In hindsight, the judge, the jury, and the public are going to review the justification each had for his actions.

    If you believe that Martin held Zimmerman at physical disadvantage for over half a minute, that it was Zimmerman screaming for help, and Martin didn't let up before he was shot, the prosecution has to come up with evidence to give Martin justification for his use of force.  It has to, because otherwise Martin is setting up conditions that may give Zimmerman a right to use deadly force in self defense; and its loses its claim that Zimmerman committed murder.

    Parent

    seems like reasonable answers, thanks (none / 0) (#91)
    by willisnewton on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 12:53:48 PM EST
    But just like any self defense story, GZ's included, Martin would be justified in meeting force with force if he were being illegally detained by GZ.  So injuries to GZ  and partial witnesses to a struggle only corroborate that he was struck by TM, not that he was assaulted illegally.  Until there is evidence or witness testimony that helps establish how the fight started, we are all whistling in the dark here.  And we don't know GZ's statements to police.  He could have the perfect story that explains all the evidence and witness statements, or he could have a mountain of horse-excrement to explain things.  We don't know.  The prosecution charges inconsistencies in GZ's statements and with evidence.  And, besides a plea of not guilty, as mark O'Mara told the judge, "we haven't said anything."  

    It's up to the prosecution to prove their charges.  But all a lowly blogger can do is examine the evidence we do have, and second guess what will happen at trial.  

    And as I've explained at length elsewhere, it seems to me that the location of the body is problematical for the defense.  Witnesses seem to describe an altercation that moved, not one where GZ was struck to the ground with the first blow as the opening move, as his surrogates and leaks to the press from the investigation suggest.  And we DON'T YET KNOW what Z told the police.  So further speculation beyond that point seems inconclusive to me.  

    Arguments about what can and must be proven at trial are useful.  Speculation that begins with a presumption of guilt on the part of the unarmed teen based on stories told by surrogates seems fantasy to me, especially in light of evidence seemingly to the contrary of the surrogate's stories, in my opinion, yes, but an opinion that is hard to refute easily.  Which are we engaging in here, as a community of bloggers?  

    Parent

    We're stuck having to use inference and reason (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:14:56 PM EST
    -- Until there is evidence or witness testimony that helps establish how the fight started, we are all whistling in the dark here. --

    There is plenty of evidence.  We're entitled to draw reasonable inferences to fill in gaps.  Nobody saw the first blow, but that that doesn't mean it's difficult or unreasonable to reach a finding which account is more likely.

    -- ... it seems to me that the location of the body is problematical for the defense. --

    As you point out, that depends on Zimmerman's account.  If Zimmerman's account has the struggle moving across the yard, then the evidence and account are a match.  SPD is on the record that no physical or eyewitness testimony contradicts Zimmerman's account.  But their witness pool didn't have DeeDee or Sybrina.

    That said, the ultimate outcome of a self defense claim can be established by reviewing a very small time frame, I'd say on the order of 10-20 seconds before the shot was fired.  Even if Zimmerman was an aggressor (say shoving, pushing, or using force to restrain Martin), he's entitled to use deadly force in self defense if Martin escalates the use of force so as to put Zimmerman in reasonable fear of death or serious injury.

    It's up to Zimmerman to make his self-defense claim.  If SPD could be a witness, it would find Zimmerman to have been justified.  That should carry a lot of weight, unless one finds evidence in the investigation was misinterpreted or misapplied.  My nutshell version of the case is SPD vs. DeeDee & Sybrina.

    Parent

    I'm still confused (none / 0) (#99)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 05:34:15 PM EST
    on the technical details of the SYG law.

    Are you saying that if GZ was committing a crime (grabbing, or restraining TM) and TM fought back that GZ could claim (even if true) that he was afraid for his life, shoot & kill TM, and he would be vindicated under the SYG law?


    Parent

    The self defense law says ... (none / 0) (#100)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:09:30 PM EST
    -- Are you saying that if GZ was committing a crime (grabbing, or restraining TM) and TM fought back that GZ could claim (even if true) that he was afraid for his life, shoot & kill TM, and he would be vindicated under the SYG law? --

    Not that he would be, but that he could be.  The law disfavors use of force, and it also disfavors escalation of force.  But, the law admits use of force to save your own life.

    If Zimmerman has shoved or grabbed Martin, Martin can use similar force to get the unlawful contact to stop; but he can't continue use of force beyond that necessary to break off contact.

    F.S. 776.041 - Use of force by aggressor [section ID omitted, emphasis added]

    The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or in good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

    "Provoking of force" is an act that itself amounts to a crime, such as assault (causing a reasonable person to believe they are about to suffer unlawful contact) or battery (unlawful contact).  Trash talking is emphatically not provoking of force, as a matter of law.

    I don't think F.S. 776.041 is controversial.

    Parent

    Thanks, I think I got it (none / 0) (#103)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 10:13:59 PM EST
    So, it may come down to whether GZ's injuries were serious enough for a reasonable person to conclude he was in danger of losing his life or suffering serious harm.

    I think he may have a problem there.

    Parent

    A common fallacy (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 02:33:46 AM EST
    -- it may come down to whether GZ's injuries were serious enough for a reasonable person to conclude he was in danger of losing his life or suffering serious harm. --

    One need not suffer injury in fact, in order to be in reasonable fear.  The phrase in the law, and it was blockquoted to you above, is "the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm."

    "Believes that he is in imminent danger" is not "suffer injuries serious enough," not by any stretch of the imagination.

    It is possible to put a person in reasonable fear of imminent danger without even touching them.  Or, if touching them, without producing much in the way of physical trauma.

    At the same time, injuries in fact can be used to test the basis that a person claims for being in that condition of belief; and/or to test the person's claims about events preceding that condition of belief.  I don't believe Zimmerman is claiming that the broken nose put him in fear of imminent danger of death; but he does claim Martin hit him in the face.  Hence the broken nose isn't evidence that goes to Zimmerman's basis for using deadly force, but it is evidence for the contention that Martin hit him in the face.

    Parent

    Ticking clock (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by Cylinder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:34:28 AM EST
    At the same time, injuries in fact can be used to test the basis that a person claims for being in that condition of belief; and/or to test the person's claims about events preceding that condition of belief.

    No single injury Zimmerman suffered would, in my layperson opinion, would have put him in reasonable fear.

    I use the analogy of a ticking clock. Assuming Martin ambushed Zimmerman and broke his nose, the clock starts ticking. If that's the extent of the altercation, then the clock stops. That's not what happened. The evidence points to Martin continuing his attack and most likely slamming Zimmerman's head into the concrete, which kind of advances the clock. For me, the tipping point - the strongest bit of evidence that places Martin as the aggressor and Zimmerman having reasonable fear is that the assault did not end with W6's intervention. That testimony, IMO, is key to Zimmerman's claim.


    Parent

    A reasonable analogy (none / 0) (#117)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:55:46 AM EST
    I think your conception that there is a sort of clock running is a good one.  I've used similar myself.  A person can be an aggressor one moment, and not in the next.  it depends on the give and take, if there is any.

    I think your placing of Martin as the aggressor only when he doesn't cease on W6's appearance is incorrect as a matter of law.  He could be the aggressor with the first punch in the nose (he is the aggressor then, if you believe Zimmerman's account); or when he has Zimmerman held to the ground and does not let up if/when Zimmerman submits.  That second scenario presupposes Zimmerman was the first to use unlawful force, by attempting to restrain Martin's movement or shoving or whatever other scenario (totally unsupported by evidence) one wants to hypothesize for talking purposes.

    I think the key to Zimmerman's immunity claim is whether or not his predicament, assuming you believe his account, is enough to create a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.

    In another Florida case, a man was justified in shooting at an opponent who was throwing beer bottles at his head, from a few feet away.  Not saying Lester draws the line in the same place, just saying that the line might not be where you or I think it is.

    Parent

    Reasonable Person Standard (5.00 / 1) (#124)
    by Cylinder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:49:49 PM EST
    I think your placing of Martin as the aggressor only when he doesn't cease on W6's appearance is incorrect as a matter of law.

    I should have been more clear. Using my own experience as a reasonable person standard, that bit of evidence would remove any hesitation concerning the necessity (i.e. he acted too quickly and had other options) that would occur to my mind. Of course, as a matter of law, the defendant would't have to prove anything - just raise the doubt.

    In fact, that was my initial suspicion in this case - that Zimmerman had acted too quickly. The evidence I have seen to this point has removed that doubt in my mind.

    Parent

    Oh, we were talking about two different things (none / 0) (#125)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 01:00:17 PM EST
    -- Using my own experience as a reasonable person standard, that bit of evidence would remove any hesitation concerning the necessity (i.e. he acted too quickly and had other options) --

    I was discussing how a person obtains the status of aggressor; and I think you were talking about how one obtains justification to use deadly force.

    Separately, it's pretty easy to get tunnel vision when reading a statute in light of a case in hand.  The statute aims to cover all sorts of altercations, most of which don't involve deadly force.  Something that many people don't usually get automatically is that it's not uncommon, in the course of a fight, for both fighters to commit crimes and be charged.  One person starts out the aggressor, and the second one, now in anger, takes a bit of revenge by not stopping blows when the first aggressor gives up.  The first victim becomes the second aggressor - the tables turn.

    Parent

    What about no injuries at all (none / 0) (#119)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:04:02 PM EST
    -- No single injury Zimmerman suffered would, in my layperson opinion, would have put him in reasonable fear. --

    It didn't happen this way, but play along with me.

    What if Martin knocked Zimmerman down, no injuries save maybe a bruise on Zimmerman's backside, and in that process, Martin becomes aware of Zimmerman's gun.  A struggle ensues, and Martin is able to obtain possession and control of Zimmerman's gun.  He points it at Zimmerman, and says he's going to kill him.  Unknown to Martin, Zimmerman has a second gun in an ankle holster.

    OK.  Now, Zimmerman has no injuries.  Is it your position that he is not yet entitled to self defense?  Or does he have to get injured more, first?

    I ask this, because you seem to be saying that there isn't enough in any single injury to Zimmerman to create a reasonable fear.  I mean, I sort of agree, and even with the head bangs not creating fear, from what I've heard.  Zimmerman claims to have had presence of mind to move his body so his head wouldn't again get banged on a hard object.  But if Zimmerman is physically exhausted, or near it, and Martin sees a gun and has a rush of adrenaline going for it, well, I don't know about you, but I'd probably soil myself on the spot; and it would have absolutely nothing to do with my broken nose or bonked head.

    Parent

    Just the Facts (none / 0) (#126)
    by Cylinder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 01:11:11 PM EST
    What if Martin knocked Zimmerman down, no injuries save maybe a bruise on Zimmerman's backside, and in that process, Martin becomes aware of Zimmerman's gun.  A struggle ensues, and Martin is able to obtain possession and control of Zimmerman's gun.

    That would be a clear claim.

    I ask this, because you seem to be saying that there isn't enough in any single injury to Zimmerman to create a reasonable fear.

    I could have been clearer. I mean to say that any single injury, taken in isolation, would tend to fail my personal reasonable person standard. Taken in toto, they would satisfy that standard in my lay opinion.

    But if Zimmerman is physically exhausted, or near it, and Martin sees a gun and has a rush of adrenaline going for it, well, I don't know about you, but I'd probably soil myself on the spot; and it would have absolutely nothing to do with my broken nose or bonked head.

    If credible evidence can be found to support the fear of retention, that would be great. It seems clear to me that the state will be using experts plus Zimmerman's re-enactment that somehow that was physically impossible. (Referencing testimony by the state at the original bond hearing.)

    IANAL and have no trial experience other than being an innocent and ultimately acquitted defendant once. It is my opinion that as a strategy, Zimmerman should make his strongest claim through injuries and use fear of retention to bolster that primary claim. I could be wrong and invite any objections to that opinion from the experts.

    My previous comments were trying to weigh the evidence as I understand it and applying a reasonable person standard. I'm not trying to assert that as a matter of law the defense would in any way constrained to my interpretation. I'll leave that you yous guys.  :-)

    Parent

    How does Sybrina qualify as a witness? (none / 0) (#134)
    by unitron on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 12:03:29 AM EST
    She wasn't in Sanford that night, was she on the phone with Trayvon as well?

    Parent
    The same way George Zimmerman Sr. does (none / 0) (#135)
    by cboldt on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:08:45 AM EST
    The state names Sybrina in its affidavit.  "Martin's mother has reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin's voice."  The only fact she will give testimony on is whose voice is heard crying for help.

    Ostensibly, she's qualified to testify for this purpose by her being consistently in Martin's presence, so as to have familiarity with his voice in various situations.

    Parent

    Tracy Martin (none / 0) (#105)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:52:01 AM EST
    if you believe (I forget if it was his brother or father) him, he was being smothered.

    Neither. That's part of what Tracy Martin claimed Serino told him Zimmerman said.

    Tracy Martin also claimed that Serino told him Zimmerman said that he and Martin traded words while Zimmerman was in his truck, and that Martin said 'You got me' after he was shot.

    None of these claims are found in other accounts of Zimmerman's statements.

    The Orlando Sentinel, March 26

    Robert Zimmerman Jr., Piers Morgan, March 29

    Robert Zimmerman Sr., FOX 35, aired March 29

    Robert Zimmerman Sr., Sean Hannity, April 4

    Parent

    Thanks for those (none / 0) (#110)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 06:20:17 AM EST
    I used to keep a library of contentions made, etc., but don't maintain it.  I did recall that brother or father Zimmerman claimed George's story involved Martin seeing the gun and a subsequent uttered death threat by Martin, and just assumed (without checking) they were also the source of the smothering claim.

    No matter to my remark, which was meant to describe how the law works, but of course it will matter to the finder of fact.

    Parent

    Zimm Jr (none / 0) (#118)
    by Raoul on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:03:07 PM EST
    MORGAN: Have you talked to George about the video since it came out?

    ZIMMERMAN: I'm not at liberty to say. That particular piece of information about the video or about how he thinks his appearance may or may not be, what I think I see is a swollen nose. Now, I'm not a physician, you're not a physician. A lot of these injuries take time, 24 hours, 36 hours, to show the bruising. Sometimes the bone breaks and the blood is swallowed, like in the case of, for example, if your hand would be on someone's nose and mouth, preventing them from --

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1203/29/pmt.01.html

    Parent

    Facts And Speculations (none / 0) (#90)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 12:53:21 PM EST
    Get to the point.

    You're not the boss of me.

    My point is that you are misrepresenting facts again. If you don't like that point, that's tough.

    I don't think walking down the dog walk path between the townhouses is a crime, either if provided that it happened in an innocent manner, and not while GZ was trying to detain TM.

    That Zimmerman intended to detain Martin is extremely far-fetched in my opinion.

    If Zimmerman isn't being truthful, I think the most likely scenario would be that one or both of them closed the distance with the intention of questioning the other. The verbal exchange then escalated. Zimmerman would have made the first physical move, because otherwise he would have no reason to lie.


    Parent

    The verbal exchange then escalated. (5.00 / 0) (#108)
    by LeaNder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 05:43:18 AM EST
    And why do you think it escalated?

    I am willing to learn. Given what was found with Trayvon Martin's body what would he have wanted to hide?

    "That Zimmerman intended to detain Martin is extremely far-fetched in my opinion."

    Why? He knew police was on the way and his earlier call clearly shows us he wanted police to check this guy out before he could escape, as he suspected and probably still suspects, through the back entrance.

    Parent

    Unlawful Detention (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:38:59 AM EST
    And why do you think it escalated?

    Is that a rhetorical question?

    Given what was found with Trayvon Martin's body what would he have wanted to hide?

    What are you talking about?

    He knew police was on the way and his earlier call clearly shows us he wanted police to check this guy out before he could escape . . .

    False imprisonment is a third degree felony. The police might have been too busy arresting Zimmerman to question Martin.

    Parent
    Describe the scene (none / 0) (#115)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:22:36 AM EST
    -- False imprisonment is a third degree felony. The police might have been too busy arresting Zimmerman to question Martin. --

    Setting aside for the moment, that there are situations where civilians may detain others without being exposed to a charge of false imprisonment, what is the scene that police come onto, where they conclude that arresting Zimmerman on probable cause of false imprisonment is justified?

    If the scene is about what eyewitness John reports, Zimmerman is the one being detained, not Martin.

    Parent

    Fair enough. The answer is binary. (1.00 / 1) (#101)
    by willisnewton on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:42:19 PM EST
    Either GZ tells a story that gets him off, or he doesn't.  You seem to be presuming his story is a good one and you haven't even heard it yet.  

    And there is either proof that he tried to detain TM or there isn't.  But lack of proof doesn't mean it didn't happen that way, it just means the prosecution can't prove it.  No one seems to have witnessed how the fight started.  So GZ's credibility is key to having a jury believe his version.  

    I'm unsure what facts you feel are being misrepresented.  So it doesn't seem like a "point" you are making, but just an opinion you offer without proof to back it up.  And that's fine, too.  

    We'll all see what happens next, and you and I can agree to disagree until then.  

    Parent

    Butting in, pardon me. (none / 0) (#102)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:23:05 PM EST
    -- Either GZ tells a story that gets him off, or he doesn't.  You seem to be presuming his story is a good one and you haven't even heard it yet. --

    Not from him, but from his brother and father, at least to parts of it.  The other evidence that can be considered, by us in the peanut gallery, is that SPD reviewed a body of evidence and concluded Zimmerman's account was truthful enough that the communication to Wolfinger didn't point out evidentiary conflicts.

    Anyway, my only point is that there is more than "presumption" involved in finding it more likely than not, Zimmerman's account is a good one.

    -- And there is either proof that he tried to detain TM or there isn't.  But lack of proof doesn't mean it didn't happen that way, it just means the prosecution can't prove it. --

    If there is no evidence, the prosecution can't even offer the scenario as speculation or conjecture.  I don't think O'Mara can prevent the prosecution from stating hypothetical scenarios, but after a few "objection, assumes facts not in evidence," they might get the hint.

    Parent

    Zimmerman Intending to Detain Martin (none / 0) (#94)
    by RickyJim on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:18:58 PM EST
    until the police arrived is a possible scenario.  Zimmerman could have been extremely angered by something Martin said and reached for his gun, to make sure he didn't leave before the cops arrived, when Martin took defensive action by tackling him. Of course, the trial should be all about whether or not Zimmerman's story, whatever it is, is reasonable and these other possible scenarios are irrelevant.  That doesn't stop so many from proposing ones that satisfy their viewpoints on race and society.

    Parent
    to 20 May (5.00 / 1) (#142)
    by Tamta on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:30:57 PM EST
    Why isn't the judge concerned about (none / 0) (#1)
    by Redbrow on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:38:49 PM EST
    the prosecution using Crump and his publicists as an extension of their team being used to propagandize and potentially pollute the juror pool?

    The most recent blatant example is how the prosecution apparently let Crump and Weiner at ABC know of Mrs. Zimmerman's arrest ahead of time but not O'Mara.

    WFTV caught up with O'Mara overnight. He is angry because he asked prosecutors to tell him about the arrest first, but he did not hear until after Shellie posted a $1,000 bond.

    "You know, I am just disappointed at the state that they did not feel the need to at least offer me



    Not sure how fair it is to GZ.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:42:08 PM EST
    ... but selfishly I will certainly read what's released.

    The 28th of when? (none / 0) (#5)
    by unitron on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:05:32 PM EST
    "...calling in on Feb. 28, the day she hears Zimmerman was charged."

    Should that be calling in February after hearing he wasn't charged or calling on the 28th of some other month?

    And, yeah, what they're putting in and what they're leaving out seems pretty screwy.

    Also, I'm not sure I trust the transcripts over hearing the recordings themselves.

    Feb 28 (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:40:52 PM EST
    according to p 6 of 13 of Chris Serino's 3/13/12 report. She spoke to Investigator Perkins.

    Parent
    not the day he was charged (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:43:21 PM EST
    but probably the day his name surfaced in the media as the person who shot him. Sorry.

    Parent
    If he'd been charged on 02/28/12... (none / 0) (#12)
    by unitron on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:15:33 PM EST
    ...we'd all be talking about something else. : - )

    Parent
    W9 (none / 0) (#51)
    by dontknowme on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:55:36 PM EST
    Serino's report has numerous errors. The witness list released just before the document dump shows Perkins conversation with W9 as 'nd,' indicating they don't know exactly when it happened. That list also shows W9 was interviewed by Post and Rick on 3/20. But the ABC news page of the discovery audio only has the Perkins call. Anybody have a line on the 3/20 interview?

    I would guess W9 may not be part of the prosecution case because the indictment specifically left race out of the charge ('punks' not 'coons' etc.). But I assume she would stand ready to rebut any character testimony from the defense about what a kind and tolerant fellow GZ is. By herself, a jury might not find her credible. But if she had corroboration, not necessarily from other people who heard GZ make bigoted comments, but even from people who distinctly remember her discussing those remarks at the time (when she would presumably have been on better terms with GZ) that could be an effective rebuttal. That is, her presence might be enough to make Mark O'Mara wary of opening certain doors he might have gone through otherwise.

    Parent

    they never released the (none / 0) (#67)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 07:06:23 PM EST
    calls of her 3/20 interviews because in them she describes a specific act of Zimmerman that would be inflammatory.

    Serino says in his report of 3/13 that she called Perkins on 2/28 and as of 3/13 they don't know who she is. Perkins tells her on the 2/28 call he's not the investigator on the case and he will relay what she told him to the ones in charge. They interviewed her on 3/20 and got specifics.

    It's clear in the call they did release she hasn't seen Zimmerman in a while. She says she also knew his parents and she claims the whole family is like him.

    I'd be shocked if she isn't the ex-fiance who took out the restraining order. It's pretty obvious to me she is. And the state disclosed her name at the first bond hearing when they introduced the affidavit in support of the restaining order to claim he was violent. They questioned Shellie about the ex-fiance's claims. Her relationship with GZ was over by 2005 and she will not be a witness.

    Parent

    Well, yeah... (none / 0) (#70)
    by bmaz on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:00:43 PM EST
    ...fair enough. But, as the Clemens case has shown (and Reggie Walton is, by my limited book, a hell of a lot more stable trial judge than Lester) it can be more than shockingly easy to open that door and let a scurrilous prosecutor walk right through it in this regard. Hey, sometimes it is not even foreseeable you are doing so.

    So, I would say I am a bit jaundiced in this regard lately on high profile public cases where, even with very good judges, the court is aware of watching eyes.

    Parent

    I lived in Florida for 11 years (none / 0) (#6)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:06:31 PM EST
    I haven't lived all over the country, so I can not compare it to a lot of places, but compared to the north east, Florida is one weird place.  It doesn't surprise me at all that they have these laws that seem to make no sense.

    Reading the wierd re FLA (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by DFLer on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 08:31:40 AM EST
    Enjoy the novels of Carl Hiaasen.

    Parent
    I've thought many times to myself what a strange (none / 0) (#9)
    by Angel on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 05:13:28 PM EST
    place Florida is.  Their laws do seem different from most other places in the country.

    Parent
    Follow the money and power... (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:40:24 PM EST
    Laws here are written to satisfy power players more than anyplace else I have ever lived. I'm sure there was a powerful media lobby pushing for the sunshine laws.

    Parent
    yes, of course (none / 0) (#15)
    by SuzieTampa on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:22:47 PM EST
    The media have pushed hard for the Sunshine Law, with the thinking that sunshine is the best disinfectant. This is no secret. In addition to lobbying, they run editorials on the subject.

    For the most part, I want to know what my government is doing.

    What may be more surprising is why the media hasn't succeeded in loosening up public information laws in states with bigger media, such as New York and California.

    Parent

    I was more referring to the sunshine laws (none / 0) (#27)
    by ruffian on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 06:58:12 AM EST
    directing how early discovery information in legal cases must be released to the media before trial. I see no reason for this other than to feed the media appetite.  Yes, I think politicians in NY and CA are at least a little more ethical than those in FL - they still have some small instinct for putting the public good over that of their paymasters. That instinct is gone in FL, if it ever existed.

    Parent
    If you think this case is weird (none / 0) (#13)
    by SuzieTampa on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:45:04 PM EST
    you need to see the photos of the alligator stalking the bobcat in Tampa.

    Back on track: Journalists love FL's Sunshine Law. And it's common for police and prosecutors to alert the media when a high-profile suspect is brought in, released, etc. Otherwise, there would be far fewer "perp walks." But it does seem unprofessional not to tell O'Mara.

    Is O'Mara (none / 0) (#16)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 09:40:01 PM EST
    her lawyer?

    Parent
    She had no... (none / 0) (#17)
    by bmaz on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:06:30 PM EST
    ...lawyer of record before being arrested, but he was certainly close enough that, were it me, I would have expected a phone call at least after the arrest had occurred, if not before.  But this type of petty chickenmanure is about what I would expect from Corey.

    Parent
    Since (none / 0) (#18)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:09:57 PM EST
    Sheila Zimmerman posted bond without every contacting O'Mara, maybe she has no interest in O'Mara being part of this.

    Perhaps you're barking up the wrong tree.

    Parent

    O'Mara is quoted in several papers (none / 0) (#20)
    by lily on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:24:38 PM EST
    in several papers that he specifically requested  notification if they were going to arrest Shelly. The courtesy was not honored.

     

    Parent

    O'Mara (none / 0) (#21)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:33:08 PM EST
    is out of line. It's not a courtesy he should be afforded. He has zero right to be notified as he isn't her lawyer.

    Parent
    O'Mara courtesy request (none / 0) (#22)
    by lily on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:56:28 PM EST
    would be correct since as GZ advocate he doing what he can to protect his well being while in confinement. It is unnecessary to further stress GZ by leaving it to chance that he would first learn of his wife's arrest from guards or other inmates.

    Parent
    No, he isn't. I believe that would be a conflict (none / 0) (#19)
    by Angel on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:16:16 PM EST
    of interest.

    Parent
    is it normal for someone (none / 0) (#23)
    by fredquick21 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 12:44:39 AM EST
     to give several statements to police without a lawyer present including a re-enactment of what they perceive to be a justifiable killing?  I am not a lawyer so i'm hoping one can answer this for me.

    I would have anticipated Mr. Zimmerman (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:55:11 AM EST
    would have refused or first consulted a criminal defense attorney as he has had college level criminal justice classes and his father is/was a state court magistrate.  But I don't think Mr. Zimmerman has very good judgment.  

    Parent
    My impression of Zimmerman is that (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Anne on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 06:46:09 AM EST
    he seems to be someone who thinks a few classes and some community patrol experience qualify him to make the kinds of decisions that lawyers and cops learn how to make only after years of education and on-the-job experience, and that mindset has not and is not serving him well.

    On matters of criminal justice, I would have to say that if I have learned nothing else here, it would be, never - ever - think you are smarter than the cops and lawyers whose job it is to arrest and imprison people, or that you can talk your way out of trouble because you are innocent.

    Parent

    He didn't lawyer up (none / 0) (#28)
    by cboldt on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 07:42:57 AM EST
    -- [he thinks he is qualified] to make the kinds of decisions that lawyers and cops learn how to make only after years of education and on-the-job experience, and that mindset has not and is not serving him well. --

    The only specific error you have identified, that I can see, is his decision to submit to police interrogation without lawyering up.  Specifically how has that error hurt his position?

    Granted, the more he says, the greater the likelihood of giving the prosecution a set of inconsistent statements, and no doubt the prosecution will generate lots of smoke (signifying nothing, IMO) on these inconsistencies.  But it seems to me that failure to follow prevailing wisdom by lawyering up is evidence of absence of any sort of guilt on his part.  He may be stupid, but that does not make him a murderer, nor does it mean his actions weren't justified.

    Parent

    In my opinion, I think George (5.00 / 0) (#31)
    by Anne on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:34:35 AM EST
    exhibited bad judgment almost from the moment he spotted Trayvon Martin.  No, there was nothing wrong with calling the non-emergeny number to report his suspicions about a person he didn't know, but somewhere in all of that, as he was observing Trayvon and talking to the dispatcher, he decided he couldn't just let the professionals handle it - the professionals with the education, training and experience he didn't have, and that community patrolling didn't qualify him to undertake.

    Bad decisions - ones I have no doubt he goes over and over in his head, wishing he had not made - have a way of cascading into more bad decisions, and then running away with one altogether.

    Was it a bad decision to talk so freely with law enforcement after the shooting?  I guess that's one of the questions that will be answered.  Was it a bad decision to have conversations with his wife about their finances on a recorded telephone line?  It would seem so.

    Given that we don't know what happened in those minutes when there were no witnesses, it's also possible that George Zimmerman's defense team will be able to convince either a judge or a jury that he was justified in his shooting Trayvon.  But I suspect they will have to do it against a prosecution that will be going point-by-point through all of the decisions George Zimmerman made that night, and in the weeks and months that followed.


    Parent

    UH? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by deanno on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:39:43 AM EST
    The decision to talk to the SPD for over 5 hours w/o an attorney to me indicates he has nothing to hide.  A guilty person would be crying for a lawyer right away and refusing to talk.

    Parent
    Jeralyn will be the first to tell you, (5.00 / 0) (#36)
    by Anne on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 11:14:28 AM EST
    and other lawyers here will undoubtedly agree with her, that prisons are filled with innocent people who talked to authorities because they believed they had nothing to hide.

    It is your unqualified right not to talk to anyone without an attorney - law enforcement, prosecutors, anyone - and invoking that right does not mark you as guilty of anything.  

    But that you think it does leads me to ask you this: what if George Zimmerman declines to testify in his own defense; will that make him guilty of the crime with which he is charged?

    Talking to the SPD for over 5 hours, being asked questions by multiple members of the department, accumulating a record of answers to those questions that may vary from each other in some way that could come back to hurt him, was a bad decision, regardless of whether he thought he had nothing to hide.

    And while he may have believed he was a crime victim who had no choice but to shoot Martin in defense of his own life, I also think there's a chance he was identifying too much with law enforcement, which led him to do entirely too much talking.  I just don't think talking to law enforcement without legal advice after killing someone could ever be a good idea.

    Parent

    Prisons are also filled with guilty people (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by oculus on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:44:35 PM EST
    who thought they could game law enforcement.  

    Parent
    Alternative to Aimmerman Testifying (none / 0) (#55)
    by RickyJim on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:16:59 PM EST
    At trial, O'Mara can play portions of Zimmerman's statements to the police in order to get his story in without having to be on the stand and be cross examined.  That tactic was used in the recent Conrad Murray and Dharun Ravi trials.  Things didn't work out too well for those defendants though.

    Parent
    Probably not (none / 0) (#57)
    by MJW on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:31:37 PM EST
    I don't know what occurred in the Conrad Murray and Dharun Ravi trials, but normally those statements are hearsay, and not admissible by the defense.  They're admissible by the prosecution, because out-of-court statements by the defendant can generally be used against him or her.

    If the prosecution uses parts of those statements, the defense will be allowed to use other portions to put the prosecution's evidence in context.  That may be what happened in the other trials.

    Parent

    You Are Wrong (none / 0) (#89)
    by RickyJim on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:38:34 AM EST
    The audio and video statements by Murray and Ravi only came in when the defense presented them.  And they are certainly not hearsay.  

    Parent
    They are hearsay (none / 0) (#95)
    by MJW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 01:42:58 PM EST
    Definition of hearsay from Florida Rule of Evidence 90.801(1)(c):
    "Hearsay" is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

    Were the statements made other than at the trial or hearing?  Yes, they were made at the police station prior to any trial or hearing.

    Would they be offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted?  Yes, they'd be use as evidence of what occurred during the night of the shooting.

    Therefore, if Zimmerman statements to the police were offered by O'Mara at trial, they would be hearsay.  There's one exception, which applies only if Zimmerman testifies: the statements aren't hearsay if O'Mara uses them to show Zimmerman's previous statements were consistent with his testimony in order to rebut an express or implied charge of improper influence, motive, or recent fabrication.

    Parent

    So Among the Many Wacky Things (none / 0) (#96)
    by RickyJim on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 03:47:09 PM EST
    about Florida is that incredible definition of hearsay.  

    Parent
    Wacky Definitions (none / 0) (#97)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 04:40:49 PM EST
    Federal Rules of Evidence

    Rule 801(c):

    "Hearsay" means a statement that:

    (1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and

    (2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

    What is your non-wacky definition of hearsay?

    Parent

    Sane Definition of Hearsay (none / 0) (#136)
    by RickyJim on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 01:35:11 PM EST
    Hearsay is a statement by somebody that he heard somebody else say something.  The degree of hearsay is the number of people in a chain of hearsay minus one.  So if Al says he heard Betty say that Carl told her he loves her, that is two degrees of hearsay.  In normal usage, it doesn't matter whether a person heard a statement by another while sitting next to them, on the phone with them or saw them say it in a video.  Also, whether the statement was made in court or not is irrelevant.  Arguing about the admissibility of hearsay evidence is not a big waste of time in courtrooms outside English speaking countries.  The trier of fact in most of the world is supposed to have enough intelligence to weight evidence appropriately depending on how many degrees of hearsay there are to it. Of course, hearsay occurs all the time in American courtrooms unless one side objects.  

    You guys think that in Florida, Zimmerman's call to the dispatcher is hearsay?

    Parent

    Zimmerman's call to the dispatcher is hearsay (none / 0) (#137)
    by MJW on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:15:26 PM EST
    Under the Florida rules of evidence, it's always considered hearsay.  Under the federal rules of evidence, it would be hearsay unless used against Zimmerman, in which case it would not be considered hearsay.

    It would be admissible hearsay in Florida if used against Zimmerman in a trial.  I doubt it would be otherwise admissible in Florida as a "spontaneous statement," since Florida requires the statement be made in an excited state.

    The type of hearsay you talk about, where Alice heard Bob say that Chuck told him Dave took the money, is weak evidence because it's further from the source.  But that's not the main reason hearsay isn't generally allowed in court.  The problem with a recording of Zimmerman is that it can't be cross examined.  It allows the defendant to present his side, without allowing the prosecutor to probe for weaknesses and inconsistencies.  For the same reason, the state won't be allowed to play the prosecutor's interview with DeeDee;  she'll have to take the stand.

    Parent

    That is the problem with the adversary system (none / 0) (#138)
    by RickyJim on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:16:30 PM EST
    In the non adversarial trials you have in France and Germany, the parties hand in their cases ahead of time forming a common dossier for everybody involved in the case.  It is a panel of judges who decide who will testify and most of the questions are asked by them.  There is no such thing as direct and cross examination.  If a lawyer, juror, defendant, victim wants to ask a question they raise their hand to get recognized by the chief judge.  Of course, the judges/jury are allowed to make negative inferences by a defendant refusing to answer a question.  If it is true, as you say, that in the US, the same piece of evidence can be only presented by one side, I say it goes well with the rest of the idiotic rules that govern the American courtroom.  The rules can only be justified if you think full employment for lawyers is a national priority.

    Parent
    Not the least bit wacky (none / 0) (#98)
    by MJW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 04:46:52 PM EST
    It's the standard definition.  I bet it pretty much agrees with the definition used by every state in the union.  It matches the federal definition, except for reasons I can't quite fathom, the federal rules of evidence do not consider an opposing party's out-of-court statements to be hearsay.  (Many states base their rules of evidence on the federal rules.)

    I doubt there's a single jurisdiction that wouldn't consider police statements by a defendant used by the defense to be hearsay; and I doubt there are any that would consider them admissible hearsay, except under very specific circumstances.

    Parent

    Contradiction? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by citizenjeff on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 11:01:44 AM EST
    On one hand, you acknowledge "that we don't know what happened in those minutes when there were no witnesses..."  But on the other hand, you somehow conclude that Zimmerman "exhibited bad judgment almost from the moment he spotted Trayvon Martin," and you claim "he decided he couldn't just let the professionals handle it..."

    Is it really bad judgment to simply try to keep track of a suspect's whereabouts (from a distance) until the police arrive? It seems quite reasonable to me, although if there's evidence that Zimmerman followed Martin in some sort of a reckless manner, I'd certainly consider it. Know of any?

    Parent

    the part where he gets out on foot and runs... (none / 0) (#58)
    by unitron on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:42:11 PM EST
    ...is a little hard to reconcile with the "from a distance" part of "...keep track of a suspect's whereabouts (from a distance)...".

    Either he didn't did not consider Martin a physical threat, in which case he should have put a big smile on his face and said "Hi, I'm George Zimmerman.  Did you just move here recently, or have we just never happened to have met?", or he did consider him a threat (I don't want to give all that out, I don't know where this kid is), and should have stayed in his vehicle and driven south down Twin Trees to keep one eye on the sidewalk between Twin Trees and the eastern leg of Retreat View and the other on that part of Retreat View and the back entrance until the police arrived.

    Instead he heads out into the darkness with a flaky flashlight.


    Parent

    unitron's difficulty (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by citizenjeff on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:50:23 PM EST
    "the part where he gets out on foot and runs...is a little hard to reconcile with the `from a distance' part..."

    In what sense is it hard to reconcile? How do you know Zimmerman ran? For how long did he run (if he did)? When Zimmerman ran (if he did), how far away was he from Martin?

    Parent

    He ran for 26 seconds (none / 0) (#131)
    by unitron on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:45:36 PM EST
    He got out of his vehicle (you can hear that) and he ran or jogged (you can hear that).

    I find it very difficult to believe that he did so in order to increase the distance between Martin and himself, or because he suddenly felt the need to start back on that exercise program, so I feel safe in assuming he was trying to hurry to where he could see where Martin had gotten to.

    In other words, to decrease the distance between himself and Martin.

    Parent

    For someone pontificating (3.00 / 3) (#38)
    by lily on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:16:17 PM EST
    about professional law enforcement you sure don't seem to have much experience or knowledge of police operations or neighborhood watch programs. I remind folks that the stated purpose of neighborhood watch program is to encourage citizens to act as the EYES and EARS of police. There is no evidence that GZ ever patrolled his neighborhood. He did visit recent burglary victims to support them and provide his contact information. Patrolling is not a common part of Neighborhood Watch, some groups organize dog walking events during high crime periods, but patrolling, highly unusual.  You are repeating false information promoted by Crump and Co.

    It is ridiculous how people who claim that because GZ left his truck he is somehow responsible for the violence that occurred. Do you realize that by suggesting this you are actually saying  TM was so dangerous GZ should avoided any possible contact at all costs.

    The adage "when seconds count police are minutes away" will continue to drive debates about gun control. The way Corey is prosecuting this incident will only encourage more people to buy guns for protection, a viewpoint shared by many cops in my liberal bastion of gun control advocates.

    Parent

    Taaffe not Crump (2.00 / 1) (#111)
    by LeaNder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 06:50:19 AM EST
    "You are repeating false information promoted by Crump and Co. "

    I am afraid your prejudice gets the better of you here.

    No, actually not promoted by Crump & Co, but by Frank Taaffe, who in many interviews claimed George regularly patrolled the neighborhood, event that they occasionally met, suggesting he did the same, if I remember correctly.

    Below just one citation relating to this. You have to watch all of Taaffe's interviews he said this regularly. It seems to be supported by others too, if you take a closer look.

    In the incident alluded to by Taaffe's statement below or elsewehre, concerning Zimmerman's 02/02/12 911 call, Zimmerman called back to correct the initial address to Frank Taaffe's house (if his house is 1460 Retreat View Circle, and he claims it was his home). That's why it is an interesting call, but it is not listed in the burglary reports. There is some evidence of "securing the house" by police, but no report of any damages to start with. It's the call about the black male "with a bomber hat", as Z puts it. Taaffe is not completely consistent in what he says. Occasionally he says Zimmerman prevented a burglary in his home. Here he may have been misinterpreted to have indeed helped to catch a burglar in the act. But that is no accident, since Taaffe in fact claims both.

    At least one community resident has come to Zimmerman's defense. Frank Taaffe, who attended Dorival's presentation and said he was also a member of the neighborhood watch, has told reporters that there were eight burglaries in the neighborhood in the 15 months before Martin's death. He said Zimmerman had called the police several weeks before he shot Martin to report a burglary at Taaffe's house he came upon during a "nightly patrol."

    Taaffe is both the main source for Zimmerman's regular patrol of the neighborhood and with another houseowner, Cynthia Wibker, of the claim that Zimmerman helped catch burglars, which so far I couldn't verify, admittedly. Jeralyn wrote a good article on the subject, if I remember correctly.

    Parent

    prejudice?? (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by lily on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:27:32 PM EST
    GZ was on an errand to shop at Target, not on an armed patrol as Crump and Co repeated many times.

    Parent
    Do you men in those seconds (2.00 / 0) (#49)
    by lousy1 on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:42:41 PM EST
    when there was no witness,

    I believe John was an eyewitness.

    Parent

    He was an eyewitness later... (5.00 / 0) (#132)
    by unitron on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 11:49:41 PM EST
    ... after the struggle was already underway.

    He has no first hand knowledge of how Zimmerman and Martin happened to meet up or of who first laid hands on whom.

    Parent

    GZ Has A History of Thinking He Know Best (none / 0) (#30)
    by miloh on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:22:48 AM EST
    Witness 22's testimony about GZ's numerous calls to his company's HR line highlight this.  GZ repeatedly called to complain about how managers and co-workers are "doing things wrong" and ultimately gets sacked for doing so.

    Parent
    Whistle blowers (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by Redbrow on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:06:27 PM EST
    are always wrong? Low level drones should know their place and let their corporate masters do the thinking because they know best?

    No citizen should be concerned with their neighborhood's safety and security?

    Parent

    theoretically you are correct (5.00 / 0) (#112)
    by LeaNder on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 06:58:48 AM EST
    but interestingly these calls seem to have started after this colleague complained about George. It seems it didn't happen before. So you have to ask yourself the questions. Is it likely there was so much more to report about others than there was before? I don't think management and routines changed that much, but maybe you have evidence.

    Parent
    Criminal law coursework (none / 0) (#53)
    by lily on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:02:37 PM EST
    If I remember correctly from news report early on GZ was just a couple of units from completely a two year program By the way that would be more criminal law courses than the majority of police officers have completed, new hires are sent to academies, many without any exposure to criminal law content.


    Parent
    Lots of jurors see it as... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Gandydancer on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:48:09 AM EST
    ...their job to see justice is done despite the obstacles placed in their way by the justice system. Not testifying in your own defense may be constutionally guaranteed but end up the functional equivalent of a guilty plea. And, similarly, GZ's cooperation may have affected how he was treated by the SPD and first SA. Or not. But it can be a rational calculation even if, in this instance, it didn't work out. So far. Or it could save him.

    Parent
    The right to remain silent. (none / 0) (#33)
    by friendofinnocence on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:40:01 AM EST
    Those potential jurors who feel the defendant not testifying is indicative of guilt should be excluded from juries.  IMO, even a defendant who is actually innocent should not take the stand unless his lawyer feels he is in a desperate situation and a guilty verdict is imminent.

    That said, I wonder if O'Mara could present an affirmative case for self-defense at an SYG hearing without Zimmerman taking the stand?

    Parent

    "Should be", even if right... (none / 0) (#34)
    by Gandydancer on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:48:06 AM EST
    ...doesn't translate into "will be". And my point wasn't as narrow as self-incrimination.

    And O'Mara has GZ's denials in the five exculpatory statements. What's Corey got?

    Parent

    new evidence unlikely to change opinions (none / 0) (#52)
    by Philly on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 03:56:52 PM EST
    It seems all too easy to interpret evidence in a manner that fits one's preconceptions.  It'll be interesting to see how the latest round of publically released discovery is spun.

    Already, there are have been folk suggesting that George's purported passing of a "stress test" means that he must be a cold blooded killer because he "felt no stress" shortly after killing Trayvon.  Of course, if he'd failed, I'd imagine those same folk would assert "he failed, so was obviously lying."

    I'm most looking forward to seeing any inconsistancies between George's statements and the evidence gathered to date that the prosecution has been alluding to.


    FL self-defense and the judge's discretion... (none / 0) (#54)
    by dontknowme on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 04:15:37 PM EST
    One thing I'd like to know more about is how a self-defense plea affects the burden of proof under Florida law, and how much discretion the trial judge has in interpreting that.

    I.e. in a conventional "I didn't do it" defense, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did indeed do it. But if the defense is, "I did it because I thought I had no other choice" does the prosecution have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not think that? That wouldn't make much sense. It would seem that the defense thus ought to assume some burden to prove that yes, the defendant not only thought that, but was reasonable in doing so. However, my understanding is that Florida law requires less than does that of other states in establishing a valid self-defense claim.

    But how would this work in trial, exactly? In an "I didn't do it" defense, the defendant is not required to testify, and often does not (O.J., John Edwards etc.). But is it possible, under Florida law, to claim self-defense without testifying? If the defendant's statements to investigators are to be introduced at trial, wouldn't that give the prosecution the right to cross-examine the defendant on the substance of those statements?

    I'm wondering if the law is vague enough that the trial judge will have a certain say as to what the defense must do to establish self-defense, and what they do not need to do -- a certain degree of discretion in interpreting the law.

    Can anyone who knows Florida law shed some light on these questions?

    Montijo v. State explains it well I think: (none / 0) (#69)
    by Kyreth on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 08:49:09 PM EST
    "When a defendant claims self-defense, the State maintains the burden of proving the defendant committed the crime and did not act in self-defense. See id.; Mosansky v. State, 33 So.3d 756, 758 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). The burden never shifts to the defendant to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, he must simply present enough evidence to support giving the instruction."

    Parent
    according to Florida case law (none / 0) (#76)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 12:47:24 AM EST
    the defendant need only present "some" evidence, which can be his own testimony, to get a self-defense instruction.

    See Vila v. State, decided in 2011:

    ...a criminal defendant is entitled to have the jury instructed on his or her theory of defense if there is any evidence to support the theory and the theory is recognized as valid under Florida law. Cruz v. State, 971 So.2d 178, 181-82 (Fla. 5th DCA 2007).

    In determining whether to give a requested instruction, the trial court should consider the evidence presented without weighing the evidence, as the latter is a task for the jury. Rockerman v. State, 773 So.2d 602, 603 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000). "The question of self-defense is one of fact, and is one for the jury to decide where the facts are disputed." Dias v. State, 812 So.2d 487, 491 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002) (citing Scholl v. State, 115 So. 43, 44 (Fla.1927)).

    Same case:

    According to Vila's testimony, the victim attacked him first, and he responded in order to defend himself against that attack. The State contends that Vila was not entitled to the instruction because the evidence that he presented was minimal and self-serving. This argument lacks merit as a defendant is entitled to a self-defense instruction if there is any evidence to support his defense. Wright v. State, 705 So.2d 102, 104 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (holding that defendant is entitled to jury instruction on his theory of case if there is any evidence to support it, no matter how flimsy that evidence might be); Taylor v. State, 410 So.2d 1358, 1359 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982) (holding defendant entitled to requested self-defense instruction no matter "how weak or improbable his testimony may have been with respect to the circumstances" leading to commission of offense)

    This has been the law in Florida for ages.

    Parent

    Same in a 2012 case (none / 0) (#77)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 12:50:55 AM EST
    Williams v. State, 84 So. 3d 1164, 1166 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2012),

    A defendant is entitled to an instruction on his theory of defense "however flimsy" the evidence is which supports that theory, Vazquez v. State, 518 So. 2d 1348, 1350 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987), or however "weak or improbable his testimony may have been[,]" Holley v. State, 423 So. 2d 562, 564 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982). . . .


    Parent
    Different burdens and standard at immunity hearing (none / 0) (#85)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:52:54 AM EST
    You asked about the burden at trial, and the answers below are excellent.  There is another possible step, almost certain to be present in the prosecution of Zimmerman, that being a hearing on a Motion for Immunity under 776.032.  The Florida vernacular for this is "Dennis hearing," after the Dennis v. State decision handed down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2010.

    At a Dennis hearing, defendant has the burdens of production of evidence and of persuasion.  If defendant establishes that his actions were more likely than not justified (in this case, had reasonable fear of death or serious injury), then the Court will find him immune.

    Parent

    my analysis (none / 0) (#81)
    by Tov on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 02:52:46 AM EST
    My opinion is that GZ's statements,re-enactment tape and possibly text messages and phone calls apres... could be the evidence that the state uses to try to convict him...also his injuries and TM's and other forensic evidence might be used to further the state's allegation that he commited murder.

    I make no judgement as to the existence or credibility of such evidence (relying only on what I have read here and elsewhere) but it seems to me that this is the only course=scenario they have. Conversely, the defense may use the same evidence with different interpretations. Some witnesses may strengthen the defense to disprove the murder charge,others may lend credence. The timeline and state of mind issues will also come into play, I believe. I qualify this by saying... only if it goes to trial... which it might not.

    I am more than just idly curious as to the outcome because the SYG laws are also on trial in a round about way and that is just as important if not more so ... because it affects many more than two families... the Martins and Zimmermans are the unfortunate ones now. I pray for justice for them and for our country in the future.

    But... Please do not misunderstand me ... own a gun if you wish...with a permit and a backround check..but don't come into a movie theatre,a bar, restaurant, gov't building, on a school campus down a street, in a hospital,in someone else's home, place of worship, day care center etc. just because you can. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution have evolved over these nearly three centuries and it is up to us to evolve as well... folks are changing and so are attitudes and hopefully, eventually laws and governing documents will as well . Peace.    

    O'Mara is asserting a right to slow-walking (none / 0) (#84)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:40:21 AM EST
    Referring to another batch of discovery material, O'Mara asserts, at gzlegalcase.com, that ...

    According the June 1 ruling of the Court, the defense will have 30 days to review the discovery before it is made available to the public.

    I don't see any trace of a 30 day review allowance at the June 1 hearing on press motions. O'Mara's May 22nd Motion for Protective Order and Objection to Release requested a 30 day review period for material already in hand, not for each and every release by the prosecution.  Judge Lester's June 12 Order doesn't grant a 30 day review for future releases.  It sets forth the criteria of Florida law pertaining to public access, and admits the parties to file discovery exhibits with contemporaneous Motions for Protective Order.

    Source of 30 days allowance (none / 0) (#86)
    by cboldt on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:04:38 AM EST
    On June 1, O'Mara says he's had the first round of discovery in his possession for a few weeks, and expects the second round coming "Monday or Tuesday" which would have been June 3 or 4.

    Lester says [transcription errors are all mine] "I think for the most part, it ought to be 30 days from the date of the 2nd round and then I'll make my ruling.  I think for the most part I'll be able to go through it and get that, I don't think that's going to do any harm to the powers that be as far as reviewing this information.  I think in an abundance of caution you can make your objections before then, if you feel that any are necessary, or state, you can make your objections.  And all that I ask at this time just go ahead and file just like you did the other time. ..."

    It'll be interesting to see if the press files any motion objecting to a 30 day delay on, for example, crime scene photos and additional investigatory material not previously released (that is, material that is -not- Zimmerman statements, and so O'Mara has no grounds to object to release).

    I think Lester's June 11 order modifies whatever sense can be made of his June 1 remark.

    Parent

    New Discovery Information (none / 0) (#92)
    by Cylinder on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 12:57:58 PM EST
    Defense Team Receives Second Round of Discovery

    Yesterday, the prosecution delivered a second round of discovery to the defense. The discovery package includes 7 compact discs and hundreds of pages of documents. It includes surveillance video, police radio transmissions, crime scene photos, 911 calls Mr. Zimmerman made prior to the night of the shooting, and more. The documents include a crime scene diagram, and additional reports from the Sanford Police Department, FDLE, and the FBI. According the June 1 ruling of the Court, the defense will have 30 days to review the discovery before it is made available to the public.

    More FBI reports, hrmm...

    Point? (none / 0) (#114)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:40:56 AM EST
    More FBI reports, hrmm...



    Parent
    SPD observations aren't moot (none / 0) (#121)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:18:07 PM EST
    SPD observations are a substantial part of the body of evidence.  I agree that their conclusions aren't final - they never would be, SPD turned the case over to Wolfinger; and now the case is in Corey's hands.

    My point was simply that those of us in the peanut gallery who are reaching conclusions, aren't doing so as a matter of presumption.  That SPD didn't notice significant discrepancies between Zimmerman's account and eyewitness accounts is a fact the peanut gallery can draw from.  SPD may be in error on that point, there are a number of mistakes in the reports, etc., but the fact remains, SPD found insufficient evidence to support probable cause that Zimmerman's account was false.

    -- But for whatever reason, he doesn't emphasize other exculpatory details such as the verbal death threat, which the investigators were suspicious about, or the severity of the beating, which press reports also have claimed the police were suspicious about. --

    He didn't have sufficient (prepared) basis to go there.  He didn't have his client's statements to police until after June 1st.

    A chase ensued (none / 0) (#123)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:46:29 PM EST
    -- and that when they met something happened to cause a chase. --

    Sort of like "a struggle ensued."

    What's absent from "something happened to cause a chase" and "a struggle ensued" is any indication of who is escalating from talk and look, to chase, grab, push, punch, etc.

    -- I just think the prize they are after is showing that GZ pushed a false account and tried to detain TM near the start of the altercation.  I am also of the opinion that this was a likely occurrence. --

    Your evidence is DeeDee and W2.  Does either of them claim to have seen Zimmerman attempt to detain Martin?  Or is that a matter of conjecture on your their and your part?

    -- in my opinion the prosecutors think GZ has told a story that is mostly true but false where it counts - regarding how the fight began --

    I won't say who started it doesn't count, it does as a matter of credibility, and of producing a record that accounts for 776.041 (either not applicable, if Martin threw the first punch; or, if Zimmerman grabbed Martin and Martin was using force to obtain freedom, how Zimmerman retained or lost his right to act in self defense); but what matters most to Zimmerman is how the fight ended, not how it started.

    That said, having Zimmerman be the person to initiate use depends on taking the testimony of a witness who didn't see it, as true.

    The prosecution has a real problem defeating Zimmerman's self defense claim if witness John is believed, and likewise if Sybrina's testimony that Martin is the screamer is not believed.

    evidence and testimony (none / 0) (#127)
    by willisnewton on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:16:39 PM EST
    "Your evidence is DeeDee and W2."

    No, that's supporting testimony.  The evidence is that the body is in John's back yard and not on the cut thru path as GZ's surrogates claim.  If, when we finally see what GZ told the police, his story is the same as his dad's, he's giving testimony that in my opinion differs from the evidence.  HIS testimony is the vital one - he was there.  W-2 and Dee Dee heard things they can't fully explain since they didn't see clearly, or weren't there, respectively.  


    Robert Zimmerman:  From where George's vehicle was, uh, there's a sidewalk that goes to the next street over.  

    Hannity: Okay

    RZ: Off of that sidewalk there's another sidewalk that goes between two rows of town homes. It my understanding that Trayvon went between the two rows of town homes and George was walking down to main sidewalk to see if he could see  where Trayvon was going.  He continued walking down that side walk to the next street. He wanted an address.  All he could see was the back of the townhouse and he could not see an address so he asked the dispatcher to have the responding unit call him and he could tell them an address.  So he walked down to the end of the street, I'm sorry, the end of the sidewalk to get an address.  He did not know where Trayvon Martin had gone.  As he was walking back to his vehicle there was a sidewalk that goes to his left, and Trayvon came from that area where the sidewalks meet. He asked my son if he had a problem and George said, "No, I don't have a problem."  Trayvon said, "Well, you do now."  He punched him in the face, broke his nose, knocked him to the sidewalk and got on him and started beating him.  

    If this is the basics of his son's story, in my opinion it doesn't fit the evidence - all the dropped objects positioned between the T and the body.  Trayvon Martin is not Popeye the Sailor and single punches don't move someone that far like they do in cartoons.    

    The relevance of whether GZ's story works or not speaks to his overall credibility.  If he's left out a major detail like how the altercation moved, which seems like something the prosecution could be angling towards -  the jury may surmise he's doing it for a reason, to hide something that is not exculpatory.  The prosecution can't PROVE that GZ threw the first punch but it won't matter - they will have demonstrated that GZ is telling a story that can't be.  And that's a big problem for the defense.  In my opinion, it seems just as likely that TM DID throw the first punch - but if it happened that way by the T, there may have been a chase, and if it happened that way by John's back yard, he wasn't "returning to(wards) his vehicle" and therefore the prosecution will say he was still seeking the teen.  And that's not illegal, it just also needs to be consistent with his story for him to seem credible.

    All of this is just one person's opinion.  But what do you think the father is describing?  Something that happened near the T or something that happened in John's back yard?  Returning to his vehicle is an activity by the T.  Getting knocked to the sidewalk with the first blow seems like something that would have had to take place nearer John's back yard.  

    Parent

    Martin as Bluto, not Popeye! (none / 0) (#128)
    by cboldt on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:52:27 PM EST
    -- The evidence [that Zimmerman attempted to restrain Martin] is that the body is in John's back yard and not on the cut thru path as GZ's surrogates claim. --

    First, I agree with your point that locating the conclusion of the fight some 20-40 feet or so from a first blow that renders Zimmerman unable to move is impossible; or at least inconsistent with other reasonably credible evidence.

    Zimmerman Sr. has to be wrong, that's all we can conclude.  I don't see how Zimmerman, Sr. being wrong necessarily results in the physical altercation starting by Zimmerman attempting to restrain Martin, taking Zimmerman, Sr's starting point (which seems to be roughly corroborated by others) at the top of the T.

    Maybe the blow that broke Zimmerman's nose was delivered near the T but didn't land him on the ground.  Maybe Martin attempted to restrain Zimmerman before hitting him in the nose, and it was Zimmerman trying to get away that resulted in the southward movement.  Maybe Martin hit Zimmerman in the nose and Zimmerman then attempted to restrain him, and the motion is due to Martin's attempt to get free.

    At this point we don't have George, Jr's narrative and / or walk through.  One would think it accounts for the factors you find troublesome, or else the SPD would not have said the evidence is consistent with Zimmerman's narrative.  OTOH, the big zones of redacted space in the SPD investigator's reports might be delineation of Zimmerman inconsistency.  We'll have more information in a couple weeks.  Meanwhile, my speculation simply rejects George, Sr.'s account on the details of the start of the fight.

    I still think that the only evidence we have that unequivocally has Zimmerman being the first to use physical force is DeeDee's account; but I'm happy to be corrected.

    Parent

    Zimmermans story fits well with witness statements (none / 0) (#129)
    by leftwig on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:58:36 PM EST
    Zimmerman's story of the fight beginning near the 'T' fits almost all of the evidence.  Witnesses further up the sidewalk said the only things they heard were the screams for help and not any words are arguing at the beginning.  Witness #2's original statement had 2 individuals shadows in a chase towards the 'T'.  In her revised statement, she saw one shadow headed towards the 'T' before the fight started.  This witness lived across from John, but one house further south.  

    But, the witness that confirms where the talking/arguing started is the one on the end unit closest to the 'T'.  He said he was sitting in his living room and he said the verbal confrontation began to the left of his back patio which is only about 10-15 feet below of the 'T'.  He then heard what he described as wrestling near the bushes at the side of his house followed shortly by about 20 screams for help as the two struggled and moved from left to right, eventually ending up at the back of John's house (his next door neighbor.  

    We don't know exactly what Zimmerman's full testimony is, but this witness (whose wife's 911 call captured the screams for help) puts the confrontation starting on the sidewalk that forms the top part of the 'T'.  Since we have heard that Zimmerman said he was surprised by Martin who came up from behind him on the left, I'd guess Martin put himself in between Zimmerman and his vehicle. Supposedly, Zimmerman turned away when confronted and went for his cell phone when he got punched.  Since the fall of the land heads down the 'T', its not really all that unreasonable to believe the struggle on the ground continued in that direction and that is what the witness on the end unit described.

    Everyone has pointed to John being a key witness for Zimmerman, but the witness on the end unit may be even more beneficial.  Not only does he detail where the verbal confrontation began (where Zimmerman would reasonably have been if walking back to his vehicle), he later testifies that he grabbed a knife and considered going outside to try to help, but was too scared.  If a man with a knife is too scared to try to intervene, its not going to be too difficult for a judge/jury to believe Zimmerman reasonably feared great bodily harm since he was the one being held down and being beat up.

    Parent

    He could have been too afraid to intervene (2.00 / 1) (#130)
    by Angel on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:00:19 PM EST
    because he feared someone might have a gun.

    Parent
    Fair point on no one helping because (none / 0) (#139)
    by leftwig on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 09:41:00 PM EST
    they feared someone might have a gun.  Still helps Zimmerman because it shows he too could have feared that same thing.  Their fear makes his fear more reasonable.  

    Parent
    Corresponding statistics in public opinion (none / 0) (#140)
    by Tamta on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 12:24:32 AM EST
    with charges and discovery in Zimmerman case timeline.

    link

    Nothing like a chart that's two months old. (none / 0) (#141)
    by Angel on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:20:02 AM EST