ABC Reporter Says Serino Leaked Zimmerman Info
Investigator Chris Serino will no longer be acting as a homicide investigator starting July 1. He will be on night-time patrol duty. Apparently it's at his own request.
Yesterday, ABC's Matt Gutman responded to a question on Twitter asking if Serino was the leaker by answering yes, Serino was the leaker. But what did Serino leak? I'm not sure that's as clear. The person who asked apparently meant the police station video. [more...]
Later yesterday, Gutman responded on Twitter that he would never reveal a source.
I wonder if Gutman wasn't talking about who leaked the arrest video, but rather who leaked Zimmerman's statements to the Orlando Sentinel on March 26? That was the leak the Sanford Police Department said was unauthorized and would lead to discipline after its internal investigation was completed. More here.
Since Gutman has gotten so many "exclusives" in this case, it's hard for me to tell which one he is talking about, when the tweeter's question didn't specify the leak she was inquiring about.
That's the exclusive that troubles me the most, even though it clearly favors Zimmerman. Gutman unloaded that photo like a bombshell the day of the April 20 bond hearing.
I've always wondered how Gutman got that, since W-13 didn't turn it over to investigators until March 20, after Sanford turned the case over to the state's attorney's office. (Serino submitted his Capias on March 13.)
It was during the March 20 interview that W-13 said he had forgotten he took the photos until that day, and while he had deleted them from his iPhone, he still had them on his computer. He shows investigators a copy during his interview, which took place at his home. He e-mailed them a copy on the spot. The interviewers were FDLE investigator Crosby and State's Attorney Investigator (Seminole County) Veaudry. (They cleverly only state their office association on the recording, but on the state's first redacted discovery notice, the state's attorney identifies the persons who interviewed W-13 on March 20 as FDLE investigator Crosby and SAO (Sanford) investigator Veaudry. On the recording, Veaudry says he's with the State's Attorneys' Office for Seminiole County. (Sanford is in Seminole County.))
Among the three photos W-13 took the night of the shooting was one of Trayvon's body, which he describes in the interview as showing his feet pointed towards his backyard and his head in the direction of W-6 (John's) house. (Here's a little map.) No photos of Trayvon's body have been released or will be released they are exempt from disclosure.
How did Gutman find out about W-13's photo of Zimmerman's injuries and get a copy? Did the state's attorney investigator or the FDLE investigator show it to Serino? Remember Serino called Zimmerman on March 25 and 26 trying to set up a meeting with the states' attorney and investigators in Jacksonville. Serino told Geroge he'd attend. He hadn't spoken to George since Feb. 29. And on March 26, state's attorney Bernie de la Rionda and his investigator O'Steen (who was the co-affiant on the probable cause warrant) interview W-13. Bernie is only interested in asking W-13 about Zimmerman's demeanor when he asked him to call his wife the night of the shooting. So clearly, Bernie and O'Steen know W-13's story. Did they tell Serino they were going to interview W-13 or what they wanted to ask Zimmerman about? (I don't think Zimmerman ever was interviewed by the state's attorneys office. (There's a memo dated March 26 we haven't seen yet about a call from Zimmerman and his former attorney Craig Sonner to state investigator O'Steen, which sounds to me like it's Sonner calling off the meeting Zimmerman agreed to when talking to Serino, but that's just a guess.)
[ Added: Zimmerman did meet with states attorneys investigators on March 22 to give them his cell phone and permission to search it and to do a voice exemplar of Zimmerman screaming. The voice exemplar was just released Weds. morning.]
Gutman says in this video he spoke to W-13 directly about the photo of Zimmerman's injuries. W-13 has managed to keep his identity out of the media. He hasn't submitted to any publicly aired media interviews or given any statements for publication. I highly doubt he called Gutman out of the blue and volunteered the photo. Someone who had seen it had to tip Gutman to call W-13. Gutman says in the video
"Sources tell ABC News investigators have seen the photograph and are aware of the photographer's story."
It was also Gutman who obtained and leaked Zimmerman's medical records (not just the police report in which they were mentioned.) ABC chose the day the discovery was released to leak it. The discovery says Serino got the medical records on March 9, and describes them, but does not contain the actual records. Zimmerman's lawyer emphatically denied they had anything to do with giving them to Gutman. Previously, I thought it was Zimmerman's family who gave them to Gutman. Now I'm not sure.
And of course, Gutman got the exclusive on DeeDee, but that came from Team Crump.
My point is there have been a lot of leaks in this case. Matt Gutman has gotten more exclusives than anyone else, but I'm not sure all his information comes from Serino. I believe him that he would never (intentionally at least) burn a source. So maybe someone besides Serino told him Serino was the leaker, or maybe the leak he was blaming on Serino wasn't the police arrest video.
I'd rather know who leaked the substance of Zimmerman's post-shooting statements and medical records to the media than his arrest video. A defendant's statements and medical records are protected from disclosure by law. If law enforcement leaked those, in my view that officer or agent should be fired, not just transferred.
On the other hand, perhaps it was Serino who leaked the arrest video to Gutman, to counter the leak of Zimmerman's statements that he was attacked by Trayvon to the Orlando Sentinel, which in turn prompted the Sanford Police Department to release the full video of the arrest at the station, which did show injuries, causing ABC and Gutman to eat some crow.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the leaked information on Zimmerman's post arrest statements on March 26. On March 27, Gutman tweets
ABC confirms State Attorney rejected police recommendation to arrest Zimmerman after he shot #Trayvon Martin".
There likely was no such recommendation, at least not in writing. Serino's capias request wasn't until March 13. On March 27, the same day Gutman made the claim, the Sanford Police denied it. Gutman then revealed the leaked police station arrest video which ABC believed showed no injuries on March 28. These all seem related.
All in all, it's another chapter of As the Worm Turns in the mostly pro-prosecution coverage of the George Zimmerman case.
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