The Reporter Behind the Shellie Zimmerman Interview

Christi O'Connor, the reporter who conducted the ABC Shellie Zimmerman interview, does not work for ABC. She is a freelance investigative journalist.

She says she is writing a book about the trial. I don't recall her reporting on the case prior to now, and with the exception of a reference to her in a video clip on CNN the night on July 13, Lexis.com has no record of articles or media transcripts with her about the case.

She says her book will reveal new information that could have resulted in a different verdict. Here's what she is peddling: A story about a white Sanford police officer's alleged misconduct in tasering an African American male which she is self-publishing on her weblog. On her blog, she writes: [More...]

Is there a connection between George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin and a white Sanford police officer’s tazing of a black man? Does this tragedy add credence to allegations that Zimmerman’s motives for shooting Martin were racist? These are the kinds of questions I’ve been investigating since moving to Sanford to witness the trial from inside the courtroom. I’ve discovered unreported information in many areas; some of which may have led to a different verdict- -had prosecutors not missed it.

I’m in Sanford now writing a book on what the public doesn’t know and what the jury never heard.

What does this have to do with Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Here's a photo of McIntosh and Zimmerman detective Doris Singleton doing community outreach. The cop, McIntosh, is under investigation for the tasering incident. He has no prior reported incidents according to this article.

O'Connor speculates:

I close by circling back to George Zimmerman. Sanford’s black community believes Fuller’s tazing is more proof of a racist police department to which the ‘Wannabe Police Officer, Zimmerman’ has close ties. And that this “culture of racism” influenced Zimmerman’s decision to shoot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, of course, denies this and a jury seemed to agree. But, I’ve spoken with several credible people who provide interesting insight and who offer proof that Zimmerman and his family are racist. I’ve also discovered a lot more about the Zimmerman/Trayvon tragedy. But I can’t share it yet. I will when the time is right. So, stay tuned.

Over the next months, more that shouldn’t wait will emerge. I’ll report it here. This now includes an increasingly excessive use of death and injury-linked Taser guns by police here and across the nation.

Her blog has only the one post. But on her about page, she writes:

I’d found and would continue to discover mistakes, misrepresentations, corruption and cover ups that remain the unrealized hallmarks of this outrage-provoking case. There are many accessories to this injustice. They include law enforcement, forensic experts, witnesses, prosecutors and defense attorneys. The victims include Trayvon and George, their families and a country that still doesn’t know the truth.

So according to O'Connor, Zimmerman is both a racist and a victim. And the culprits are the police, prosecutors and defense lawyers, witnesses and forensic experts.

I won't be surprised if her "credible sources" are the Martin family lawyers. Why? The tasered-man's lawyer, Shayan Modarres, was one of Benjamin Crump's lawyers in the appeal of the order to take his deposition. Here's a brief he co-wrote with attorney Bruce Blackwell. Modarres was the sponsor (along with Martin family lawyer Natalie Jackson) of the No Justice No Peace- "March Against Gun Violence" rally on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 in Orange County, FL. According to this article, Modarres is a member of the Martin family legal team. (A former law professor of Moadarres also says he's a part of the family's legal team.)

O'Connor says she obtained a copy of the police report McIntosh filed in the Fuller case. It's readily available here on the City of Sanford web site.

I think Shellie should have chosen someone without an agenda (selling a book) to conduct her interview. It's certainly understandable that the potential legal consequences, their having to live in hiding and the media attention exacerbated the strain on their marriage. Not surprisingly, the media continues to misreport her statements in the interview. She didn't have a fight with George and leave the day of the shooting, it was the day before. She didn't imply he had a temper or was violent, she said:

"George has never laid a hand on me nor has he ever used any sort of force."

She still thinks her husband is innocent:

She said she believes her husband's story that he shot and killed Martin in self defense, and said the most hurtful thing she experienced was hearing that he was a "murderer or some sort of racist."

On her plea deal, the media should at least mention the court withheld adjudication of her guilty plea -- so long as she successfully completes probation, she will have no record -- she can say she has never been convicted of a crime. (The plea could be used against her by prosecutors and a judge if she gets charged with additional crimes in the future.) Here are the plea and sentencing documents. Here is her letter to Judge Lester. A summary of withheld adjudication in Florida is here.

The status of their marriage has no bearing on the criminal case and is not of interest to me. I am writing about this simply to opine that I doubt O'Connor has, as she claims on her website, any new and credible information on the criminal case that prosecutors missed which could have resulted in a different verdict. She's selling a book that any number of reporters (and bloggers) who have followed the case since its inception (not just for trial) could write, probably more informatively.

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  • Display: Sort:
    please do not refer (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 02:42:32 PM EST
    to Zimmerman as a racist in comments even sarcastically. It spreads the meme on search engines and I don't want such allegations associated with this site. A comment with the title Zimmerman is a R* has been deleted.

    Sorry about that (none / 0) (#24)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:36:39 PM EST

    It was hard to miss the man labeled as a "White Hispanic" by the New York Slimes to make sure all of us peons heard the dog whistle.  Or for that matter the network "news" deceptive editing of the audio recordings to fit the narrative of racism.



    Public appetite (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Mikado Cat on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:32:36 PM EST
    for a phony version of events bothers me. Its a question I posed to many early on, why are you so willing to accept horrible accusations about Zimmerman, and not even consider reasonable problems with Martin?

    Obvious reasons include Martin's death and Zimmerman using a gun which completely poisons the minds of some.

    I'm also disappointed that nobody has really come forward about Zimmerman and the Sherman Ware case.

    I would so like to see all of the Sanford PD leaks fully investigated, the path and money trail could be so illuminating.

    The DOJ (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by DebFrmHell on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:09:59 PM EST
    investigated the SPD and they were cleared.

    I'm also disappointed that nobody has really come forward about Zimmerman and the Sherman Ware case.

    I suspect fear was a big motivator.  AA's who have shown even a small amount of acceptance of verdict have been castigated, at least in the Social Media, newspaper comment sections, etc.


    I know the SPD was investigated (none / 0) (#25)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 07:16:09 AM EST
    but I suspect it was narrow in scope only looking at issues unfavorable to Trayvon, not the leaks attacking Zimmerman. Some of the leaks should not have been hard to suss out, access to the security video etc.

    The sense of closing ranks in this case disturbs me, and I agree any who spoke out other than toeing the line were attacked. I would think that kind of betrayal would eat at a person, knowing the accusations were false and being afraid to speak out.


    too bad that case was never (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by TeresaInPa on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:40:45 AM EST
    taken to court where evidence could have been provided to prove such a thing happened.

    This is ridiculously... (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by bmaz on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 09:02:06 AM EST
    ...inane. Pretty brazen to post that rubbish here, of all places, where people actually do know the facts. Jeebus.

    What, or who, (none / 0) (#20)
    by NYShooter on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 02:57:21 PM EST
    are you referring to?

    Probably someone (none / 0) (#21)
    by Nemi on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 06:36:44 PM EST
    who has now been banned.

    that comment was deleted (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:27:53 PM EST
    and the commenter banned

    Branding Zimmerman a pariah (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Babel 17 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:02:15 AM EST
    The media cooperate in branding Zimmerman as a pariah. A pariah is fair game and can be used for profit and padding ones resume. Normal journalistic standards don't apply when dealing with pariahs and blatant errors in reporting are shrugged off or not even recognized.

    I'd like to see some expert do an analysis as to how much extra money has been generated for the media by the coverage of everything related to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

    It's been a windfall for them but their reporting is worse than that of some impoverished newspaper. With an impoverished newspaper one can at least hope for integrity and standards.

    That's a romantic view (none / 0) (#15)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:32:48 PM EST
    of impoverished newspapers, sad to say. I doubt the media made more money off the GZ case. If it wasn't that, something else would have been sensationalized. I think the only exception might be some prominent black male columnists and black media that got more attention.

    Huh, I found a casual analysis (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Babel 17 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 02:07:11 PM EST

    It's not rigorous but imo it's highly suggestive.

    According to Nielsen Media Research, comparing ratings during the Zimmerman trial -- July 8-21 --  to its aftermath -- July 22-28 -- CNN lost 43% of its total viewers in primetime and 60% of its viewers in the key 25-54 age demographic. In total-day viewers, CNN lost 32% of its total audience and 45% in the key demographic.

    Such was the case for a network that went with an all-in, wall-to-wall strategy on the Zimmerman trial -- at times earning itself criticism. On the other hand, Fox News only lost 4% of its primetime viewers, while MSNBC lost 11%. CNN's sister network, HLN, also lost a huge chunk of its viewership after the trial.

    I'd say that it's likely CNN viewed/views Zimmerman as a resource. They have little stake in seeing him become non-controversial* and likely are also afraid of the questions, and outrage from every direction, that would arise were they to do the story that they should have done in the first place.

     *"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"



    I stand corrected (none / 0) (#27)
    by SuzieTampa on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 09:37:01 AM EST
    Thanks to you and Mikado Cat for the research. I was being too cynical.

    Even more than Zimmerman (none / 0) (#30)
    by bmaz on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 02:03:10 PM EST
    ...it could be drop off from the Jodi Arias case. Both cases were hot and heavy, but Arias was HUGE for CNN and HNN. The Zimmerman case picked up a gigantic amount of those court watching nimrods because it was THE new game in town. With both suddenly off the radar, I bet there really was a huge dropoff for CNN and HNN.

    You mean HLN... (none / 0) (#31)
    by unitron on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 03:40:14 PM EST
    ...the Hollerin' Ladies Network.

    : - )


    Yes, HLN (none / 0) (#34)
    by bmaz on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 08:56:05 AM EST
    It is so unwatchable, I forget its real name

    Head Line News (none / 0) (#35)
    by Anne on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 09:08:59 AM EST
    And here I thought "headline" was one word.

    It does stand for Headline News (none / 0) (#36)
    by SuzieTampa on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 09:56:30 AM EST
    That's how it started before it shifted to what it is now. Some also call it the Hysterical Lawyers Network. I can't watch it either.

    Pew research (none / 0) (#26)
    by Mikado Cat on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 07:20:18 AM EST
    said the case was the biggest story in 30 years, and that has to mean some serious money was made.

    Color me cynical . . . (1.00 / 1) (#29)
    by HarpoSnarx on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 10:09:37 AM EST
    but I doubt if there was new evidence including film of that altercation and killing (actually murder) that jury would come back with a different verdict.

    Also can I use another R-word for the odious Mister Zimmermann?

    Rageaholic: That's always a core component of the personal and social stain of the Big R word.

    Actually, (none / 0) (#37)
    by Char Char Binks on Sun Sep 01, 2013 at 02:34:39 PM EST
    not murder, that's the verdict.  And since Zimmerman has had exactly THREE incidents involving the police and anger (if we include restraining orders), I suppose that proves he is particularly susceptible to rage (how odious!).  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a  video recording of the shooting, or even film of it?  George thought so.

    The producer who tweeted the story (none / 0) (#2)
    by Nettles18 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 04:24:17 PM EST
    that this freelance reporter did an interview with Shellie was none other than Matt Gutman's producer, Seni Tienabeso (@SeniABC).  

    He is believed to have been with Matt Gutman when they witnessed Mr. Crump's interview with Rachel Jeantel on March 19, 2012.

    These reporters are very close to the family lawyers it would appear.

    Click on Picture (none / 0) (#6)
    by DebFrmHell on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:05:23 PM EST
    to enlarge it.
    Link to tweets

    Seni has stopped talking to me...  8-)


    O'Connor sounds worse than I initially thought (none / 0) (#4)
    by SuzieTampa on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 08:57:53 PM EST
    I hope Mark O'Mara writes a book.

    agreed (none / 0) (#5)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 10:53:22 PM EST
    I would be very interested in reading an O'Mara book.  I find him to be honest and dedicated to facts not emotion based B.S.  In other words, I would trust what he had to say.

    O'Mara (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mikado Cat on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 02:02:36 AM EST
    Is too tight with all the other players in Florida, he isn't going to make waves, and this needs some waves. It needs a credible author away from the case that is willing to do all the research.

    Rather than a book I would be happy with a one page well independently vetted accounting of the events.


    Believe me, O'Mara is making waves (none / 0) (#16)
    by SuzieTampa on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:38:27 PM EST
    in Florida, where I live. But he might need a ghost writer and some researchers.

    Aldirolf, you seem to have a grasp (none / 0) (#13)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 11:30:08 AM EST
    of the facts in the case.  I would love to hear your theory.  I'm only interested in the 5+ minutes from when George lost sight of Trayvon, as he went behind the buildings, to the time of the gunshot.  I think we all agree this is the time period for filling in the blanks.  Make sure your scenario fits the timeline and facts:

    *2 minutes of George talking with the dispatcher after Trayvon ran.

    *2 more minutes including Trayvon talking to his girlfriend...include a little "get off, get off" at the end and a little tussling if you want.

    *1 minute and ten seconds more to the gunshot.

    Now be sure you account for all the evidence.

    Good luck.  I am looking forward to your version of events.

    Also Aldirolf (none / 0) (#14)
    by bmaz on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 12:46:07 PM EST
    Please support this version with actual evidence that exists in the disclosure and/or trial record.

    I'm OK with other evidence that may exist. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:46:15 PM EST
    I'll help him with the "porch comments" that exist in video interviews of Green and Tracy.

    Approx. 30 seconds after running, Trayvon reached the Green house.  He stepped in and yelled to his brother that he was on the back porch.  His brother apparenlty heard Trayvon and reported to Green and Tracy that he last knew Trayvon to be on the porch, but that he had not seen him since leaving to get him some skittels.


    Chad would be a better description (none / 0) (#18)
    by Visteo1 on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 01:56:10 PM EST
    than brother or step-brother.  But I'm fine with anyone wanting to dissect that statement.

    Do you have any evidence (none / 0) (#28)
    by SuzieTampa on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 09:47:49 AM EST
    other than Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton's early comments about TM on the porch?

    Of course, some of us are still interested as to why they had that impression.


    No new evidence. (none / 0) (#33)
    by Visteo1 on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 05:08:30 PM EST
    I probably got that picture from TL analysis.  I know it is speculation based on the Green interview 2/27 and two interviews in March with Tracy.

    Only Green and Tracy can explain those comments.  Tracy in mid-interview seems to change his belief of the entrance Trayvon used getting home.  Something is missing to explain the scenario   Green and Tracy seem to have right after the event...if not Chad, something they saw or found at the porch or front door?


    there is none and Aidirolf has (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:29:14 PM EST
    been banned for character attacks on GZ.

    WOW! (none / 0) (#32)
    by DebFrmHell on Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 04:38:26 PM EST
    You are fast!!