Tag: George Zimmerman (page 3)

George Zimmerman: Jury Begins Deliberations

I haven't seen John Guy's rebuttal closing yet in the George Zimmerman trial, but from the reactions online, it seems he didn't play tricks with the evidence as I predicted, he just pulled out the race, gender and emotion cards. Maybe he couldn't find any evidentiary rabbits.

In any event, the jury has been instructed and is now deliberating. Since it hasn't been mentioned in a while, I just want to point out that if this jury acquits George Zimmerman, the credit begins with jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn.

Regardless of what the verdict is, I think all criminal defense lawyers can take great pride in Mark O'Mara and Don West. They represent the tireless, dedicated, fearless advocates we all aspire to be. O'Mara and West have displayed the utmost integrity throughout this difficult case. They also worked for 16 months without yet receiving a dime (all the money raised so far has gone to case expenses, experts, and Zimmerman's living expenses and security.)

As I wind down 16 months of intensive coverage of this case, I'd like to thank the readers who have contributed to the discussion here and at our forums. As news articles are gradually pulled offline and the media deletes its document archives, the forums in particular will serve as a historical account of the evidence and court proceedings, and the political and partisan pressures and media hype that elevated this case into feeding frenzy.

I'd also like to thank Jim Talent of National Review and Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler for featuring my recent post with thoughts on the legacy of this case, and Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, who recognized that the injustice in this case went far beyond the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, for his frequent citing of our coverage, as well as law professor Ann Althouse.

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Zimmerman Trial: Defense Closing

Mark O'Mara has begun his closing argument for George Zimmerman.

He begins with a chart showing the burden of proof in a self-defense case. I happen to have a similar chart, called The Meaning of a Not Guilty Verdict. Here's what's included: [More...]

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Zimmerman Trial: Court Publishes Final Jury Instructions

These are the final jury instructions that will be given in the George Zimmerman trial, posted on the court's website. The court site with most of the pleadings and minutes of the trial is here.

[Heads up: The rest of this post is a technical/legal one which will bore anyone not interested in minute details of statutory construction and word games. [More...]

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Zimmerman: Predicting the State's Rebuttal Closing

I ended my last post on today's closing argument by the state and Mark Mara's anticipated closing tomorrow, with this thought:

Since I'm convinced there's no match between what O'Mara will do tomorrow and what de la Rionda did today, I'm focused on the state's next move.

The prosecution gets the last word because they have the burden of proof. De la Rionda's closing was so weak, I'm wondering if it wasn't planned to be that way, to keep the defense from guessing what John Guy will unleash in his closing. It's Guy's rebuttal, not O'Mara, that I'm focused on now.


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Zimmerman: Anticipating Mark O'Mara's Closing

Mark O'Mara will give his closing argument tomorrow morning, using a vivid computer animation showing step by step the defense theory of how the encounter occurred. There were hours of testimony about the accuracy of the animation, and the Judge ruled it would not come into evidence but O'Mara could use it as a demonstrative exhibit during his closing.

In his closing today, State's Attorney Bernardo de la Rionda used Powerpoint slides that seemed straight out of a 1990's continuing legal education seminar. They were impersonal and had too much text. The jurors couldn't possibly read it all and listen to him talk at the same time. I said in my earlier post that his theme of "assumptions" was a poor one, because coupled with his tossing rhetorical questions at the jury asking "isn't it possible" that such and such happened without answers, he merely created the very reasonable doubt he is obligated to overcome for a a conviction. Surely it wasn't lost on the jurors that when he told them (more than once) to "use your G-d given common sense" he was really telling them he didn't have the goods and wanted them to ignore the contrary evidence and rely on "assumptions" instead of proof. [More...]

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Zimmerman Trial: State's Closing Argument

The state will begin the first of its two closing arguments at 1:40 ET.

The judge has rejected the state's request to include the lesser offense of third degree murder resulting from child abuse and the portion of the self-defense statute on aggressor/provocation. Update: I live-blogged most of the closing without commentary here. (Don't everyone go at once because the server will crash again.)[More...]

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Zimmerman: Jury Instructions

This thread is for a discussion of the jury instructions and lesser included offenses the judge will provide the jury.

I'll update as soon as I find out what the final decision was. If you've been watching, please fill us in.

Update: There will be no third degree murder from child abuse instruction. There will be no instruction on provoking the use of force (aggressor.) The judge rejected the defense request for a circumstantial evidence instruction. Thanks to Cylinder, here are the links to video of the charge conference.

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Benjamin Crump: Who Screamed Doesn't Matter

Unbelievable flip-flop. Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the Martin family, was on CNN's Piers Morgan Live last night. When asked about the state's concession today that Trayvon Martin was probably on top of George Zimmerman during the struggle that ended in Martin's death, and how that impacts his and his clients' insistence that Martin was the one who was crying out for help, Crump said who screamed doesn't matter.

The cries for help, all of that is inconsequential when you think about who started this.

Inconsequential? (Start at the 3 minute mark)


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George Zimmerman Trial: Defense Rests

The defense has rested in the George Zimmerman trial. It did not introduce any evidence of Tryavon Martin's marijuana use or fighting.

Its final two witnesses were Olivia Beltaran, a former resident at Retreat at Twin Lakes whose home was burglarized in August, 2011, and Robert Zimmerman, George's father. Mr.Zimmerman was only asked about the voice screaming for help in Jenna Lauer's 911 call, and his identification of George as the person screaming when he was interviewed by FDLE early on in the case, before Zimmerman was charged.

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Judge Questions Zimmerman on Right to Testify

There was a very contentious exchange between Defense Counsel Don West and Judge Nelson as she placed Zimmerman under oath to ask him whether he wanted to testify. West said the case isn't over and he is not ready to answer. She overruled his objections and kept grilling Zimmerman about whether he needed more time to decide.

Defense expert Dennis Root is back on the witness stand. Mark O'Mara will call two more witnesses whose testimony will be brief, and then rest.

This morning, the judge granted the state's motion to exclude text messages to and from Trayvon Martin about his engaging in fights. She ruled the computer animation could be shown to the jury as a demonstrative aid, but not admitted into evidence.

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Zimmerman: BAE, Y U Always Fighting?

The hearing in the George Zimmerman trial ran until 10 pm last night. It ended with the judge kicking the can down the road again, this time on the admission text messages recovered from Trayvon Martin's phone.

The hearing, like the one on computer animation that preceded it, is the best example yet of how the Judge's stubborn insistence that this case proceed to trial before the parties had even finished discovery, was a decision that will come home to bite her if it is necessary for Zimmerman to appeal.

It's not just the parties who are not prepared on the law, it's also the judge. Towards the end of the hearing, she started reading from a book she called Ehrenhart, which is a "horn book" on Florida evidence. It's a book that references Florida evidentiary decisions, kind of like Cliff Notes. She read off some case names cited in the book along with their one paragraph description of the case ruling. The book is intended as a guide to case law dealing with specific rules of evidence. It isn't a substitute for reading the opinions themselves. Had she read them, she would have known: [More...]

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Zimmerman: Defense Animation Arguments

At 8:00 pm ET, the hearing on the admissibility of the defense animation wound down. The judge reserved ruling until tomorrow, but from her comments, the animation is in trouble.

The parties and judge agree there is one Florida case, State v. Pierce, 671 So. 2d 186 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) on computer animations in a criminal case. The animation was admissible in that case.

The judge has problems with it going back into the jury room as opposed to being used as a demonstrative aid to assist an expert's testimony. Having listened to the full argument for a few hours, it seems the state is equating accuracy with whether the animation includes its version of the testimony. It's not intended as a recreation of the scene, but as defendant's theory of how the confrontation (not the shooting) occurred, as supported by witness testimony, including that of its experts. The exibit relied on evidence from Dr. DiMaio, John Good, Jena Lauer, and even Selma Mora. [More...]

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Zimmerman Trial: Marijuana Evidence

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune writes today about the judge's decision in the George Zimmerman trial allowing the defense to introduce Trayvon Martin's toxicology report into evidence. He agrees (for the most part) with my post from the other day in which I wrote that while "I think it is highly unlikely the defense will be able to show the results in the autopsy indicate impairment to a degree that might explain Martin’s physical attack on Zimmerman, " that the report was likely admissible for another reason. [More...]

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Zimmerman: Defense Expert Backs Zimmerman Version

Forensic firearms and ballistics expert Vincent Di Maio, who is also a pathologist and medical examiner, testified on direct examination this morning that the trajectory of the bullet and nature of his injuries support George Zimmerman's version of events.

Dr. Vincent Di Maio said that the trajectory of the bullet and gun powder on Martin’s body support Zimmerman’s version that Martin was on top of him when Zimmerman fired his gun into Martin’s chest. The gun’s muzzle was against Martin’s clothing and it was anywhere from two to four inches from Martin’s skin, he said.

“This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account that Mr. Martin was over him, leaning forward at the time he was shot,” said Di Maio, the former chief medical examiner in San Antonio.

Dr. Di Maio also testified that Trayvon Martin may have been conscious for 10 to 15 seconds after he was shot, during which time he could have moved his arms from the side to underneath his body. [More....]

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Zimmerman Trial: Toxicology Report Is Admissible

It was a big day for the defense at the George Zimmerman trial. Before getting to the testimony, I want to address the hearings held after the jury recessed for the day.

I wrote a long post this morning about the issue of whether the toxicology report should be introduced. After hearing from both sides, the Court ruled the report was admissible, and it would be reversible error not to admit it. She cited the Arias case which I referred to earlier, and a later case citing Arias. In argument today, the defense also referred to the lighter found on Trayvon's body and his swaying in the 711 video. [More...]

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