Before I launch into the news for the week of July 4, readers that have not yet seen George Zimmerman’s reenactment of the events of February 26, 2012, should visit Greta VanSusteran’s blog where she has the video. It goes a long way toward putting a human face on the media creation that has, until recently, been George Zimmerman. I suspect that many will be struck by how meek he is, hardly a raging, racist killer. The reenactment was filmed the next day, a bit after 5 PM.
It may also be enlightening, but not surprising, to visit Twitchy to discover the kinds of threats being made against Zimmerman’s life.
Readers unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, particularly with police procedure, have surely been learning a great deal, particularly if they stay away from legacy and most cable media outlets. Even more balanced networks like Fox have made innumerable errors—I heard a Fox anchorette repeatedly claim that Zimmerman was told not to leave his truck—a complete falsehood–many because they simply don’t understand the issues and procedures involved. For example:
* Police officers are trained to appear to be strictly neutral in court. They are trained to keep their answers brief and concise, and never to volunteer information or to try to help one side or the other.
* Police officers are human beings. As a result, they often try to fudge a little, particularly to assist the prosecution, which is normally dealing with entirely legitimate cases filed against actual criminals.
* Smart and experienced police officers know better than to try to slip unfavorable testimony past smart defense attorneys, who very often have the advantage of knowing what the police do not.
All of these conventions would be violated this week. On to the testimony:
Dr. Hirotaka Nakasone, FBI: Dr. Nakosone, regular readers will recall, is the FBI expert in voice analysis whose testimony I reported in Update 31 (related audio expert testimony reporting can be found here and here). Dr. Nakasone is truly an expert in his field and an impressive witness. In addition, several video clips of Dr. Nakasone’s testimony, as well as that of the two other consequential witnesses of July 1–and it was a consequential day of testimony–can be found in Andrew Branca’s article at Legal Insurrection.
The prosecution’s sole purpose for putting Dr. Nakasone on the stand was to elicit an admission that a person familiar with someone’s voice might be best qualified to identify someone screaming in terror, even if that screaming amounted to only a few seconds of badly recorded, almost unintelligible noise. However, Dr. Nakasone cautioned that such identification would only be the best of abysmal methods.
This would seem to be among the most ironic bits of testimony in legal history in that it was Dr. Nakasone’s testimony, in large part, that cut the legs from under the prosecution’s desperate and unsuccessful attempt to allow “experts” that would, using non-scientific criteria and methods, testify that it was Trayvon Martin screaming for help on the Lauer 911 recording.
On cross-examination, Mark O’Mara allowed Nakasone to explain listener bias: some people hear what they want to hear, as in the case of Dr. Reich, one of the prosecution’s excluded audio experts who heard in the Lauer recording utterly amazing exclamations no one else could hear or even detect.
One might think this something of a small victory for the prosecution, but it is of questionable value. The obvious strategy of Bernie de la Rionda (hereinafter BDLR) is to put Sybrina Fulton–Martin’s mother–and possibly Tracy Martin–Martin’s father–on the stand to testify that the screaming voice is Trayvon Martin. There are several problems with this, foremost among them the fact that Tracy told several Sanford police officers that the voice was not Trayvon’s when they first played it for him. He later changed his mind and conformed to Sybrina’s identification of Trayvon. Unfortunately for the prosecution, the defense will produce multiple Zimmerman family members who will identify the voice as Zimmerman’s. In addition, John Good’s testimony comes solidly down on the defense side, and Jenna Lauer’s testimony that the screaming voice was only one person and never changed will also be helpful, to say nothing of Zimmerman’s testimony.
Doris Singleton, Sanford Police Officer: Among the most important tasks of any defense counsel is to humanize their client for the jury. Usually, this is difficult as they are trying to humanize some very nasty people indeed. In this case, Off. Singleton accomplished that humanization and much more.
BDLR pursued several strategies with Singleton, having her walk through, with a map of the Retreat at Twin Lakes, Zimmerman’s path and actions. This accomplished virtually nothing for the prosecution, as it not only supported Zimmerman’s account, it did nothing to contradict it, which is absolutely essential for the prosecution.
Another piece of prosecution strategy was exposed when Singleton testified that Zimmerman drove past the neighborhood clubhouse at one point, a fact those who have followed the case have long known (Zimmerman and the defense have never tried to conceal this). BDLR introduced into evidence CCTV footage from inside the clubhouse. It was of very poor quality–virtually all that could be seen was the occasional light or shadow–but BDLR apparently wants to use it to in some way impeach Zimmerman’s account via some yet to be introduced timeline. On cross, O’Mara proved that when the recordings were collected, not only were they off by 18 minutes, they could have been off by unknowable amounts during the time in question. Considering that all they can possibly show is a potentially moving light or shadow though a clubhouse window, once again, it’s hard to imagine any prosecutorial advantage.
The prosecution also played Singleton’s interview with Zimmerman. It was the first actual interview any officer did with him after the shooting. Branca, again, has a transcript. Regular readers will be unsurprised. Zimmerman’s account has remained entirely consistent. There is no solace here for the prosecution either.
What was of greatest significance–and once more a prosecution witness testified for the defense–was Singleton’s impressions of Zimmerman, and one particular conversation they had. Singleton testified that Zimmerman was somber and upset as she spoke with him. She said that when Zimmerman learned that Martin was dead, he buried his head in his hands, and this conversation took place:
Singleton: “I had a silver cross on and he asked me if I was Catholic. I said, ‘No. I’m Christian. Why are you asking?'”
Zimmerman replied that he noticed a silver cross she was wearing and said it’s “always wrong to kill” someone.
Singleton replied: “if what you’re telling me is true then I don’t think that’s what God meant–you couldn’t save your own life.”
She testified that Zimmerman, who appeared to be shocked, said: “he’s dead?”
She replied: “I thought you knew that.’
Throughout the testimony, BDLR was visibly unhappy. Several times, when prosecution witnesses were portraying Zimmerman favorably, he turned and glanced at his fellow prosecutors, apparently in frustration, perhaps, disgust.
Investigator Chris Serino, Sanford PD: If Jeantel was the Prosecution’s star witness, Serino was the star witness of the defense. Serino was, for a time, the lead investigator in the case, eventually returning to patrol potentially due to leaking information to the press or because of various internal pressures. He is also reported to have favored prosecution for Zimmerman, but one would not know that by his testimony. Video of his testimony and Branca’s take is available here.
Serino’s testimony generally followed the conventions of police testimony, with several notable deviations. He testified that Zimmerman cooperated fully and willingly with the Sanford Police over weeks of interviews. Among the evidence displayed were Zimmerman’s reenactment, and a videotaped interview with Serino and Singleton, which included an audio-only portion at Serino’s desk while Zimmerman listened to the Lauer 911 recording.
The videotaped interview was very hard to hear due to the acoustics of the room and what appeared to be a substandard microphone, and one of the members of the jury told Judge Nelson that the jury couldn’t hear it, but amazingly, she did nothing at all to help the jury hear the evidence! She told them they could hear it in the jury room later. It’s difficult to explain how utterly bizarre her behavior was, but consider that she forced the jury to sit there, unable to hear what was being said, which provided the context necessary to understand any subsequent questions and answers. This will likely not endear her to the jury, and considering that they surely recognize that she has allied herself with the prosecution, the prosecution may suffer too.
Among the substantive revelations of that evidence was Zimmerman’s testimony of the recent history of burglary of the home he saw Martin potentially casing, establishing substantial reason for him to be suspicious of Martin. In the videotaped interview, Serino and Singleton questioned Zimmerman aggressively. At one point. Serino demanded to know why Zimmerman didn’t confront Martin and demand to know what he was doing. Zimmerman replied: “I didn’t want to confront him.” Zimmerman would continue with this response, which was entirely in character with his mild, even meek behavior. It’s also significant in that proponents of The Narrative have long demanded to know the same thing, while simultaneously seeking to portray Zimmerman as a vicious, raging brute. Anyone watching the videos and listening to Zimmerman’s responses in other interviews will be unable to buy The Narrative, at least in that respect.
When Serino suggested that perhaps Martin feared Zimmerman, Zimmerman explained that Martin approached and circled his truck: “…when he walked up to my car, he put his hand in his waistband and held it there.” Zimmerman explained that he didn’t speak with Martin in part because he was sitting in his truck, it was raining, and Martin keep a distance of about one car length, but also: “I guess fear; I didn’t want to confront him.”
Zimmerman was unfailingly polite, but at one point, corrected Serino, explaining that the dispatcher never told him to stay in his truck.
As they walked Zimmerman through his actions in trying to keep Martin in sight after he ran away, Singleton asked Zimmerman why he didn’t try to speak with Martin when Martin approached him near the “T” of the sidewalks. Zimmerman explained that Martin came out of nowhere, verbally challenging and surprising him. He explained he immediately started backing up and tried to reach for his phone to call 911. He said: “I have a wife at home,” and made clear that he was scared and had no intention to chase or confront anyone, he just wanted to talk to the police. He said, “I wasn’t following him; I was just going in the same direction he was.” Singleton asked Zimmerman if he wanted to catch Martin and Zimmerman replied “no.”
While Zimmerman was at Serino’s desk listening to the screams on the Lauer recording, he remarked: “that doesn’t even sound like me.”
Serino replied: “that’s you.”
Human speech on recordings sounds very different than in person. I always sound like Kermit the Frog when I hear my voice on recordings, but most others don’t have that impression. It is entirely unremarkable that Zimmerman would not recognize himself screaming in terror. But it is remarkable that Serino identified the voice as Zimmerman in that it indicates that he accepted Zimmerman’s account.
BDLR finished his direct examination by showing Serino a photo of Martin and causing him to agree that Martin appeared to be “skinny,” no doubt a continuing effort to portray Martin as a slight, helpless child. As a teenager, I was 6’ tall and weighed 155 pounds. I was not at all skinny, but very lean—very little body fat—and muscular. At a restaurant the other day, I glanced at a baseball game playing on a nearby TV. The pitcher for one of the teams was listed as 6’ and 160 pounds, nearly the same height and only two pounds heavier than Martin. Martin’s most recent photos reveal him to be a lean and muscular young man.
On cross O’Mara repeatedly got Serino to agree that throughout all interviews, Zimmerman remained consistent. He agreed that Zimmerman was completely cooperative and that nothing Zimmerman told him contradicted the physical evidence, officer statements, witness evidence or any other facts. To drive this home, O’Mara kept asking, with small variations, the same questions, and always, Serino agreed that the evidence fully supported Zimmerman.
Serino testified that Zimmerman never displayed anger or disdain toward Martin, and that his “flat affect” immediately after the shooting concerned Serino who talked with Zimmerman about dealing with such great trauma: the shooting and being beaten. O’Mara asked Serino if he was concerned that Zimmerman followed Martin and tried to keep him in sight, and Serino replied “no.” O’Mara asked if Zimmerman was “cagey” or “less than straightforward,” and Serino replied: “no; he was being straightforward in my opinion.”
In one particularly brilliant line of questioning, O’Mara asked if there was anything in Zimmerman’s words that would suggest an uncaring attitude. Serino replied “no.” O’Mara asked if Zimmerman, during his first interview with Serino at 0005 on February 27, 2012, was ever “cavalier,” like: “can I go home now? Are we done here?” Serino replied that Zimmerman was not. This is particularly telling in the Rachel Jeantel, upon learning she would need to return for a second day of testimony, behaved exactly that way during her testimony. The contrast will not be lost on the jury.
Serino testified that anyone would have discrepancies in their testimony over time and multiple interviews, but that he had “no real concerns” about the minor discrepancies Zimmerman had. O’Mara was able to get Serino to opine on the credibility of John Good’s testimony; he said he had “no reason not to believe him.”
Serino acknowledged he was under great pressure to complete the investigation and that it caused him to proceed more quickly than he liked. Surprisingly, he volunteered:
In this particular case, he [Zimmerman] could have been considered a victim too.
Regarding the possibility of racism and profiling on Zimmerman’s part, Serino acknowledged “there were external concerns about that; I had to get that clarified,” so Serino asked Zimmerman if Martin were white, would he have done the same things, and Zimmerman replied he would. Serino found this statement satisfactory.
O’Mara left no potential concern of Serino’s unmentioned, which wisely allowed him to deal with those concerns on his terms, denying them to the prosecution which had the first shot, but suddenly had to play catch up. He brought up Serino’s concern that Zimmerman felt he had been hit 25-30 times, but Serino worried whether he was badly beaten enough for that. About Zimmerman’s injuries, he ultimately said: “I wouldn’t consider them life-threatening.” O’Mara was prepared and sprung the trap:
O’Mara: We don’t need to see life-threatening injures, do we?’
Serino: ‘No sir.’
O’Mara: ‘We don’t need to see any injuries, do we?’
Serino: ‘No sir.’
O’Mara also elicited that Serino was concerned that Zimmerman didn’t confront Martin. O’Mara got him to admit that in hindsight, that might have solved things, and that many things might have been solved in hindsight. He noted that in response to Serino’s questions on that topic, Zimmerman told him he didn’t confront Martin because “that wasn’t my job,” which undercuts the prosecution strategy of an out-of-control cop wannabe taking the law into his hands. Serino admitted that answer satisfied him. This too is significant because Narrative proponents often blame Zimmerman for not talking to Martin, while simultaneously claiming he should have remained in his car, which would have made such conversation impossible.
Perhaps the most destructive revelation for the prosecution occurred just before the court adjourned for the day. In an attempt to trick Zimmerman, Serino suggested that Martin’s cellphone might have recorded video of everything that happened. He told Zimmerman “If it’s there and you haven’t told us, it will be very bad for you.” Of course, the cell phone was dead, but Zimmerman didn’t know that. Zimmerman immediately replied:
Thank God. I was hoping someone videotaped it.
O’Mara asked what that answer indicated to Serino. He replied:
It indicated that he was either telling the truth or a complete pathological liar.
Serino also confirmed, once again, that everything Serino found in this case was supported by other evidence. In another brilliant bit of timing, O’Mara’s last question of the day, the last thing the jury heard and will remember, was:
do you think George Zimmerman was telling you the truth?’
There must have been wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in the offices of the prosecution after the testimony of July 1, 2013. It’s amazing that BDLR did not immediately object, as he did first thing the next morning. Judge Nelson did sustain his objection, but in so doing, had to read O’Mara’s question and Serino’s statement aloud to the jury to tell them what to disregard. This is a classic example of a very important bell that cannot be unrung. The jury will remember Serino’s answer. BDLR would have been much smarter to simply let the matter drop.
Serino’s testimony continued, and I was struck by a visible difference in his manner of testifying. His first day testimony was undeniably useful to the defense and destructive to the prosecution, but he seemed to be trying to give both sides equal points the second day. For example, BDLR brought up Zimmerman’s swearing under his breath about the criminals plaguing his neighborhood during his non-emergency call to the police, getting Serino to testify that they might indicate ill will, hatred or spite, which is the definition of a depraved mind, but on cross, he testified than rather than displaying those emotions, Zimmerman seemed to be frustrated instead.
Serino will seem a very credible witness to the jury. He conducted himself professionally and without bias. There is no question that his testimony was far, far more useful to the defense than the prosecution, but that is because the evidence is far more useful to the defense and because of the quality of O’Mara’s questioning in comparison to the unprepared, angry and aggressive questioning of BDLR.
Mark Osterman, Federal Air Marshall: Osterman describes himself as Zimmerman’s best friend and is something of a mentor to Zimmerman in his law enforcement aspirations. He spoke with Zimmerman shortly after the incident and some months later, wrote a book about the case in which there was a slight deviation from Zimmerman’s police statements. According to Osterman, Zimmerman said that Martin actual got his hand on Zimmerman’s gun. BDLR played this up as much as possible, implying Zimmerman is a liar.
However, on cross by O’Mara, Osterman revealed that he spoke with Zimmerman for only about 15 minutes while they were driving, and he took no notes. He wrote his book from memory at least four months later. O’Mara treated Osterman gently, but he established that the “discrepancy” was likely nothing more than fuzzy memory and/or an author seeking a more dramatic retelling. This will allow a foundation for the prosecution to argue that Zimmerman is a liar at closing, but it’s another example of much ado about nothing in the prosecution’s non-case.
The Hannity Interview: This interview is unremarkable in that it too supports Zimmerman’s account, however I suspect the prosecution played this for two reasons: (1) because Zimmerman claims to have known nothing of the stand your ground law prior to the shooting, and (2) for his “it’s God’s will” comment in response to a question about his feelings about Martin’s death. Many commentators have made much of this comment, but most southerners will find it uncontroversial and it is, in any case, easily explained.
Valerie Rao, Jacksonville Medical Examiner: Rao is a handpicked medical examiner who had absolutely nothing to do with this case! She never examined Zimmerman; all of her testimony came from reviewing photos of his injuries! In fact, she is something of a questionable character. Andrew Branca notes:
A quick Google search disabused me of that notion. Indeed, not since the Frye hearing was an expert in the case perhaps as subject to questioning on such issues than Dr. Rao. Indeed, at her previous State appointment as medical examiner in a different part of the state, there were years of complaints about her unsanitary procedures, including such [STOP IF EATING DINNER] pleasantries as Dr. Rao washing her feet in the autopsy sink, using her bare hands during procedures, and even accusations of exposing doctors to deadly diseases. Ultimately she was removed from that position…
But Dr. Rao got a very lucky break, indeed, in the form of the favor of State Prosecutor Angela Corey, a powerful figure in State politics. Corey provided Dr. Rao with an interim appointment as Medical Examiner in Jacksonville, a position later changed to a permanent appointment by the Governor.’
On direct by John Guy, Rao testified that all of Zimmerman’s injuries could have been the result of a single blow, but settled, more or less, for saying that his injures could have been caused by no more than three blows and that they were “insignificant.”
On cross, O’Mara destroyed her credibility. Again using multiple photos of Zimmerman’s injuries, he got her to admit that the injuries could have been caused by many more blows and that she had no actual idea of the blows that injured Zimmerman. Rao’s credibility evaporated when she refused to identify areas of injury already identified by medical personnel, such as the physician’s assistant that actually examined Zimmerman the day after the attack, as injury. Rao also admitted that Martin had injuries on his hands consistent with striking someone.
Jeralyn Merritt at Talk Left also commented on Rao’s background:
O’Mara didn’t bring up the ten years of complaints in multiple cities against her including concerns expressed by law enforcement, funeral homes and organ donor organizations. Or the complaints by co-workers who said she called employees rednecks and criticized their weight. (These are in addition to the criticisms of her as an ME.) Her contract was not renewed.
It must be remembered that to sustain a valid self-defense claim, no injury at all is required, merely the belief of a reasonable person that they faced an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death, yet on redirect, Guy continued the prosecution strategy of claiming that because Zimmerman didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries, he somehow had no claim on self-defense, a legally irrelevant matter. It was a strategy they would not abandon. Rao appeared to be a biased witness, determined to aid the prosecution in any way she could.
Kristine Benson: Benson is a latent fingerprint examiner whose testimony was a complete wash for the prosecution. She testified that she identified a partial fingerprint on the slide of Zimmerman’s handgun as belonging to him, but could not identify anything else, which would leave the reasonable observer asking “well, OK, so?” On cross, O’Mara had her admit that not finding a fingerprint on an object is not proof that someone didn’t touch it, and certainly not proof they didn’t reach for it.
In the area of trace evidence like fingerprints and DNA, TV, particularly the CSI shows, have ill-served the public. Fingerprints and DNA are seldom a significant factor in any case. For the most part, the police solve crimes by actually talking with people. Handguns, usually covered in various greases and oils, are generally very poor at taking and preserving fingerprints. In addition, many of their surfaces aren’t smooth and/or large enough to be good surfaces for the retention of fingerprints. Glocks, for example, with a non-smooth plastic frame and an almost Teflon-like coating on the metal slide, are particularly bad. Add in a heavy rain and the movement of cloth over various surfaces, and it’s a wonder there was even a partial fingerprint of Zimmerman’s to be recovered.
Benson’s testimony, which helped only the defense, ended the day.
Giving It The Old College Try:
The previous day, the prosecution asked to admit Zimmerman’s prior college records. Judge Nelson put it off, but on Tuesday allowed virtually unrestricted admission of Zimmerman’s records, a matter that should also allow the admission of Martin’s school records, but that has yet to be seen. Once again, Nelson added to a very long list of reversible errors when she denied O’Mara’s request for a continuance of only a few hours to look up the case law on these matters.
Three witnesses testified very briefly to establish that Zimmerman was a college student, that he applied for a police officer position with the Prince William County (VA) police department (he was turned down due to credit issues), and he had once done a ride-along with the Sanford Police Department.
Captain Alex Carter, US Army Judge Advocate General: Carter taught a single course taken by Zimmerman, a survey of general issues of law, a very basic course. He portrayed Zimmerman as one of his best students, earning an “A.” The state’s entire purpose in using Carter was to suggest that he taught Zimmerman all about stand your ground law, and that Zimmerman therefore used that knowledge to construct a deceptive story about what happened.
On cross, Don West established that the class had a very large textbook that was not in any way specific to Florida law, in fact, it did not mention Florida law. West cleverly turned Carter’s testimony into a seminar about the law of self-defense, and was also able to establish that whatever Carter taught about stand your ground, it was not in the text, and was a very small part of a semester course. There was not, in fact, any testimony about the specific nature of such teaching, that Zimmerman was actually in class to hear it, that he was tested on stand your ground, or that he gained any actual knowledge about it at all.
Professor Scott Pleasant: Pleasant taught an online general criminal justice survey course Zimmerman took. The trial once again descended into farce when the Skype connection being used by the professor was attacked by who knows who, causing Pleasant to do most of his testimony via a simple cell phone connection.
Pleasant’s direct testimony was revealed to be presented for precisely the same purpose as that of Carter: to allow the prosecution to argue at closing that Zimmerman was manipulating his supposedly encyclopedic criminal justice knowledge to construct a false self-defense story.
On cross by O’Mara, Pleasant blew up in the prosecution’s faces. It was quickly obvious that much of the material might have been in the textbook, but was never covered in class, a concept very familiar to anyone that has ever attended college. As with Carter, there was no indication that Zimmerman had ever been exposed to any specific lesson given in this online course, let alone any specific body of knowledge. But the explosion came when Pleasant testified that Zimmerman had attended several non-mandatory sessions and told him that he one day hoped to be an attorney, and specifically, a prosecutor.
Remember that a part of the prosecution’s strategy has been to portray Zimmerman as being somehow bad, even evil, for being a “wannabe cop.” The defense has obliterated this idiotic strategy by getting every police witness to speak about the importance of their jobs and how much they liked doing them. In addition, the police witnesses have acquitted themselves well, appearing as entirely professional, likeable and honorable officers and people. Now that we know Zimmerman once hoped to be a prosecutor—this is not an uncommon aspiration for police officers—it would be lunacy for the prosecution to suggest that Zimmerman’s desires to be a police officer and prosecutor are somehow sinister and indicate a depraved mind.
Amy Seiwert, Forensic Analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE): Siewert’s testimony was brief, and as has been the pattern, the defense used it to eviscerate the state’s theory of the case. Under O’Mara’s cross, she testified that the muzzle of Zimmerman’s gun had been in contact with Martin’s sweatshirt (hoodie), but not in direct contact with his chest (the autopsy also supported this testimony. A PDF of that report is available here). She also testified that the manner in which Zimmerman carried his gun—fully loaded magazine, a round in the chamber—was the way the weapon was designed to be carried, was safe, and was the way law enforcement officers carry their handguns.
One of the repeated tactics of the prosecution is to suggest that because Zimmerman’s semiautomatic handgun’s magazine was loaded to capacity and because there was a round in the chamber, this somehow suggests that he was negligent or dangerous and just looking for an opportunity to kill. Idiocy.
All modern semiautomatic handguns are designed so that their magazines may be safely loaded to their design capacity. The degree of reliability inherent in these designs is remarkable. In addition, they are designed to be carried with complete safety with a round in the chamber. To do otherwise indicates not a reasonable, non-violent person, but a person dangerously and foolishly uninformed about not only their own weapon, but the dynamics of deadly force encounters. This article explains the proper, safe way to fully load a semiautomatic handgun.
To continue to suggest that Zimmerman’s completely safe, unremarkable, and tactically competent manner of carrying his handgun is in any way a factor in this case reveals only the prosecution’s virtually complete lack of actual evidence to prove the offense.
Anthony Gorgone, FDLE DNA Analyst: Gorgone, the final witness of the day, was on the witness stand a very long time (more masochistic readers can view his testimony courtesy of Andrew Branca), and contributed virtually nothing to the case. The state tried to make much of the fact that none of Zimmerman’s DNA was found under Martin’s fingernails, but there has been no evidence whatever that Martin scratched, or attempted to scratch, Zimmerman, therefore why should any of Zimmerman’s DNA be under Martin’s fingernails? Ultimately, it was revealed that there were significant irregularities with the way samples were handled and packaged, and it is clear that DNA evidence, like fingerprint evidence, has no real bearing on this case. It doesn’t prove or disprove any material fact. Gorgone was obviously an earnest and competent young man; he just had nothing to add to the evidence in the case.
As with fingerprint evidence, DNA evidence is not a factor in most cases. It can be very useful in cases like rape where there is considerable skin-to-skin contact and transfer of large amounts of specific fluids. In the Duke Lacrosse case, for example, because of the testimony of the victim, DNA evidence was able to absolutely exclude all of the young men charged with rape, but the prosecutor continued with the prosecution regardless—sound familiar?). In most cases, merely touching another person does not result in the transfer of DNA that can be collected and identified. Add a strong and continuous rain, and DNA transfer in many places might be all but impossible. And again, the lack of DNA does not indicate anything other than that none was found at the particular place the swabbing was done. In this case there is no known specific place where DNA must have been recoverable such that its absence tells us anything of value.
Judge Nelson Builds The Defense Reversible Error Record:
Judge Nelson became increasingly testy as the day wore on. She had earlier mentioned to BDLR her expectation that the prosecution would rest its case that day, and with Gorgone’s testimony taking most of the day and no end in sight, she was not a happy jurist.
Her anger was manifest (a video clip is available at the same link as the Gorgone video) when the defense once again asked for a continuance to depose Benjamin Crump, mentioning the fact that it was the overturning of her denial of that deposition that put them in the position of having no time for the deposition before the trial began. She denied, yet again, a continuance for that purpose, apparently thinking that the defense could somehow arrange a deposition with a witness who obviously doesn’t want to be deposed during the time they use for sleeping or eating. They asked her to order the deposition of Crump on July 4, but she ignored them.
There will be one more day of testimony this week, and I’ll add an update to this article—or if necessary, an additional article—to keep you, gentle readers, fully informed.
The patterns about which I’ve frequently written continued this week. Because the prosecution has no actual evidence to fulfill the three elements of the offense, their strategy is The Narrative, which is nothing but the conjecture that might tend to support the racist and social justice philosophies that underlie The Narrative. Because George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop, and now a prosecutor, he was a volcano of rage, with each burglary or theft in his neighborhood building up to explosive rage, which erupted when he profiled Trayvon Martin because he was black and wearing a hoodie and carrying tea and Skittles. With a depraved mind, he chased down and murdered Martin, and then used his Nobel-Prize winning level of criminal justice knowledge to make up a false story to cover his tracks.
It should not be surprising to the rational reader that virtually the prosecution’s entire case to date has not only failed to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, but it hasn’t been able to disprove Zimmerman’s self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, the prosecution’s case has done little more than prove that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.
Screenwriters trying to construct a parody of a criminal trial couldn’t do this well. Prosecutors angrily attacking their own witnesses, police officers supporting the defense, prosecutors putting on the stand witnesses who clearly did nothing for their case, the prosecution’s star witness, Rachel Jeantel, blowing up their case yet again, all of these factors and more illustrate, once again, the backward nature of the case. Another way to think of this case is in the demeanor of the defense. O’Mara and West have treated the prosecution’s witnesses—and it’s hard to remember that every witness thus far in nearly two weeks of testimony has been a prosecution witness, witnesses who are supposed to have made the prosecution’s case—with kindness, even gentleness. This is uncommon indeed. With the exception of West’s cross-examination of Jeantel, they have treated every witness as though they were defense witnesses, as indeed, they turned out to be.
What will the prosecution do? I suspect they are saving Sybrina Fulton for last. They will, no doubt, have her say that the screaming voice on the Lauer 911 recording is that of Martin. She will surely cry on the stand which the prosecution will cynically hope to cause the all-female jury to ignore fact and evidence. This is part and parcel of their case, a case built on emotion, supposition, eover-dramatization and their view of what ought to be rather than what the evidence reveals. Because Tracy Martin initially definitively claimed that the voice wasn’t Martin’s, the prosecution would be frankly stupid to put him on the stand, but that hasn’t stopped them thus far, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him testify. He will testify for the defense, so the prosecution may go for broke in an attempt to get it out first, but that hasn’t worked for them thus far.
It is Judge Nelson’s behavior that remains inexplicable. If one believes that she is keeping the fact that she has been overturned in another self-defense case, and overturned on the matter of Crump in this case in mind, her actions make no sense. One would expect her to take all of the time necessary to complete this case and to build an unassailable trial record, yet she petulantly demands the prosecution hurry up, and denies some of the most reasonable, rational requests for a continuance I’ve ever seen a defense counsel make, particularly considering that she and the prosecution are directly responsible for those motions for continuance.
One might also suggest that Judge Nelson understands that the prosecution has not come close to proving its case and therefore intends to grant a directed verdict of acquittal when the defense moves for it at the end of the prosecution’s case. This might explain her apparent hurry to end the prosecution’s case. However, such an intention would not well comport with her previous rulings and attitudes and has to be considered unlikely.
In the matter of Crump, one might reasonably believe that she is trying to run out the clock, to avoid having Crump deposed at all. This, of course, raises suspicions about what she believes—or knows—might come to light in a Crump deposition. Or perhaps she simply wants to continue to protect Crump from the consequences of his obvious deceptions and perjuries. There is no doubt that Crump and the prosecution have worked together on a daily basis from the beginning. Crump and the other members of the Scheme Team were present when BDLR ineptly interviewed Jeantel. The ethical lapses related to Crump’s relationship with the prosecution about which we know are voluminous and serious. What don’t we know? What does Nelson fear will come to light during a deposition?
Even the New York Times is admitting that the prosecution’s witnesses are aiding the defense.
If Zimmerman is acquitted, as I believe he must be, there will be calls for a complete investigation of the Scheme Team, the prosecution, and even the judge in this case. Those calls must be addressed, and when even the NYT begins to turn against The Narrative, it’s possible there may eventually be justice in Florida.