Federal Marshal Mark Osterman (courtesy baynews9.com)

The prosecution had us all wondering which side it was on until Tuesday, when we finally detected that they were putting on a case. At the close of business Monday, Detective Chris Serino stated that he believed Zimmerman was telling the truth when he gave his recorded statements to Sanford Five-O. Tuesday started with a sustained prosecution objection to that answer, which was stricken from the record and magically excised from the hearts and minds of the jurors . . .

Getting around to making some kind of point, the prosecution was able to show that there were various inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s all too numerous statements. For example, Zimmerman said in an interview that he didn’t know about Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law at the time of the incident. “Shazam!” said the prosecutors, and put a couple of Zimmerman’s former teachers on the stand (one by Skype, which proved to be a total fustercluck). The teachers said that yes, they taught Zimmerman about SYG, and that he got an “A” in the course.

I was puzzled by the judge allowing the teachers to testify. I mean, how do you impeach someone who never testified? And if Zimmerman did know the law, so what? Does that make him a criminal mastermind? Yes it does, if the prosecutors are taking their script from a bad episode of Columbo.

As the prosecutors were preening over their coup, the teachers were explaining to the jury that, yes, of course Zimmerman had the legal right to shoot Martin—which added to the death of the prosecution by a thousand cuts. So why were the teachers called to testify when the prosecutors could have proven the same inconsistency by entering the course syllabus and Zimmerman’s transcript?

Trying to tease out another inconsistency, the state put Zimmerman’s best friend on the stand. Federal Air Marshal Mark Osterman [above] testified that Zimmerman told him that Martin grabbed Zimmerman’s gun, which is what Osterman wrote in his book. Or maybe Zimmerman told him that Martin tried to grab his gun. Or grabbed for his gun. Or was cleaning his gun when it just went off.

Osterman—a federal LEO who sweats like he’s in a steam bath—vouched for Zimmerman , entering strong character testimony for the defense. So why did the prosecution put him up there, when all it had to do was enter the book into evidence?

Medical examiner Valerie Rao had looked at Zimmerman’s pictures and read his medical report. Her testimony was a little better (prosecution-wise) but not great. (She was no Quincy, M.E.) She suggested Martin may have only been struck once, and not very hard at that. The defense suggested various counter scenarios to highlight the fact that she didn’t know what she didn’t know. All in all, the jury was left the impression that Zimmerman’s injuries were “insignificant.”

You don’t need injuries to sustain a case of self-defense. In Florida, an armed self-defender has the right to be mistaken about being in imminent danger. But the mistake needs to be reasonable. The non-evidence of a vicious struggle could be construed as evidence that Zimmerman wasn’t in mortal danger when he shot Martin. The lack of defensive wounds does not prove that a reasonable observer (i.e. someone without a dog in the fight) would believe that Zimmerman was not in mortal danger.

Then the prosecution tried to bootstrap the “Zimmerman is a monster” narrative—which cuts against the “Zimmerman acted unreasonably” argument—by showing he was carrying his pistol with a round chambered and a full magazine. In front of a jury that includes two women who own guns and may actually know something about them. The defense did a good job of knocking down that nonsense by showing that it’s common to carry with one in the pipe.

As for Zimmerman’s practice, either he started out the evening with a round chambered before Martin arrived on the scene, or he was carrying Israeli-style, saw Martin walking around in the rain and with murderous rage said to himself “I’m gonna shoot that pucking frick,” whereupon he pulled an extra round out of his own ass, racked the slide and then topped off his mag. I’m leaning away from the latter interpretation.

After eight days of testimony, it seems that only the following have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. Trayvon Martin is dead and George Zimmerman killed him.
  2. An accused who gives no more than a single statement to the police in the presence of his lawyer and who doesn’t go on national television twice won’t have to explain away inconsistencies in his statements when he goes to trial a year and a half later.
  3. Lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda and Doctor Phil were separated at birth.

So what can we make of this? Two things for sure. First, the Zimmerman prosecutors overcharged like a bunch of cheap Las Vegas hookers on New Year’s Eve. Second, reasonable doubt isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

The defense wants to depose the Martin family attorney before it puts on its affirmative defense case, so I expect O’Mara to slow play on Friday, after prosecution winds up its case. Its scheduled to conclude with the tearful testimony of Trayvon Martin’s mother. The media will be all over it like a cheap suit. But emotion outpouring isn’t likely to move the needle for the jury—instructed to rule on the facts of the case.

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63 Responses to The Zimmerman Case, Days 7 and 8

  1. “For example, Zimmerman said in an interview that he didn’t know about Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law at the time of the incident. “Shazam!” said the prosecutors, and put a couple of Zimmerman’s former teachers on the stand (one by Skype, which proved to be a total fustercluck). The teachers said that yes, they taught Zimmerman about SYG, and that he got an “A” in the course.”

    Ignorance of a law which supports your cause is no sin, eh?

    To me, this looks more and more like the prosecution is trying to blow their own case. Is provoking riots a hidden agenda here?

    • Another theory is the State is getting all the information out there that they can, and pulling every trick they can, so that when the inevitable acquittal comes in, they can say, “Look, we did everything we could, including dirty tricks, to secure a conviction, and it still didn’t work. Maybe the guy actually is innocent, so please don’t riot, m’kay?”

    • I teach criminal justice course for a university as well. Some of the courses, just like the ones Zimmerman apparently took, were online. I can testify as to what I teach during the course as well. But there is no way I can testimony as to what a student learned or remembers from a course I taught. Even if they get an A. There was no question about the SYG laws being on a test or part of any project. Therefore the testimony in my opinion was worthless. Btw, I am also a former prosecutor and have over 30 years in law enforcement. The judge looked like an idiot for allowing testimony via skype.

  2. I thought the firearms examiner lady was laughable. I can accept she knows about id ‘ing bullets and cases. But as for carry “best practices ” she knew nothing. One could only imagine Massad Ayoob testifying. He would destroy the states case.

    And in the unintended consequences file, lets enter this one. They spent an hour parading TM ‘s hoodie stretched out in a sealed case. IT WAS FREAKISHLY HUGE AND FLOATING IN FRONT OF THE JURY.

    BS about TM being a child was totally destroyed in that display

    • Don’t knock the firearms examiner lady. She was never deemed to be an expert in self-defense or concealed carry. And even if she (personally, not professionally) knew the answers to those questions, she would have been right in not answering , as they were clearly out of the area in which she was certified to be an expert.

      • She gave straightforward testimony, didn’t seem to have an agenda and actually helped the defense IMO.

        I’d just like to know who stole the poor girl’s chin.

        • Now see, Ralph, I was trying to be nice. But I had the same thought.

          I actually said to a friend, “Next the state’s going to file theft charges on whoever stole that poor girl’s chin.”

        • I thought the lady firearms examiner was very professional. They aren’t all so businesslike.

    • @Tommy Knocker, the prosecution started the case carrying that hoodie around like it was the One True Cross. Now it’s just a horrible remnant of a bad night all around.

    • … IT WAS FREAKISHLY HUGE AND FLOATING IN FRONT OF THE JURY.

      I thought that exact same thing! It looked like a freakin’ flag.

  3. Having been in the courtroom more than a couple of times, I’m at a total loss as to the prosecutions agenda here. A mistrial will serve no purpose…
    I’m still scratching my head here.

  4. The mainstream’s media’s coverage of this is a farce. I refuse to watch any network coverage except for tidbits on Fox because they present both sides fairly and in a balanced manner.

    Nevertheless, GZ’s innocence will be borne out by the facts.

    Fact 1: TM had absolutely no business being out at night in that neighborhood. He had to be up to no good.
    Fact 2: GZ’s decision to continue his pursuit of TM against the advice of police was reasonable and justified given TM’s presence, appearance, demeanor and probable criminal intent.
    Fact 3: TM should NOT have fought back when approached by GZ. If TM had cooperated with GZ, he might still be alive.

    • “Fact 1: TM had absolutely no business being out at night in that neighborhood. He had to be up to no good”

      Except for the actual fact, which is that he was currently living in that neighborhood…

      “Fact 2: GZ’s decision to continue his pursuit of TM against the advice of police was reasonable and justified ”
      Excepth for the fact that GZ DIDN’T “continue his pursuit”. He turned around and went back to his car. And he was never “in pursuit”, he was keeping an eye on TM because the police asked repeatedly “where is he now”? When the cops said “are you following him?” and he said “yes”, then the cop said “we don’t need you to do that” and so George said “OK”, stopped and turned around.

      “Fact 3: TM should NOT have fought back when approached by GZ. If TM had cooperated with GZ, he might still be alive.”
      Except that’s nothing like what happened. GZ didn’t approach TM, and TM didn’t “fight back”. TM approached GZ, TM initiated the confrontation, TM demanded to know “why you following me”, and TM is the one who threw the punches.

      Seems like you may need to brush up on what the actual facts were.

      • I stand corrected! Thanks for clearing that up. Just goes to show that we all know TM is the bad guy here and that GZ was fully justified. Much appreciated.

        I don’t think GZ has a thing to worry about. Only wish we could be on the jury because deliberations would be short!

        • Wait. WAIT.

          Did someone just make patently false and inaccurately interpreted statements about the Zimmerman case, and then, when corrected, actually thank the corrector for the clarification?

          Do you not understand how this is supposed to work?! We can’t have rational discourse here! Do you know what you’ll do to us if you keep this up? We’ll be headed for a disaster of biblical proportions! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

        • Don’t shut off the power to the containment grid, Matt.

          And if anyone asks if you are a god, you say: YES!

        • “And if anyone asks if you are a god, you say: YES!”

          Words to live by.

      • I understood the facts to be as you just described, thanks. It seems a lot of posters are seeing GZ walking away with an acquittal, I don’t know. I thought Romney was going to win.

    • 1. WTH? Is there a curfew in effect? Martial Law? Anything that says people can’t be outdoors after dark?

      2. “probable criminal intent”? Bureau of Pre-Crime, much?

      3. Debate-able about “fought back”. I’ve heard no evidence that Zimmerman initiated a physical conflict. Don’t know for sure thatMartin did either. No witnesses to that part that I’m aware of.

      Seriously, I’m not defending either party, but you’ve gone as far out into the fringes as the nut-jobs who call Zimmerman a cold-blooded killer.

      • Thanks for taking on 1 and 2. THAT sh*t was bugging me.

        Being out late at night for any reason isn’t a crime, and “intent” isn’t “committing.” Anyone can INTEND to burn a building down at some point but until they’ve actually committed arson there is no crime.

        Next everybody will be okay with armed checkpoints at intersections demanding to see our papers. No big deal so long as you’re not a bad guy right?

        • Well lots of people seem to be OK with the drunk driving checkpoints…those are one step from that, maybe only a half step.

        • I think we’ve gone past the goose step when a neighberhood watch member has the right to stop and question citizens on the street.

        • Every member of every community has the right to “stop and question citizens”, unless you mean stop as in physical arrest.

          If someone is nosing in my neighbor’s yard who I don’t know, for example, I might say “hey, John isn’t home” (his name isn’t John) and see what the response is. If the guy wants to continue about his business, that is his right, as it is mine to ask what he is doing in an odd place as an unknown person. If I think it’s suspicious I will call not-John or the police. If I knew his kids were home alone, I might do more than that. I would fully expect my neighbors to do the same thing for me. It is what keeps a community safe(r) to live in.

          No one empowered Z with any more rights than any other person, he just seems to have taken his responsibilities as a neighbor more seriously than many, and possibly taken them too far in this case.

          Further, all citizens, by common law, have the right to physically arrest someone committing a crime in their presence. It’s called citizen’s arrest and it goes back centuries. Only now that most people abdicate their responsibility of defense of themselves and their community does it rarely happen, but it has effectively happened in high profile cases (e.g. crowd jumping on the shooter of Gifford, etc.)

  5. Some of the arguments that the prosecution seem to be making against GZ are both ludicrous and frightening:

    Don’t care about your community enough to be alert to possible trouble… it will be used against you in a court of law.
    Don’t call 911 to report any sort of trouble… it will be used against you in a court of law.
    Don’t show any interest in learning about criminal justice… it will be used against you in a court of law.
    Don’t make an application to attend any LE academy… it will be used against you in a court of law.
    Don’t possess or attempt to gain any knowledge of laws which may apply to any of your future actions… it will be used against you in a court of law.

      • Almost forgot…

        Don’t ever get a good lawyer… it will be used against you in a court of law.

  6. After eight days of testimony, it seems that only the following have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
    Trayvon Martin is dead and George Zimmerman killed him.
    An accused who gives no more than a single statement to the police in the presence of his lawyer and who doesn’t go on national television twice won’t have to explain away inconsistencies in his statements when he goes to trial a year and a half later.
    Lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda and Doctor Phil were separated at birth.

    4. Mr. Guy’s favorite movie is JFK.

  7. De la Rionda finally delivered on Wednesday the coup de grace: When I saw, revealed without possibility of the jury’s oversight, the friendly regard between Captain Carter, JAG, and the accused, I could no longer overlook the depth of GZ’s cunning. To realize, as I do now, that the villainous GZ went so far in his planning as to study self-defense law and develop in advance friendships with people with dark skin, if wholesome minds, reveals the depth of GZ’s irredeemable depravity. We have before us in De la Rionda virtually another Marsh Clark, and I do not bestow this sort of compliment lightly.

  8. Great review as usual Ralph. I really enjoyed watching the professor state that you shouldn’t wait to nearly be beaten to death before you defend yourself. I thought that Zimmerman had no chance of winning this case, but now I don’t see how he can be convicted unless he decides to say he shot TM for kicks.

    • Something happened to the comment posting for about 20 minutes, and nothing new was getting through. I posted once and thought I got spam-filtered, but it looks like the same thing happened to Matt in SD and a couple other folks. It seems to have cleared up now.

  9. is it correct that the next round did not chamber?

    I thought i heard that, but not recently. I figured they would use that to show that TM’s hand may have been on the gun, showing that Zimm was in ‘reasonable imminent danger’.

    Thx-

    • I think, actually, they’re going to use this to show the prudence of carrying a shrouded-hammer wheel gun.

  10. Thanks Ralph. Couple of things to add:

    1) Angela Corey, the state prosecutor has been sitting in the front row right in front of the family _ guaranteed to get the best TV shots to use in her commercials to run for governor.

    2) GZ applied ONCE to be a cop and was dinged b/c he had bad credit. He actually passed all of the pysch screens

    3) The re-enactment videos the prosecution showed demonstrated that Mr Marshmellow Man, I mean GZ, was actually much much smaller than he is now. Great visuals when compared w the hoodie.

    4) CNN (don’t laugh – they have kept up gavel to gavel coverage) had on a commentator who pointed out that GZ’s law prof, a Black dude the size of TM, not only gave GZ an A and greeted him with “Hi George”, but also demonstrated that the prof essentially vouched that GZ didn’t hate all Black people.

    5) The law prof, now a JAG prosecutor (note that) said he may have mentioned specific florida law on SYG, but the course was more general and would have been entitled “self defense” and not SYG, which is a nickname, while then getting away with a very detailed explanation of the law, even after Meatloaf, I mean the judge said she would explain the law later. Of note, his description of the reasonableness vs physical injury apprehension was brillant. Don West has made up masterfully for the stupid knock knock joke.

    6)Asking the judge to admonish the jury to forget what they heard the day before from the lead detective rather than getting it stopped that same day by objecting to the questioning (stevie wonder saw that coming) was clear error by the prosecution

    7) O’meara getting the ballistics expert to agree that the po-po carried one in the pipe was genius

    8) Sabrina Fulton (TM’s mom) getting on the stand will be a fuster cluck when she screws up and says what a good boy he was and then has to admit under cross that a)he lived w his aunt and uncle not her, b) he had been suspended for 10 days for something major, c) he had a lighter on him for what reason, d) this was not his first debut with trouble (sealed police records) and e) he was much larger than the images of the little 10 year old the media has been pushing.

    Glad I took tomorrow off.

    BTW – wonder why CNN hasn’t reported that their legal beagle Sunny Hostin has a close personal relationship with the TM Family’s lawyer Darryl Parks? That kids, is called a journalistic conflict of interest, esp since she has gone out of her way to slant this case to the drones watching. I need to see if I can dig up a pic of the two dancing together. 🙂

  11. “by showing he was carrying his pistol with a round chambered and a full magazine.”
    to quote Rooster Cogburn, ” Well, if it ain’t loaded and cocked it don’t shoot.”

    • Concerned citizen: “Isn’t that dangerous?”

      Texas Ranger Charlie Miller: “I wouldn’t carry the S-O-B if it wasn’t dangerous.”

  12. The media will help incite riots,by giving their opinions on the outcome,when GZ is acquitted!so far from what I have seen the prosecutors have been grasping at straws.I am sure that TM’s mama will tell how a good boy TM always was,and as far as she knew he didn’t use drugs,or really fight in that ole fight club,he just went to watch the other guys.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

    • Back in my day this wouldn’t have made news. In fact, TM would have known better than to commit the offense he committed looking like he looked!

  13. While it has seemed to me from the beginning that there in not enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, having been on a jury, I think there is still a 50-50 chance that Zimmerman will be convicted. There is no telling what jurors will latch onto. They might simply dislike GZ or they might crumble under media pressure and decide that convicting and becoming media hero’s and preventing rioting is the path of least resistance. They could go with a majority vote just to get it over with and go home.

  14. Ralph: ” the prosecutors could have proven the same inconsistency by entering the course syllabus and Zimmerman’s transcript?”

    I take it you haven’t actually studied the concept of authentication and having to lay the foundation to be able to introduce a document in court, have you? Introducing the syllabus and transcript required the prosecution to bring in the person that would have personal knowledge of the document and can attest to its authenticity. Best, if not the only person, would be the teacher that wrote the syllabus and gave the grade reflected on the transcript.

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