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While the jury rendered their verdict, the protesters have left the Courthouse, and the Attorney’s are now all doing interviews on various news shows, the George Zimmerman trial still leaves us with many examples of issues that come up in trials all the time. The most glaring demonstrates the idea of witness credibility, when the witness is your mother. For many, their mother is the one person who will always tell the truth. But, when it comes to hearing a mother testify on behalf of their son or daughter in court, do the rest of us believe her?
Specifically in the George Zimmerman case, Trayvon Martin and Greorge Zimmerman’s mothers each testified to the idea they heard their sons voice on that 911 tape. Did you believe them? Is it more likely that each of them wanted their respective son to be heard on the 911 tape screaming for help? The juror that has already made a statement made it clear that she did not believe either party’s testimony. We will just have to see how the other jurors felt on that matter, but I would assume from the verdict, the testimony of the mothers probably didn’t sway the jury one way or another.
Let’s extrapolate that idea out though, beyond that of the George Zimmerman case. If you are charged with petit theft, battery, or a domestic violence where no one else was in the room besides your mother, you have to wonder if her testimony will be credible to members of the jury. What about if you are charged with similar crimes and your mother is not present, but you were at home with her. Surely we have all seen a TV show that rags on the “I was with my Mom” alibi.
Prior to setting your matter for trial, you will want to have the discussion with your attorney about the credibility of your witnesses. That may be no reason to take a plea agreement as opposed to a trial. But, you certainly want to have that discussion as, it may play a role in how you decide to proceed with your case. While we each love our mothers, we all know most of them would do anything for us. While that may not include lying under oath, the six strangers who make up the jury don’t know that.
For a free initial consultation or case review, contact The Law Office of Diana S. Miers, PA at (407) 603 – 6538 or visit www.dianamierslaw.com.
As noted in previous posts, to the charge of second degree murder, there are four potential verdicts. We went through the idea that George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and did not have the right to use deadly force. We also went through the pieces of evidence, not yet talked about in depth that could be the little, unspoken details jurors use to find George Zimmerman was not the initial aggressor of the altercation and could use deadly force. Rather than go through the same pieces of evidence and discussing their credibility, let’s talk about the closings and some key points for each side.
We have now seen the prosecutors shift from what seemed like focusing on two expletive-filled phrases uttered by the George Zimmerman, to weaving together the evidence presented. This seems a good move for the prosecution as opposed to equating the expletives with the way you invite someone to dinner. Interestingly enough, it seems each side has now taken the position that they speak for an innocent party. The prosecution contending Trayvon Martin acted innocently, buying skittles and a canned drink is nothing illegal. The defense contending that George Zimmerman was innocent that evening. Is it a risk for either party to so patently contend the one who they advocate for is innocent? An interesting choice of words for both sides, from what seems to very many a very muddy case where two parties may have both made bad decisions.
The grass on the front of George Zimmerman’s feet in one of the pictures in evidence was a new idea in closing. This point was not yet discussed in questioning, outside the presence of the jury, or in any main stream media analysis. It was a moment that made me, and likely many others take pause. But, is that one piece of evidence enough? It is possible to explain away the grass merely by walking through the courtyard where the alternation took place. Perhaps, but the discussion about where the grass was on George Zimmerman’s shoes, that was a point where the state pointed out, rightfully, and credibly, how do you really jive the grass where it is on his shoes, and the statements made by George Zimmerman.
Notice, each party did not in depth discuss the testimony about whose voice was on the 911 tape. Probably a smart move by each party. Both brushed the topic, mentioning their strongest witnesses. But, despite the number of witnesses and the number of questions about this topic, neither attorney discussed in detail the impact of the testimony. Did the testimony sway your decision? Did you rely on that testimony to reach your conclusion? Probably not, essentially the testimony is a wash for both sides.
Interestingly enough, just a short day later, and watching the recaps and discussions, I don’t know if there is anything else that sticks out for me regarding the state’s closing. Is it possible that will be the same for the defenses closing? Will that be the same for the jurors? Perhaps this is a disadvantage of the prosecution closing first and on a different day. However, that is also why in our system, the state gets the last words with the jury in the rebuttal. As they state carries the burden, the state is the last to speak with the jury. This closing is Mr. O’Mara’s last shot.
One of the most powerful pieces of Mr. O’Mara’s closing was the four minutes of silence. The
power of silence is most evident, in the Courtroom. By yourself at home, you can turn on the tv or radio to quiet silence. At work, you can talk to a co-worker, flip on Pandora, or makes some copies on that unexplainably loud copier. But, in the Courtroom, don’t you dare speak, especially when there is silence. So, that four minutes where Mark O’Mara asked the jurors to sit in silence, that spoke volumes. You could see it in the gallery, the awkwardness that creeped over the public and the media. The shifting of the eyes, looking around to see, is it over yet?
The point of that exercise was to demonstrate just how many thoughts one can have in such a short amount of time. It is creative, and it demonstrates a point, a powerful one. Will that be the difference for the jurors? As posting, we still have the prosecution’s rebuttal. Then, the long and boring recitation of the jury instructions. Any predictions on how long the jury will take to reach a verdict? Any predictions on the verdict and a couple thoughts on why?
Feel free to post your thoughts, comments, or disagreements below. For any questions, or to inquire about an initial consultation contact The Law Office of Diana S. Miers, PA at (407) 603 – 6538 or visit www.dianamierslaw.com.
The Zimmerman case has been everywhere, my blog, the news, the radio, the newspaper, the conversation at the coffee house, Facebook, twitter, and in the line at the grocery store. So, instead of listing a number of facts you have heard eight ways and backwards, I thought I would list a couple pieces of evidence that are not the forefront of the trial, but may very well provide insight into what happened. The following are a couple pieces that might lead the jury to believe George Zimmerman was not the initial aggressor and was entitled to use deadly force:
The wind noise on the non-emergency call: I think this will be important for a couple of reasons. Obviously for the prosecution as they put forth a theory of a disgruntled neighborhood watchman, with just enough knowledge of the system, who is tired of ass holes getting away, that mistakenly profiled an innocent young man as a criminal and made the decision to hunt Trayvon Martin down and execute him. But, if you listen to the non-emergency call made by George Zimmerman, that may not necessarily be what the wind noise indicates. On the call, you hear the young man we now know as Trayvon Martin sees George Zimmerman, is heading toward him with something he cannot identify in his hands, begins to circle his car, and then takes off running. George Zimmerman then gets out of his vehicle, then. You hear the car beep, the car door, the wind start, the non-emergency operator recognizing that George Zimmerman is following the “suspect,” the non-emergency dispatcher let George Zimmerman know he shouldn’t follow Trayvon Martin, and just seconds later, the wind noise stops. If George Zimmerman really is following Trayvon Martin with the intent to shoot and kill him, why does he stop? Why does he then continue a conversation with the 911 dispatcher? As much as the prosecution would like the jurors to believe this indicates George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin, it may also create the reasonable doubt needed as it shows George Zimmerman also stopped pursuit of Trayvon Martin. Whatever version, theory, or account is true, it seems pretty plausible either way. Thoughts?
Where the flashlight was found: We all have, or can very easily if we have not, find the picture of the flashlight laying in the vicinity of Trayvon Martin in the pictures taken by the neighbor on scene. We know George Zimmerman had the flashlight when he left the car, so how does it end up near Trayvon Martin’s body? One explanation is that George Zimmerman dropped it once the physical altercation started, whether he started the physical altercation or not. Logic might say, while waiting for police, Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin and dropped the flashlight in his surprise. It is equally as plausible that he dropped it while hitting Trayvon Martin, as the attacker. But, isn’t it also possible he dropped it hitting Trayvon Martin in self-defense? We haven’t heard much about the flashlight once it came to lay in the grass that February evening. But, sometimes it is exactly that forgotten detail that can trigger a jurors mind and lead them to a verdict. Could the flashlight be the key for one of the jurors?
Where was Trayvon Martin’s Cell Phone?: There was only one piece of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise that indicates who started the physical altercation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin in February 2012. That evidence came from testimony by Rachel Jeantel who indicated she heard some screaming and or a thud and the phone then cut out while speaking to Trayvon Martin. The implication of her testimony seems to me to be – Geroge Zimmerman attacked Trayvon Martin and started the physical altercation. But, will the jurors consider her testimony credible? Leaving aside the idea that she brought this testimony out during the trial and not in initial statements or depositions, I would like to know where Trayvon’s cell phone was found. By her account, I would assume if George Zimmerman did attack Trayvon Martin, Martin certainly didn’t stop to place the phone in his pocket mid “tussle.” Logically, you would think his phone was dropped on the ground. So, where is the testimony about where the phone was found? So, did the officers recover the phone in his pocket or on the ground? Either way, one could postulate that George Zimmerman placed the phone back onto Trayvon Martin’s body. But, the timeline, the eye witnesses, and other evidence don’t seem to point to that type of movement on George Zimmerman’s behalf. As a juror, I would want to know. But, maybe that is why lawyers do not get to be jurors very often!
Again, while these issues may not be the forefront of the case, sometimes that is exactly what a juror’s decision hinges on. I will be curious to see if any of the jurors do come forward with an explanation of their verdict. As we approach the end of the defense case, the answer to that question also approaches quickly. In the meantime, stay tuned for the next potential verdict – The jurors do believe George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was justified in using deadly force. Verdict: Not Guilty.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Diana S. Miers, PA at (407) 603 – 6538 or visit www.dianamierslaw.com for more information. –Diana S. Miers, Esq.
After having the chance to attend the George Zimmerman trial twice, I couldn’t wait to share my experience! First, and foremost, the TV doesn’t capture the half of what goes on inside the Courtroom. The sighs of the witnesses, the shrugs of the attorneys, what jurors take notes and when, the reaction of the media and public, and the subtle interaction between the attorney and a witness is not picked up by the cameras. It is a particularly fascinating interaction in this case, as opposed to others, as many of the witnesses appear reluctant to testify, my guess would be because of the media coverage in the case.
Although the trial is very exciting to watch as an attorney, particularly a criminal defense attorney, sometimes I don’t want to tell people of my profession because their very next question is, “So, what do you think?” That is neither a short answer nor an uncomplicated one. So, I decided to break down the potential verdicts and the reasoning behind the said verdicts. Below is a list of the potential verdicts and general reasoning behind them. Over the next couple of days, I will detail each of the potential verdicts, the reasoning behind the potential verdicts, and the evidence that either supports or contradicts such a verdict.
The jury must first decide whether the state proves all of the elements of second degree murder. But, because the defense team has asserted a claim of self-defense, the jury must decide if George Zimmerman was entitled to defend himself. If so, was George Zimmerman justified in using deadly force? Determining whether he was entitled to use deadly force requires an analysis of whether he was the initial aggressor that evening. After their analysis, the following are potential verdicts and the reasoning behind such each verdict:
A) The jurors believe that George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was not justified in using deadly force. Verdict: Guilty.
B) The jurors do not believe George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was justified in using deadly force. Verdict: Not Guilty.
C) The jurors believe George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was justified in using deadly force. Verdict: Not Guilty.
D) The jurors do not believe George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was not justified in using deadly force. Verdict: Guilty.
E) The jury cannot reach a decision, is split in some form or fashion – Mistrial because of a hung jury.
The jurors believe that George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was not justified in using deadly force. Verdict: Guilty.
First, let’s look at the evidence that supports this verdict. While reading the list of facts or opinions supporting this guilty verdict, keep in mind that a juror must accept some or all of these facts as true, despite other testimony, to reach a guilty verdict.
1) George Zimmerman sees what he describes as a suspicious person and calls non-emergency to report the activities of the suspicious person. (Non-emergency Dispatcher and George Zimmerman’s statements).
2) George Zimmerman is a part of, the liaison to the Homeowners Association, and organizer of the Neighborhood Watch. (Homeowners Association Past President).
3) He has been trained by law enforcement officers in what to do when you see a suspicious person and that includes when to call 911 v. the non-emergency number. (George Zimmerman’s statements, Homeowners Association past President, Best Friend of George Zimmerman).
4) He utters that these “F***ing punks” and “…ass holes always get away,” to the non-emergency dispatcher. (Non-emergency Call).
5) He is told by non-emergency not to follow the person he calls suspicious and he follows the person anyways. (Non-emergency call, George Zimmerman’s statements).
6) George Zimmerman has a loaded gun, with a bullet in the chamber, and holstered at his hip. (George Zimmerman’s Statement, FDLE Employee Siewart, Neighbor, Officers on Scene.)
7) On a dark and rainy evening, George Zimmerman follows this person into a poorly lit courtyard. (George Zimmerman’s statements, Officers on Scene, Neighbors.)
8) George Zimmerman initiates contact with Trayvon Martin. (Rachel Jeantel.)
9) A fight ensues; George Zimmerman takes his gun and shoots Trayvon Martin in the heart. (Multiple Neighbors, 911 tape, Parts of George Zimmerman’s statements.)
10) Throughout the fight, Trayvon Martin is screaming for help. (Trayvon Martin’s Mother).
11) Trayvon Martin is shot and killed, with no other injuries than a gunshot wound from George Zimmerman’s gun to the heart and two small abrasions on his fingers. (Multiple Medical Professionals.)
12) There is no blood, trace DNA evidence, or fingerprints, partial or otherwise from Trayvon Martin on George Zimmerman’s gun.
13) George Zimmerman suffers minor injuries, two small lacerations that do not need to be sutured, among other bruises, swelling, and contusions. No broken bones, long term effects, or other physical symptoms manifest from the fight that ensued, with regard to George Zimmerman. (George Zimmerman’s statements.)
14) George Zimmerman made multiple prior calls to non-emergency and emergency lines reporting similar behavior. (Dispatcher.)
15) There is a two minute gap in the account given by George Zimmerman from the time the non-emergency call ended and when the gunshot was heard on 911 calls. (Dispatchers.)
16) The screaming stops when the gunshot it heard. (Multiple Witnesses.)
17) George Zimmerman previously enrolled and attended criminal justice classes discussing or assigning reading about, among other things, self-defense, witness preparation and testifying as a witness, and Stand Your Ground. (Former Professors of George Zimmerman at Seminole State College.)
18) Use of a gun in a fist fight, can be excessive force. (Former Professor of George Zimmerman at Seminole State College.)
19) The maximum and minimum amount of blows received to George Zimmerman was three (3). (Jacksonville Medical Examiner.)
20) George Zimmerman admits that Trayvon says something like “Okay, you got me now,” In close proximity to the gun shot. (George Zimmerman’s statements.)
21) George Zimmerman answers Sean Hannity’s question of whether there was a conscious moment that he knew he was going to die, with the idea he wasn’t sure because it all happened so fast. (George Zimmerman’s statements.)
22) While shorter, George Zimmerman weighed substantially more than Trayvon Martin. (Multiple Medical Professionals.)
While this is not an exhaustive list of facts, these are many of the main facts or opinions in evidence that jurors may rely on to reach the conclusion that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin and was not justified in using deadly force on that evening. Let’s face it, we have an 18-year-old kid with a gunshot wound to the heart and a guy that walks away with what has been described as minimal to minor injuries with a history of profiling other “suspicious” behavior, and acknowledges that these “F***ing punks” and, “…ass holes always get away.” Would it be easy to believe he was tired of it and so he went into that courtyard to put a stop to it? Is it reasonable to think it was unnecessary to bring out a gun in the middle of a fight? With the evidence above, taken as truthful and credible, it might be very easy for a juror to come to that conclusion.
But, in order to reach a guilty verdict, the jury must either 1) Accept the premise that following Trayvon into the courtyard made him the initial aggressor and second he did not first exhaust all avenues of defense before using deadly force, or 2) Use only circumstantial evidence to determine what they believe happened once both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman hung up their phones and the altercation began. Rachel Jeantel, the woman Trayvon Martin was on the phone with leading up to the incident, gives her account that may lead one to believe George Zimmerman was the aggressor. But, with her multiple versions of what happened that evening and her relationship with the victim will the jury find her credible? The only other insight into what happened came from George Zimmerman, and he being the defendant, one has to wonder whether the jury will give credibility to his account. Where does that leave the jurors? It seems, filling in the blanks with pure conjecture.
The opening statement from the prosecution seemed to promise that the evidence would show untruths in the statements of a deranged neighborhood watchman, who stalked and hunted Trayvon Martin and walked away unscathed. Combined with media reports, this led me to believe I would see exactly that. But, each witness appeared to confirm parts of the defendant’s story. Most importantly, most of the eye witnesses seemed to identify Trayvon Martin straddling George Zimmerman and hitting him in the face. One witness recounted Trayvon Martin “raining down blows” in a mixed martial arts fashion at some point in the altercation. For me, the witnesses’ accounts did not quite seem to match the opening statement by the prosecution, nor the media accounts released since the date of the incident. Instead, they matched the account of the defendant’s retelling of the incident. With the disconnect in testimony, what we were told we would hear, and what the media releases described as happening, might it be just as easy for a juror to give credibility to George Zimmerman’s account of the altercation.
There are only two people who know what really happened in the minutes leading up to, through, and to the completion of the altercation that night. Who will the jury believe? Stay tuned for the next potential verdict –The jurors do not believe George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor and he was justified in using self-defense: Not Guilty.