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Zimmerman bail hearing

Zimmerman bail hearing

Here is George Zimmerman’s testimony at the bail hearing this morning.

I find it very curious as to why he took the stand at all, other than for publicity and to start reshaping his image for potential jurors.  While the cross-examination was limited, you can see the dangers of putting a defendant on the witness stand:

(added) As part of the testimony this morning, a police investigator confirmed that Zimmerman suffered head injuries:

“His injuries are consistent with trauma to the back of his head,” investigator Dale Gilbreath said. “There is two lacerations to the back of his head.”

Additionally, the police appear to have no new evidence that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation with Martin:

An investigator for a Florida prosecutor’s office testified on Friday morning that he has no additional evidence to show that George Zimmerman was the one who confronted Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26.

Investigator Dale Gilbreath said he and his fellow investigator, T.C. O’Steen, relied on the 911 call that Zimmerman made before the confrontation along with an interview five weeks after the fact with one of Martin’s friends who said she was on the phone with Martin when the incident began.

Zimmerman’s attorney asked Gilbreath several times whether there was anything else to prove that Zimmerman “confronted” Martin, as the investigators wrote in a sworn affidavit filed April 11 with the 18th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida.

“You have nothing to support the confrontation suggestion?” defense attorney Mark O’Mara said.

“I don’t know,” Gilbreath said. “I think I’ve answered the question.”


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Fluffy Foo Foo | April 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

What was brilliant was the defense putting the State investigator on the stand.

… and then allowing Zimmerman on the stand to apologize, without the State being able to question him beyond the apology.

    Why put the State investigator on the stand? Why was that brilliant? Is there video for that part?

      Fluffy Foo Foo in reply to Joel. | April 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      Read the testimony quoted above in the post.

      The State is on record now, forever, with the evidence that Zimmerman’s head was injured (consistent with Zimmerman’s statements to the authorities) and that the State has no evidence that Zimmerman started the altercation that occurred that night.

        retire05 in reply to Fluffy Foo Foo. | April 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

        The 911 call will be replayed at trial. It will be hard for the prosecution to prove that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin after dispatch said “We don’t need you to do that.” and Zimmerman said “Okay.” and then for the next 93 seconds discussed Zimmerman’s location and his meeting up with the officer[s] en route.

        What I find ironic is how the media has tried to portray this as a “white Hispanic” on black crime. The photos of Zimmerman show he is much the same dark skin tone as our current POTUS. Clearly Zimmerman is Hispanic, not “white” Hispanic.

          Anchovy in reply to retire05. | April 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

          Language is a living entity, much like the constitution. Years ago we did not have words like “hard drive” or RAM. In order to meet our new tomorrow, terms like white Hispanic or, in Obama’s case, either white African-American or black Caucasian need to be invented when collectivists need them.

          Ragspierre in reply to retire05. | April 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm

          Resist we much…!!!

Also brilliant is that he looks like he could be a son to Obama. Maybe it’s the suit & the courtroom lighting. Good PR move on the part of the defense!

Manacles? Is that standard for the charge?

    Ragspierre in reply to ThomasD. | April 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Really depends a lot on the judge. They are demigods in their courtroom.

    I was in a Federal court the other day where NOBODY was allowed to have a cell phone (even attorneys).

    The marshals told me the judge really did not like photos or video, which I’d never considered.

      Here in Thurston County Washington, superior court judges often rewrite the court reportings from family court proceedings, so there is no way in hell they want any recording device in the room.

      The revisions have become so flagrant that friends of people being represented have started attending with hidden recording devices.

I’m curious to know what the prosecutor was getting at re Zimmerman making reference to Tracey Martin in a text or e-mail. What was that about?

    Fluffy Foo Foo in reply to RepubChica. | April 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    I think he was searching for an inconsistency in any of Zimmerman’s statement. He couldn’t go there though because whatever the text was, it wasn’t connected enough to Zimmerman’s witness stand apology. Or maybe it was but opened up another avenue for the defense to go down.

    I don’t know. We may never find out unless Zimmerman takes the stand again.

    The prosecutor just tried to latch on to anything he could find to attack Zimmerman’s credibility.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to RepubChica. | April 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    I think twas an effort to try to make Zimmerman out to being an uncaring monster who only became sorry after the heat was turned up… taint the jury and to try to show malice in an effort to hang onto the probable cause.

From the short clip I saw of Zimmerman, I thought the prosecutor was going at him too hard.

Not the questions…those were OK. But he was a notch or two too hard-edged. You can be a very tough cross-examiner, and NOT push too hard. If you DO, you run the risk of making the witness sympathetic.

    Fluffy Foo Foo in reply to Ragspierre. | April 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    That’s what I saw too. An indignant tone can work with the right audience, I guess, but it can also backfire like you say.

      Ragspierre in reply to Fluffy Foo Foo. | April 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Trial lawyers talk about “having the jury’s permission”, which really is a true concept.

      One reason why trial work requires thinking about 5 things at once. You can’t forget about the jury.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Ragspierre. | April 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t know the rules for a bond hearing … but the prosecutor stated “a young innocent boy was killed”, and stated that GZ had committed a crime.

    I didn’t hear it all, but he made several statements that are merely opinion, from what I could tell, and several like that went unchallenged. The very fact that GZ was injured alludes to a real likelihood that Martin was not innocent, and GZ did not commit a crime. Maybe unfounded accusations are the norm … I don’t know.

      Ragspierre in reply to Midwest Rhino. | April 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Rhino, he’s an ADVOCATE. He has a position, and he’s allowed to argue what the evidence says. That was his role today.

        Midwest Rhino in reply to Ragspierre. | April 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        OK … thanks, I get that. But I didn’t hear him say the evidence showed what he stated. He just stated those as facts. In a TV court I’d expect to hear an objection, that those are not facts at all.

        P: When you committed this crime, and murdered this completely innocent boy ..

        D: Objection your honor, supposition

        So i guess my “law degree by TV” doesn’t work lol

          Ragspierre in reply to Midwest Rhino. | April 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

          No jury present, Rhino.

          Everybody who has a role in that court understood what was said.

          The judge can filter stuff just fine. Plus, if that one is like a lot I appear before, they are only paying about half attention to what the lawyers are saying, while reading the computer monitor on the bench. They have a lot to do.

          Hi Rhino,

          There wasn’t really a reason to object here. It’s all opinion of the prosecutor and everybody knew it. This hearing was about the prosecution desperately attempting to show the judge that they had something, ANYTHING, to hold Zimmerman on.

          One of my favorite professors from Law School, Robert Filiatrault, was lecturing on the minutia of Federal Civil Procedure and he was discussing how to subtly redirect the Judge’s focus during an argument. Someone asked why you you wouldn’t just stand up and object. Prof. Filiatrault said that you might win the objection but there’s no point unless you’re going to get something out of it (like an admission, an evidentiary exclusion or some other legal benefit) AND you’ve then told everybody listening that’s a sensitive subject from your case.

          Better to simply let it go unless it becomes a theme, at which point you can address it by questioning the Prosecution’s MOTIVES rather than their TECHNIQUE.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | April 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I agree. Here, we saw Zimmerman, a mild-mannered man, being harangued by the prosecutor. We saw Zimmerman face him, not hide behind his lawyer.

    The prosecutor came on way too strong. He struck me as using bluster and emotion to try to make his case, rather than actually unearthing any relevant facts. What does an apology after the fact have to do with showing probable cause for an arrest based on events that took place well before any apology came into play? Zip.

      1. the hearing was not about probable cause

      2. if the apology had nothing to do with the hearing, why did Zimmerman make it?

      3. you really seem to have lost all ability to think rationally here, demonizing the prosecutor for doing his job as you do

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | April 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

        The big issue with this arrest is probable cause.

        The prosecutor was not asking questions relating to Zimmerman’s eligibility for bail, such as flight risk, time in the community, standing in the community, ties to the community, history of criminal acts such that he’s a danger to the community, etc.. The prosecutor was trying to shore up the affidavit, which is all about probable cause for the arrest.

        The prosecutor is on a witch hunt.

        The fact that you are blind to that is really a pitiful situation for a lawyer to be in.

Why weren’t the photos of the Zimmerman’s bloodied head released earlier? They could have averted the insane slanders and speculations. Isn’t that a scandal in itself?

    Ragspierre in reply to raven. | April 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    The other side of that question is why ANYTHING has been leaked.

    It is not the job of the criminal justice system to squelch press BS by putting evidence into the public domain.

    IF we think it wrong for the state to try matters in the press…

    great unknown in reply to raven. | April 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Wouldn’t have helped. The Martin family attorneys [pronounced: rabble-rousing propogandists] have already claimed that there is something fraudulent about this picture.

After examining all the available facts, it has come pretty obvious that Trayvon was the “victim” here. Not just that he got shot, but that our public schools system instilled Trayvon with more than enough “self esteem” that he was stupid enough to go back to confront Zimmerman.
Trayvon should have taken the advise in “Hook” to “Run Home” or from Bambi’s mother to “Run for the Meadow,” but going back, when he clearly had enough time to go home, was just plain stupid.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Neo. | April 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    ha .. yeah, lots of chances to learn. But a brother in the hood has to earn respect, like he got by engaging that bus driver. But his tweeter gang should have taught him to check to see if the target is carrying a weapon, before assaulting him.

    An old white barber in David Duke’s old district once told me the lesson he learned on the street from a black guy. “He taught me a lesson”. The old guy had a gun in his car and this guy approached … before he got the gun out the guy had his had in the window holding his arm … he said “you have to keep that gun where you can grab it quickly” … and let him go.

    I only went there once, but sounded like a true story. In any case, there are some lessons on the street too, which Martin also failed. Clearly he should have just run home.

      From maps and graphs and time charts of the 911 calls I’ve seen, I now believe Martin did go home, waited a couple of minutes and then watched Zimmerman walk by going the other direction on his way back to his car (GZ had gone around the block on the street side of the town-homes, then cut back toward the main gate via the center walkway to meet the responding officer) and TM then decided to leave home again and follow ZM. Point is, he was safe at home but made a fatal decision. That’s my opinion.

Looks to me like Alan Dershowitz has already concluded that the prosecution has overcharged with 2nd degree murder:

I don’t understand why it’s relevant who initiated the confrontation; what matters is who initiated the violence. Let’s suppose Zimmerman is lying, and did ignore the dispatcher’s suggestion, and did follow Martin and ask him what he was doing. So what? He would have been perfectly within his rights to do that; it’s what every good neighbour should do when he sees an unfamiliar person lurking in a residential area late at night for no apparent legitimate reason. One doesn’t need a badge or a title to do that. And if Martin took offense at the implication that he might be up to no good, and initiated violence against Zimmerman, then he was the aggressor and was 100% responsible for what happened next.

And whether Zimmerman initiated the violence is something that the prosecution must prove. Even if it could prove beyond doubt that Zimmerman is both a liar and a racist, has a predisposition to violence, and initiated a conversation with Martin; so long as there is no evidence that he initiated the violence that followed, the jury is not free to simply suppose it out of thin air. So why all the focus on whether Zimmerman followed him or confronted him?

    Cowboy Curtis in reply to Milhouse. | April 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Because its the only thing the press and prosecutors have that might make him look culpable in the public mind. The facts as we now know them don’t support criminal charges, because the only thing that is relevant is who started the violence- something that, barring a confession or a witness we don’t know about- can never be proven either way.

    From the legal standpoint, its only relevant if we were to discover that Martin initiated it, because that would mean he doubled back, and one could infer- I think reasonably- that he did so with bad intentions, OR, if it were shown that Zimmerman was lying on this point and thereby damage his credibility as it relates to the rest of the story.

    But you’re right in what I’m assuming are your suspicions- its primarily a way for the press and the prosecutors to stir up controversy and put Zimmerman in a bad (even if admittedly legal) public light.

    Lina Inverse in reply to Milhouse. | April 20, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Underlining the points you and Cowboy Curtis have made, the prosecution’s affidavit goes weirdly passive at that critical moment:

    […] Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to home.

    Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued. Witnesses heard [but no mention of them seeing anything]….

    Florida law is very clear about how the initiation of violence and self-defense all plays out. To the point that even if Zimmerman initiated non-deadly violence, as I read it, and Martin escalated it to deadly violence, Zimmerman has a self-defense claim if he could not escape.

I think everybody is in way over their heads: belly chains and a suit, show trial persecution over an apology that was delayed on advice of competent cousel, delay in court because of sustained objections, hair splitting over gender and title of officials. If this is Mr. O’Mara’s idea he deserves real credit.

Fluffy Foo Foo | April 20, 2012 at 2:42 pm

One inconsistent thing Zimmerman said when questioned today was that he thought Trayvon was just a little bit younger than himself.

On the call to the dispatcher Zimmerman said that he looked like he was in his late teens.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Fluffy Foo Foo. | April 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    the 911 call was from a distance, with a hoodie, in the dark …. GZ lost contact before he was later confronted face to face … face to face he may have seemed older. His hearing reference to his age would almost certainly be formed by the face to face guy that beat him up.

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This whole Trayvon “outrage” fits the W H manufactured BS. RE: Contraception / Sandra Fluke / Trayvon / Catholic Church / Hillary Rosen Etc. The media just goes insane and damn the facts / truth! Remember, the actual incident happened on FEBRUARY 26, but no one seemed to hear about it until after the Fluke – Limbaugh situation had a chance to die down, around the middle of March..

    Browndog in reply to Lewfarge. | April 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Notice in all of the “occasions” that you mentioned, they also had to manufacture/lie about the underlying issue?

      Lewfarge in reply to Browndog. | April 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      I was & will try to be brief with out being too repetitive for informed readers- Zimmerman pictures- no injuries to bloody pix, edited 911 call-black to actually answering the dispatcher. ETC. Isn’t all of this intentional lying-distorting ONLY to create a biased deceitful outrage???

The Florida legal pundits on cable seemed to think it was smart of Zimmerman’s lawyer to let him testify. First, the direct examination of Zimmerman was limited so the scope of his cross-examination was limited, too. Second, it was good experience to experience testifying in a trial-like setting since he will undoubtedly have to testify in the future, either in a pretrial immunity hearing or at trial, or both. Third, Zimmerman’s testimony allowed him to express his sorry to Martin’s parents at the loss of their son. That’s a good image for the public to take away from Zimmerman’s first public statement.

    Pretty sure he won’t have to testify at trial, if it goes that far.

      DRJ in reply to OCBill. | April 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      It’s true that, under the Fifth Amendment, Zimmerman can’t forced to incriminate himself and thus can’t be compelled to testify. However, Zimmerman will have to testify if he requests a pretrial immunity hearing, because he bears the burden of proof in that proceeding. And if his case comes to trial, Zimmerman has conceded he shot Martin so he needs to testify to substantiate his claim of self-defense.

Zimmerman’s testimony might also help his attorney decide whether to ask for a pretrial immunity hearing. If I were Zimmerman, I’m sure I would rather the legal process end sooner than later, but it’s my understanding the burden is on the defendant in a pretrial immunity hearing. Thus, the defense has to think long and hard about whether to expose their defense in a pretrial hearing.

Good analysis over at JustOneMinute. Sounds like Zimmerman has a good attorney and that it was open season on unprepared witnesses for the prosecution. An excerpt:

ALWAYS WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT: A comedy highlight – defense counsel O’Mara has co-lead investigator Gilbrath on the stand:

O’MARA: Ok. Have you ever had your nose broken?


O’MARA: Have you ever had your nose fractured or broken.


O’MARA: You know that that was an injury that Mr. Zimmerman sustained, correct?

GILBREATH: I know that that is an injury that is reported to have sustained. I haven’t seen any medical records to indicate that.

O’MARA: Have you asked him for them?

GILBREATH: Have I asked him for them? No.

O’MARA: Do you want a copy of them?


O’MARA: I’ll give them to the state. It’s a more appropriate way to do it. If you haven’t had them yet, I don’t want to cross you on them.

– – – – –

Send better rodeo clowns.


    The best part of the cross-examination is that O’Mara already knew the investigators hadn’t seen the medical reports (99% chance anyway). Beautifully set up, and definitively puts to rest the notion that the State did a thorough “investigation”.

BannedbytheGuardian | April 21, 2012 at 12:40 am

I think if I killed someone I would be calling a lawyer. Any lawyer to start with. -who would tell me to STFU .

Recently passing a community college criminal justice diploma is not quite the ticket to bank your life on.

A case of either gross over -self -esteem or just stupid.

Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the hearing. I place it here because it is distinctly different from the one in the San Diego Union Tribune. The Post story relates mostly to the procedural issues in the case

and the Union-Tribune article from Mike Schneider of the AP, focuses on the apology, and the ungracious response by the family’s attorneys.

The interesting and useful part of the Washington Post article is that it illustrates an American procedural right, namely the right to question the support for a charging document. The question to be decided at this hearing was the amount of bail that could be required for this defendant to be allowed out of jail until trial. The underlying facts of the case always have a bearing on that determination. In the United States, the prosecution does not get to simply plop down a set of boilerplate allegations in order to confine a person to jail, or impose a huge financial burden.

Procedural due process is a good thing.

Why was he asked by the inept prosecution “after you committed the crime”

What crime? Isn’t stand your ground legal?