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Zimmerman Trial Day 4 – End-of-Day Analysis & Video of State’s Witnesses

Zimmerman Trial Day 4 – End-of-Day Analysis & Video of State’s Witnesses

Once again, it was simply not a very good day at all for the prosecution. The primary State witnesses today were Rachel Jeantel, Jenna Lauer, and Selma Mora. The first had her credibility substantively destroyed, the second was powerfully–almost humiliatingly–co-opted by the defense, and the third provided testimony entirely consistent with the defense’s theory of lawful self-defense. There was also some (I expect temporary) hubbub that O’Mara may have inadvertently opened the door to allow the State to introduce evidence of specific prior bad acts by George Zimmerman, and I address that in detail, as well, below.

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Rachel Jeantel, State witness

With that said, let’s get to it:

Rachel Jeantel, Star “Ear”-Witness of the State

Much of the day was consumed in West’s continuing cross-examination of Rachel Jeantel, the State’s star “ear-witness.” She was purportedly on the phone with Martin up to the final moments of his confrontation with Zimmerman, and has over time come to claim an increasing amount of knowledge of the details of that confrontation.

It has become common knowledge that Jeantel has perpetrated a number of lies on this case, both under oath and otherwise, and West made certain to touch on each of these, albeit with a relatively light hand. She lied about her age–she was 18-years-old not 16-years-old at the time, she lied about why she did not attend Martin’s funeral or wake, she lied about her name to Martin’s mother and others, and so on.

For many of these lies she offered a relatively innocuous excuse–she didn’t go the funeral because she doesn’t like to see dead bodies, for example. But the sheer number and variety of them cast Jeantel as someone who was perfectly comfortable creating a fabrication if it served her convenience or purposes.

What most damaged her credibility, however, was not West’s exposure of these numerous falsehoods. Instead, West took a far more clever approach to his cross-examination of Jeantel. Many legal (and non-legal) pundits had wondered how West would walk the fine line of impeaching Jeantel’s testimony without overreaching and causing the jury to become empathetic to the poor young woman in a difficult situation not of her making.

West solved that dilemma by attacking Jeantel’s credibility not from the front, but from the flanks. It was not Jeantel who had done anything wrong, he suggested. Indeed, he praised Jeantel for her obvious sympathy for the Martin family, and especially Sabrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and for the great care she took to avoid further aggravating Fulton’s tremendous emotional pain at the loss of her son.

In the next sentence, however, he cut the heart out of any credibility her testimony might have had. The great strength of Jeantel’s testimony was based in her claims of what she had overheard martin and Zimmerman say to each other. In earlier statements–including a letter to Fulton and a recorded phone interview with family lawyer/advisor Crump–she had said that Martin had first asked Zimmerman, “Why you following me,” to which Zimmerman had responded, she said, “What are you talking about?” Such a response is clearly not confrontational, but rather defensive, in nature, the utterance of someone who is confused by a sudden act of confrontation.

On April 2, however, Jeantel had a an interview under oath with Mr. de la Rionda, in which her story changed considerably. Here, for the first time, she recounted Zimmerman’s response as being quite aggressive, and much more in line with the State’s theory of the case that Zimmerman had “profiled,” “followed,” and murdered Martin.

Here, for the first time, Jeantel claimed that she had hear Zimmerman say not the defensive phrase, “What are you talking about?” but much more confrontational phrase, “What are you doing around here?” In this new telling, Zimmerman became for the first time in Jeantel’s testimony, aggressive and territorial, much as a high-strung dog might confront someone or something encroaching on its property.

It is important to keep in mind that up to this point the Sanford Police Department had concluded that Zimmerman’s explanation of lawful self-defense was consistent with the evidence, and that there did not exist probably cause for an arrest. It was precisely for this reason that Zimmerman had not been arrested.

Jeantel’s revised statement, however, was much more in line with what the State need to support the arrest and prosecution of ZImmerrman. Indeed, Jeantel’s newly revealed testimony formed the very backbone of the State’s affidavit of probably cause, the legal document that drove Zimmerman’s arrest and prosecution. The credibility of the newly emerged information began to degrade rapidly as West explored the circumstances in which Mr. de la Rionda had taken her statement.

Jeante’s statement was not taken by de la Rioida at the Jacksonville State Prosecutor’s office, where he had his own office worked, nor at any Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) facility, nor the Sanford Police Department, nor even Jeantel’s home, nor some other neutral location.

Instead, Jeantel was picked up at a friends house by a two-car caravan consisting of de la Rionda, a State prosecutor’s office investigator, Sabrina Fulton, and Crump (this last in allegedly the alternative vehicle to the car in which Jeantel was riding).

They travelled together in this way to sit in the living room of the home of Sabrina Fulton, the very home in which Trayvon Martin had lived until his mother had recently sent the troubled and troublesome youth to go live with his father.

Present for the taking of that statement was de la Rionda, of course, and one or two FDLE personnel. Also present was Crump and some other family lawyers/advisors. Martin’s father was not present in the room, but was apparently present somewhere in the home.

And, sitting directly next to Jeantel was Martin’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, with tears in her eyes. A more coercive environment for the taking of of a witnesses statement is hard to imagine.

Further aggravating the coercive nature of the environment was de la Rionda’s manner of questioning. It takes no allegation of misconduct to note that even during this trial de la Rionda is prone to ask leading questions, and this was his manner of questioning Jeantel is evident in the transcript and recording of that day, April 2, in the living room of Martin’s mother. This inclination would have been only accentuated by the natural difficulty he must have experienced in getting understandable responses from Jeantel. As is the nature of leading questions, the hoped for answer was built into the very question, such that Jeantel needed merely to either answer in the affirmative or layer her own imaginative onto the framework presented in the query.

Further, Wests deliberate questioning soon had Jeantel admitting without hesitation that she had molded her testimony to minimize any pain she might cause Sabrina Fulton, silently weeping beside her. In that room on that day Jeantel told not the truth and the whole truth, but a version of the truth customized to meet the perceived needs and interests of her audience.

There were, of course, other issues with Jeantel’s testimony, but to my mind none of them are anywhere nearly as destructive to the credibility of that testimony than the extraordinarily coercive environment in which it was taken. As West himself put it to the court, this environment allowed the young and unsophisticated Jeantel to be led right down the path to what the several highly experienced and motivated questioners wanted her to say.

Further, at the close of her testimony the defense noted to the court that they intended to make a proffer of evidence and bring Jeantel back for additional questioning. I presume this additional questioning will revolve around her social media usage–some of which was abruptly scrubbed from the internet just prior to her court testimony.

Raymond MacDonald, Senior Manager, T-Mobile

There’s not too much to say about this witness, as his testimony was largely procedural as a way to get relevant cell phone records into evidence, so I won’t spend much time here.

Jenna Lauer, Resident, Retreat @ Twin Lakes

Jenna was another one of the State’s witnesses who had been a resident of Twin Lakes in a position to take notice of at least some of the events that February night. Indeed, Lauer was the Witness #11 who made the 911 call which best captured the background screams that were such fodder for the speech recognition and speaker identification experts in the pre-trial Frye hearing.

Already this trial has seen virtually every State witness (other than the LEOs and arguably Jeantel) testify in a manner that was either completely consistent with Zimmerman’s claim to have acted in self-defense or was actually supportive of the defenses theory of the case. Jenna Lauer presented probably the most extreme example of this that we’ve seen to date in this trial.

Lauer was an “ear”-witness in that she didn’t actually see any of the events, but could testify only to what she had heard.

On direct examination by de la Rionda, all of Lauer’s testimony was completely consistent with the defense’s theory of lawful self-defense, and to some degree even contrary to some of the State’s theory (for example, Lauer recounted that there was “pretty steady-paced rain,” when the State has consistently sought testimony that the rain was light or intermittent).

She also noted in both direct and cross examination that she herself was uncertain of the street names in the neighborhood, and that there were no street signs anywhere near her townhouse, the same area where Zimmerman would have reported to the non-emergency dispatcher his difficulty in providing a specific address.

She also on direct recounted overhearing a “three-part” exchange that was entirely consistent with Zimmerman’s telling of the brief exchange between himself and Martin that night.

Things really got interesting when O’Mara started his cross-examination, however. On direct examination de la Rionda had revealed in questioning that Lauer, as a board member of the HOA, had known Zimmerman personally, if only slightly, because of his work with the Neighborhood Watch Program. At one point of the night of the shooting the police had asked Lauer if she would be willing to see if she could identify the man who had identified himself as the shooter.

She was understandably unwilling to come face to face with a person who had just shot someone. Instead, she suggested that they take a picture of the shooter, and she would seek to identify that. The police agreed tot his suggestion, took a photo of Zimmerman’s face as he sat in the patrol car, and showed the picture to Lauer, a woman who had repeatedly seen Zimmerman in HOA-related meetings.

Shockingly, she was unable to identify Zimmerman, because of the severity of his injuries. This powerful testimony obviously strongly supported the defense’s theory of the case that Zimmerman had been the subject of a brutal aggravated assault by Martin, against which he had necessarily used deadly force in self-defense. With that statement Lauer had struck a heavy blow against the State’s theory of the case, of an innocent young black boy ruthless murdered, and in favor of the theory of the defense.


George Zimmerman, injuries night of attack

But O’Mara wasn’t finished yet. He began to explore with Lauer the screams that had been so powerfully captured in her 911 call. She, he supposed, must have been able to hear them even more clearly than could others listening through a cellphone to a 911 recorder to a speaker in a court room. She acknowledged that she could hear the screams as if they were right there in her town house.

He supposed it must have been traumatic, and she agreed it had. She described the screams as those of a person in desperate need of help.

At that point O’Mara asked her, you mean, like the screams of a person who was being subjected to this? And he held up the photo of the blood back of Zimmerman’s head taken at the scene.

The State immediately objected, and Lauer did not respond, but the point had been made with great power to the jury.

O’Mara then asked a few questions that will undoubtedly–if incorrectly–become great overnight fodder for the legal pundits. He asked Lauer if in her personal interactions with Zimmerman he had acted appropriately. Yes, she answered. Did he appear to be a hot head? No. A wannabe vigilante? No. Did he seem to be a well-intentioned neighbor trying to help his community? Yes.

Keep in mind, Lauer is the State’s witness.

On re-direct we were treated to the astonishing efforts of de la Rionda to aggressively impeach his own witness.

You couldn’t really see anything, could you? No.

You don’t know who said what to who, do you? No.

You could not make out those two people, assuming it even was two people, could you? No.

You don’t know who was attacked and who was not, do you? No.

You don’t know whether it was Zimmerman or Martin screaming, do you? No.

At that point de la Rionda asked the Court for permission to make an offer of proof. The jury was removed, and de la Rionda explained his intentions.

He argued that O’Mara’s questioning Lauer about her perceptions based on her personal interactions with ZImmerman had opened the door to allow the State to introduce evidence of specific prior bad acts of Zimmerman.

In particular, he wanted to introduce to specific prior bad acts. The first was the fact that a prior girlfriend/fiance had taken out a restraining order against Zimmerman. The second was that Zimmerman had been arrested for batter on a law enforcement officer. Both had taken place many years prior to the shooting.

O’Mara responded that the very idea was ridiculous, because asking someone about their peersonal interactions with Zimmerman could not trigger the admission of either reputation or specific prior bad acts evidence.

In any case, he restraining order with the fiancee had been mutual, in that Zimmerman had also been granted an order against her, and in any case both were mutually dismissed. As for the arrest for battery, a youthful Zimmerman had come to the defense of a friend being mishandled by ATF agents, the charge had been reduced to a misdemeanor, and then had been completely dismissed following Zimmerman’s successful participation in a pre-trial diversion program, back in 2005.

Judge Nelson was not prepared to make a decision on the moment, nor was de la Rionda prepared to present a comprehensive argument on the spot, so the matter has been deferred.

Finally, de la Rionda made perhaps the biggest blunder of the trial to date. He is perhaps the luckiest prosecutor in the country today that his mistake occurred outside the view of the jury.

He concluded, somehow, that he had found some “social media” dirt on Lauer that he could use to discredit her and destroy her credibility.

He asked her if she had ever tweeted George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman. She answered that she didn’t think so, she rarely used social media. Then de la Rionda sprang his trap. Ofter conferring with Judge Nelson, both de la Rionda and O’Mara approached Lauer with a laptop.

Is this your Twitter account. It is, she acknowledge. And is this Robert Zimmerman’s name right here? It is, she said, sounding confused. I don’t know what it’s doing there.

Yet you told us that you weren’t following Robert Zimmerman, didn’t you, asked de la Rionda triumphantly.

Wait a minute, Lauer said. That says, “Follow”, not “Following”. That’s so I can follow him if I want to, it doesn’t say that I am following him. de la Rionda appeared confused.

Lauer explained, “All this means is that Robert Zimmmerman is following ME, not that I’m following HIM.”

O’Mara is apparently not one to hold back the final blow, because he then stepped in and asked Lauer if she could inform the court how many tweets she had sent in the entirety of her possessing that Twitter account.

“Zero,” Lauer announced in a clear, strong voice.

Almost immediately I began to hear legal pundits wail about O’Mara huge “blunder,” saying that he had now opened the door for this prior bad acts evidenced to be shown to the jury, effecitiely dooming his clients.

The only problem with this opinion is that it seems ill-informed and mistaken.

The acceptable methods of proving character at trial in Florida are governed by statute 90.405. It has separate provisions for introducing either general reputation or specific instanced of conduct. In the context of general reputation evidence, it provides in relevant part:

(1) When evidence of the character of a person or of a trait of that person’s character is admissible, may be made by testimony about that person’s reputation.

With respect to specific instances of conduct, it provides

(2) When character or a trait of character of a person is an essential element of a charge, claim, or defense, proof may be made of specific instances of that person’s conduct.

To see 90.405 in its entirety, click here:  FL 90.405 Methods of proving character.

Note that Florida allows for proving character by either general reputation or specific instances of a person’s conduct–but not by the mere recollection by a witness of their personal experience with the person. O’Mara asked Lauer neither about Zimmerman’s general reputation nor about any specific prior acts, and therefore did not trigger any complementary privilege on the part of the State to introduce evidence of Zimmerman’s general reputation or specific acts (and particularly not any that were not already in evidence and had not previously provided a basis for the State’s introduction of specific prior acts).

One never can be certain in predicting how a judge will rule on a motion, and Nelson has certainly appeared to favor the State, but to this lawyer’s eye there seems little “there, there” to de la Rionda’s claims. Rather it appears to be the desperate act of a State prosecutor who has seen yet another of his witnesses co-opted by the defense, and spectacularly so.

Selma Mora, Resident, Retreat at Twin Lakes

Mora was yet another resident at Twin Lakes at the time of the incident who had an opportunity to hear and see some of the events

Here again the State had a witness who on direct provided testimony that was 100% consistent with the defense’s theory of lawful self-defense. The State spent considerable time having her testify to the effect that “the person who got up was the person who had been on top” when the two people were on the ground.

Zimmerman has always maintain, since his first written statement to the police the night of the shooting, that after firing his single round he had positioned himself above Martin’s prone body to keep Martin’s arms away from his body and prevent a renewal by Martin of his attack (at the time Zimmerman could not, of course, know the full extent of Martin’s injuries). Or, to read it in the words of Zimmerman’s own hand-written statement taken at the Sanford Police Department the night of the shooting:

At this point I felt the suspect reach for my now exposed firearm and say, “Your gonna die tonight Mother Fucker!” I unholstered my firearm in fear for my life as he had assured he was going to kill me and fired one shot into his torso. The suspect sat back allowing me to sit up and said, “You got me!” At this point I slid out from underneath him and got on top of the suspect holding his hands away from his body.

To see the entirety of Zimmerman’s handwritten statement to the Sanford Police Department the night of the attack, click here:

Zimmerman Trial: Evidentiary Flashback: Zimmerman’s 1st Written Statement to Police the Night of the Shooting

Mora had testified that she did not observe the two bodies until after the shot had been fired. Seeing Zimmerman “on top,” then, in no way conflicted with the defense’ stated theory of the case of lawful self-defense.

And that wrapped things up for the fourth day of the trial proper.

We start again tomorrow, at 9:00AM sharp, so be sure to join us then for our live, all-day coverage, mid-day update (not just twitter posts, this time!), and our comprehensive end-of-day wrap up and analysis.


Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,” now available in its just released 2nd Edition, which shows you how to successfully fight the 20-to-life legal battle everyone faces after defending themselves. UPDATE: July 5, 2013 is the LAST DAY to take advantage of the 30% pre-order discount, only $35, plus free shipping. To do so simply visit the Law of Self Defense blog.

BREAKING: “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition” is now also being carried by, at list price but with a commitment for 2-day delivery.  A Kindle version to come within a week or so (I hope).

Many thanks to Professor Jacobson for the invitation to guest-blog on the Zimmerman trial here on Legal Insurrection!

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense (or @LawSelfDefense2 if I’m in Twitmo, follow both!)on Facebook, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.


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Another day another debacle. The witnesses are crumbling, and turn from prosecution witnesses to defense witnesses as soon as they start talking. In truth, there are no prosecution witnesses, only a couple of confused earwitnesses and Jeantel, whatever you want to call her.
Since there aren’t any witnesses, that means that the case is being prosecuted in bad faith.
There is really only one circumstance in which an ethical prosecutor would go ahead with such a shoddy, long-shot case with little to no evidence. That is where you know for a fact that the guy is actually guilty. For example, the guys (true) confession gets thrown out. In that case, you might elect to go ahead with a couple of sorta, maybe, kinda witnesses anyway. Or, you might go ahead with a weak case where the guy has priors that make you think he’s probably guilty in this case. For example, you might try to prosecute a registered sex offender who is arrested at a kid’s playground, even with very scant evidence of guilt this time.
Those circumstances don’t apply here. No one knows that Zimmerman is actually guilty. And Zimmerman has no priors that make him look like the itching-for-a-fight violent man the prosecution is trying to pretend he is.
The prosecutors are unethical. None of them could say anything more than Zimmerman might be guilty.
Congratulations, gentlemen. You’ve earned the right to invoke the Nuremberg defense. And congratulations to all the elected officials who gave those orders and foisted this sad farce on America.

    Observer in reply to Bud_Denton. | June 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I was struck yesterday by the transcripts of those prior calls that Zimmerman had made to the police non-emergency number to report suspicious individuals in the neighborhood. The prosecutor wanted them in evidence to show that Zimmerman was “profiling” blacks, but what they best show is how reluctant Zimmerman was to get near the suspects. Several times the dispatcher asks him questions about the suspects, and Zimmerman responds that he does not know and doesn’t want to get any closer to the suspects, because he doesn’t know what these individuals might do. Similarly, a couple of times the dispatcher asks Zimmerman for his address, and Zimmerman does not want to say it out loud, for fear the suspects might hear him and know where he lives. Zimmerman comes across as being extremely cautious, even timid. (He gave the same impression to the police coordinator lady who testified yesterday that she had tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit Zimmerman for a neighborhood patrol program).

    It defies common sense to believe that this same ultra-cautious man would have suddenly turned into an aggressive vigilante who jumped on a 6-foot tall black man, in the dark. And the fact that Zimmerman had a gun that night doesn’t change that, because for all Zimmerman knew, Martin also might have had a gun.

      Bud_Denton in reply to Observer. | June 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Agreed. Also — if Zimmerman committed murder, why didn’t he run? Was he that confident he could just bamboozle the cops and lie his way out of it?

      And, if Trayvon was the one calling for help, why didn’t HE have a bloody nose and bruising from where Zimmerman was beating HIM up? Why was he calling for help, if it was indeed Trayvon who was calling for help?

      But this case isn’t being prosecuted on the basis of common sense. It is being prosecuted on the basis of racism. It is a witch hunt. And it is a disgrace.

    Sally MJ in reply to Bud_Denton. | June 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Well Bud, you do know that arresting an innocent man for murder is the preferred strategy for preventing riots in Sanford, FL?

      Bud_Denton in reply to Sally MJ. | June 27, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      Yes, I know. Prosecute an innocent man at the behest the grievance industry, which was whipped into overdrive just in time for a, surprise, racially-tinged election.

      But I’d say that on balance, these politically-driven prosecutions cause more riots than they avert, because what happens in the event of an acquittal?

      The very low information people, the Jeantels, if you will, will see an acquittal as a huge injustice, another example of white people literally “getting away with murder.”

      I’d riot too, if that is what I honestly believed. And who could blame the ill-informed for believing that, given the politically-driven media coverage?

      This case never should have been brought in the first place. The coward Rick Scott should have had some backbone.

      There will be huge consequences either way. Either an innocent man is convicted, or an innocent man that many believe guilty is acquitted. Huge problems, either way.

      StephenUSA in reply to Sally MJ. | June 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      you nailed it. This trial is about an angry crowd.

    LXIXTIME in reply to Bud_Denton. | June 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I’m absolutely disgusted with Senior Managing Director Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda’s deceitfully obtaining/creating false testimony from Rachel Jeantel. Living in Jax where this slimeball resides makes me sick. He belongs back in 1692 Salem Massachusetts for the witch trials where he would have fit right in.

      Bud_Denton in reply to LXIXTIME. | June 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      Agreed. But Bernie doesn’t need a time machine to do witch trials. They’re always around for an unscrupulous prosecutor. In the 80’s it was child sex abuse allegations, in which the children were always unquestioningly believed, even when telling tales of perps flying around on magic carpets and anally raping children with butcher knives without leaving any wounds.

      In our day, the witch trials are anti-white political persecutions pushed by politicians and a very insane media. Just look at Paula Deen — persecuted mercilessly for using the n word a couple of times in private conversation THIRTY YEARS AGO.

        snopercod in reply to Bud_Denton. | June 28, 2013 at 7:40 am

        Isn’t it fascinating that the media feeding frenzy over Paula Deen using the N-word 30 years ago is coincident with the Zimmerman trial?

    Steamy in reply to Bud_Denton. | June 28, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Why were there so many questions to Lauer (from both sides) about whether her house number was visible and where the street signs were? Seems to be an important line of evidence but it’s lost on me.

      JoshuaBJohnson88 in reply to Steamy. | June 28, 2013 at 3:38 am

      I’m not really sure that the defense should have talked about it as much as they did, but it had to do with the fact that GZ said in one of his calls that he want sure what street he was on because there weren’t very many street signs. I suppose they were just asking her to corroborate what GZ said.

        That’s the right answer. Zimmerman has consistently said (and also on his non-emergency call to police that night) that he had difficulty identifying an address to provide police with a specific idea of where he was. The State has sought to undercut his credibility by mocking this. The State was trying to say, heh, this town house had it’s address number visible right here–until it’s own witness responded by saying, well, that number is hidden form a lot of angles, and that she herself wasn’t sure when the street names changed from this to that. The defense followed up on cross with how distant any street signs were.

    bobh in reply to Bud_Denton. | June 28, 2013 at 2:32 am

    This is all about sacrificing George Zimmerman to the screaming mob, the State of Florida has turned it’s back on justice.

byondpolitics | June 27, 2013 at 9:04 pm

The only thing I’d add is that twitter pretty immediately discovered that her account WAS following Zimmerman’s brother’s account. I’ll agree that she clearly didn’t really use twitter and her explanation of looking at profiles and inadvertently “following” *might* make sense.

I’ve noticed some twitter accounts are set up to automatically follow an account that follows it. So, perhaps he followed her first?

Her account has been deleted. I haven’t seen the evidence that he was following her but I have seen the evidence that she was following him.

Anyway, thanks for the summary. I’ve been looking forward to reading it.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to byondpolitics. | June 28, 2013 at 12:37 am

    “The only thing I’d add is that twitter pretty immediately discovered that her account WAS following Zimmerman’s brother’s account.”

    Can you explain what you mean here? Or did you not understand the witness’s testimony and the document presented to her?

    Get it right, the facts showed that Jenna Lauer was NOT following Robert Zimmerman, and had never sent a tweet on that account, hence de la Rionda’s embarrassment.


      Zephaus in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 10:35 am

      Andrew, despite how it played out in the courtroom, it was clear from clicking on Lauer’s “Following” list on her Twitter page that she was following R.Zimmerman. I looked at it yesterday, myself. The “Follow” button appearing beside his name doesn’t show anything except that presumably whatever account they were using to view Twitter doesn’t follow R.Zimmerman. Look at any other account on Twitter and click on that person’s Following list to see. Anyone you don’t personally follow will give you the Follow option. But they are still being Followed by the person.

      Unfortunately, Lauer’s Twitter account has been deleted, so we only have screenshots now. The real travesty here is it is clear the prosecution didn’t understand Twitter well enough to contradict her.

      Matt in FL in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Andrew sez: “Get it right, the facts showed that Jenna Lauer was NOT following Robert Zimmerman, and had never sent a tweet on that account…”

      I’m not sure it actually matters, but you’re mistaken. Jenna Lauer’s account was following Robert Zimmerman, Jr.’s account. I saw it with my own eyes before it was taken down. The point about having never sent a tweet was correct, however.

You left out my favorite line from Jenna Lauer (after she’d already said she’d seen him around a couple HOA meetings, but didn’t know him personally):
Question: Could you identify the screaming voice as George Zimmerman?
Answer: No, I never heard him scream like that in meetings.

Also, for the record, although BDLR was stumped, and it would have hurt him front of the jury, the truth was Jenna Lauer had at some point in the past, followed Robert Zimmerman, Jr. on Twitter. The reason it said “Follow” on BDLR’s screen was that he was not logged into her account, so it was offering the option to Follow RZ to whoever’s account it was. It’s also interesting that her page (@Jenna_Lauer) came down from Twitter between 60 and 90 minutes later.

So she had followed him, whether on purpose or due to a half-hearted click. Not that I would hold that against her if I was on the jury. I myself have a Twitter account, and have followed a couple hundred people, most of them related to NASCAR. I haven’t read any of those tweets in 6-8 months, and I haven’t logged into my account in over a year (until today, to look up Ms. Lauer).

    I left out tons of good stuff, there’s only so much I can do. 🙂


    tencz65 in reply to Matt in FL. | June 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    TY Matt . explained the very confusing twitter like , follow what ever it is . Makes sense to me now . No login !!
    Mr.Branca. TY for great work well done 🙂

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Matt in FL. | June 28, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Are you saying that Lauer has followed RZ? How do you know that? It seems to me he has an account, she has an account. He decided to follow her. She did not reciprocate nor does she even send twitters. It’d be like opening a email account, abandon it, and then somebody stumbles on it or looks for it and sends you an email you never see because you never look at the email account.

    If I were she, I would have taken the account down, too, given what happened with BdlR.

      @JackRussellTerrierist: Yes, I’m saying that Jenna Lauer had “Followed” Robert Zimmerman, Jr.

      When I looked at her page immediately after the exchange happened in court, she was “Following” 112 people, including Robert Zimmerman, Jr. She had, when I first looked, 76 people following her. Robert Zimmerman, Jr. was not among that list of 76 people that were following her. (Incidentally, not 5 minutes later, her list of folks following her had jumped to 200+.) 90 minutes later, her Twitter page was gone. Can’t say I blame her.

      Here’s a screenshot of part of her “Following” list from 1630 Thursday:

      I don’t know under what circumstances it happened, but at some point she clicked the “Follow” next to RZ, Jr.’s name. It may have been a misclick; there is no confirmation when you click the button, so you could do it by accident and never really notice. In any case, due to the complete lack of activity on her Twitter account, it was fairly clear that she did not actually use it with any frequency at all, and I don’t think finding that “Follow” would have been anywhere near enough to hurt her credibility.

        In open court, with both de la Rionda and O’Mara standing over her shoulder, Lauer pointed out and stated that the button next to Robert Zimmerman’s name on her screen indicated “Follow”, as an option, not “Following”, as a choice already made.

        Of course, I couldn’t see the screen myself. But could de la Rionda be so inept that he couldn’t correct Lauer if this statement was in error? Isn’t that the whole reason he was up at the witness stand with a laptop showing her Twitter page in the first place?


          Matt in FL in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm

          Andrew sez: “In open court, with both de la Rionda and O’Mara standing over her shoulder, Lauer pointed out and stated that the button next to Robert Zimmerman’s name on her screen indicated “Follow”, as an option, not “Following”, as a choice already made.”

          The reason that it said “Follow” next to his name, as opposed to “Following,” is that BDLR was looking at her list of “Followed” accounts from someone else’s account, someone who was not following RZ, Jr. If BDLR had been logged into her account, it would have indicated correctly.

          In answer to your question, yes, BDLR could clearly be so inept as to not understand that. He, by his own admission, doesn’t know much about how Twitter works. Ms. Lauer said the same thing. Neither of them understood what they were looking at. So BDLR was correct in what he said, but he used the wrong evidence to back it up. Ms. Lauer was incorrect in what she said, but she also used the wrong evidence to back it up.

        If that’s truly her “follow” list, she was also following some female strippers, “exotic performers”, and gals with naked profile pics promising that they were “bad girls”?


          DrKyleJones in reply to AmyFL. | June 28, 2013 at 9:32 am

          Again, that is the list of people who are “Following” her, including spam accounts, nudity accounts made to lure indiscriminant perverts, and of course RZ. These are not people she is following, but who are following her. The only one she is following back, according to that picture, is Mitt Romney.

          Zephaus in reply to AmyFL. | June 28, 2013 at 11:19 am

          Here is a better photo of her Following list:

          You can see clearly at the top, right under “0 Tweets” that the header for this Column is “Following.” At the very bottom is R.Zimmerman. You’ll notice that there is a “Follow” button beside his name – that’s because the Twitter user who took this screenshot was being given the option to Follow R.Zimmerman. But he was, indeed, on her Following list (Not Followers). I checked it, myself, yesterday.

          So, yeah, BDLR just didn’t understand it well enough to correct her. And, who knows, maybe she didn’t even understand it.

          DrKyleJones in reply to AmyFL. | June 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

          If that is true, and she is following Spam/Nudity accounts, then a logical person would assume that she has “followed back” any person who has followed her indiscriminantly, including RZ, who I followed her first. The fact that she has never tweeted also goes to show that she does not use twitter, and did not follow RZ as a political statement.

          However, this is still the State’s witness!!!

          “then a logical person would assume that she has “followed back” any person who has followed her indiscriminantly”

          That sounds more than plausible to me. When I first started using Twitter, every time I got an email telling me I had a new follower, there’s a button on the email to follow them back, and I followed almost everyone back just out of a sense of courtesy.

          I don’t do that any more, but for all I know one of the first batch of people I followed that way may well be related to a defendant in a murder trial too! 🙂

          Zephaus in reply to AmyFL. | June 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

          To your point, I can’t speak to whether she consciously chose to follow him, only that he was in her “Following” list. I will say that in looking at R. Zimmerman’s “Following” list yesterday, I did not see her in it. But, he might have removed her at some point prior to the trial.

          Also, this all is on the presumption that that was actually her Twitter account, and not a fake. It seems to have matched up to what we know about it from the video of the discussion in court (no tweets, a connection to R.Zimmerman, Lauer’s photo), but as far as I know, no one but the attorneys and Ms. Lauer actually saw the screen displaying the specific Twitter account in question.

[…] Or if you want a more thorough rundown of the ins and outs of the trial you can check this awesome (and daily) summary from the blog Legal Insurrection […]

I have a legal question.

I read a blog where a lawyer said that in terms of jury instructions he would not want approaching and speaking to Martin or disobeying the dispatch considered “unlawful.” Who decides what’s “unlawful” and how does that affect a self-defense claim.


    steer in reply to DennisD. | June 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Take this with a grain of salt as I don’t practice criminal law or in the state of Florida.

    The judge decides how the jury instructions are phrased. So she would render a decision on whether Zimmerman acted “unlawfully” when he approached Martin and/or ignored the dispatcher.

    I am not sure of the context of what the lawyer you cited said, but I suspect it has to do with Florida’s self defense law. Many states allow a person to take whatever measures necessary to protect themselves in their home so long as they perceive they are threatened.

    Note this perception is subjective as it examines the thoughts of the homeowner and can vary based on the circumstances. What I perceive as dangerous many not be the same as what you perceive as dangerous. To use an extreme example re: circumstances, if I see a baby crawling through my front door it would be very hard to say I felt endangered as opposed to a burglar with a crowbar.

    Note also, the homeowner usually doesn’t have to perceive a mortal threat, only a threat to their health and safety. I believe a few states require the homeowner to retreat to avoid confrontation at first. Florida’s law is unusual in that self defense can be invoked anywhere including on the street. I think as a practical effect the idea of self defense exists informally in other states but in another state it would be easier to charge Zimmerman with a lesser form of homicide (involuntary manslaughter as opposed to 2nd degree murder). In Florida, Zimmerman enjoys a codified and absolute defense to any form of homicide if he meets the criteria of self defense.

    How that confrontation occurs can be of great importance. Every legal case whether civil or criminal is different because the facts are almost never the same. Lawyers spend a lot of time trying to differentiate facts from another case or show why they are analogous.

    If the judge rules Zimmerman acted unlawfully in approaching Martin, it may negate his right to invoke the self defense law. Once again, take this with a grain of salt, I welcome anyone with superior knowledge to correct any of my errors.

      DennisD in reply to steer. | June 27, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      How can a judge decide that a particular act is “unlawful?” Aren’t unlawful acts those that are enacted or modified by the judiciary?

      Thanks for replying.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to steer. | June 28, 2013 at 12:58 am

      First of all, the dispatcher simply told GZ that “We don’t need you to do that” when he indicated he was going to follow TM. It was not an “order” and the dispatcher is not a police officer anyway. Third, it is acceptable procedure, according to testimony from the police department’s NW coordinator/trainer, to follow a suspect at a safe distance.

      Fourth, there is no evidence that GZ approached TM. What we do know from Rachel’s testimony is that TM knew he was being followed and used combative language when discussing that with her and said he would not go home or did not stay home, even though he could have.

      Florida’s law is unusual in that self defense can be invoked anywhere including on the street.

      I don’t think that’s true, that Florida is the only state where that’s the case. Many states have similar laws.

      The majority of US states (33) essentially follow Florida’s practice of not imposing a general duty of retreat before the use of force in self-defense. Only a minority of states (17, obviously) impose a general duty to retreat.

      All 50 states provide an exception to any duty to retreat when within one’s home. After that there is tremendous variation on the scope of this exception, in terms of whether it extends to one’s yard, shed, place of work, vehicle, etc. In the so-called “stand-your-ground” states (the majority of states) the exception is essentially universal, applying anywhere you have a right to be (along with other conditions, such as you not having been the aggressor, etc.).

      Anyone interested in the details for their state may be want to take a look here:

      Just sayin’ 🙂


Andrew, I sure hope you are correct about the 90.405 issue.
I thought I remembered OMara asking something a little more open ended like… Have you ever known Mr Zimmermen to show any aggression or violence… Something to that effect.

If O’Mara made no blunder at all though, why is the judge even hearing arguments on this?
Either he screwed up, or the judge is taking arguments on something that should have just been instantly dismissed. Even if it is the latter, perhaps OMara should have been aware of the potential discretion a judge has and stayed away from this or phrased it in a better way.

Such a shame too as Lauer was the best witness so far for the defense.
Is there a single thing she said that actually helped the state? Seriously, I can’t think of anything.

Anyway, we will see what happens tomorrow.

    I could be wrong, but that’s the way I see it.

    Even if the domestic and the arrest get in, however, I don’t see it being fatal.

    The ex-fiancee was interviewed by the FBI as part of their investigation into racial motivation. She could have easily just told them, “oh, yeah, he hates those black boys, always has,” if she harbored any anger towards him. Instead she told them she’d never heard say anything racist, ever. I bet the defense could get her on the stand to rehabilitate on that issue–after all, the restraining orders were mutual. We were young, foolish, both wrong, etc., etc., etc.

    As for the battery arrest, I seem to remember a lot of the jurors having their own past arrests and interactions with the law. Given that the batter charge was reduced to a misdemeanor charge and then dismissed entirely, I don’t think it’s enough to squash a reasonable doubt given the State’s case to date. Certainly the jury is not going to convict him of murder two on the basis of an 8-year old arrest that resulted in no substantive criminal penalty.

    Anyway, that’s how I see it.


      fogflyer in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      I agree that GZs history is not a big deal and the defense could rehabilitate his image without too much damage done. Obviously though, better to not get to that place at all.

      I just relistened to the questioning though, and I think the state is grasping at straws. No way will the judge rule for the state on this one.

      legacyrepublican in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 27, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Actually Andrew, I wonder if the prosecution does bring in the ATF incident, if it will bolster GZ’s claim of being non-confrontational rather than confirm it in the jury’s mind.

      As I read it, he was in that incident coming to the aid of a friend being roughly treated by the ATF. Granted, not wise, but it is an indicator that he values the underdog in a fight.

      It could also backfire, I would think, because wouldn’t that also open the door for admitting into evidence GZ’s active participation in seeking justice some months earlier for a black man roughed up by the local police. I remember reading the story about it and appreciating the irony that the attorneys representing the Martins had benefited before from GZ’s zealous defense of the the underdog through community activism as opposed to violent confrontation.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to legacyrepublican. | June 28, 2013 at 1:18 am

        That’s the way I see it. There’s definitely a path to another State’s disaster in this request. BdlR “goes there” at his own peril.

      It wasn’t openended, but specific to her interaction. I’m copying my post from the other thread:

      LoriL | June 27, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      It is just before the 19 minute mark of this tape. She was asked IN HER conversations and interactions with GZ did he seem upset, angry, a hothead? In the NW did he come off as unusual, inappropriate, vigilanti? Did it benefit the community.

      He didn’t ask has in general – just her interactions with him. I fully expect the judge to ignore this though and allow the prosecution to bring in the prior stuff.

      Tonight on CNN O’Mara said he doesn’t want to go there as to TM’s past, but he may have to depending on other testimony. I think that was in answer to Rachel being possibly called back by the defense.

      The tape:

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 1:10 am

      I agree with you that GZ’s background troubles are so trivial and remote as to be of little or no consequence, but I don’t agree that this judge will dismiss the State’s request out-of-hand. She has favored the State in all her rulings except the Frye hearing, and she dragged her feet even at that when it was completely obvious that Owens and the other guy didn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground.

      What most can see so clearly is a muddled pond of conflicted thought for her because of her bias favoring the State. Misconduct and slow-rolling discovery by the State mean nothing to her, but that comes as no surprise because we saw the same bending over backwards for the State by the bench in the Duke lacrosse case where no crime had ever even occurred.

      interviewed by the FBI as part of their investigation into racial motivation.
      which never should have happened.

    Estragon in reply to fogflyer. | June 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    “If O’Mara made no blunder at all though, why is the judge even hearing arguments on this?”

    For the same apparent reason she is trying the case at all: it’s a slow month for traffic court.

About an hour into the resumption of his dazzling cross-examination of the star witness, Donald (The Jokeman Clown) West again displays his brilliantly self-aware courtroom behavior when he, in frustration at how badly things are going, angrily throws his pen onto the lectern in plain view of the jury that will decide his client’s fate. Way to keep your cool, Don.

Hours later, during the same cross- examination, West fights to convince the judge to let him play the recording of a portion of a prior statement of the star witness. At his persuasive best, West convinces the judge and plays the recording. The recording captures the witness saying the exact opposite of what West claims she says. Good thinking, Don.

Hours later, during the same cross-examination, West asks a non-leading question to which he does not know the answer (a cardinal sin), thereby allowing the witness to testify that she knows Zimmerman, not Martin, was the first aggressor. Martin, you see, if he was going to initiate the assault, would not have continued talking on the phone to the witness; he would have first hung up. It makes perfect sense. The government is, thus, able to establish a crucial element of its case through a witness who was not on the scene due to the brilliance of the defense lawyering. Way to go Don, the prosecution is most appreciative. On the bright side, none of the jurors were awake to hear the exchange.

Apparently feeling left out of the buffoonery, O’Mara demands to get in on the act. He decides the best way he can help his client is to cross-examine a friendly witness in such a way as to open the door to the admission of devastating bad character evidence.

Just another day at the George Zimmerman trial.

    PhillyGuy in reply to rhorton1. | June 27, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    Mr. West probably caught her in a fatal lie if they were paying close attention. She said she could barely hear because the ear buds had separated from TM’s ear.

    In truth, police found the ear buds in TM’s pocket when they searched his body. It was in evidence already. So she was coached to say that.

    I’ll be curious to see if defense snapped to that.

      fogflyer in reply to PhillyGuy. | June 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Is this correct???
      I thought I remember seeing them on the ground by the body in one of the evidence photos.

      If this is true, it would totally discredit much of the states narrative of how this took place.

      I just can’t imagine they would be allowing in testimony that will be totally refuted if the defense can show the Bluetooth headset was in his pocket. Maybe he had another set of headphones in his pocket? This just doesn’t add up.

        PhillyGuy in reply to fogflyer. | June 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

        He wasn’t wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. He was wearing wired ear buds which CSI Diana Smith held up in court 2 days ago. My theory is that TM ripped them off and put them in his pocket because he wanted to go back and take on GZ. The wet grass sound that Rachel heard was actually the ear buds rustling in his pocket (another poster suggested that). Again, my two cents. Feel free to disagree.

      unitron in reply to PhillyGuy. | June 28, 2013 at 1:29 am

      There is a picture, probably the cell phone picture the cop took to show people to try to identify the dead kid, just like he took the “nose” picture of Zimmerman.

      In this picture the head and a little of the upper chest of Martin show, he’s face up, not just mostly dead, and the earbuds are near the left hand side of his head, and I suspect the cord runs under his hoodie and down to wherever they were plugged into the phone.

        PhillyGuy in reply to unitron. | June 28, 2013 at 6:25 am

        just saw that. Thanks for that. That would make what I suggested incorrect. I see the button pinned to his shirt too.

      creeper in reply to PhillyGuy. | June 28, 2013 at 8:41 am

      EAR BUDS wouldn’t transmit any sound at all. You need a microphone for that. Where was the mike?

        I know. this is just one of those stupid fact-free memes that takes root and spreads like topsy. See also “purple drank” and “ass-cracker”.

        I am broadly on Zimmerman’s side, i.e. the side of lawful self-defense, but I don’t see how these narratives that seem to have no basis in actual fact are helping the defense.

    StephenUSA in reply to rhorton1. | June 27, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    What was said on the recording was interpretive. The jury will decide what was said.

    All of the witnesses were put on the stand by the prosecutor. There were no friendly witnesses for O’Mara to question.

    Diana in reply to rhorton1. | June 28, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Rhorton1, you’ve offered a lot of criticism of the defense so far, but I haven’t seen much commentary from you as to what the state is doing right. Do you think the state is doing a good job putting on its case? In your opinion, has BDLR done a good job handling Ms. Jeantel? What do you think of his redirect of Ms. Lauer?

      FYI, you might find it more productive to shout into a bucket.


      rhorton1 in reply to Diana. | June 28, 2013 at 8:34 am

      There are tons of folks here telling you how swimmingly things are going for the defense; they are not. Anyone truly interested ought to be open-minded. Somebody has to do what I’m doing. On the other hand, this is not the proper forum for a complete exegesis of the trial.

        But this week it’s been the prosecution’s turn to put on their case, and you haven’t said BOO about the prosecution. All you’ve done is critique the defense’s rebuttals.

        When are you going to comment on the prosecution’s case…?

        Crawford in reply to rhorton1. | June 28, 2013 at 10:21 am

        “Somebody has to do what I’m doing.”

        Concern troll? Really? Somebody has to do it?

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to rhorton1. | June 28, 2013 at 2:56 am

    I just think they were stunned at the extent of hair extensions that women in Florida go to. No witness has her own hair.

    I believe the recent explosion of hair weaves smash & grabs that has left Chicago ladies without hope have been sent to Florida for this TV trial.

Does anyone have real time transcript of the questions Omara asked of Lauer about her observations of GZ?

    If you can get a Guinness draft within my reach within then ext half hour, I’ll type them up for you. 🙂


    fogflyer in reply to Jim. | June 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    OK, just went back and listened to it. The question was, in reference to GZ:

    Did he ever come across as angry… Upset….what we might call a hothead?

    HOWEVER, something I missed before was the lead in to this question, which was….

    “In your meetings and limited amount of contact you had with Mr Zimmerman…”

    Seems to me they he was asking the question confined within the scope of her meetings with Mr Zimmerman and that knowledge of his arrest and RO which she got through the media at a later date would not come into play. Hopefully that is how the judge will see it too.

      Jim in reply to fogflyer. | June 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      That is consistent with my impression, ff. If accurate, any ruling by Judge Nelson to let in those prior bad acts would be reversible error.

Thank you Andrew. Great explanations.

But meanwhile we have Tommy Christopher out there explaining how “creepy white cracker” is not racist.

Scary stuff.

rabid wombat | June 27, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Mr Branca, this seems ripe for the Defense to immediately rest after the State is finished, and ask for a directed verdict. Based on what you have seen, any likelihood of success? Or, do you think it is better for the Defense to play out the case?

    Forget it. As much as Jeantel has been discredited, her testimony nevertheless raises a prima facie issue that will need to be considered by the jury. A directed verdict or similar would be allowed only where there really existed no such issue, where no reasonable jury could come to any conclusion but not guilty. This Judge will never make that decision in this case.

      Do you really think an unbiased and sane jury could find GZ guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? On the basis of this rather changeable hearsay?

        No, but I’m not the person who is going to make a ruling on a motion for a directed verdict.

        That will be Judge Nelson.

        Her decisions indicate to me that we have quite different views of such matters, so I don’t expect she’ll rule as I might have in the situation.


          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 1:30 am

          For political reasons, she would never do it, even if she believed GZ was as innocent as the driven snow…..which, sadly, she may.

How much attention do attorneys pay to body language of a witness?
Jeantel kept looking up and to the left when she was trying to answer a question, a possible indicator she’s not being completely truthful.

    I’ll answer with a question: How much attention does a predator pay to the body language of its prey?

    A lot.


    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to wildlifer. | June 28, 2013 at 1:36 am

    A more important question to me is how much attention do jurors pay to the body language of witnesses?

    I’m guessing women jurors pay more attention to it than men jurors do.

    snopercod in reply to wildlifer. | June 28, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Looking up and to the left while formulating an answer implies the person is putting together a “visually constructed” image – IOW, the person is making it up. Looking up and to the right implies a “visually remembered” image – IOW they’ve seen it before. (Disclaimer: I don’t know if that stuff works.)

I was hoping to read a little commentary regarding Jeantel’s testimony of TM’s fights. West was going to question Jenteal about how she knows TM would hang up with her if he was going to get into a fight (IMO), but was cut off by the judge. After she clearly stated the reason she knew he didn’t start the fight, it would have seemed appropriate for West to delve further into how she arrived at this conclusion, i.e. did he get into fights often. Nelson ruled on this quickly without dismissing the jury. Any thoughts on what happened?

    Fabi in reply to Jazzizhep. | June 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    She knows because Trevon told her that right before he took off his ear buds and put them in his hoodie (the sound of wet grass is the ear buds rubbing against the fabric before the phone ‘just hung up’) and then Trevon pounded on GZ.

    That’s how she knew and that’s why she wrote ‘it was just a fight’.

      Fabi in reply to Fabi. | June 27, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      That’s also why she ‘got guilt’ and why she is going through all this crapola for the sweet, sweet parents.

        Sally MJ in reply to Fabi. | June 28, 2013 at 12:29 am

        The Jeantel “guilt” doesn’t make any sense. Listen to and/or read the text to the ABC phone call interview Jeantel had with the prosecutor. She said, “I feel guilty,” “I’m guilty” over and over and over. You don’t feel guilty when your friend dies, you feel sad. The only time you feel guilt is if you think you did something wrong – e.g., she is somehow involved in the death. Maybe she suggested he clobber that Creepy Ass Cracker. Possible, huh?

        That would explain her not contacting anyone about TM getting into a fight. Because presumably he’s in fights all the time. And she would not be telling anyone what she really did.

          wildlifer in reply to Sally MJ. | June 28, 2013 at 1:23 am

          That was my thinking. My best friend died in March of a heart attack and while I was the last one to talk to him, I felt sad I would never talk to him again, not guilt that I was the last one he talked to.

      only way earbuds COULD make a noise is if they were rubbing against the mike.
      they are speakers, thats all.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Jazzizhep. | June 28, 2013 at 8:18 am

    The Judge with her strange interruptions and rulings appears to be working for the court of public opinion and political correctness, and in line with the legal school of Obama, Holder and Crump, not the cause of justice and truth.

BannedbytheGuardian | June 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Rachael cannot read cursive . This is grade 3 comprehension skills & has been for 40 years.

The number of Chinese script & Japanese kanji comprehended by 8 year olds is immense plus many write English cursive by 9 .

The future does not belong to those who have undeveloped skills. I could not even put in retarded skills because she is never going to learn them.

    And WE learned it in 2nd grade in the Catholic schools!!!!!!! We didn’t have a lot of stuff, but we did have the writing books. And paper. And back in the day, my cursive writing truly looked like the writing book. Until I started having to take notes in junior high, HS, and college. And the started using computers. It’s been downhill ever since. 🙂

      Hah, I got kicked out of Catholic school. Well, technically I was just asked to not come back.

      It was a difficult transition from PS 139 in Queens, NY to a Catholic school in Florida.

      Not for me, I was fine. But it was tough for the Florida school. I’m not sure they’d seen anything like me before. Plus, I didn’t know Tallahassee was the capital of Florida my first day in the state, so I was obviously suspect. 🙂


    The new national standards for public school curriculum have eliminated the teaching of cursive in favor of “keyboarding.” They do not call it typing, because keyboarding is more of a “hunt and peck” method than is typing. Read here:

      Phasing out cursive writing is part of the “Common Core Curriculum”. Florida is only just now in the process of adopting the Common Core curriculum – it would not explain why a 19-year-old never learned to read or write in cursive.

It seems to me this judge is bending over backwards to give the impression of not favoring the defense, so I wouldn’t read too much into her taking arguments on this.

Let’s not forget if Zimmerman’s past is allowed to be admitted, it will be difficult for the judge to disallow entering Martin’s past. O’Mara made a thinly veiled threat in his presser today, saying something to the effect of he hoped the trial would continue to “move along” and focus on the 5-7 minutes of the incident and not on George or Trayvon’s past behaviors. The last thing in the world the prosecution wants is for the jury to see what kind of kid Trayvon really was. Dee dee was more than enough of a glimpse into that.

    It’s worth keeping in mind that Nelson has NOT ruled that Martin’s history of past violence and drug use cannot come in as evidence, she merely said it can’t be mentioned in opening statements, and she would decide the issue as the matter arose in the course of the trial.

    A key face of self-defense is which party is the aggressor. A recent history of violence and drug use, is absolutely relevant to who might more likely have been the aggressor, and Martin had a recent history of both.

    Judge Nelson came make any decision she likes, but if she excludes recent evidence relevant to the juror’s determination of who was the aggressor in a self-defense case, I see that as reversible error on its face, especially as once raised self-defense essentially becomes an element of the charge that the State must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt.



      Absolutely! If she admits evidence that attempts to show that Zimmerman was aggressive and unlawful and therefore the likely aggressor, I don’t see how she can exclude testimony that Martin was aggressive and unlawful and therefore the likely aggressor.

      fogflyer in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I knew that TMs past might come in, but I thought the state would have to make a blunder and somehow bring Treyvon’s character into the fray. Are you saying you think there is a good chance that the defense will be able to bring this in on their own, without the state’s “help” so to speak?

      I should clarify. Specific prior acts of Martin can be introduced only if they were known to Zimmerman at the time , which they weren’t.

      Martin’s general reputation for violence, however, is admissible as evidence of who might have been the aggressor even if not known to Zimmerman at the time.

      For a more detailed expert opinion on this issue, see here:

      Can the Prosecution Keep Trayvon’s History of Violence and Drug Use from the Jury? Yes . . . and no. (


      caambers in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      The description of RJs interview reminds me of how small children used to be interviewed in potential sexual assault cases. Really small kids were saying what they thought the adult investigators wanted to hear because they want to make the adults happy and the investigators would ask leading questions that could be answered with yes or no. I remember some sensational cases back in the 70s or early 80s where the entire staffs of some preschools were charged and convicted using this type of testimony and there wasn’t any other evidence. It seems that RJ has a mentality that is similar to a very young child and she isn’t capable of understanding what has happened to her. I am starting to feel sorry for her as I think whatever mental deficiencies she has have been manipulated and used by the prosecutors.

      Sally MJ in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 12:31 am

      Andrew, your coverage of this trial – and legal explanations – are phenomenal. I feel as if I’m there. Every day, I am very anxious for your daily summary. I find I know way more than my friends – It’s very helpful for increasing my popularity! Just kidding.

        I appreciate the kind words.

        Also, you might consider: 🙂


          Sally MJ in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 1:05 am

          Hey Andrew – will do. Am in a tight spot right now, but it should be worked out in a few months. Looks very interesting!!

          Are you a regular contributor on this site? I just discovered it for this trial Monday. Had never heard of it before. It looks really good.

          Is it all from a legal perspective? (It’s called “Legal Insurrection.”) Probably, right?

          Oh, forget the book, then Sally MJ. Or, if we get a “remainder copy,” (one damaged in some slight way and not suitable for normal sale), I’ll drop you a note and send it your way. I know what it’s like to be short on pennies, been there myself.

          I’m just a guest blogger here at Legal Insurrection, but very happy indeed to be here for the duration of the trial at the Professor’s invitation.

          I hesitate to attempt to characterize Legal Insurrection generally, as it’s not my blog and not my brainchild, so to speak. I can tell you it was on my daily read rotation long before the Zimmerman case, and I think it’s one of the best blogs out there generally, not just from a legal perspective.


It is quite hilarious though, to see the state’s attorneys entering into arguments to try and discredit one of their own witnesses. I mean, if they had this twitter thing on her and thought she was biased towards Zimmerman, why put her up there in the first place? Desperation…

Who ordered the stripper-gram?

O’Mara was able to show Lauer the photo of Zimmerman with the bloody nose. He asked if the screams could be related. She said yes. When O’Mara tried to ask the same question while showing the injuries to the back of the head, there was an objection.

    Very well caught. As an aside, the press coverage has avoided this crucial bit of testimony. You can be sure the defense will pound this home in its summation.

      CrankbaitJohnson in reply to Jim. | June 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      They’ve got to be eating their hearts out that the only six “media consumers” that matter are sequestered.

Maybe this is a silly question, but why doesn’t George Zimmerman have a nice tan? He looks like a white Hispanic, and all that was inferred by that description. The picture of him with the bloody lip he looks more ethnic. We do prejudge people by their looks.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to rayc. | June 27, 2013 at 10:05 pm


    Elliott in reply to rayc. | June 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    The defendant is confined to basically house arrest due to terms of bond (ankle tracker included) and death threats. I don’t think he is out playing golf or sunning by the pool. This has also obviously limited his physical activities and affected his weight and overall health. He wears a bulletproof vest to court. Of course anyone making the threats has not been investigated so apparently the state of Florida approves.

    Sally MJ in reply to rayc. | June 28, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Not a “white Hispanic,” but a PALE Hispanic. When the New Black Panther puts out a hit on you, and your parents get death threats, and your boss has to fire you out of fears of violence at the workplace, and social media has tried to broadcast your safehouse address, he for sure has the shades drawn all day and night, doesn’t go outside – doesn’t feel safe – it’s no wonder he is pale and gained his weight back. Pisses me off.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Sally MJ. | June 28, 2013 at 2:07 am

      The weight gain is probably due more to depression and disillusionment than confinement. One can always work out in their home. As for looking pale, well, what’s wrong with pale? He can get a sunlamp or slip out onto the back patio for 20 minutes twice a day.

So far the state has not presented any gumshoe detectives as witnesses. It would be interesting to find out what they discovered during the investigation and what their conclusions were

Wow. A coherent and detailed account of testimony! Thank you, Andrew. There’s no way I’m watching all this, but I am interested in the case.

I’ve mostly given up on reading any news stories about legal issues, from trials to legislation to Supreme Court opinions, because most news stories are either so incomplete or flat-out wrong that I get stuck puzzling out what the reporter might have meant..

I thought he was out on bail, after an extended battle and the thing about his defense fund.

Hey Andrew – How does the Defense find “Convict GZ Now who murdered our son Trayvon” type petitions. Were they all on the witnesses’ FB pages? Is that why they can the big bucks?

Also, is it possible the State is purposely losing this case because it is such a stinker that Corey dropped it?

    The whole case is crazy, so I suppose anything is possible. But seeing de la Rionda’s reaction to being humiliated by O’Mara today makes me doubt it. de la Rionda went after his own witness like a rabid dog. I’m not sure a guy just mailing it in would put in that kind of effort.


    Crowdsourcing. George’s brother Robert is quite active on this front, as well. It’s why his name came up today, because he was “following” on Twitter the State’s witness Jenna Lauer. I expect he’s following pretty much all of the State’s witnesses, if only as a CI strategy.

    (Full disclosure, I have had personal contact with Robert Zimmerman, but only of the most superficial nature. I am in now way involved with the Zimmerman defense, nor do I possess any “inside” information or access of any sort.)


Can you imagine being a contractor, buying construction equipment from that Latin bombshell?

Why, if these witnesses for the prosecution are and have been as bad as your reports make them out to be, would this case even be prosecuted? Is the race shakedown business that strong in FLA? Political pressure that great?

    I expect the Gov perceived a million dollar sham trial as more cost-effective and amenable to his re-election than the riotous burning of several major Florida cities.

    But that’s just speculation on my part.


      Bud_Denton in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 27, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      Yes, but very very TRUE speculation.

      The Sharptons and Jacksons are to be expected to act like Sharptons and Jacksons. The Governor is the real villain in this stinkbomb.

      The fires will be much bigger if they lose now, this would have burned out much quicker before.

      Sally MJ in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 12:21 am

      Hey Andrew,

      Can GZ sue the governor? How about the media? The local NAACP who blew this case national? Will anyone be held accountable for this travesty?

      You’d say it’s pretty certain the GZ team will sue Corey, the Prosecution, the mayor, the City Council for gross legal malpractice, for this obviously political arrest, right? This is what they do in the old Communist countries!

      I’m assuming GZ will be found not guilty – How can he possibly lead a regular life? I hear he lives/lived in a majority black area. His life and reputation have pretty much destroyed. Does he need to change his name? Do a Witness Protection Program-type uprooting? Will he ever be able to work and lead a quiet, private life? Will he be able to go into Criminal Justice, what he was studying?

      And last – based on the Prosecution’s unethical actions so far – Do you think they will try to get the jury to convict on Murder 2 or Manslaughter, even though they do not apply to GZ’s case? This scares me. The prosecution already has been unethical – they could do so again.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Standing up to evil with courage and integrity never crossed his politically bent mind.

      Like Perry has just recently stood against the noisy gang of abortion-mongers in Texas, for example.

    snopercod in reply to avwh. | June 28, 2013 at 8:23 am

    avwh asks: “Why, if these witnesses for the prosecution are and have been as bad as your reports make them out to be, would this case even be prosecuted?”

    I’ve posted this several times previously and never gotten any traction, so here goes again: Sanford police chief forced out the same day cop’s son goes to jail, accused of attacking homeless man. Short version: Zimmerman was responsible for getting Sanford Police Chief Brian Tooley fired with less than a month before he was scheduled to retire because he covered up a cop beating a homeless man. The Florida State Attorney’s office was also involved in the coverup.

    Payback is a bitch, eh?

    because Pam Bondi is such a supporter of gun rights and is in no way an opportunist.

Not sure what Rick Scott could have done about this. Does a governor have the power over an AG to tell them to butt out?

    Estragon in reply to caambers. | June 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I’m not sure what statutory power he has, reports at the time were that he urged Bondi to intervene.

    The fact he didn’t publicly protest the intervention is enough for me. Holding the coats at a stoning isn’t a mark of innocence, but rather of acquiescence.

This narration of the case is highly interesting, especially when analyzed by an experienced defense attorney. Thanks to LI and Andrew Branca! I have not prejudged the case, but after following this narration, it is becoming increasingly clear that Zimmerman is innocent.

Noob here, trying to educate myself through this amazing blog/wordpress. Could someone please explain who BDLR and O’Mara are? I’m guessing they are State attorneys but it’s confusing because I’m only familiar with prosecuting lawyer (guy who opened with “f*ucking punks”) and the defense lawyer (knock knock.) I occasional see West and O’mara speaking but never see BDLR speaking with his lawyer/counterpart?

I might also say this is the first trial I’ve been able to follow from the beginning because of the visibility (social media, YouTube, blogs). I never rely on the media to tell the story because of how swung they are. They never get the full story. By websites like this I am able to get the whole story and draw my own conclusions. Also I was born in Canada so English is a second language, just like Rachel, just kidding but seriously take it easy on me, I’m Canadian! Thanks for all of your contributions

    profshadow in reply to Mirza. | June 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Corey appointed Bernie De La Rionda (BDLR) to pursue the case against Zimmerman as lead prosecutor.

    DennisD in reply to Mirza. | June 27, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    BLDR is Bernie de la Rionda a bald, mustached prosecutor for the State. Mark O’Mara is the tall red-haired attorney defending George Zimmerman along with Don West.

As a minor point, the speed at which the Colombian woman said she was able to look at the scene after the shot can’t be accurate or else Z shot T in the back, but the body positions she saw do jibe with Z’s account.

    The State is looking for a longer interaction between Zimmerman and Martin as a way to gin up the “depraved mind” needed for murder 2. Depraved mind is almost never found when the two people just bumped into each other as strangers. Usually it requires an existing relationship so that animus can develop between them.

    The defense is looking for a shorter interaction, both to undermine the above, and also because it’s more consistent with the defense’s theory of the case that Martin emerged from a position of concealment in the bushes, and after a very brief exchange sucker punched Zimmerman and commenced to try to murder him.

    That’s the reason de la Rionda keeps asking his own witnesses if they had a stopwatch with them when they were hearing the shouts, looking out the window, etc. That’s why O’Mara had State’s witness Selma Mora today do a “walk through” of her motions that evening, to demonstrate to the jury that from the first sounds to the dialing of the 911 only took a handful of seconds. Not nearly enough time to establish a depraved mind between strangers.

    Absent a depraved mind, the best the state can hope for is manslaughter by act. That’s the difference between 20 to life for murder and probably something like 5 years served for manslaughter for a guy of Zimmerman’s profile.

    Of course, Zimmerman won’t survive a week in genpop in Florida, but the lawyers can only control so much.

    Regardless, I expect Zimmerman to win on the self-defense, in any case.


      DennisD in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

      What I saw was that O’Mara asked Mora to demonstrate how long it took only from the gun shot to viewing the scene. I thought he was trying to prove that it was enough time for Z to shoot T then get out from underneath and on top of him. Her reenactment took about three seconds and that seemed too quick for either the state or defense’s version of events which is why I doubted it was accurate.

        DennisD in reply to DennisD. | June 28, 2013 at 5:43 am

        Make that about 5 seconds and it wasn’t an exact mock-up but I still think O’Mara was trying to show, or will show, that it was enough time for Z to switch positions.

          Elliott in reply to DennisD. | June 28, 2013 at 6:34 am

          Getting out from beneath a corpse would not take an adult male very long. A few seconds tops with adrenaline pumping.

Well, NLP says that eye movements can indicate stress, usually by differences in where people look when they recall something vs fabricate something.

There may also be cultural differences when one person of one culture interacts with one from a different culture. Personal distance, eye contact, etc., are usually “stereotypical” for cultures.

For example, showing shoe soles in Arab cultures by crossing your legs would be considered an insult. But in other cultures it is just a guy crossing his legs.

But, given a baseline, it is possible to tell when someone is stressing. And by investigating, determine perhaps what is causing the stress, which may or may not be germane.

As an example, I studied with Joe Navarro, an FBI profiler who now gives classes to poker players, among other groups.

He relates a story of how a security guard was being questioned about a theft that occurred during his shift. The guard indicated by his behaviors that the was nervous about the event. Some thought it meant he was involved in the theft, but it turns out he just took a break to, um, “be with his girlfriend” for a bit when the theft occurred.

So he was irresponsible as a guard but not the “inside man” for the theft.

Body language of these witnesses has been interesting to follow. I’d like to see the microexpression reviews of their testimony. I’m sure someone is out there reviewing them.

But even so, there are plenty of indicators for those looking.

NB: On the “cracker thing” … If a Cracker calls a Cracker “cracker” it is all good.

But when someone who isn’t a “Cracker” calls someone ‘cracker’ then it’s usually an insult.

    CrankbaitJohnson in reply to profshadow. | June 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Was Jeantel ever asked by the defense whether she knew from talking to TM that GZ was “white/hispanic”? She said “cracker” was not a racial term, yet says at some point in depositions that she “figured it was a racial thing.” She never has Trayvon saying “white” or “Caucasian,” so what other than “cracker” conveyed that GZ wasn’t black?

      Jeantel used the phrase “creepy, white, kill-my-neighbors cracker” when relating how Trayvon described the man following him.

      If you listen to Jeantel’s testimony, she says that just a few seconds before the “creepy ass cracker” comes up.

The freeze frames are hilarious.

    We actually got a complaint about that. But we’re just embedding somebody else’s videos. We haven’t touched or manipulated any video on our end, either or


      really ??
      I had asked (in other thread) about using spoiler tag to improve page load times (they are bad now) but someone actually complained about the looks themselves?
      blame youtube, they are the ones who index the file and place the keyframes that generate the thumbshots.

        Matt in FL in reply to dmacleo. | June 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        @dmacleo: You can’t blame YouTube for these. Those freeze-frames are put there by the uploader. Notice that the freeze-frames are her outfit from Day 3, but they’re attached to videos of her testimony from Day 4. She was wearing an orange blouse on Day 4, as the photo at the top of the page shows.

cjharrispretzer | June 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I am truly disgusted at how sweetly Jeantel is being treated in the media. It’s as though she is the only nervous witness in court who ever testified, and so therefore no matter what her behaviors were, she is excused? In the meantime, every single day in courtrooms all across America, there are witnesses testifying…some of them who were the actual victims of crimes themselves facing their perpetrators in court….and do you think they’re nervous? Angry? Out of their element? Do you think they are given the latitude Jeantel is being given in the media? It’s disgusting and offensive to all the other people who pull themselves together and present themselves cohesively and respectfully in court.

    This is driving me crazy. Many, many people will never see her testimony. Their sole perception of what occurred is through media reports. The disparity between what I witnessed and what is being reported is truly sickening, and so incredibly irresponsible! Since when does being young,”unsophisticated” or under stress excuse a witness from lying? Honesty is honesty, no matter your age, race, or level of education or sophistication. This woman testified that she intentionally changed her story multiple times based on the audience…and we are supposed to excuse that? And find her credible? Hopefully the jury doesn’t feel that way.

      VetHusbandFather in reply to MegK. | June 28, 2013 at 12:55 am

      The worst part is she’s not ‘young’. Despite her original lies she is in fact an adult. We should be treating her as such instead of making excuses for why she acts like a 3rd grader. If these people think that she’s incapable of acting like an decent human being in a courtroom for a murder trial, than why to they send men that are her age to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan?

      Sally MJ in reply to MegK. | June 28, 2013 at 1:01 am

      The media (e.g., Salon) said today that the “conservative” GZ supporters are being racist toward Jeantel. They say GZ supporters are hateful toward Jeantel, and that if she were blonde-haired, blue-eyed, no one would have any problems with her testimony.

      So once again, it’s all about race. The never-ending chorus of this song.

      Catherine in reply to MegK. | June 28, 2013 at 1:57 am

      I wonder if the reason Rachel Jeantel is a reluctant witness is that she knows she is lying and she is telling a big lie. I think she isn’t too troubled telling small lies but may resent having to tell a big lie over and over again so that other people benefit. Who knows, maybe she even feels guilty about lying and potentially sending an innocent man to prison.

    Mister Natural in reply to cjharrispretzer. | June 28, 2013 at 7:12 am

    the MSM must circle the wagons to protect Jeantel as she is the end product of 50 years of lib-prog social policy. if she were a city she’d be Detroit.
    by the way in which city will the first rioting flash mob be organized?

I’m curious. Jeantel said she did not call TM back bc she thought it was “just a fight.” Why didn’t the defense explore that. Just a fight, as in common thing for TM to be in a fight, nothing to worry about… Would this be character evidence on TM, even if this was Jeantel explaining her reasoning for not calling back? If allowed, would this have helped, or just confused the jury more?

    Voluble in reply to j_c. | June 28, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Yeah, I have asked the same thing several times and haven’t seen a definitive answer. Someone mentioned above that West was going to go in that direction but the judge cut him off.

    It did seem the obvious gambit at that point as it looks like RJ was unconcerned for precisely the reason that it was an ordinary occurrence for fights to break out in Travon’s world. As a layman it is very difficult for me to see how the defense could not have worked that situation to get in a past history of fights that RJ would likely know about.

    Did they even ask whether TM sounded angry when he confronted Zimmerman or if he raised his voice etc… and if that was an emotion he commonly displayed?

    If they are giving Trayvon the kid glove treatment and trying win with one hand tied behind their back then that would be an obvious mistake. The news channels would also be forced to cover such information coming out in court as there is a de facto embargo on Martin’s history and nature at the moment in the press.

    CENTFLAMIKE in reply to j_c. | June 28, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I think it would be too risky. The defense knows this witness is hostile to them and is prone to lying. They can’t ask her that question unless they can point to specific documented instances of her knowing that Trayvon was involved in fights.

    If they ask was it common for Trayvon to fight, she would answer no, and they have no specific information to prove that she knows of him fighting.

KrazyCrackaEsq | June 27, 2013 at 11:18 pm

The more this thing goes on and the more facts (or lack thereof) comes to light, the more this trial looks like a political prosecution. I have yet to hear of any facts that would support an affidavit of probable cause – and this is after 3 days of the State presenting its witnesses!

Think about taking the facts of this case and turning them into a multiple choice question for a state’s bar exam that asked if the defendant qualified for self-defense. This would be one of the easy questions, if not the easiest.

Seriously – the prosecutors have come no where even remotely close to bringing forth evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman should be held guilty of 2nd degree murder. At this point, it would be unreasonable if you didn’t have doubt as to Zimmerman’s guilt.

If I was a member of the Florida bar, I would be furious at Angela Corey for using this trial as some type of reelection campaign. Nothing has been presented that calls into question Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. This legal circus is an embarrassment to the entire legal profession, and it is this type of stuff that gives lawyers a bad name.

So what are the usual minimum standards for prima facie evidence in order to file charges? Where are they set? Would these be found in a state’s court rules, or would the be codified in statute?

    This gets too complicated for a comment. More than prima facie is needed to BRING a charge. You generally need probable cause for that. Certain defenses, however, must meet only a minimal burden of production in order to be a genuine issue in a case. Self-defense is typically among these. In most states, if there’s any credible argument for self-defense, even if there is opposing evidence, it will be allowed as an issue at trial.

    Of course, self-defense has numerous elements, and if any one of the has incontrovertibly been breached, self-defense is gone. If you’re in a state with a general duty to retreat, and you obviously didn’t when you safely good have (e.g., you chased the guy down), no self-defense for you. If your use of force was obviously disproportional (e.g., the guy called your date a ho, and you shot him in the face), no self-defense for you. If your use of force was against a non-imminent threat (e.g., next week I’m going to kick your ass), no self-defense for you.

    But as long as you have minimal evidence on each of the required elements, you’ll generally get self-defense heard at trial.

    Just don’t miss one. You only need to miss ONE, and self-defense goes good-bye.

    And that can be awkward if you’re standing over a cooling body holding a smoking gun.


      I guess I asked because I was thinking from the perspective of holding the state liable.

      Basically,I was thinking that if the minimum standard could have been shown to have not been met, yet the charges still stood, the State could be in for a world of hurt, as I imagine qualified immunity wouldn’t cover them at that point.

      Then again, I’m not sure of the nuances of qualified immunity, either.

      Of course, this subject won’t be appropriate for a comment either, given that, most likely, many a law review article has been written on the subject.

        Oh, I see. In my opinion there are actors for the Stat who should face prison time for their misconduct in this case, at many stages of the investigation, bringing of the charge, discovery, and prosecution.

        But that’s just my opinion, obviously I don’t get to do anything about it.


Great, great blog Andrew. It’s nice to finally read about the case and have it all lined up with what I have been watching. It amazes me at how much the talking heads differ from how the trial has actually gone.

I have been watching since it started Monday (Didn’t watch any of the jury selection stuff) and I had a question pertaining to the charge of 2nd degree murder. I have been hearing it bounced around (Talking heads again) that prior to jury instructions after the final statements that the prosecution can downgrade the charge to manslaughter or something other than murder 2. Is this at all correct? It doesn’t seem right to me that they have charged Z with murder 2 for all this time, and then just before jury deliberation, can downgrade the charge. Basically for no other reason than because they realize murder 2 is just not going to happen. Are the talking heads smoking the cheeba or is there something to this?


    In Florida, as in most states, voluntary manslaughter (which Florida, strangely to my eyes, calls “manslaughter by act”) is a lesser included offense of murder 2.

    That means that any time a defendant is charged with murder 2, the jury will also automatically be instructed on manslaughter. That will happen in this case as a matter of normal procedure.

    The interesting part is that Zimmerman’s conduct certainly meets thee elements of manslaughter by act–really, all that’s required is the you use force against someone and they die, and he certainly did that.

    That’s where the legal defense of self-defense comes in. Sure, his conduct meets the elmenets of manslaughter, but his conduct was nevertheless lawful because it met the requirements of self-defense, and lawful self-defense is an absolute bar to criminal punishment.

    To put it another way, to win a guilty verdict in this case the State needs to do two things: (1) Prove the element sof the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and (2) disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

    On murder 2, the state will never be able to do even (1), so (2) doesn’t even come into play. Not guilty of murder 2.

    On manslaughter, the state can certainly do (1), but I just don’t see them overcoming (2). Result: Not guilty of manslaughter.


Where’s attorney Crump? Lawyerin’ up?

Great recap, thanks!

One point on the twitter issue. There is a difference between tweeting someone and following them. I often tweet people I don’t follow. So, while the witness may have been following Robert Zimmerman, it was good for O’Mara to point out that she had not tweeted at all. That whole exchange ended up a ball of confusion by all parties.

If what I just watched was RJ’s interview for the DMV, I’d say she nailed it.

[…] Zimmerman Trial | Live video | Prosecution Witnesses […]

“A more coercive environment for the taking of of a witnesses statement is hard to imagine.”

And didn’t this take place while at least Bernie still believed her to be a minor?

Did they also threaten to shoot her puppy?

    VetHusbandFather in reply to Daiwa. | June 28, 2013 at 9:36 am

    There is so much wrong with that Guardian article, its not just spin it’s factually inaccurate. Take for instance: “Colombian-born Selma Mora testified that the person who was on top during the scuffle was the one who survived the fight, and that he got up and walked away after the gunshot was heard”. If they had reported it correctly it should have said something like: “Colombian-born Selma Mora testified that she went outside after hearing the gunshot, and observed the person who was on top at that point was the one who survived the fight.” Their coverage makes it sound like she observed him on top fighting, then fire a shot, then got up and walk away.

If it becomes obvious that the jury will vote to acquit, what signs will we see from the judge/prosecutor and the press?
Will they double-down on their accusations in the hopes that the resulting riots will provide a smokescreen for their actions, or will they start to backpedal on TV and interviews?(Note: This is a double-guess, because both Juries and the Press frequently make decisions that defy logic)
I’m guessing the prosecution will go full-throttle right up until the messy end regardless of the disintegration of their case while about half of the press will start to wander off in twos and threes as they begin to think about their future credibility, and the other half remains fanatically loyal to the established meme regardless of facts (much like 9/11 Truthers and Elvis sightings).

Rosco P Coaltrain | June 28, 2013 at 3:02 am

Now I have to move to Hawaii because all these great articles and comments are keeping me up past midnight here in California. Keep up the good work and I look forward to another day of leering and learning.


Mister Natural | June 28, 2013 at 6:07 am

Rachel Jeantel: the product of 50 years of liberal-progressive social policy.
This poor excuse for a (fill in blank) is, I imagine, what motivated Margaret Sanger in her work

    Mister Natural in reply to Mister Natural. | June 28, 2013 at 6:10 am

    This poor excuse for a (fill in blank) is, I imagine, a contemporary example of that which motivated Margaret Sanger in her work

      Uncle Samuel in reply to Mister Natural. | June 28, 2013 at 7:03 am

      Mr. Natural, That’s natural thinking all right. I look at Ms. Jeantel and Trayvon as victims of their culture and modeling, not just the government schools and liberalism in general.

      For example, Mr. Tracy Martin called a Zimmerman relative a Mthr-fkr on the first day of court.

      Apples don’t fall far from trees. Unless there are mitigating factors or interventions. Our school system doesn’t provide much help in overcoming and healing what really ails children from the hood without fathers, hence the high rate of crime and imprisonment.

      An example of two children with single moms growing up in poverty in the ghetto but with Christian Moms who loved them and had faith that they could overcome the stigma and environment if they worked hard are Dr. Ben Carson and Rev. Dr. Tory Baucum.

      If the Ms. Jeantels and Trayvon Martins of this world had parents who taught and modeled better, they would not be as tempted to dabble in dangerous behaviors and substances.

      I believe in redemption – but that must be preceded by repentance and responsibility for one’s actions.

      The most successful restoration and recovery programs are faith-based and that is because we are weak and foolish, like sheep, and need divine help from a wise shepherd to right ourselves when we are cast down.

        Mister Natural in reply to Uncle Samuel. | June 28, 2013 at 7:33 am

        Agreed. But it isn’t permitted, “in polite circles”, to discuss/criticize the obvious depravity that is the central tenet of (what is it called now?) “Gangsta culture”
        and criticizing young unwed mothers is tantamount to defaming The Virgin Mary.
        For a great analysis of the various ways different cultures got the way they are, I suggest “Race and Economics” by the greatest living American philosopher(IMHO): Thomas Sowell

        creeper in reply to Uncle Samuel. | June 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

        Sam, they may be products of their culture but they are most certainly not victims.


Stephen Crowder has a new video up on Rachel Jeantel’s #Zimmerman testimony:

We are all retarded creepy-ass crackas now 🙂

Get it right, the facts showed that Jenna Lauer was NOT following Robert Zimmerman, and had never sent a tweet on that account, hence de la Rionda’s embarrassment.


    theonewhoknocks in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 28, 2013 at 9:32 am

    I love your work on this case, and you might have figured this out by now, but you are mistaken about the twitter issue. The reason that it said “follow” by Robert Zimmerman Jr. is that the lap top was not logged into Jenna Lauer’s account. It was logged into a different account looking at her follow list. The screen was giving the viewer the option to follow the people that Jenna was following.

    So, Jenna was wrong, she was following Zimmerman’s brother, but she did succesfully confuse the prosecutor into doubting himself.

LilMissSpellcheck | June 28, 2013 at 6:49 am

I haven’t been following all the geography in the testimony, but did’t Jeantel’s unassailable testimony establish that Trayvon(TM) was speaking to her from “behind his daddy fiance house?” But the shooting took place around a corner and more than a hundred feet away from the unit where Trayvon(TM) was staying? So this innocent teen, terrified of being raped or worse, moved from a place of relative safety to a dark back alley to initiate a peaceful and reasoned Socratic dialog with a ferocious stalker abut his illegal and unjust profiling?

Sounds to me like Jeantel’s testimony, in all its ultimate moral authority, debunks the notion that GZ was the pursuer.

And her recounting of the words spoken clearly makes Trademark the confronter, not the confrontee. Unless some additional details emerge when she is recalled to the stand during rebuttal.

Am I wrong here?

    pmeisterx in reply to LilMissSpellcheck. | June 28, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I noticed the same issue… if he was at the back of his Dad’s House then why was the incident so far away from the house. He must of walked back towards Zimmerman!

      VetHusbandFather in reply to pmeisterx. | June 28, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Assuming that Martin’s narration of his actions to Jeantel was exactly as Jeantel retold it. Who is to even say that Martin was accurately describing the events going on around him. E.g. maybe he told her that he was behind his dad’s house meanwhile he was stalking this guy somewhere else. Sure Jeantel is under oath now, but Martin certainly wasn’t when he was talking to her, can’t the defense use this to create an additional level of doubt?

Thank you Andrew for the commentary. It has been a real eye opener for me.

Another great round-up. Thanks, Andrew, for your work.

I retired from police work in Florida back in 2008. So watching this case is particularly painful and embarrassing for my former colleagues and I, who to a person realize Zimmerman’s arrest was the first political arrest we’ve witnessed.

Having Branca, who knows his stuff, sitting there being our eyes and ears is outstanding. We are all following the case with interest. We all realize Gov. Scott flinched under racial pressure and green lighted this prosecution.

A few points:

1. TM “girlfriend” Jeantel is the stereotypical young, arrogant, entitled, semi-literate person I’ve dealt with for a generation. As much as many of you think she has to be some kind of aberration I can assure you she’s not. Sadly.
Oh, and her saying “cracker” isn’t racist to her because she’s been taught she can’t be one.
2. The misconduct of the SAO prosecutors is or should be criminal. They have violated the rule of evidence, law, discovery and frankly just basic good sense and ethics.
3. For example, their interview of Jeantel with people who have an interest in her statement present violates Rule 1 of interview rules! Which means they have accepted the fact she was coached and then continued to coach her, attempting to make her “facts” match the theory of the crime. You can’t do that in criminal law.
4. The judge is obviously afraid of any fallout personally. I’m afraid the jury feels the same way. That is scary. Once judges and juries are intimidated by the mob, justice is gone.

Lastly, watching Corey, she reminds me of the personality of Lois Lerner at the IRS, Sebilius at HHS and Napolitano at DHS. Arrogant, above the law, convinced their way is the only way and the rest of us are just wrong and meaningless. Spooky.

One wonders if Scott, as the governor who ordered the prosecution, will order an investigation of Angela Corey and her team much like Nygaard. He should, but we’ve lost faith in him as a leader down here. Given the choice to stand for justice and face the racial unrest in an election year or have a man’s life ruined and his freedom seized, he chose arresting an innocent man.

Thankfully, at least for now, a person can still get a fair trial if he has the money and a good set of lawyers. We are seeing the inherent corruption of our justice system which became the SOP for law some time ago. No longer is it right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, it is all about winning.

Had GZ not been able to hire good attorneys he’d be in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Think what that means for the rest of us.

FYI, Day 5 live coverage page is now up.


“Almost immediately I began to hear legal pundits wail about O’Mara huge “blunder,” saying that he had now opened the door for this prior bad acts evidenced to be shown to the jury, effectively dooming his clients.”

I don’t understand — why would this open the door? Didn’t they go much further in this direction in the examination of the police department’s NWP liaison?

Andrew, I want to say thanks a lot for your analysis of the proceedings. However, it did raise a concern for me. You noted that “Jeantel claimed that she had hear Zimmerman say not the defensive phrase, “What are you talking about?” but much more confrontational phrase, “What are you doing around here?””

The reason I’m concerned is that I watched the testimony, and I got that her “quote” changed, but I didn’t really pick up on the significance that it the quote went from pro-defense/neutral to pro-prosecution. I got the denotation, but not the connotation. My concern is that if that shift was lost on me, that it may have also been lost on the jurors. They would get that the story changed, and that may harm her credibility, but it might be seen as a simple mistake or recollection error, rather than as evidence of potential coaching or attitude shift. Any comment?

[…] an inherently racial statement.  I recommend a visit to Merrit’s account, as well as that of Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection for additional […]

WOW… Did you see Raechel?

Ole Trayvon was some ladies man….eh?


If you want to see who Trayvon was… simply look at his friend Raechel.

For the life of me, I’m still baffled why the prosecution even called this Jeantel creature to the stand. Why most commentators felt sorry for this woman and made excuses for her is beyond me. She looked and acted like an ignorant, hostile, disrespectful racist pig.