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Zimmerman Trial Day One – Analysis of State’s First Four Witnesses

Zimmerman Trial Day One – Analysis of State’s First Four Witnesses

Today saw the completion of opening statements and the launch of the State’s case, with four of the State’s witnesses being brought to the stand. In a nutshell, I thought the defense did a far superior job in cross-examination than the State did on direct, with it’s own witnesses, which does not bode well for the State’s prospects in this case. Here’s the play-by-play.

Chad Joseph: Played Video Games with Martin on Day of Shooting

Chad Joseph is the son of the girlfriend of Trayvon’s father, who lived in the same townhouse community as George Zimmerman, and who owned the home that Martin was purportedly returning to following his trip to 7-11. He was 12 years old at the time of the event, and appears to be 13 or 14 years old today.

Joseph’s testimony was mostly monosyllabic, and not particularly interesting. His appearance as the first witness suggests that the State intends to step through it’s witnesses in chronological sequence (and this impression was confirmed by the order of subsequent witnesses). To this lawyer’s eye he had been very carefully coached–which is totally legal, when limited to truthful responses, as appears to be the case here–and when the defense questioning threatened to veer off the carefully prepared terrain of the script Joseph’s memory of that day became evanescent.

In brief, Joseph and Martin had been at the mother’s townhouse playing video games and watching television earlier that day. At one point Martin decided to go to the 7-11, and Joseph asked him to bring back some skittles. The State stepped Joseph though the events of the day, with nothing dramatic emerging, and then stepped down.

Cross-examination was more interesting. O’Mara, clearly handling Joseph carefully, asked him how many hours that day he and Martin played the video game. “I don’t remember.” Well, how long did you watch TV? “I don’t remember.”

O’Mara asked if he was familiar with the dog walk behind the townhouse, and Joseph said he was. Did he know the dog station at the end? Yes. Had he ever walked it? Yes. How long did it take to walk it?

Here Joseph appeared to pull back, saying he didn’t know. Do you know how far it is to walk it, asked O’Mara. Joseph grunted in reply.

Then O’Mara got clever. Do you think, he asked, you could throw a baseball from where your townhouse is to the dog station? Yes. How about a softball? I don’t know. A football? Yes.

In this way, although O’Mara couldn’t get Joseph to commit to a definite length for the distance from the dog station to the townhouse, we now have in evidence that it’s no farther than a 12- or 13-year-old can throw a baseball or football.

At that point the defense had no more questions, and Joseph was dismissed.

Andrew Gaugh, 7-11 Employee, Sold Martin the Skittles and Beverage

The State had Gaugh identify the location of the store, as well as the video images caught by the security cameras. They had Gaugh step through the video, not quite frame by frame, and then were done with him.

Again O’Mara proved quite clever. One of his first questions to Gaugh seemed to come out of the blue: “Do you actually remember any of this that you just testified to?”

“No, sir,” Gaugh answered.

“So, you’re just looking at the video tape, and we’re asking you what you would have done, and you’re telling us, but you don’t actually remember it.”

“No, sir.”

“No more questions, your Honor.”

Sean Noffke: Police Dispatcher

Noffke is the operator that can be heard on Zimmerman’s non-emergency 911 call ( which can be heard here:

Zimmerman Trial: Myth Busters: Did Zimmerman really “racially profile” Martin?

Zimmerman Trial: Myth Busters: Did Zimmerman really “racially profile” Martin?

and here:

Myth Busters: Did Zimmerman “Chase Down” a Fleeing Martin?
http://lawofselfdefense.com/zimmerman-trial-myth-busters-did-zimmerman-chase-down-a-fleeing-martin/

The State first stepped Noffke through the logistics of taking and characterizing a non-emergency or 911 call. They also sought to suggest that Zimmerman’s leaving the car was not in response to the dispatcher’s question, “Which way is he running,” but rather that both happened simultaneously. This is a difficult point to make, however, when one is simultaneously playing the audio tape in which the events are clearly sequential.

The State also asked Noffke why he didn’t simply order Zimmerman not to follow Martin–giving the lie, by the way, to the enduring myth that Zimmerman followed Martin contrary to police orders–and Noffke answered that it was against policy because it could make them liable for the consequences.

The State soon got to their primary point of discussion, however–Zimmerman’s cursing on the audio about how “those assholes always get away,” and “fucking punks.”. The State very much needs Zimmerman’s cursing to be seen as an indicia of hatred or evil intent if they have any hope of getting even in the vicinity of second degree murder.

The State also sought to suggest that there was some bad intent in how Zimmerman initially agreed to meet the police at the clubhouse, than switched to his vehicle, then suggested that they phone him when they arrived to arrange a meeting point.

Finally, the State sought to suggest that the fact that Zimmerman mentioned Martin’s race twice might indicate some racial motivation for his conduct towards Martin.

O’Mara once again excelled on cross examination. He stepped Noffke through the audio recording bit by bit, just as the State had done. He asked Noffke if he had been trained to assess a person’s demeanor and state of mind over the phone–were they angry, intoxicated?–and he answered that he was. Periodically, including at the points where Zimmerman curses, O’Mara stops the audio and asks Noffke for his professional assessment.

O’Mara: “Do you hear any anger in that voice?” Noffke: “No, sir.”

More audio . . . stopped.

O’Mara: “Has the caller evidenced any anger or animosity yet?” Noffke: “No, sir.”

More audio . . . Zimmerman saying, “These assholes, they always get away.” Stops the tape.

O’Mara: “Any anger in that comment?” Noffke: “It sounded calm to me.”

Finally at the end of the tape, O’Mara asks: “Do you have any concern in how Zimmerman presented to you?” Noffke: “No, sir.” “In any of the words he said?” “No, sir.”

O’Mara also followed upon the issue of Zimmerman switching the meeting point from the clubhouse to the vehicle to the phone, which the State had suggested indicated some surreptitious motive on Zimmerman’s part: O’Mara: “Did that give you, the person listening, any cause for concern in how Zimmerman was acting?” No, sir.”

Finally, O’Mara returned on the point at which the State had suggested that Noffke’s telling Zimmerman, “Wed don’t need you to do that,” with respect to following Martin suggested that Zimmerman was somewhow disobeying an instruction. O’Mara asked if Noffke could understand how asking Zimmerman, twice, about the direction of Martin’s direction of flight might have been reasonably interpreted as a reason to get out of the car to determine the answer to the question. Noffke responded, “I understand how someone could have misinterpreted the intent of that.”

When O’Mara was done the State chose to re-direct. When you hear someone refer to another person as a “Fucking punk,” they asked Noffke, do you think that they feel warmly towards that person. He answered in the negative.

Then O’Mara came back on re-cross. O’Mara: “Let’s be clear, I though you cleared this up earlier. The hostility one might assume would come from “fucking punks” in many circumstances, did you hear any such hostility in that specific conversation? Noffke: “No, sir.”

On the issue of Zimmerman having mentioned Martin’s race twice (the first time in direct response to Noffke’s query on the issue), O’Mara asked, “When you asked him race, and he said “He looks black,” did that seem definitive to you?” Noffke: “No, sir.” O’Mara: “And when he got a better look, when Martin was approaching his car with his hands tucked in his waistband, did it seem to you that he was just confirming the race?” Noffke: “Yes, sir.” O’Mara: “Did it seem he was saying black twice because there was some racial overtones?” Noffke: “No, sir.”

Ramona Rumph, Custodian of Records, 911 and non-emergency calls

The State’s final witness for the day was Ramona Rumph, the deputy director of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, and custodian of the relevant 911 and non-emergency records. As the appointed coordinator of his community’s Neighborhood Watch Program, it often fell to Zimmerman to phone the police to report events of concern in the neighborhood. The State now appeared to seek to submit into evidence every such instance of Zimmerman calling over a 6 month period.

The defense didn’t object to the first such tape, but when it became clear that the State was going to continue through all of them they objected on grounds of relevancy. This led to a discussion with the Court (with the jury safely tucked out of the way) on the issue. The State claimed that the recordings were relevant to establish Zimmerman’s state of mind on the day of the shooting–and remember, they have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman possessed a “depraved mind” under Florida law (see: Getting to Murder 2: Finding George Zimmerman’s “Depraved Mind”) if they are to have any chance at second degree murder. The defense disagreed. Given that it was late in the day (about 4:30PM), the Court decided to adjourn for the day to give the parties time to research the law and come back to court tomorrow at 8:30AM to hear the issue before the jury was seated.

Getting to Murder 2: Finding George Zimmerman’s “Depraved Mind”

Wrap-Up

In terms of end-of-day conclusions for these first four witnesses, I have to say that the defense did a much better job in cross-examination than the State did in direct, certainly for all three of the witnesses fully completed. Of course, the job’s quite a bit easier when the facts are on one’s side.

That’s it for tonight–we’ll be back tomorrow morning at 8:30 to cover the second day of State of Florida v. Zimmerman.

See you there.

–Andrew


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 Amazon.com, 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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Comments

I’d have to say that the defense is somewhat on a roll in installing a reasonable doubt into the jury. Without the “anger and hatred” aspect of the “F’ing punks” comment, do we really have the depravity required to reach 2nd Degree murder? The state is in a hole at the moment, and it’s only day One!

It will be interesting to see how it all progresses to the point when the defense gets their turn.

    You’ve got it, Paul.

      Thank you for laying out the testimony. Is this plead so the jury can find manslaughter as an alternative to second degree murder?

        In Florida manslaughter is a lesser included offense of murder, so the jury will be instructed on manslaughter as a matter of course. It’s a pretty common “compromise verdict” in Florida.

        But the State still needs to disprove, beyond a reasonable doubt, Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense, even if they drop their expectations of conviction from the (laughably implausible) murder to manslaughter.

        –Andrew

          myiq2xu in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

          I have always thought that the state’s strongest argument would be involuntary manslaughter under a theory of “imperfect self-defense”.

          Under California law that would mean that Zimmerman acted in self-defense but his use of deadly force was unreasonable or excessive. That is not an uncommon verdict when someone uses a gun against an unarmed aggressor.

          I know Florida uses different terminology to get the same result.

          Why did they go for murder?

          BTW – Where is Angela Corey? She was very prominent in this case last year. I haven’t seen her name in the news for a while. Her absence suggests she knows the case is a loser.

          I disagree that Trayvon Martin was unarmed. He had his fists. He used those fists to beat up Zimmerman.

          On top of that a lot of people get killed when they are king hit by people just using their fists.

          For the record, my sister, who was king hit just before Easter ended up with two black eyes and was lucky that her head did not strike a brick fence. I have not heard if her attacker has been caught, but I do know that the police have very good CCTV footage of the incident.

BannedbytheGuardian | June 24, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I recall those Presidential candidates – the guy from Mass & the guy from Pa – both lawyers , who immediately stated Zimmerman had a sick mind.

Andrew, any word on what the NSA is thinking about the trial?

and that is probably not a joke

What happens beginning at 13:57 of the testimony of the final witness is an example of atrocious lawyering. There is simply no excuse for the dispute of the relevance of the prior Zimmerman 911 calls to be discussed in the presence of the jury. The defense was aware that the government would be playing these old calls. The judge noted – in front of the jury – that the defense had agreed to their admissibility. A lawyer representing a person charged with a crime such as this must always appear to the jury to be above reproach. The content of the call that was played seems not to be terribly damaging per se to Zimmerman, but the jury’s assessment of the integrity of his lawyers, at such an early stage of the trial, has to have fallen.

    The defense acceded to their AUTHENTICITY, not the RELEVANCE, and therefore not their ADMISSIBILITY. Authenticity =/= Admissibility.

      rhorton1 in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 24, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      The defense had the opportunity, outside the presence of the jury, to object to the admissibility of the relevant government exhibits, but did not do so. After hearing the first 911 call the defense evidently had second thoughts about its decision. A good lawyer would have challenged the admissibility of the old 911 calls by written motion in advance of the trial date, so this all could have been decided beforehand.

        So, don’t want to do the compare and contrast with the State’s misconduct, eh? I don’t blame you, it would be a hard case to make. Just like the State’s challenges in this trial.

          rhorton1 in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm

          I kind of feel silly getting involved in a tit for tat with you. I’m not on the government’s side in this thing. But, I tried a lot of cases and I’m just pointing out what I saw. Maybe you’d be interesting in what I wrote about the defense opening statement in an earlier thread:

          The defense opening, having months to prepare, was rambling, overlong and disjointed. I don’t know Florida law, but I suspect the judge was incorrect in ruling several times that it was improper to talk about the law and the standard of proof in openings, yet the defense, rather than asking to approach the bench to discuss the issue, meekly acquiesced in the judge’s decision, indicating a decided lack of preparation. An attorney must foresee such objections and prepare a response. Even more worrying was the defense objection to the playing of old 911 calls from Zimmerman on relevance ground after a couple of calls had already been played for the jury. This issue should have been hashed out pre-trial – not in front of the jury. Zimmerman has a relatively good defense, but I fear his lawyers are not up to snuff. Prediction: not guilty Murder II, guilty manslaughter (excessive force).

          I saw your earlier post. I think you have an under appreciation for the defense’s art. Do you really believe West is a bumbling idiot? Or do you think there might be purpose to his errors? Odd how his errors result in the jury hearing the same defense theme hit again, and again, and again, in slight variations, isn’t it? Odd how West has somem trouble remembering street names, just as Zimmerman appeared to, just as “we all do,” West reminded the jury.

          Maybe West is an idiot. I’d need long odds to bet on it, though.

          Did you watch any of his performance during the Frye hearing? I didn’t see an idiot at work there. Unless he’s “lost it” in the last two weeks, I suggest there’s a method to his madness.

          rhorton1 in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 24, 2013 at 11:12 pm

          I did not see the Frye hearing and I do not think West is an idiot. He was, I think, not adequately prepared. In my opinion a jury can only take in so much information as it is hearing it. When a lawyer is bumbling (and I think West was) in front of the jury, a juror has difficulty processing the information because she is thinking thoughts irrelevant to the substance of the information: like why is he talking so slow, why can’t he get his facts straight when this happened a year ago, when is lunch, when will he end?

    And, just out of curiosity, if the apparent miscommunication this afternoon was “atrocious lawyering,” how do you characterize the State’s concealment and slow-rolling of discovery in a murder 2 trial? Strategy?

      rhorton1 in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      I don’t know enough about this issue to give an opinion. I’m just reacting to what I saw today. I thought O’Mara’s crosses were effective, especially the re-cross of the Nofke. I do, however, think that O’Mara should have used a scene map or diagram with young Mr.Joseph to make his points more tangible to the jury.

        http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-backwards-trial-a-george-zimmerman-prosecution-primer/ Here is a good primer on the procedural history of this case.

        ThomasD in reply to rhorton1. | June 24, 2013 at 11:45 pm

        I expect you’ll see the defense produce just such a visual aide – with all those ‘confusing’ details and issues clearly delineated. But only when the specificity will serve to undermine the prosecutions case.

        Right now the defense is more benefited by maintaining an overall air of uncertainty within the minds of the jurors. Building any sort of definite framework is either setting yourself up for refutation, thereby adversely impacting your credibility; or making the prosecution’s job somewhat easier. Let them try to build up a hard and fast narrative that can survive your later refutations.

    That’s a very well-done compilation of facts that those of us following the case closely have known since the whole mess spun up. One of the best I’ve seen in fact, a great primer on the REAL forces driving this prosecution–and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with truth, justice, and the American way, and a lot to do with powerful forces who benefit from this prosecution regardless of whether Zimmerman is found guilty, not guilty, or spontaneously turns into a cockroach.

      Like I’ve said before, this is the first overt political arrest I’ve seen in Florida in my career. I’ve lived here all my life and was a police detective for nearly twenty years. My ex-partner and I read the PC statement and were shocked at the lack of evidence, and the evidence suppression.

      The judges have acted with fear of retribution by the same race baiters that scared Scott. Once the independence of the courts are lost, all is lost. Shameful and frankly a little scary.

      I’ve lost all faith in Scott, and Corey reminds me of that government power loving personality shared by Lois Lerner and Sebelius.

      We’ve crossed the Rubicon on this case. An innocent man is on trial as a result of racial pressure.

      We are seeing the reverse of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

        The last big American legal case I paid attention to was the Duke Lacrosse travesty. This one is even worse, IMO. I’m gobsmacked that it got to trial.

        By the way, just as KC Johnson was such a skilled “citizen-journalist” chronicler of the Duke case and eventually got a successful book out of it, I think Andrew Branca here is looking equally talented and hope he’s considering a book after the fact as well.

Interesting how the Prosecution believes that introducing into evidence proof that the defendant was an experienced Neighborhood Watch member, and had handled many such calls to the police without incident, somehow will *help* them convince the jury that he was an unhinged loon with a gun.

Q: So if GZ was able to handle all these other incidents without violence, what was the difference in this case.
A: Well, the suspect had him tackled to the ground and was beating his face in. I suppose that might make a difference.

There’s a nice endorsement of your work up in the “Top Headlines” sidebar of Ace of Spades at the moment:

“This guy is tweeting the hell out of the Zimmerman trial.”
ht @bob_owens

🙂

    That’s awesome! I’ve been an AOS “moron” forever (though I usually just lurk there), and I’ve also closely followed Bob Owen’s blog–someday I hope to be a Rifleman like Bob, but the accumulating years may have put that in my rear view mirror.

    Thanks for the heads up, I’ll check it out now.

Andrew, I would like to include my thanks for your outstanding work on this blog

Question: I know the defense will move for dismissal at the end of the state’s case. I realize this probably doesn’t have much chance of success, even though the utter lack of evidence for the state might make it appropriate. What I am wondering is if the judge has the power to dismiss just the charge of 2nd degree murder and only leave the jury with a decision as to manslaughter?

    A very good question, and I don’t have a definitive answer. Practically speaking, I’m not sure anyone would bother. Either you want to cut things off and go home, or you’re going to let it proceed. Manslaughter is a lesser included offense of murder in Florida (and most other states), so if you let it proceed for murder you’re also covering manslaughter. So you don’t really gain (or save) anything by throwing out murder at the end of the State’s case, if you’re just going to go through with the trial, anyway.

    But I agree, the defense will move for dismissal or a directed verdict or the Florida equivalent at the end of the State’s case, the Court will deny this motion, because it’s just not the done thing in a political trial, at least not in polite company, and ultimately the whole pathetic mess will fall into the laps of the jury.

      myiq2xu in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 12:06 am

      I don’t see this judge tossing the case. She’s too pro-prosecution. My cynical side says TPTB want the jury to take the heat.

      fogflyer in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 3:25 am

      Thank you for that answer.
      While I am sure the judge wants to get this mess to the jury and absolve herself of any responsibility and public wrath that would come with dismissing this case, at what point is she just legally bound to stop a case if the evidence is woefully lacking for a conviction?

      What are a judges requirements in such matters? Are they legally obligated at some point to dismiss if they feel they evidence does not support the charge?

      I really feel that there is no legal justification for the murder2 charge, but can see how one could at least argue for manslaughter, even though I disagree with that also. That is why I was wondering if just giving the jury the reduced charge of manslaughter was an option for the judge.

      I am curious if you feel this case is an anomoly in being overcharged (or charged at all), or if a case with this little evidence is more common that I hope it is?

        Whatever the judge is “legally bound” to do will be determined months or years from now on appeal. In the meantime this case will just churn forward.

        Recall that this judge decided to defer decision on sanctions against the State–for allegedly hiding and/or slow-rolling the mandatory mutual discovery of evidence–until after the trial has reached a verdict on the underlying charge.

        I mean, it’s not as if the verdict reached, whatever it might be, could be a function of the facts in evidence, and it’s not as if the facts in evidence could in turn be a function of the State hiding and/or slow-rolling discovery, right? Surely those are all independent variables.

        There is already so much rich fodder for overturning any conviction that results from this case that it’s clear the overarching goal of this trial is not some final, determinative finding, but merely a show finding to keep numerous Florida cities from being reduced to ashes and/or to allow sufficient time to pass that those who would have initiated the burning have other things on their minds.

        (Although, if the latter, it is a mystery why this Court simply refused the reasonably requested continuance of the defense–a continuance reasonably requested and denied by the court is fertile and classic grounds for reversal of conviction based upon abuse of discretion by the Court).

        –Andrew

          bigskydoc in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 10:51 am

          The more I watch, the more convinced I am that the judge sees this as a sham, political trial and is leaving lots of juicy tidbits to be used as a basis for appeal and eventual overturn of a conviction, should the jury find him guilty. The coup de grâce was when she refused the defense request for a continuance. She ensures that justice will eventually be served even if it isn’t at the hands of a Florida jury.

          I have to admit to some confusion with the defense’s opening statement strategy. As a layman in the legal field it was difficult and almost painful to watch. I get your point about planting the seeds of confusion in the jury’s head, but if that was the tactic, did he not go overboard in selling it? From the viewpoint of a juror (mine) and not a lawyer (yours) I thought he seemed lost and ill prepared. After what we have seen in pretrial, this surprised me.

          – bsd

          creeper in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm

          Quote Andrew: “…this trial is not some final, determinative finding, but merely a show finding to keep numerous Florida cities from being reduced to ashes and/or to allow sufficient time to pass that those who would have initiated the burning have other things on their minds.”

          Dead. Nuts. Perfect.

          kentuckyliz in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 30, 2013 at 7:42 pm

          I am praying that the judge has the sense to realize the risk that these jurors face–the same risk that came through loud and clear from Good. He was a reluctant (but not hostile) witness and was cooperative and precise and crystal clear in not overstating his case, distinguishing perceptions from assumptions, freely admitting what he didn’t know or notice or couldn’t remember. That was his first 911 call but he made a comment that there have been lots since. It sounds like someone’s dad is in a gang and there are shenanigans going on to intimidate that witness. The jurors are under threat if they acquit. So, judge, do you have the balls and the mercy to do a directed verdict and kick this thing out of court? Take the heat off the jurors. You’re a judge–you already face risk. These average citizens are going to experience a lot of dead pets and being followed by aggressive people in the hospital parking garage after their shift ends.

Per that jury, do you have a sense yet that a sufficient number can resist the pressure to convict, even on the ‘lesser’ manslaughter charge?

Are there brave enough souls there?

It seems even the TV lawyers are already giving up on the 2 Charge.

Though doesnt the manslaughter charge carry nearly the same penalty as the murder 2 charge?

    In Florida, murder 2 is 20 to life. Manslaughter maxes out at about 15 years, maybe out as soon as 1/3 of that. Of course, Zimmerman won’t survive a month in gen-pop, but that’s a separate issue, I guess.

    So, no, they’re not about the same penalty. Unless you assume Zimmerman’s demise in prison. In which case they’re both effectively a capital conviction.

    There’s no murder 2 here, and never has been. See:

    Getting to Murder 2: Finding George Zimmerman’s “Depraved Mind” http://bit.ly/12cmo6K

    –Andrew

The minute the State goes after the “mental state” of the defendant, they open up a series of issues. 1. That the neighborhood watch captain’s job is to call and be alert to suspicious activity. A role taught to them by the police and asked of them by the police. I know I’ve dealt with the process and taught classes for civilians.

2. State of mind goes both ways. If the State wants to talk about the history of the defendant, it opens up the issue for the defense. It screws up the timing, but sooner or later, the defense is going to have to get into Martin’s state of mind. And there is plenty to prove he was just another punk wanting to “thug up” on a guy for disrespecting him. I’ve worked hundreds of such cases over my career.

Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6… still I’m infinitely annoyed that this had to happen to Zimmerman.

My thinking is I’m giving the wife the gun and she’ll cap any bastard presenting us with a life or death situation. Not that I think NOW will come to rescue, but the bigotry won’t be as biased.

The reason I asked about the fortitude of the jury was one of the scandal channels, HLN I think, had a focus group tonite voting of Zimm’s ‘depraved mind’.

They voted 8 for depraved, 4 for not.

Of course, the panel was heavily overrepresented with blacks.

I guess I’m worried that the plain truth is still going to be a holdout position in this case.

Great job and commentary Mr. Branca.

I’m looking forward to your updates on the trial.

cheers from a Chicago girl living in NZ

It is sad how the cable news shows covered today’s court action.

They teased the knock-knock joke, showed the knock-knock joke, commented on the knock-knock joke, interviewed others about the knock-knock joke, reviewed the knock-knock joke, shook their head at the knock-knock joke, and then congratulated themselves on educating America on the Zimmerman trial. They didn’t discuss the witnesses, they didn’t critique the prosecution (one said: “they knew to keep it to a half hour which is smart for those with limited attention spans”)

Audience which knows which way is up: Knock knock
Anderson Cooper: Who’s there?
Audience which knows which way is up: Not us

One bit of subtlety that O’Mara produced today was his requesting the 7/11 clerk to come off the stand so he could get an idea of how tall he was. The clerk testified he was 5’10” IIRC. It was pretty clear to me from the surveillance tape that Martin was somewhat taller than the clerk. The defense has now shown Martin’s size by that demonstration in a way that the jury can understand. IMO that is much more effective than merely reading the autopsy report about Martin’s size and weight.

    It was the act of an experienced pro. As a fellow guild member, I thought it was just awesome. But O’Mara had several such moments today–remember him asking the 7-011 guy if he really remembered any of what he testified to? “No, sir.” Ha, ha.

I am a newbie here, coming by way of The Conservative Treehouse. Thank you so much for he nice summary of yesterday’s trial day. I watched as much as I could (I had the day off), but won’t be able to do that again for some time.

Mike in Zurich (yes, Switzerland)

    Zurich is beautiful, I’ve been there many times. I lived two years in the Netherlands (Maastricht), and rented a motorcycle and rode down through Belgium/France/Germany/Switzerland–had to go through customs! WTF?–and spent a week or so touring around Tuscany. Late July and still glaciers in the Alps (and then Milan was 40C+ as I came out of the mountains).

    Wonderful memories.

      ZurichMike in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 25, 2013 at 2:56 am

      Been here 12 years (became a dual US/Swiss citizen). Just love it. If things keep getting worse under Obama, I may never return. Creeping fascism. Shudder.

        There’s holes in your story.

        BTW, THAT is the WORST Groaner that I’ve ever thought of, typed OR said. AND, I haven’t even had my first Guinness Stout..

My interests lie in what further “Neighborhood Watch Rehabilitation” questions they will be asking. Lets face it, the Zimmerman case caused all sorts of breakdowns nationwide in NW programs. Obviously O’Mara has his own fish to fry, but Z’s neighborhood watch actions were (IMO as an NW trainer) normal and reasonable at least up to the point where he observed M walking toward him with his (M’s) hand in his waistband. Other than he was alone, Z did exactly what we teach Citizen Patrol neighborhood watch volunteers to do, nothing more. In my opinion unless Z’s actions are eventually viewed by the jurors as reasonable and justified under the exigent circumstances, NW in this nation will be dead and buried for twenty years, and this concerns me.

[During the early hours of the case I did quite a bit of Google Earth and other internet homework on the subdivision and scene, and knew within a few hours based on publicly released information that Martin had already had plenty of opportunity to reach his temporary home, and may have actually concealed himself somewhere around it’s exterior, waiting in the shadows, until after Zimmerman walked back by on the interior walkway during his return to the eventual scene closer to the mailbox area near the clubhouse. That’s not the activity of an “innocent teenager”. Sorry. That’s someone looking for trouble. Which, btw, confirm Z’s initial impression. “Up to no good”.

I have read discussions about why the state didn’t charge Zimmerman with manslaughter. One thing I’ve never read about is why the state didn’t charge Zimmerman with first degree murder.

Just to be clear, I don’t think Zimmerman is guilty of any crime. And there’s no more evidence of first degree murder than there is of second degree murder. But if the state wants to manufacture a political show trial why not give the mob a first degree trial instead of second degree? And if, as the prosecution holds, Zimmerman killed Martin “because he wanted to,” it seems to me that the distance between “because he wanted to” and premeditation is not very great.

If only the Miami Herald would cover a 1/3 of this detail.

[…] trial of George Zimmerman started yesterday. Here are the highlights. The best place to follow the trial is at Legal Insurrection. Defense attorney […]

[…] memorable formulation, Zimmerman had a 'hard on' for the black teen. Via Ms EBL, Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection conveys his impressions of the first day's testimony, with a skillful defense team cleverly […]

TY you Mr.Branca and all LI posters . Big help in keeping me straight . Thank You all

is there a chance that when the state rests the judge can just dismiss without the defense having to go any further?

i just don’t see the state building any kind of a case here.

    A chance? Sure there’s a chance. But it reminds of the scene in the movie Dumb & Dumber when the pretty girl is trying to let down Jim Carrey gently in letting him know there’s no romantic interest. She tells him the chance of anything happening between them is slight.

    JC: “You mean like one in a hundred?”

    Pretty girl: “More like one in a million.”

    JC (thinking): “So . . . . you’re saying there’s a chance!”

    Certainly the defense can move for a directed verdict or similar at the close of the State’s case. I’ve seen nothing in Judge Nelson’s conduct or the case generally that suggests she would favorably entertain such a motion.

    –Andrew

[…] Branca also summarized the testimony of the state’s first four witnesses:   Chad Joseph, who is the son of Trayvon’s father’s girlfriend; Andrew Gaugh, the 7-11 employee that sold items to Martin, Police Dispatcher Sean Noffke, and Ramona Rumph, Custodian of Records of 911 and other types of calls. […]

[…] (More video and analysis of the 911 operator’s testimony at trial is here.) […]

I’m shocked that defense received those two rulings! Judge maybe having an attack of clarity & conscience??

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