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State’s Closing Argument: Two Hours of Raising Doubt

State’s Closing Argument: Two Hours of Raising Doubt

NOTE:  Streaming video of the entirety of the State’s closing argument is provided at the bottom of this post.

Today, the State presented their closing argument to the jury in the matter of Florida v. Zimmerman. After 14 months of investigation and discovery, weeks of pre-trial hearings, weeks more of trial testimony, and the expenditure of taxpayer money on the order of a million dollars, this was it–this is where the State would close the deal and deliver their compelling narrative of guilt to the jury.

What the jury got was not a compelling narrative of guilt, however, but a rambling monologue of isolated bits of circumstantial evidence, much of which was consistent with–and even supportive of–the defense’s “self-defense” theory of the case.

Bernie de la Rionda, State Prosecutor, closing argument

Bernie de la Rionda, State Prosecutor, closing argument

When I took my first serious look at this case, some six or so months ago, and worked though the existing discovery file, I thought to myself, the State’s got nothing. But discovery wasn’t complete, perhaps there was critical evidence not yet out.

When the pre-trial Frye hearings took place and the State presented their inept expert witnesses, I thought, the State’s got nothing. Judge Nelson agreed, and disallowed their testimony.

When I heard the State’s opening statements, and heard them describe the “facts” they said they would prove–knowing, with discovery effectively concluded, that there existed no evidence to support those representations–I thought to myself, the State’s got nothing.

When the State rested its case, and a few days later the defense did the same, and still there was nowhere to be seen a coherent, compelling, fact-based narrative of guilt–much less one supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, I thought to myself, the State’s got nothing.

And this morning, when the State made their bizarre and desperate reach for murder 3 based on child abuse–properly denied by Judge Nelson–I thought to myself, that’s the act of a State prosecution team that’s got nothing.

This afternoon, throughout a couple of hours of closing argument by the lead attorney on the State prosecution team, Bernie de la Rionda, the truth was finally as concrete and undeniable as a sidewalk to the head–the State has nothing.

This afternoon I heard what was perhaps the most disjointed, fact-free, histrionic, and ineffective closing argument that I’ve heard delivered by a State prosecutor in a murder case in more than two decades of practicing law.

Maybe later I’ll tell you what I really think about it.

Regardless, we pride ourselves on being fact-based and giving all of you access to the raw information to come to your own conclusions–so let’s get to it.

A Slow Start

Bernie de la Rionda (henceforth “BDLR”) began his opening with a rather remarkably weak opening, stating that “a teenager is dead through no fault of his own, because another man made assumptions.” This does not strike one as particularly consistent with the evidence–the State’s own witnesses have Martin confronting Zimmerman, not the reverse, and surely no reasonable jury is going to believe that Zimmerman caused his own injuries. To say that Martin bears no fault seems simply incredible. Further, to my knowledge no one has ever died yet because a casual observer made some assumptions about him.

Judge Nelson, Florida v. Zimmerman

Judge Nelson, Florida v. Zimmerman

Odd Missteps:  Vague and Aimless

Then BDLR made the first of many apparent “slips” in his closing, by referring to Martin as “a 17-year-old man.” Given the 12-year-old photos of Martin that had been strewn throughout society, and particularly the murder-3-based-on-felony-child-abuse the State sought only hours before, surely he could not have meant to refer to Martin as a “man”? Sure enough, one could almost see BDLR consciously remind himself to use “boy” rather than “man”, and sometimes first using the latter only to immediately correct and repeat the same sentence using the former. He might as well have held up a sign saying, “I am trying to mislead you into sympathy for the victim.”

As vague as that opening was, things only got vaguer. Next BDLR argued that Zimmerman’s “matter-of-fact” attitude after the shooting was indicative of . . . well, he didn’t say exactly, here merely said that “those actions speak volumes.” Volumes of what? Especially as the State’s own witnesses under cross had agreed that Zimmerman appeared to be in shock, not a state of casual indifference at having taken another person’s life.

Bernie de la Rionda

Bernie de la Rionda

Recounting of Zimmerman’s “Good Neighborliness”

Then BDLR sought to cast the net of causation to include events months before the shooting. He plays audio recording of Officer Singleton interviewing Zimmerman in which Zimmerman describes how the neighborhood had been experiencing a lot of crime, how his wife had become frightened, and how he’d started a Neighborhood Watch initiative to address the problem. How this was supposed to contribute to Zimmerman being guilty beyond a doubt of second degree murder was unclear.

Modest Variations in Zimmerman’s Accounts Held Out As Lies

He then began pointing out slight variations in statements Zimmerman had made at intervals of weeks or months, suggesting that these represented “lies”, and that these lies ought therefore to lead the jury to conclude that Zimmerman was guilty of second degree murder. In some cases the alleged “lies” were abjectly not lies–such as the fact that on one day Zimmerman claimed not to know an address, but after shooting a man in self-defense and having the location of the shooting become an important investigatory issue, he “suddenly” knew the address. Well, of course.

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 4.11.30 PM

Bernie de la Rionda

Zimmerman’s Profiling, and Skittles as a Motive for Murder

BDLR then argued that Zimmerman had “profiled” Martin as a criminal–surely true, at least in the context of potential, as it was the rationale for Zimmerman having called the police in the first place. He then went on to claim that Martin’s only “crime” had been the purchase of skittles and a fruit drink, and wearing a hoodie. It struck me that if I had been sequestered among 5 other jurors away from home, family, and work for some weeks, only to be told at closing argument that the Skittles and fruit drink were in any way a relevant issue in this case, I’d be rather unhappy. Even had Zimmerman been some kind of monstrous “Skittles killer,” there was no evidence whatever that he had any idea that Martin possessed the candy.

The Return of Rachel Jeantel: The “Tracking” and “Trapping” of Martin

Next up for discussion was Rachel Jeantel. I know my first memories of this witness was her obstreperous testimony, the sighs and eye rolling, the “that’s retarded, sir,” the “creepy-ass cracker”, the seeming refusal to speak at a normal volume that required constant repetitions of questions and answers, her remarkable facility for remembering dates–even as long as a year prior–favorable to the State, but unable to remember dates only days or weeks earlier favorable to the defense. And, of course, her perjury and many casual lies. Perhaps the jurors’ recollections were more favorable.

He used Jeantel’s testimony to argue that Zimmerman had not only “profiled” Martin, but had “tracked” him, as one might track an animal, and ultimately “trapped” Martin. Zimmerman, BDLR speculated–for there is absolutely no evidence for the proposition–“was gonna be what he wanted to be, a police officer.”

Martin as Fearful Victim Intent on Escape, Safety

Who was more scared, BDLR asked, Zimmerman or the “kid” being followed by a man in a truck? After all, he continued, it’s not like some guy [Martin] just came out of the dark and started beating Zimmerman up.” Except, of course, that the jury had seen extensive testimony–almost all of it provided by the State!–that this was exactly what Zimmerman said happened.

Sabryna Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother

Sabryna Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother

Zimmerman’s Perfectly Law Abiding Actions Preceding the Fight

Then BDLR transitions to an exposition of Zimmerman’s various actions in the minutes leading up to the attack and shooting. Oddly, he notes at each one that there is nothing illegal about this particular step, nor that one, yet somehow we are to conclude that they collectively evidence second degree murder. Seeing Martin and thinking suspicious? Not a crime. Calling police to report? Not a crime. Getting out of car? Not a crime. Zimmerman was armed, had a license, still no violation of the law, he said.

Mocking the Notion that Martin Was Armed With Fists and Sidewalk

Then he noted the apparent disparity in size of the two men–the athletic, fit Martin and the clinically obese Zimmerman, and noted that while Zimmerman was armed, Martin was armed only with Skittles. The defense will tell you, he said, that Martin was armed with his fists and concrete, and mocked the suggestion. But could he really believe that the jury that was time and time again shown the bloody and broken pictures of Zimmerman, who heard his physician’s assistant, Dr. Maio, and others testify to the dangerousness of head injuries, would buy into the notion that Martin was essentially harmless and armed only with candy? They’ve been sequestered for weeks to have that argument presented to them? Really?

“These A-holes” and “F’ing Punks”

Inevitably we got into perhaps the only portion of the evidence remaining that could possibly be referred to as the “meat” of the State’s theory of the case–Zimmerman’s utterances of “these assholes” and “fucking punks.” Curiously, BDLR conceded upfront that Zimmerman had not been shouting these words, as the State had sometimes done during the trial–and which BDLR himself would be doing shortly, and repetitively at the top of his lungs during his closing. Indeed, BDLR argued now, the very fact that Zimmerman muttered the words was indicative of ill-will and hatred.

Bernie de la Rionda

Bernie de la Rionda

Zimmerman Must Be Held Accountable For His–Lawful?–Actions

At that point BDLR transitioned to a talking point one usually hears at the end of a prosecutors closing argument–that the defendant should be held accountable for his actions, and that he was asking the jury to do just that–hold Zimmerman accountable.

The timing of this statement was truly bizarre, however, because up to this point BDLR had yet to point to any specific action of Zimmerman’s that was a crime. Indeed, the majority of Zimmerman’s actions he’d mentioned he himself had identified as lawful. He’d argued that Zimmerman had profiled, and followed, had called the police, had exited his car . . . were these the “actions” for which he wanted the jury to hold Zimmerman accountable? On what basis, under what criminal statute?

Taking the Law Into One’s Own Hands & the Wannabe Cop

Next up was a talking point about how the law doesn’t allow one to take the law into one’s own hands. Even the police, he noted, would simply have talked with Martin, sought some identification, a reason for being in the neighborhood.

There was, however, no evidence whatever that Zimmerman had shot Martin when casual questioning would have been a reasonable alternative. Surely these same hypothetical police officers would not have continued merely asking questions while Martin broke their nose, drove them to the ground, mounted them in a position of helplessness, and pounded their heads into a cement sidewalk–the circumstances under which Zimmerman fired the fatal shot, after at least 40 seconds of screaming for his life. Did he wish the jury to believe that the police would have idly accepted such a vicious beat down at the hands of Martin? Did he wish the jury to believe the he himself would have?

Bernie de la Rionda

Bernie de la Rionda

BDLR would later wonder aloud why Zimmerman hadn’t acted more like a police officer–why he hadn’t just explained to Martin that he was a member of community watch, and not a “creepy-ass cracker,” and request that Martin await the arrival of the police.

Had BDLR not heard the testimony of his own witness, Jeantel, in which she described the briefest of verbal exchanges–initiated by Martin–before the apparent onset of blows? Or Zimmerman’s repeated “virtual” testimony of a consistent nature? Martin had allowed no opportunity for such dialogue, nor given the outcome of events would an effort along those lines have been expected to be productive.

The closing then moved into the “wannabe cop” stage. Zimmerman, he postulated, was a wanna be cop who was frustrated with crime in the neighborhood, and this time he was “going to handle it”. And that made it not self-defense. Could it really be self-defense if you follow somebody, he asked the jury, if you profile somebody.

This narrative, however, is entirely inconsistent with the little direct evidence in this case. Would somebody intending to “take the law into their own hands” phone the police and urge them to send officers? Would somebody who had affirmatively decided that he was “going to handle it” leave his handgun holstered, and when confronted by Martin allow himself to be struck to the ground by a punch he never saw coming–and whose state of readiness was apparently so nonexistent that he never so much as landed a blow on his attacker?

“Absence of Evidence is Evidence”

Next up was what I refer to as the “absence of evidence is evidence” part of BDLR’s closing. There was no blood found on Martin’s hands, so this must prove . . . what exactly, he didn’t say. That Martin never struck Zimmerman? Could that be believed, given the photographic evidence of Zimmerman’s injuries? Was there an alternative hypothesis for how those injuries occurred? If so, it was never verbalized.

There was none of Martin’s DNA found on the pistol, BDLR argued. First of all, Zimmerman never claimed Martin had touched his gun, but merely that he had reached for it–no DNA would be expected to be found. Second, people touch objects all the time without leaving DNA. Third, the environmental conditions were not conducive to preserving DNA. Fourth, the quality of the forensics and autopsy under Medical Examiner Bao were not exactly world class, as evidenced by Bao’s own testimony.

Prosecution closing argument slide who more inclined to yell for help

Then there was the “Zimmerman had studied the law” argument, presumably the foundation for the notion that Zimmerman had therefore known exactly how to manipulate the evidence and his own statements to coincide with the legal requirements of Florida’s self-defense statute. But this same exact knowledge was possessed (or should have been possessed) by every lawyer in that courtroom, as well as the judge. Did their possession of such knowledge suggest an inclination to murder? Having brought two of Zimmerman’s professors to testify before the jury, had the State elicited any evidence indicating a tendency of Zimmerman to use his knowledge of the law to help avoid legal sanction for deliberately committed crimes? No. It was simply nothing more than speculation.

Weighing of the Evidence: What Evidence?

Them, strangely, after showing little if any evidence up to that point, BDLR began to talk to the jury about matters involved in the weighing of evidence. He urged them to use their God-given common sense” in weighing inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s statements, for example, but this bolt had been shot when he had made his earlier pointed remarks about the “inconsistency” of Zimmerman not being able to recall a street name before the shooting, and later being shown to have learned the name. Such false “inconsistencies” do not murder 2 make.

Creation of a Uncertainty & a Reasonable Doubt

Rather than actually offer any evidence for the jury to consider, however, he instead offered up a basketful of uncertainties. Who was actually following who? We don’t know. Who was on top of who at particular points of time? Don’t know that exactly either. It was remarkable the sort of argument one expects of a defense seeking to create a reasonable doubt, not a prosecutor attempting to obliterate one.

The Return of Rachel Jeantel, part deux

He came back to Rachel Jeantel, informing the jury that he had brought this admitted perjurer to the witness stand so that he could deliver to them “the truth.” He noted how she had spent hours in the witness stand, and if for what other purpose than to tell the truth?

One could not help but wonder if he was unaware that Jeantel’s presence was compulsory, as she was under subpoena like all the other witnesses. Further, could he really believe that the jury would not recall the exasperated sighs, the eye rolling, the head rocking, the mumbling, the outraged “WHAT!” at learning that she would have to return again the following day? By any objective perception, Jeantel was there against her wishes, not in compliance with them.

Recalling Martin Luther King, Jr.

Then we reached perhaps the single most bizarre moment of BDLR’s already shockingly odd closing argument, when he paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr. to tell the jury that they should not judge Jeantel on the color of her skin but on the content of her testimony. Was he implying that the jurors must take care to overcome their implicit racism? Who knows.

The Uncertainty of the Evidence Emphasized Again

Next was a series of questions in which BDLR not only failed to make a point, he was explicit about not making a point. “Did the operator [sic] tell Zimmerman not to follow Martin, or not? YOU decide,” he told the jury. If the beating of Zimmerman was as severe as he claimed, how did it occur? W can only speculate, he answered his own question.

What? If BDLR had nothing to say about the issue, why bother mentioning it? If there was no evidence on the issue, why point out the uncertainty to the jury? This was literally the creation of reasonable doubt, not its elimination.

Prosecution closing argument slide Translation U.S. Marshall

Helping the Defense by Recounting Good’s Testimony

BDLR then recounted John Good’s testimony, in which he had described Martin mounted atop Zimmerman and raining blows down upon him MMA-style in a ground-and-pound attack. But, BDLR noted triumphantly, Good did not actually see fist strike face, nor hear the sound of blows landing. Is the jury to believe that Martin merely mimed the motions of punching Zimmerman about the head and face? How does that jibe with the bloody photos of Zimmerman’s injuries, seen by the jury dozens or scores of times? The very notion is ridiculous.

There was at one point a short recess, and when BDLR returned his affect was markedly changed. Counter to his usually energetic style, he now appeared flat and lackluster, as if he’d learned during the recess that, in fact, the State’s got notihng.

Lack of Aggression as Evidence of a “Depraved Mind”

Next, BDLR came to the gun, with some odd points. If Martin was as dangerous as Zimmerman claimed, why didn’t he have his gun out earlier? Why did he later holster it before he knew Martin to be dead? The fact that Zimmerman’s virtual testimony, introduced by the State, had repeatedly made the point that he neither knew he was entering a confrontation nor wanted one, or that a man lying prone on his face in the grass in the rain after having been shot is unlikely to need to be kept at gun point, did not seem to occur to BDLR.

The Powerpoint from 1995

Around this point BDLR transitioned into a Powerpoint that appeared to have been built on templates from 1995, and that simply re-iterated his fact-less talking points from earlier in the close, up to when BDLR mercifully concluded.

Prosecution closing argument slide evaluating the evidence

What a Prosecution’s Closing is Supposed to Accomplish:  Not This

Throughout the entire closing it was as if BDLR had no recognition of the fact that the State was required to affirmatively prove each and every element of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than simply raise some doubts or questions about the defense.

Some commentators are suggesting that the State could come back strong with Mr. Guy’s rebuttal closing following the defense’s presentation of their own closing statement. Anyone who can recall Mr. Guy’s cross-examination of defensive force expert Dennis Root, however, ought to reconsider such optimism.

Streaming video of the entirety of the State’s closing today is provided below:

State closing argument, Part 2

State closing argument, Part 3

State closing argument, Part 4

State closing argument, Part 5

State closing argument, Part 6

State closing argument, Part 7

State closing argument, Part 8

State closing argument, Part 9

Well, that’s it for us for tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with live video coverage in Court at 8:30AM to hear the defense’s closing argument, likely the State’s rebuttal., and perhaps hear the jury charged and sent into deliberations in the afternoon.


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. Take advantage of the 20% “Zimmerman trial” discount & free shipping (ends when the jury returns a verdict). NRA & IDPA members can also use checkout coupon LOSD2-NRA for an additional 10% off. To do so simply visit the Law of Self Defense blog. (Coupon works ONLY at www.lawofselfdefense.com.)
Note also that “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition” is also available at Amazon.com. They set their own price, and it can very each day, so you might want to check there to see if they are offering the best deal today.

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 hope O’Mara points out that between the time Zimmerman said he didn’t remember the name of the street he had parked on and the time he made what BDLR adduced as a revelatory remark on Monday—”I think it’s called Twin Trees”—, Singleton asked Zimmerman to mark his route on a map on which the name of the street is marked.

The Obama administration is looking for a Reichstag fire.

Fortunately they don’t give Biden access to matches or pointy objects.

Waitress: How would you like your burger cooked, sirrrrrrrr?

Bald dude: That’s up to YOU to decide.

When I heard that George and Sherri Zmmerman’s daughters had been threatened with rape; I was absolutely ill. This has nothing to do with the people doing the threatening no matter what their colors are, George, Trayvon, Trayvon’s parents:etc. It does have to do with the very people who brought this trial to fruition and are continuing to do so. God gave human beings or at least most of us the intelligence to know right from wrong. I am not interested in these peoples political reasons; money, false arrogance or whatever lies they claim. I am trying hard to understand why they would intentionally hurt people. I understand their outer motives which I am sure are many; but not their inner motives. What causes a person to become so depraved of mind which would allow him/her to do this; politics aside? The Angela Coreys, the Pam Bondies, the Ric Scotts and probably higher ups are the ones who are really guilty; These are the people with no souls; the people who are willing to do this. I feel no empathy or sorry for them. I do wonder why they chose to be pathetic from the inside out?

    Bettijo in reply to Ike1. | July 12, 2013 at 5:10 am

    This is the character of the opposition. What can you expect?

    When I heard that George and Sherri Zmmerman’s daughters had been threatened with rape…

    There is no “Sherri” Zimmerman here – George’s wife is named Shellie.

    George and Shellie Zimmerman don’t even have children.

    ???

      Ike1 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 12, 2013 at 7:41 am

      Excuse me Amy, but that is the information I read somewhere. Also, you don’t have to be so condescending with your post.

        If you want to go around cutting & pasting in unsourced garbage and presenting it as “fact”, can’t you do it elsewhere? Maybe that Conservative Nuthouse blog or something?

          Ike1 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 12, 2013 at 9:50 am

          Amy, sorry you feel the way you do. I am not sure what you mean by cutting and pasting which I did not do. I have apologized for being misinformed; however, I always wonder about people who choose to insult.

      Ike1 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 12, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Also, I do thank you for the correction of George’s wife name.

      Ike1 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Just one more thing, Amy, thanks for not reading my post. It would have been nice if you did.

    Vince in reply to Ike1. | July 12, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I thought those accusations of rape were against Don West’s daughters. Until now I didn’t even know the Zimmerman’s had children.. is that right?

    caambers in reply to Ike1. | July 12, 2013 at 7:01 am

    George and Shellie don’t have children. Don West’s daughters have been threatened with rape though. The depravity of the Traybots.

    MKReagan in reply to Ike1. | July 12, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Ike, it’s simple…Gov. Rick Scott wants to be reelected next year; Attorney General Pam Bondi wants to be governor in 2018. Both got elected by We the Tea Party Conservatives, ironically.

    Question: Not sure Zimmermans have kids, or was the rape threat rhetorical?

    gxm17 in reply to Ike1. | July 12, 2013 at 8:03 am

    I don’t think the GZ and SZ have children. The rape threats were directed towards Don West’s daughters. Disgusting.

The case is the guy in the blue jacket. The other two guys are the persecution lawyers:

http://youtu.be/YXhfv4UYv2I

Profiling:

“There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery — then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Jesse Jackson

Midfiaudiophile | July 12, 2013 at 5:00 am

To be slightly more fair to Mr. de la Rionda, the burden of proof in a self-defense case is a confusing thing. It’s easy (at least for a layman) to assume “OK, he admits he put the bullet in Martin… we need to shed a whole hell of a lot of doubt on his self-defense claims to try to keep Zimmerman from reaching his clear & convincing evidence burden”.

To be slightly less fair to Mr. De la Rionda, he’s a seasoned prosecutor in the state of Florida and should know this. Also, the doubt that he sought to instill in the jury would seem to have been about altogether the wrong aspects of the case, focusing on Zimmerman’s motive to (possibly?) confront Mr. Martin, rather than whether he was actually in fear of death or great bodily harm at the point when he pulled the trigger.

I’d love an article explaining how the burdens of proof interact with one another, maybe while the jury is deliberating, if Mr. Branca would be so kind.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | July 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Andrew is of course the expert here…

    But my take is that in some states it is more confusing than in Florida. In those states, the defense has the burden of proving self defense, while the prosecution has the burden of proving the case in chief (here M2 or manslaughter). But in Florida, once the defense has put self-defense into issue, it is the prosecution’s burden to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt. So, you can almost view it as just one more element that the state has to prove. So, for the M2 that GZ is accused of, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that:
    1) GZ killed TM
    2) GZ had a depraved mind at the time
    3) the deadly force used by GZ to kill TM was not legally justified (I.e. not self defense)

I have been following this closely and have not seen this. GZ’s defense team is awesome. How are they getting paid? I know good trial lawyers bill out at $500 an hour or more. Who is paying them?

    Vince in reply to Bettijo. | July 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

    They’re not being paid. They’re doing it for free, for now. When the lawsuits start rolling I’m sure they’ll get their cut.

      legacyrepublican in reply to Vince. | July 12, 2013 at 7:00 am

      They have also have solicited online donations to which I joyously plead guilty as debit card charged.

      Exiliado in reply to Vince. | July 12, 2013 at 8:42 am

      And whatever that cut is, they’ve earned it. They have done an astounding job, against a clearly biased and hostile judge.

Could the state really be hoping for manslaughter?

    Pablo in reply to mzk. | July 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

    They must be hoping they somehow got the OJ jury.

    randian in reply to mzk. | July 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Why not hope for manslaughter? The minimum sentence, with firearms enhancement, is hardly less than that for murder.

I think BLDR may not want to win this case. Too many mistakes, missed chances, a sloppy closing.

At any rate, this case will come down to whether the jurors believe Zimmerman’s fear was reasonable. I’m not sure how six woman plan on determining that, and I don’t plan on laying any money on it.

I’m curious to know if the string of break-ins and home invasions ended as a result of caution instilled by the shooting.

    Matt in FL in reply to Bernice. | July 12, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Well, I’m sure they dropped off, for a number of reasons. Increased police presence, increased resident awareness, etc.

Uncle Samuel | July 12, 2013 at 6:39 am

“This afternoon I heard what was perhaps the most disjointed, fact-free, histrionic, and ineffective closing argument that I’ve heard delivered by a State prosecutor in a murder case in more than two decades of practicing law.”

Andrew Branca says it all in one sentence.

No doubt, most of the other lawyers concur.

Ordered your book Andy, so that’s at least one for today.

Finding some comments and interviews this am interesting. Body language expert said the front three jurors have made up their mind and have ‘checked out’. The back three still have questions that haven’t been answered and two of those have synchronized their body movements. I hope MOM just slams it out of the ballpark today. I think his voice and demeanor coupled with his ability to restate the facts in a compelling narrative will hopefully fix in the minds of the jurors the most plausible series of events and when Ken Doll gets up, if he doesn’t have something interesting, it’ll be over. Prayers that the truth will prevail over bombastic persecutors.

vermontaigne | July 12, 2013 at 7:39 am

My favorite part of what I was able to see of BDLR’s closing was when he said (paraphrasing) that the jury may regard Bao as ‘weird’ and Di Maio as ‘impressive,’ but use your common sense.

BannedbytheGuardian | July 12, 2013 at 8:02 am

Poor Florida. Too many different sorts of people have descended on a formerly pleasant backwater to make it in their image.

Don’t know that’s they can keep it together,

I have never seen a closing argument by the state that did not spend considerable time discussing the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reason is the prosecutor knows that the defense counsel will spend considerable time on the issue, and he must discuss it first to preempt the issue.

So typically, after a full discussion of reasonable doubt, the prosecutor will say something such as, “Now that we have discussed the burden of proof, let look at the facts in evidence so that you can see, how I have fully met this difficult burden”

Uncle Samuel | July 12, 2013 at 8:25 am

To understand the State of FL Department of Justice, you have to review several other cases. Particularly the Martin Anderson case that got into the national news. That case also involved Angela Corey, Crump, Sharpton, Jackson and then Senator Obama.

A young black teenager died at a FL boot camp in 2006 after he could not complete a mandatory training run and a beating of some sort was filmed.

Two autopsies were performed. The first one said Sickle Cell was the cause of death (which has been the cause of young black athletes collapsing and dying after exertion) and the second said the young man died of asphyxiation due to the use of ammonia used in efforts to try to revive him, which cause a spasm and closure of his air passages and he suffocated. Did anyone know or try CPR? Would it have helped more than ammonia?

Both autopsies have been debated and both have been contested. This case caused the closure of the teen boot camp program and another successful program was begun, but has since been defunded.

The race industry came to town, published a child photo instead of a recent one and did the same thing they have done to George Zimmerman to the people involved in the Anderson case.

I don’t think we can fully understand the Zimmerman case or Angela Corey’s mindset without looking at the Martin Anderson case and some of her other cases.

One such case is her prosecution of the disabled veteran who fired two shots into the ground to warn off some violent relatives who attempted to invade a grandmother’s home. LINK

She has prosecuted teenagers and one 12 year old child as an adult.

Maybe George Zimmerman is just a sacrificial lamb to be fed to the race-industry lions because the defendants involved in the Martin Anderson case were acquitted (and because Obama needed to win Florida).

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Another story:
    ‘Reverend’ Al Sharpton recently visited a small South GA town and tried to get up a scandal because a teen athlete died in the gym when he got trapped and suffocated under the heavy gymnastic mats behind which he had hidden his street shoes and clothes (as some of the kids did who could not afford lockers that were installed and sponsored by the parents booster club as a money-making enterprise).

    The racists have accused the local sheriff and law enforcement of a cover-up and racially-biased, poor investigative procedures. Two autopsies have been performed.

    So far, no wrongdoing has been proven. Want to bet some money was taken up for Sharpton and the Parents and some kind of shake-down was attempted (suing the School Board, county law enforcement, etc.)

    The racists keep writing ugly rants online at the local paper website to keep the heat on.

    After reading about Angela Corey, I was surprised to read that she had in her job sent over 200 juveniles to adult court to be tried including a 12 year old boy accused of killing his 2 year old brother.

Along the same lines, I have never seen a closing argument that was so devoid of careful explanation of the law. Typically, the prosecutor will discuss each element that he must prove and step by step carefully show how the evidence presented relates to each element.

In this case, the prosecutors discussion of the relevant law was pretty much to put up a few brief portions of the law at the end, almost as an after thought.

The critical issue in this case is was Zimmerman acting in lawful self-defense. A typically prosecutor in closing would be analyzing carefully almost every word in the statute related to this element and show word by word how the evidence shows the state has disproved that Zimmerman did not use lawful force. I didn’t see the entire argument, but did the prosecutor provide any type of careful analysis of the legal standards?

Bernie lied very early on in his closing. He was claiming that GZ was lying about knowing that TM was dead. He said that GZ told Jonathan Manalo to tell his wife “just tell her I killed him”. Manalo’s actual testimony, during direct from Bernie, was “just tell her I shot someone”.
If I was a juror, he lost me right there. Anything else he had to say would be totally meaningless.

I was really amazed when I watched The Five and their take on the trial. BB even asked about the grand jury indictment, (which did not happen) The most unbiased coverage has been on Brighthouse 13, local channel only available to BH customers.

Amazing how many “news” reporters do not know the facts of the case. One thing that I have missed being covered during the trial is exactly where the house that TM was headed to was in comparison to where GZ last saw him and where the altercation took place. If I was a juror this would have been on my mind some the first witness took the stand, Rachel. Makes no sense if TM was trying to get away that they ended up where they were. Was anything entered into evidence that shows the paths of both men and their houses?

[…] State’s Closing Argument: Two Hours of Raising Doubt […]

[…] » State’s Closing Argument: Two Hours of Raising Doubt […]

After everything that has been documented here, I believe that the single most reasonable explanation for the bizarre behavior of the prosecution in this case is that they really, really consider it important for them to lose.

I find it nearly inconceivable that all of these common-sense failures to perform their basic, expected and assigned duties, and instead to do nearly the exact opposite of those expectations, could somehow be an accident. For whatever reason, I am convinced that their overriding motive which informs their behavior is that they must try as hard as possible to be certain that they do not prevail.

The interesting question to speculate upon after making that conclusion is simply: Why? What informed and created that overriding motive?

Bill O. Rights | July 14, 2013 at 8:23 am

How did the State of Florida [Executive and Judicial Branches] have the authority to unilaterally preempt
Mr. Zimmerman’s US constitutional right to a Grand Jury review (5th Amendment), BEFORE being charged with any crime?
It seems to me that Zimmerman has a cause of action against the State of Florida, and perhaps the individuals
who allegedly perpetrated this breach of federal law.

Folks, I’m confused about the phone call timelines. If I am reading the following article from the Click Orlanda site correctly, it shows that GZ was still on the phone with dispatch when TM hung up with Rachel.

“West then focused on the timeline of the night with the 911 calls and Martin’s phone call records. Jeantel said she told Martin to run and he did. Zimmerman said Martin was running at 7:11:41 and Jeantel said she told Martin to run until call disconnected at 7:11:47. The first 911 call was made at 7:16:11. Jeantel’s testimony on Martin running appears to be consistent with Zimmerman’s story and forensic times almost to the second, records show. What hasn’t been stated is Zimmerman’s location from 7:13:40 when Zimmerman’s non-emergency call ends and 7:16:11, when the witness 911 call was made.”


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