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Zimmerman Trial Day 7 Wrap Up: Prosecution recovers a little, prepared to introduce college records

Zimmerman Trial Day 7 Wrap Up: Prosecution recovers a little, prepared to introduce college records

We covered the morning’s events with our mid-day update, available here at the link below. If you’ve already viewed it, be aware that I have just now added to that post the video recordings of the morning testimony, so if you are interested in seeing those, that’s the place to go:

Zimmerman Update Exclusive — Mid-Day 7 — Serino more ambivalent, Osterman supports self-defense

Video: George Zimmerman on Sean Hannity Show, FOX

The next “witness” after the lunch recess wasn’t a witness at all. Rather the State introduced into evidence a recoding of George Zimmerman’s appearance on the Sean Hannity show FOX. In it, Zimmerman engaged in a back and forth dialogue with Hannity about the events that night. Given the State’s later comments, it seems that the main, perhaps only, purpose for introducing this visit was to show the moment when Hannity asks Zimmerman if he was familiar with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, and Zimmerman answers in the negative.

A negative response does not ring true, if only because Zimmerman’s possession of a Florida Concealed Weapons License–which you can see here, in comparison to my own FL CWL –would have required him to take training that included coverage of Stand Your Ground and other Florida defensive-force laws. [CORRECTION (7/3/13):  I have been informed by commenters that in fact Florida’s training regulations vis a vis obtaining a CWL do NOT require training in any particular Florida use-of-force statutes, including Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.  It is thus possible that Zimmerman would not have received such training from his CWL instructor.  I suppose the only way to know would be to call the instructor to the witness stand. (I was personally not required to take any additional training for my Florida CWL, as I had other qualifications that were satisfactory to the State.)]  Florida’s Stand Your Ground law can be seen here: FL 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm. Focus on section (3).

Of course, we have already heard and seen Zimmerman “testify” numerous times that he has a poor memory. In any case, Florida v. Zimmerman is not and never has been a Stand Your Ground case, as at the moment Zimmerman used deadly force in self defense there was no safe avenue of retreat, and therefore no duty to retreat even in a jurisdiction that requires retreat. (The duty to retreat is part of the 4th Principle of the Law of Self Defense, as discussed here.)

Valerie Rao, Medical Examiner, Jacksonville

After the video we were introduced to Medical Examiner Valerie Rao. Having previously obtained the Medical Examiner’s report and autopsy, something struck me as odd. That WAS the medical examiner’s name . . . wasn’t it? So I double checked. Wait a minute, the medical examienr who did the actual autopsy was Dr. Shiping Bao. Rao . . . Bao, close, but no cigar. Incidentally, if you’d like to see the actual autopsy report, you can find it here:

So, who was this Rao. It turns out she’s a medical examiner from the district that includes Jacksonville, which just happens to be the home city of this team of Prosecutors–including Angela Corey, Bernie de la Rionda, and the others–who was brought in at the Governor’s orders to displace the existing local team of prosecutors that had failed to bring a second degree murder charge against Zimmerman.

Still, just because the prosecutors were brought in from Jacksonville doesn’t mean the medical examiner needs to be. Indeed, the actual autopsy had been done months ago, within a day or two of the shooting, by the local Medical Examiner, Dr. Bao, presumably a perfectly competent forensic pathologist.

Was perhaps Dr. Rao, from Jacksonville even more competent than Dr. Bao?

A quick Google search disabused me of that notion. Indeed, not since the Frye hearing was an expert in the case perhaps as subject to questioning on such issues than Dr. Rao. Indeed, at her previous State appointment as medical examiner in a different part of the state, there were years of complaints about her unsanitary procedures, including such [STOP IF EATING DINNER] pleasantries as Dr. Rao washing her feet in the autopsy sink, using her bare hands during procedures, and even accusations of exposing doctors to deadly diseases. Ultimately she was removed from that position. To read the original news article, see:

Former employee speaks out about medical examiner

(NOTE: Unless the above facts are somehow introduced into evidence, the jury will not be aware of them, and even if aware will be instructed to not take that knowledge into consideration in evaluating Dr. Rao’s testimony.)

But Dr. Rao got a very lucky break, indeed, in the form of the favor of State Prosecutor Angela Corey, a powerful figure in State politics. Corey provided Dr. Rao with an interim appointment as Medical Examiner in Jacksonville, a position later changed to a permanent appointment by the Governor.

Then Corey’s prosecution team asked Dr. Rao to testify in Florida v. Zimmerman. She couldn’t very well re-do the long-ago completed autopsy, and indeed they focus wasn’t on Trayvon Martin at all. Instead, they asked her if she could express an opinion on the severity of the injuries suffered by George Zimmerman at the hands of Trayvon Martin on the night of February 26, 2012. She would be constrained, they cautioned her, by not actually having access to the patient himself, but would have to work from photographs and written medical reports from doctors that had examined Zimmerman.

As evidenced by her appearance as a State witness today, Dr. Rao was more than happy to help out.

Before we get into her testimony it is worth noting that the whole line of discussion is profoundly irrelevant to this case. The defense’s theory of the case is that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in lawful self-defense. In order for this defensive use of deadly force to have been justified, Zimmerman must have been in reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm. He need NOT, however, have ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED death or grave bodily harm. Indeed, he need not have suffered so much as a scratch before he could use deadly force in self defense, so long as he reasonably perceived the force he was defending against as capable of causing death or grave bodily harm.

Despite this patent irrelevance under the law, Bernie de la Rionda and others of the prosecution have repeatedly challenged (their own) witnesses on the matter of the severity of Zimmerman’s injuries, almost as if a person is required by law to accept some minimal level of beating before they can act in self defense.


The legalities of whether injury must be actually suffered to justify defensive force are covered in considerable detail, including reference to the relevant Florida statutes, here:

Zimmerman Update — How Much Injury Is Required Before Self-Defense is Justified?

In any case, on direct examination Dr. Rao was repeatedly asked if this or that particular injury were particularly series, and she repeatedly noted that the injuries were minor, insignificant, not life threatening. She testified that Zimmerman’s injuries were “consistent with” someone whose head suffered only three blows.

Valerie Rao, Jacksonville Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Part 2

Valerie Rao, Jacksonville Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Part 3

Valerie Rao, Jacksonville Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Part 4

On cross, however, O’Mara quickly dug into the matter of her appointment, and it’s somewhat shady circumstances, noting in particular her appointment to the interim position by Corey, and her close working relationship with all the prosecutors on the team. He then challenged her on her claim of three blows, asking if it ws her position that Zimmerman may have experienced “only three impacts of his head on cement.”

“Concrete,” she corrected, adding that, “yes,” that was her position.

But, asked O’Mara, you don’t KNOW how often he was hit, you weren’t there? No, she agreed.

And then O’Mara once again began the bloody photo parade, asking her about each and every contusion, abrasion, and laceration on and about Zimmerman’s head and face. At various times she would simply refuse to acknowledge an apparent bruise or swelling, at which point O’Mara would point clearly at the area that other medical experts had already testified were injuries and say, “You’re sure, you don’t see anything right there, that spot?” Whether she held firm or began to prevaricate, the lesson for the jury was clear–this Doctor could not or would not see what every other witness with medical knowledge, even witnesses possessing mere common sense, had already identified as areas of injury. At one point she was arguing, as BDLR had done the day before, that some of what O’Mara was identifying as bruises and swelling were merely natural variations and bumps in Zimmerman’s head.

He then dug into her “consistency” statements. So, he asked, these injuries are consistent with a single blow? Absolutely, she replied. How about two blows? Yes. Even more blows? Yes. This line of cross continued through innumerable bloody photos, and each question and answer seemed to take another chunk out of Dr. Rao’s credibility.

He then asked her about Martin’s injuries, and she noted that he merely had to small injuries on his hands. Consistent with striking someone? Yes, she acknowledged.

O’Mara even asked her whether she understood that the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries had nothing to do with this case, a clever way to reinforce the jury’s existing knowledge of self-defense law that he had first established in his final voir dire.

When O’Mara finally relented and Prosecutor Guy came back on cross, the State once again fired up the “but his injuries weren’t life-threatening” line, and Dr. Rao agreed they were not.

This observer was struck by the observation that this was the first State witness, other than the seriously questionable testimony of Rachel Jeantel, whose testimony clearly favored the interests of the State (although even here those “interests”–advancing the idea that Zimmerman’s injuries were minor–is of little actual relevance to the issues in dispute).

College Transcripts, Course Records, Police Academy Application, and Ride-Along

After Dr. Rao was dismissed, there began an unexpected discussion (without the jury present) of some additional evidence that the State sought to admit to court. In particular, they wished to admit Zimmerman’s college transcripts and his course records, including textbooks, from his criminal justice studies at a local junior college. They also sought to admit his application to a police academy in Virginia (where Zimmerman had previously lived), as well as his application to do a police ride-along, as offered by many departments.

Hearing: Zimmerman’s College Records, etc., Part 2

Omara objected on grounds of relevancy. The State claimed that the records were relevant to prove that Zimmerman was a “wannabe cop” who decided to act like a sworn law enforcement officer that night, and that decision led to the confrontation that ended Martin’s life.

Both O’Mara and the Judge seemed unprepared for the issue, although gradually the Judge made a very compelling argument of the State’s position. No decision was immediately made, and the matter seems destined to be heard tomorrow morning at 8:30AM before the jury is brought in. At the close of discusson, however, she seemed favorably disposed to the State’s position.

One interesting component to this is that the self-defense law matters that the State seeks to get admitted under the guise of Zimmerman’s criminal justice studies would also have been covered in the training class that Zimmerman took for his Florida Concealed Weapons License (CWL). So why go the college records route?

One reason is that they are more recent. Another might be that the human being necessary to testify about the college records, Zimmerman’s then-Professor, may be perceived by the State as willing to testify in a manner favorable to them. That, of course, is speculation on my part. Time will tell.

On the issue of the application to the police department and for the ride-along, the defense has already largely gutted this avenue of attack by the prosecution by repeatedly soliciting from the professional law enforcement witnesses their pride in their honorable profession. If it was not bad to be a cop, how could it be bad to want to be a cop. In any case, Zimmerman had been offered the opportunity to become a kind of hybrid civilian/LEO, complete with a department issued patrol vehicle and a uniform of sorts, and had turned the opportunity down. This hardly seems likely to be a fruitful avenue for the State.

Kristine Benson, Latent Print Analysis

Next up was a fingerprint expert. She testified that a “print card” had been provided to her for identification. A print card is a means by which a fingerprint listed from an object can be preserved for later examination. She testified on direct that she was unable to match the print to anyone.

On cross O’Mara dug further into this, revealing the apparent purpose for the State to call her was to suggest that because Trayvon Martin’s fingerprints had not been found on the gun, that it undermined Zimmerman’s claims about Martin reaching for his gun.

First O’Mara explored with Benson the issue of whether an object could be touched and not leave a print, or if a print was left that print could be removed by any of a variety of environmental facts, such as rain. She acknowledged this to be the case.

So, he continued, the fact that a particular person’s print was NOT found on an object did not necessarily mean that they had not touched the object. Agreed. And it certainly did not mean that they had not reached for the object. Agreed, again.

There was no re-direct, and very quickly. Ms. Benson was back on her way.

End of Day

With that the Court essentially shut down a bit early for the day.

We do, however, expect to be back in session at 8:30AM tomorrow morning for a hearing, sans jury, regarding the school records and other evidence the State seeks to admit. Be sure to join us then!

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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I hope the jury does not get bamboozled and does the right thing.

    RedSilver9499 in reply to EBL. | July 2, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Curious to what you mean “jury does not get bamboozled and does the right thing.” The trial is not over yet but you sound like you have already made up your mind.

    After the playing of Zimmerman on Hannity and him answering “no” to whether he new about Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. His credibility is done IMO.

    I was believing the evidence was showing that the defense could open with a request for dismissal after the prosecution rested. I was still waiting to see what else the prosecution may come up with. IMO, Zimmerman’s answer to Hannity isn’t plausible unless Zimmerman is mentally deficient….which should have been noticed when he was applying for his conceal permit.

    I don’t want an innocent person to pay for something they didn’t do. When you are being accused of a crime that you believe you are not guilty of…..just always tell the truth. If he hadn’t made an implausible answer as he did then he would be doing just fine. The only plausible reason to answer “no” is to try to make your case look better.

    He now has no credibility and as far as I’m concerned….whatever the jury decides will be fine with me.

    It’s amazing anyone who thinks Zimmerman is already innocent at this point needs to look inside themselves very seriously and wonder why that is. I would have refered to Zimmerman prior to the “no” answer as Mr. Zimmerman, but now ‘Mr.’ just isn’t appropriate.

      Concern troll is concerned.

        RedSilver9499 in reply to Amy in FL. | July 3, 2013 at 2:01 am

        I knew that was coming. Proves my point. I said I would leave the case to the jury. Many here have already made up their minds and it can’t be denied reasonably….but I know it will still be tried.

        Don’t like what a person says so your argumentative response is to name call. That makes anyone lose the argument every single time.

        My mind is not made up….I said Zimmerman has no credibility IMO because a reasoned person should not buy the “no” answer from someone who was involved with policing and studying law enforcement. Claiming to not no about the Stand Your Ground law…..seriously. The law is controversial…it’s not reasonable. I’m all for the law and wish we had it here in my state.

        Trayvon Martin absolutely appeared to be walking trouble on steroids. He’s dead, so the only person who can speak, since nobody shined lights on the commotion they heard until it was too late because they were cowards, is Zimmerman. If he honestly didn’t know about SYG in his state of residence, he shouldn’t have had a gun and should have called the police and left it at that. Trayvon may still have wreaked havoc on society but……WOW. Too much!

          rantbot in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 2:46 am

          So, the defendant claims to not recognize the latest cutesy press name for some old laws which have no relevance to the incident he’s being interviewed about, and you think that that destroys his credibility.

          Very odd.

          RedSilver9499 in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 2:54 am

          Since I can’t edit my previous post. I wasn’t complete with a sentence. The sentence… “The law is controversial…it’s not reasonable.”…. after “reasonable” I forgot to add “to think he wasn’t aware of SYG.

          Complete sentence…The law is controversial…it’s not reasonable to think he wasn’t aware of SYG.

          healthguyfsu in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 3:26 am

          You’re also forgetting the possibility that Zimmerman forgot about it being covered in a class. I doubt the whole semester’s material was focused on SYG and I could write an entire blog on my own about what my students forget from classes…especially if its not a major topic from the textbook.

          I also owned a CWL in FL and did not know about SYG. Quite frankly, it is not something I’m going to seek out and read because I’m not a lawyer and as others have said here…even the law dictation is not necessarily how the law is interpreted in a courtroom. What then is the point?

          Common sense should get you to where you need to be for something like this. Something as simple as this should do it for me: “Don’t shoot unless you absolutely feel you have to for your own well-being or the well-being of someone you care about enough to risk your entire future.”

          Just make sure you throw common sense out the window if you are white and are being threatened by a minority.

          Milhouse in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 10:36 am

          Please explain how his lying to Hannity (assuming he did so) affects his credibility, or adds even slightly to the likelihood of his guilt.

        A concern troll is someone who is on one side of an issue, but pretends to be a supporter of the other side who suddenly has “concerns” that are making him rethink everything. The idea behind this is that your opponents will take your arguments more seriously if they think you’re an ally.

        Most folks here believe Zimmerman is entitled to the presumption of innocence, that the burden of proof (proof) that Zimmerman is guilty of murder lies with the State. And that the State has provided no such proof yet.

        You pretend that you too were of that mindset, until yesterday when you came to be of the belief that Zimmerman may or may not have given a completely truthful answer on a cable TV chat show to a question that has nothing to do with this case anyway.

        Oh! he wails, like a dramatic teenage girl. Now all bets are off! I’m not even going to grant him the honorific “Mr.” anymore, so there!

        And as a bonus, although you don’t appear to been a regular contributor to the trial discussion on this site anyway, you feel so strongly about this concern of yours that you’ve felt it necessary to pop in in the middle of the night and leave several comments and responses letting all of us know that you, former avid trial-watcher and one of us!, “have decided not to follow it closely after today”, and that the jury can go ahead and convict him of murder now for all you care, all because of this concern of yours about Zimmerman’s fatal character flaw. So now, although you used to believe like many of us that he was entitled to a presumption of innocence, well now, sir, he can just go to the devil and see if I care! The cad!

        Or, the tl;dr version: Concern troll is concerned.

        Goetz von Berlichingen in reply to Amy in FL. | July 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

        Concern troll, indeed.

        Ho evidence of a lie…yet claims the lie exists.

        And there is no hypocrisy in his statement…no sir.

        No, SIR!

      rhorton1 in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 12:32 am

      You must be new here. Everybody here has made up their minds not only about what the verdict will be, but also that anyone not adopting their point of you is a bigot, an idiot, or a troll, whatever that is.

      swimmerbhs in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 12:41 am

      Not everyone in florida when a CWP knows about stand your ground.

      fogflyer in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 12:52 am

      So, you believe that one potential lie, told on a talk show, not under oath, negates Zimmerman’s right to presumption of innocence?

      Tell me, if you take anything Zimmerman ever said out of this trial and are just left with eyewitness testimony and the injures Zimmerman sustained, don’t you think that at this point in the trial there is still reasonable doubt? You have the closest and most reliable witness claiming Trayvon was beating the crap out of Zimmerman and that Zimmerman was screaming for help. You have George with injuries consistent with having a guy on top of you smacking your head into concrete. Somehow that is not reasonable doubt?

      You accuse others here of having already decided the case?
      I think you have that a bit reversed.

        RedSilver9499 in reply to fogflyer. | July 3, 2013 at 2:43 am

        Zimmerman is the only witness here. Mr. Goode’s testimony is the only one to help back-up Zimmerman in some way so far, but even he admitted he couldn’t see what was going on with Zimmerman’s head. This trial has to be decided on reasonable doubt based on Zimmerman’s statements. All I said was, IMO, his credibility is in question.

        As far as the injuries to the back of his head, I’ve seen much worse from someone who just fell back on concrete under their own weight. I’m not saying he wasn’t injured on the back of his head, but using your own words “smacking”… if someone is having their head smacked with force on concrete, stitches would just about be required, if thinking reasonably.

        I said I was going to let the jury decide. You need to work on critical thinking skills as does alot of others. I’m waiting the trial out now for the verdict of the jury. Zimmerman has credibility issues which has to affect his presumption of innocence since nobody has seen enough. Where are back porch lighting in this community? A community too cowardly to shine lights on a disturbance to visually see what is going on… wonder they were targets. If I would have been living adjacent to the altercation and somebody was calling for help, I would have been out the door immediately with a light moving to the cries for help. I know this because I already had to do it a few years ago. Calling 911 was the last thing on my mind at the time because the screams for help sounded like it could not wait for law enforcement to be dispatched. It was a good thing I was responding to the cries for help instead of worrying about my own ass because a girl didn’t end up getting the COMPLETE crap beat out of her. Sad part was, within a couple of days she was back living with the guy. The asshole has told me many times in the years since the incident that it was never any of my business to get involved over a girls’ scream for help. This guy has a Travonish record and he lives directly accross the street from me still. This happened about 8 years ago.

        Nice try trying to claim I’ve decided the case. I made a point, I said I was leaving it to the jury and was going to quit following it from now on. Still just going to leave it to the jury.

          Zimmerman did not have to stand his ground. He was already keeping it in place by laying on it. With an able assist from Trayvon. According to a witness.

          I believe that in order to stand your ground you have to be standing. Did Zimmerman have standing?

          Milhouse in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 10:49 am

          Mr. Goode’s testimony is the only one to help back-up Zimmerman in some way so far,

          Wrong. To the best of my recollection every state witness so far has been 100% consistent with the defense’s version of events. If I’ve missed one, please correct me.

          Even that stupid cow Jeantel didn’t say anything that contradicted the defense! Her only contribution, if I recall correctly, is that when Martin asked Zimmerman why he was following him, rather than reply “what are you talking about”, he asked “what are you doing here”. How that helps the prosecution is beyond me. Supposing (against all reason) that she was telling the truth, so what? Why should Zim not have asked Martin what he was doing there?

          This trial has to be decided on reasonable doubt based on Zimmerman’s statements. All I said was, IMO, his credibility is in question.

          How so? How does lying to a talk show host (assuming he did so) affect his credibility as a witness? Please explain that. Do you imagine there’s some law requiring people to tell talk show hosts the truth?!

      V.McCann in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 12:57 am

      Well good, the internet was due for a new most asinine thing ever posted.

        RedSilver9499 in reply to V.McCann. | July 3, 2013 at 3:36 am

        If that was meant for me…..”the internet was due for a new most asinine thing ever posted.”…..You need to read more sites, in my most honorable opinion. Seeing imature name calling, racial slurs for all races being thrown around all over the place in comment sections…and you call mine the “most asinine thing ever posted”? Well, OK then!

        If you weren’t referring to me, Please completely disregard above statement and I sincerely apologize if I upset you still after asking you to completely disregard the above statement.

        P.S., if you were referring to me…I’ll take that as a roundabout compliment. 🙂

        At least there are others here I see that use the ‘grey matter’ between their ears and haven’t already made up their minds when the trial is still going on. CLARIFY AGAIN, I said I’d wait for the jury to decide and respect whatever decision it is. I’ve just decided not to follow it closely after today for an opinion I have, and decided to share opinion in response to someones comment “I hope the jury does not get bamboozled and does the right thing.” The person already thinks they know what the right thing is, like so many others all over the place.

      If Zimmerman had answered that he -did- have familiarity of the SYG laws, the next question would have been a complicated snarl of logic that would have stumped even a legal expert in SYG. He was very smart to answer that question ‘No.’

        Phillep Harding in reply to georgfelis. | July 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm

        There is a difference between knowing that the law exists and being familiar with it’s provisions. GZ stated he was not familiar with the law, not that he did not know it existed.

      Milhouse in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

      After the playing of Zimmerman on Hannity and him answering “no” to whether he new about Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. His credibility is done IMO.

      Let’s suppose he did lie to Hannity. How does that affect his credibility as a witness? He had no duty to tell Hannity the truth. I don’t understand why the judge even allowed the Hannity interview to be played, let alone questioned. It’s not evidence of anything.

      Phillep Harding in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      I have a Florida CCW. I am aware that the Stand Your Ground law exists, but I’m not familiar with it’s provisions.

      So, am I a liar?

      (Florida CCW is like a confidential security check, they only check records. I much prefer the Alaska CCW requirements which cover practical matters.)

What is it in the school records that would be relevant to this case? Seems a stretch.

    Karadion in reply to EBL. | July 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    To put into notion that getting into law enforcement through education is silly and demonstrates that person is a vigilante!

      ThomasD in reply to Karadion. | July 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Which effectively means we should not allow anyone who has studied to be a cop actually be a cop, because vigilantes.

      Perhaps this same ‘logic’ led the State of Florida to hire BDLR as a prosecuting attorney, because I’m starting to have doubts about him having any sort of accredited legal education.

        swimmerbhs in reply to ThomasD. | July 3, 2013 at 12:42 am

        not everyone studying criminal justice wants to be a cop. I am a computer criminology major at FSU I want to do internet security

    Humphreys Executor in reply to EBL. | July 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Also, apparently, if there is evidence you know the law of self defense, then your self defense story may be a fabrication, event if its story is supported by all the other evidence. At least that’s just my understanding what the prosecutrix, I mean the judge, is trying to prove.

      Frank Underwood, D-SC in reply to Humphreys Executor. | July 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      I would think the judge’s arms would get tired carrying all that water for the prosecution, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

Cowboy Curtis | July 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

One quibble: They might have changed the requirements since I got my concealed weapon license in the late 90’s (I doubt it, though), and, at that time at least, a hunter’s education class satisfied the firearm training requirement, and self defense wasn’t covered. I think military service did as well. Which is to say, he didn’t necessarily have any instruction on self defense law as it relates to getting a license (though they do send you a little pamphlet with your license that gives a summary of the law).

    kentuckyliz in reply to Cowboy Curtis. | July 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I believe GZ had a reasonable fear of death and this while his head was being bashed against concrete. Warning: upsetting photo.

      kentuckyliz in reply to kentuckyliz. | July 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      Oops, I meant to put that under EBL’s comment about three bashes of the head into the concrete. That guy had four. Who knows what TM would have done if GZ fell unconscious.

    Voluble in reply to Cowboy Curtis. | July 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Yeah, I was going to ask if we know for sure what was covered in Zimmerman’s training since the Stand Your Ground law is very recent and it would not have been possible for him to receive training on a law that did not yet exist. Self-defense, yes. SYG, no.

    Also, do attorneys ever sit through something like the prosecution going through the Stand Your Ground training in a college course the defendant might have taken and when it is their turn to question the witness they stand up and say something to the effect “No questions your honor. We have wasted enough of the jury’s time on this.” and then sit down?

    At any rate, Zimmerman receiving training on how to properly conduct himself should inure to his benefit. The defense should be able to go over all of the things he learned to make him a better and more responsible citizen and neighborhood watch captain. Whatever else he may have been, he was very responsible.

    Florida’s Stand Your Ground law passed in 2005. I think Zimmerman got his CCW license in 2008? So if he did a comprehensive course, like most formerly gun-naive people I know have, it would have been covered. That said, I think it’s still the case that doing the hunting safety course or having served in the military can qualify as your “training”, so if you take that route and don’t make the effort to read the brochure they send out or otherwise educate yourself about SYG, I guess it’s possible to have a CCW license and not know much about it.

      VetHusbandFather in reply to Amy in FL. | July 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      What about someone that had a CCL in another state and moved to FL, would they need to take the classes in Florida?

      swimmerbhs in reply to Amy in FL. | July 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      if he took the hunter safety course as his weapons training which he can in the state of florida like me. However, i took the cwp class just for fun and 8 hrs of no laws. They go over the basic self defense law but does not tell them what it needed. Stand your ground not covered at all. When you get your license however, they give you a brochure of all laws and syg is one of them dunno how many people read it though.

        Well, I guess as far as that goes, the State figures we’re all grown-ups here. Carrying a gun is a basic right, as long as you’re a law-abiding citizen, so that’s what they license you to do, with minimum hoopla or interference. Learning and obeying the law of the land is a basic responsibility, and it’s up to the individual (not the State) to take care of that.

        I think it can’t be much of a problem, since Adam Putnam mentioned recently that out of the ~2.5 million concealed weapons permits issued in the last 25 years, only something like 7500 of them have ever had to be revoked because the licensee broke the law or otherwise later became ineligible. So 99.5% or more of permit holders manage to stay on the right side of the law without being nanny-stated to death.

        This is why I don’t get the hysterical gun-grabbers. Legal CCW license holders are not the problem. You wish everyone were that law-abiding.

      Walker Evans in reply to Amy in FL. | July 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      The Florida Stand Your Ground law isn’t even material here; it only applies to actions taking place in your own home! Why it is being referenced in this trial is beyond me, unless it is a red herring to obfuscate other salient data. And the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries is also irrelevant, as others have noted: a “reasonable person” only needs to be in fear of imminent death or grievous bodily harm to resort to deadly force.

      If someone were beating me, and slamming my head into a concrete slab, I would certainly be in fear of death or grievous bodily harm. There is also the preponderance of force issue, which would certainly be a factor in this case. Everything that has come out so far supports the idea that this was a “righteous shoot”, the race-baiting of Sharpton and Jackson notwithstanding.

        You sir, could not be more wrong. There’s a reason Stand Your Ground is not called the Castle Doctrine.

        Might I suggest the following educational resource?

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          swimmerbhs in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm

          Is this book available for itunes?

          Oops, sorry – hadn’t refreshed the page so I missed that you’d already answered!

          rantbot in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 2, 2013 at 11:43 pm

          The only law specifically cited on this page is FL 776.013, which is titled “Home protection” blah blah blah. That sounds Castle Doctrine-ish, but not very Stand-Your-Ground-ish.

          No, I’m not going to read it for the gory details; I keep up with MA and federal laws, and that’s more than enough for me. The Feds (BATF) used to send me neat-o booklets of relevant federal laws, and others booklets with the state laws for the entire country, because I have Federal licensing. Now they occasionally send me a copy on CD-ROM, which just isn’t the same.


          Because it’s too much effort to read this?

          “(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”


          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


          If you mean is it available as an audiobook of some sort, the answer is no. And it’s hard to imagine it could be. Much of the book consists of tables referencing many hundreds of statutes, court cases, jury instructions, for all 50 states. It’s not hard to visually scan through a table, find your state (or whatever state of interest) and learn the law.

          But who would want to listen to that? Not me!

          If, however, you’re asking if it will be available as a Kindle book, the answer is yes, and contrary to my earlier comments (where I said it might be 2-4 weeks, or longer), I’ve since learned we can expect a Kindle version as early as within the next couple of days.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        it only applies to actions taking place in your own home!

        No, it applies anywhere you legally have a right to be. Not just your home.

        But you’re right, it doesn’t apply in this case anyway, since it’s all about removing the “duty to retreat”, and it’s hardly like Zimmerman could have retreated when he had a 6 foot tall high school athlete on top of him and his head was being smashed against the sidewalk. As Mr Branca has pointed out before, this is plain old vanilla self-defense. Nothing to do with SYG.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Cowboy Curtis. | July 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I obtained my CWL in 2005 and I can tell you that SYG was not covered.

    Not many laws were covered other than that you can’t open carry in public by my “instructor”.

    Just because something is supposed to be covered in one of these instructive classes doesn’t mean they actually will be covered.

      rantbot in reply to healthguyfsu. | July 2, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      Well yes, what these “classes” include is not well-regulated. Some of them seem to be about basically technical stuff, like how to handle guns without shooting your own feet off; others seem to be entirely about laws. (Obviously, a bit of both might be good.)

      When I got a license in MA over twenty years ago, I had to show evidence of some sort of training. I had training, of a sort, while at MIT (from a remarkably grumpy ex-army instructor), which satisfied the requirement although absolutely nothing about legal defense or MA or federal law was ever mentioned.

      The whole system seems terribly slapdash.

        “The whole system seems terribly slapdash.”

        And yet it works very well. If currently less than 0.3% of Florida CCW permit holders have subsequently lost their license in the last 25 years, how much do you think that could be improved on by granting the State a whole slew of new regulatory and enforcement powers? To 0.2%? 0.1%? Absolutely zero?

        Do you think the State needs to interfere more because you’re that stupid, or because you think everyone else is?

        Leave well enough alone.

          rantbot in reply to Amy in FL. | July 3, 2013 at 2:15 am

          Work on your reading comprehension skills, please.

          I said slapdash. I didn’t say or imply that anything the regulators do has been effective. And of course only a cretin would think that I must then be claiming that even more ineffective regulations would somehow be more effective.

          It’s not clear that the slapdash system has any purpose other than to put up little hurdles which gun owners have to clear. That sort of harassment obviously has little to do with the public welfare.

          My own licensing predates the current mania for overregulation, yet I haven’t turned into a public menace in the intervening decades. So, what is the function of the overregulation?

I often find three blows of my head to concrete enough to put me at fear of trauma. But that is me.

Maybe they want the school records to show that Zimmerman one time chewed a pop tart into the shape of a gun. That would clearly show a depraved heart.

    bret in reply to EBL. | July 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Is the pop tart a sign of a “depraved heart” or just some “depraved art”?

    profshadow in reply to EBL. | July 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Neck, no blows is sufficient, if it is clear that someone wants to do you serious harm.
    That’s the law in Florida. I hold a CCW in Florida and stay familiar with the law.
    A good “quick summary” site is that keeps fairly up to date for laws of all the states.

    (and a plug for too…refutation of all the gun grabbers in one nice simple PDF!)

      bret in reply to profshadow. | July 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      I look at it this way though. If somebody were to punch me and the punch knocked me down, I likely wouldn’t be in fear for my life or serious injury. Once somebody’s on top of me and starts banging my head into the concrete, like EBL, then I’d really start to be very worried.

      And that’s why I think the injuries are actually important. Without any injury at all, in a weaponless (so far) fight, as a hypothetical juror, I would have at least some unease finding it reasonable that Zimmerman felt fear for his life or serious injury.

      On the other hand, after seeing Zimmerman bloodied and battered, even if I thought he was guilty (and there is some likelihood that he is), I would absolutely have at least reasonable doubt about that guilt. Indeed, I don’t see how the state can overcome that doubt in any unbiased person.

        profshadow in reply to bret. | July 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm

        Someone hits me, after confronting me angrily by jumping from some bushes…yeah, I’m worried something bad might happen to me.

        Note: Zimmerman didn’t actually “go for his gun” until he was on the ground. He had been assaulted and battered by Martin and was on the ground.

        BUT it remains a fact that under Florida law that you don’t need to be injured before you can act.

          bret in reply to profshadow. | July 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

          I’m just saying that if I put myself in the shoes of a juror, it’s a much, much more compelling story that he feared for his life when he’s battered and bloodied.

        Your response is a two-way street type of response. Even if Zimmerman is guilty – of what is he supposed to be guilty.

        Yes George Zimmerman shot someone and the person died. However, in the circumstances that is not unreasonable.

        The issue should not even be the following, because the only issue should be the fact that Trayvon Martin decked him and was raining down blows so that he was in fear of head injuries.

        The injuries were not insignificant. He had black eyes plus a broken nose as well as contusions and split skin on the back of his head. We have no idea if he had other as yet unexplored brain injury on top of the injuries that he had suffered. The type of injury should not even be considered in this case. The mere fact that he shows all the signs of being a victim of assault and battery should be sufficient.

        Trayvon Martin committed a felony assault. Given Trayvon Martin’s background as a wannabe gang member, which I think is relevant to this case, I think that there is sufficient evidence that Trayvon Martin’s past should be relevant in this trial.

        There is no evidence to show depraved mind. There is evidence that George Zimmerman walked along a path in his complex when he was attacked by Trayvon Martin.

          rantbot in reply to Aussie. | July 3, 2013 at 12:02 am

          The continuing part of the assault is important here. If Martin had jumped out of the bushes, punched Zimmerman in the nose, and then jumped back out of reach, saying something like “Take that, you crazy-ass cracker!”, Zimmerman would not be justified in using deadly force in his own defense, because the attack was over and so no defense was needed. However, according to Zimmerman and at least some of the witnesses, that’s not what happened. Zimmerman was suffering injuries which would only increase in severity as Martin’s assault continued. Whatever force was necessary to stop the assault was therefore justified.

      If the truth is to be known, the gun grabber have about as much cred as the persecutors in this case….

    ThomasD in reply to EBL. | July 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Well, you know, no offense and all but, your skull is as thick as a cow’s…

naughtynumbernine | July 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Thanks for putting all this work in Andrew. Nice to finally find an oasis of sanity when it comes to this case.

KingofArizona | July 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Prosecution want to impeach GZ’s statement on Hannity that he was unaware of the “stand your ground law” with his coursework.

As for opening the door, if the State introduced evidence of GZ’s “MMA training”, why can’t defense introduce testimony / photos of TM’s fighting?

    cazinger in reply to KingofArizona. | July 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Just out of curiosity, before being interviewed by Hannity, did GZ place his hand on the bible and swear that the interview he was about to give would be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God?

      legacyrepublican in reply to cazinger. | July 3, 2013 at 12:33 am

      The important thing was that he was not identifying himself as a police officer or an LEO.

      GZ was acting like a concerned citizen, nothing more.

      Knowing about stand your ground and not knowing about stand your ground didn’t change the law of self defense.

      Being sat upon and having a six foot crazed and angry teen/man sitting on your chest punching you and doing whatever he pleased and not wanting to stop his abuse gave GZ no avenue of escape.

      If anything, GZ didn’t reach for his gun early on because he thought the cops were coming and if he could just get some help, he would not need to use deadly force or draw his weapon.

      He showed restraint.

      Once TM saw the gun, that changed things.

      That is what the facts say. Can’t get around that.

    swimmerbhs in reply to KingofArizona. | July 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    In criminal justice classes in florida they have a curriculum they need to follow as part of their school accreditation in the basic classes. Intro to criminal justice, teaches you just that the basis of criminal justice and how it works. they go over defenses, crimes, and how the system works and doesnt work. They dont go over state laws in self defense. The pros dump of his school records indicate he didnt take many advance classes and only required classes for the major. Criminology and victimology teaches the theories of psychology, like routine activities and social learning theories. Law Enforcement class is to teach how they work, what to expect on the job, what kinda of training one may need in the future. Evidence collection and preservation.

    janitor in reply to KingofArizona. | July 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Zimmerman is a straight 4.0 student? If something was mentioned in class or covered in his textbook, then guaranteed he has it down flat?

Goetz von Berlichingen | July 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Don’t people who aspire to be police officers have the right to self-defense?

I always knew ignorance of the law is no defense. I had no idea that knowledge of the law likewise.

This trial is like watching sausage being made, in some back alley of Tijuana.
In the summer.

Frankly, I am pretty amazed at “Dr.” Rao’s testimony. I mean, she is a medical examiner, right? So her normal duties revolve almost exclusively around dead people. Further, she worked exclusively off of photographs (the clarity of which was questioned at one point).

Could this testimony have been challenged in something akin to a Frye hearing before she was brought up (assuming the defense knew that her testimony was actually going to be centered on Zimmerman’s injuries, rather than the autopsy of Martin)?

    That woman should be barred from practising any form of medicine.

    I would not want someone like her being my doctor.

      cazinger in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      The good news … as a medical examiner, she cannot do any harm to any of her “patients”.

      graytonb in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Don’t worry; her patients aren ‘t aware of their fate.
      Rao is mired in sleaze, btw…. lots of indication she ‘cooks the books ‘ and gins up excessive autopsy numbers .

      amwick in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      Loved the Rao tweet about metal rods.
      Thanks again Andrew.

      naughtynumbernine in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      ‘Yeah it was only a traumatic head injury, which is of course not really a big deal…’
      – I’m usually the callous dickhead who pipes up with ‘Walk it off.’ regardless of the injury but I never thought I’d see an under oath doctor treat a traumatic injury to one’s head with such a cavalier attitude. ‘Bought and paid for’, ‘hack’, and ‘quack’ are words that although redundant, certainly come to mind. I really hope that quite a few people lose their freedom, jobs or reputations as a result of this trial – none of whom are named Zimmerman. Too late of course.

        since I have had a few minor head injuries – I remember 3 of them vividly, I do know that what George experienced was not something minor.

        At the very least I am beating that he had a case of concussion. I bet he still gets the headaches caused by concussion. The good news will be if he does not get the neuralgia and later on jaw arthritis that is directly attributable to being hit in the face!!

      aerily in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      If I’m ever the patient of the state medical examiner, I don’t think I’ll have too much concern at that moment.

    nomadic100 in reply to cazinger. | July 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I agree. I’m a physician, not a lawyer. It seemed to me that the defense might profitably have attacked Doctor Rao with benefit. The point made above, i.e., that she is a pathologist who is accustomed to viewing her “patients” on an autopsy table or under a microscope, is well made. In my opinion, the prosecution should have chosen an ER physician as an expert and the defense should have been more aggressive in attacking her conclusions based on her experience in evaluating LIVING patients. Moreover, I thought a number of her answers (“just one injury”) made little sense and O’Mara might have reasonably challenged them more than he did. He seemed to limit himself to asking whether the observed injuries might have resulted from more injuries than just one, and failed to query her on the medical basis for her opinion. For example, how did she conclude that any one contusion/laceration, etc., was the result of only “one” injury? One blow per contusion/laceration? That makes no sense, medically. Whatever pathological finding there might be could reasonably be interpreted as resulting from multiple blows, poundings, smashings, whatever, to the same area – or, maybe just one. There is no way of knowing.

      mckyj57 in reply to nomadic100. | July 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      I think that she impeached herself. The defense undoubtedly has some very credible witnesses of their own, and they may have felt that there was no sense possibly eliciting sympathy for Rao when she really wasn’t credible and they would have some excellent witnesses to provide better information.

      Narniaman in reply to nomadic100. | July 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Another physician here. . . .

      I’m guessing that the defense will be able to introduce their own expert witnesses. . . right? If so, it should be quite easy for them to put a physician on the stand who takes care of live patients, who will have much better credentials than pathologist Valerie Rao, and who will provide much more impressive testimony.

        profshadow in reply to Narniaman. | July 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

        Or perhaps there are medical records of Zimmerman’s condition after Martin’s attack on him?

        myiq2xu in reply to Narniaman. | July 3, 2013 at 1:48 am

        I would have asked her “How many blows to the head would it take to cause death or permanent brain injury?”

          Based upon crime statistics in my country, it takes one blow to cause death. Every other blow is contributory.

          There have been several cases over here where it has been just one blow that caused the person to fall, and then hit his head, and die.

          Natasha Richardson took one blow, and she died later from unknown injury.

      MegK in reply to nomadic100. | July 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      Defense medical experts are coming, I’m sure. Another thing I was thinking (and I’m not a doctor, just a mom of 3 and a klutz) is that much is being made of the fact that he needed no sutures. Usually though you would see sutures on long, deep cuts in fleshy areas. Having your skull pushed hard into concrete would create bruises and scrapes, not deep cuts that would need suturing. Anyone who has ever seen a kid with banged up knees from falling on concrete can tell you that.

        Did Natasha Richardson have any visible contusions on her head when she took a tumble?

        As I recall, she got up, was walking and talking for a couple of hours, and then started deteriorating very quickly.

        Unfortunately, she isn’t here to testify as to the veracity of the esteemed medical examiner’s claim that a blow to the head has to be “worse than” what she saw in the Zimmerman pictures to be “life-threatening”….

          Mary Sue in reply to teresainfortworth. | July 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm

          Wow, excellent point about Natasha Richardson Teresa.

          Natasha Richardson fell on a beginner’s ski slope. Got up, felt fine, until a headache an hour later.
          She went to a local hospital, transferred to a NY hospital.

          From the WebMD site:

          What would account for a delayed reaction after a fall?
          There are at least two possibilities.

          First, a pre-existing condition could be exacerbated by the head injury.

          Second, a fall could jar the brain inside the skull.
          If the brain moved quickly, it could cause contusions and bleeding, and the bleeding could lead to increased intracranial pressure, and that could have severe consequences.

          That bleeding may take time to cause obvious problems.
          Sometimes, the bleeding and the increase in pressure are delayed.

        One of my sons jumped backwards off his father’s shoulders and hit his head on a sharp object in his bedroom. We took him to hospital, never bothered to ring in that we were coming, we just went…. he had x-rays of his head. The brain was fine, but he had a contusion that was in the form of a large lump. The medical team at the hospital then cut open the area and removed the blood clot that had formed.
        My son remains fine in his health.

      cazinger in reply to nomadic100. | July 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      The more I think about it, the more I think that the whole line of questioning for Dr. Rao may have taken the defense completely by surprise. I mean, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy was Dr. Bao, so they may have thought that there was a typo somewhere and that this was going to be the medical examiner who performed the autopsy (after all, don’t they usually have on the M.E. just to establish the basic facts of the case – that the victim is dead and that the cause of death was the gunshot to the heart, etc.).

      Add in the fact that the prosecution had already called in the physician’s assistant who treated GZ’s injuries from the altercation and she testified extensively on those injuries.

      All of those things would certainly lead me to believe that this witness would be testifying about Trayvon’s conditions, and not GZ’s.

      Did the prosecution catch the defense by surprise with this?

      And if so, was it worth it? I don’t see Dr. Bao adding that much to the prosecution’s case.

        jayjerome66 in reply to cazinger. | July 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm

        No, MOM wasn’t caught by surprise, as noted by the pertinent biographical info he brought up about her appointment, and his mention that she had left one of her previous positions because of ‘administrative’ problems there (probably all he was allowed to say per the judge to attack her credibility).

        I’m sure the defense will produce their own witness(es) to refute her testimony.

          caambers in reply to jayjerome66. | July 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm

          My understanding is this ME wasn’t a total surprise to the defense and they had been trying to depose her. For some reason she was never available for a deposition yet the state called her today. So yes, they had some background info on her but that was it.

        DuraMater in reply to cazinger. | July 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        According to what I’ve read, this particular witness, Dr. Rao, was known to the defense BUT they had been unable to schedule a deposition with her after several attempts. The prosecution has dragged their feet with discovery material and at least two of state’s witnesses have had depo scheduling issues coming into trial. Nelson refused to grant more prep time even though these complications to the defense were made known to her.

        Dr. Rao also testified that she was part of a team in Miami that performed examinations on live patients brought to hospital who had survived battery, rape, child abuse, etc.

        I, too, was struck by her seemingly narrow and rigid testimony clearly intending to minimize GZ’s trauma, especially considering her purportedly illustrious CV. Was glad to see MOM opened with the circumstances of her appointment by A. Corey, working relationship with prosecution. I also thought he did a good job of destabilizing her contention that one blow was responsible for separate foci on scalp AND……his last question (which she did not answer): What might the damage have been with the next blow, had Trayvon been able to strike once more?

        Finally, though there was no evidence of impairment post trauma, the strike to the nose or any one of the blows to the head on concrete might well have lacerated his brain or resulted in a subdural hematoma, resulting in significant morbidity or mortality.

        A shame he was not seen and evaluated by ER the night of incident or at least the following morning.

          swimmerbhs in reply to DuraMater. | July 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm

          When you dont have health insurance ers can be pretty expensive, but he went to see his PA the next day which already gave great testimony illicated by the defense MOM asked if they next blow could have killed him and she said maybe or something that would agree with the defense

          That’s what I mentioned to some of the critics on Twitter who were saying, “well why didn’t he go to the ER, and why didn’t he see a specialist?!” as though that was suspicious.

          Depending on his insurance situation, I can very well understand why he wouldn’t do that. People who aren’t poor enough to get free Medicaid but who aren’t well-off enough or well-employed enough to have top-notch insurance can find themselves stuck with huuuuuge bills for stuff like that. And if they have a house/car/job (some sort of assets to attach), the bill collectors will go after them if they don’t pay (again, you have to be poor &/or illegal to get away with that) and either bankrupt them or wreck their credit rating. I’ve got a friend who works in a sliding-scale clinic who sees a lot of people like that. Respectable, hard-working, but in marginal jobs and either uninsured or under-insured.

          He could well have been thinking, “Do I hurt bad enough to potentially be out $5,000-$8,000 dollars (or more)?” ER is seriously expensive for self-payors.


          When I first me my perfect wife she was a graduate student in business school, and had only a health insurance policy with a very high (multi-thousand dollar) deductible.

          She managed to step on a small, but very sharp, piece of glass and cut her foot. The cut was just wide and deep enough–barely–that in combination with it’s location (a point of flexion) I concluded stitches would be required.

          We went to the ER, they concurred, stitches were made, and we were on our way home.

          Along with a bill for $1,700.

          I don’t know how many times that needs to happen to a working guy like George Zimmerman before he becomes extremely hesitant, indeed, to go to the ER.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    rokiloki in reply to cazinger. | July 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    An ME favorable to the state’s case named Rao? The ME signing the autopsy report named Bao? Is the state hoping to confuse jurors into thinking its the same person? These are. Not common names like Jones or Smith. I thnk the name similarities are too much a coincidence.

    CalFed in reply to cazinger. | July 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I posted this below, but probably should have posted it here…

    I think one avenue of impeachment could have been something like this–

    Q: Dr Rao, is it medically possible for severe injury to occur from even a single blow of the head to a concrete sidewalk?

    A Yes

    Q Well then, wouldn’t it be prudent for someone whose head is being bashed into a concrete sidewalk by another to stop the bashing immediately by any means possible?

      ConradCA in reply to CalFed. | July 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Exactly. It keeps the jury focused on the key fact that blows to the head are life threatening.

      MOM should ask how many blows to the head does a person have to take before they are considered life threading.

      Police officers should be ask to testify if an officer in the position of Zimmerman would have been justified in shooting Martin.

      steer in reply to CalFed. | July 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      I practice law and I can tell you when you have a witness who is this biased, it does no good to ask a question like that. The best way to attack witnesses like this is to destroy their credibility which the defense did. They have already had the PA (who actually treated Zimmerman) to testify about the numerous injuries. Besides, whatever a doctor says, the average person can see blood on Zimmerman’s face and contusions on his head. They can easily conclude he was being beaten up and for Rao to deny it damages her credibility. The defense did a god job showing her bias through her appointment and then demonstrated her bias in cross very well.

      The defense really doesn’t want to keep this witness on the stand anymore time than it takes to destroy her credibility. She’s not going to say anything helpful to the defense. Asking the question you proposed would have allowed Rao to say she didn’t think the blows were enough to justify deadly force–which adds weight of the prosecution’s case.

        ^^^ This ^^^

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        Voluble in reply to steer. | July 3, 2013 at 1:46 am

        In a less formal setting you would ask her if she would like to go outside and do a little demonstration where her head is slammed into the pavement a couple of times to see if she really believes what she says. After all, it’s not like it is life threatening or anything. All she has to do is trust you not to do it too hard or too many times. What harm could possibly come to her?

        I think this woman’s stupidity, bias and incompetence came through well enough and MOM showed it by ignoring some of her rants just like you would a small child who has to be lead through a difficult concept. She was every bit the train wreck that Rachel was.

        All MOM could have added when she complained about the pictures was to ask her if she would defer to someone who had actually examined Zimmerman in person. Just like the audio expert had to admit that someone familiar with the subject would have a better chance of identifying his voice in extremis, the ME would have to acknowledge that the physician’s assistant and those who saw Zimmerman in person would have more reliable testimony than hers. And it would have been easy to lead her into that when she complained about the quality of the picture.

        I also thought it odd that they argued over the shape of Zimmerman’s head when the head in question was present in the courtroom for all to see.

If those school records are allowed, then all records pertaining to Trayvon Martin should be allowed.

His violent history is very much a part of this case.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Absolutely correct.

    JAL in reply to Aussie. | July 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    As anove — Re Zimmerman / Martin previous records — if the prosecution is arguing George Zimmerman’s purported mental state (frustrated cop wannabe) made him more likely to commit murder why isn’t Trayvon Martin’s possible mental state (multiple fight incidents with short fuse) fair play?

rabid wombat | July 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Would someone please explain the relevance of a TV interview. As long as Zimmmerman was not under oath or some other legal constraint – could he swear the almighty duck god, Mallard, be his divine protector? I am at a loss….

    Do not blaspheme Mallard. He will get very quacky.

    Jazzizhep in reply to rabid wombat. | July 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    don’t forget the defense has used the crump interview w/Jeantel the same way..also if you are going on t.v. to give your version of events (public forum), the comments are, and should be, admissible

      Humphreys Executor in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 3, 2013 at 12:13 am

      Yes, but by who and what for? ontrary to popular belief, an attorney may not knowingly introduce into evidence something which he/she knows, or has reason to know, is false. The Prosecution put in the Hannity interview with the hidden intention to impeach it. That is at best sand-bagging and worst unethical. If the defense put it in, which it probably couldn’t without waiving the right against self-incrimination, it would have fair game by the prosecution. That’s not what happened.

        swimmerbhs in reply to Humphreys Executor. | July 3, 2013 at 12:56 am

        I feel like don west and lost who i was going to comment too.

        The state cant impeach its own witness as they have tried to done once testimony has not gone their way.

        This is not ignorance of a law as stated in an affirmative defense action. Ignorance of the law would mean that they didnt know the law they were breaking. You cant break a law of self defense.

    steer in reply to rabid wombat. | July 2, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Statements don’t have to be under oath. A defendant’s statements to the police for example aren’t under oath and yet are admissible.

Yesterday, I posted this disturbingly uninformed quote from “Criminal Defense Attorney” Karen DeSoto who appeared on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show All In:

“I think that Trayvon Martin’s parents have a great case against the state of Florida because the concealed weapon is the problem there.  No states allow people to have a concealed weapon on their person. [reminded by host, Chris Hayes, that “a lot of states do,” she continued:]
Well, Texas… well… and we can talk about Texas, because there’s a lot of cases out of there. But having somebody — allowing somebody to have a concealed weapon. — is like having a toddler with a machete.”

Not here to bash her again, only to observe that the same analyst appeared today on Chris Matthews’ program — only this time she was billed as “Former Prosecutor” Karen DeSoto. Did a cadre of Criminal Defense Attorneys complain that MSNBC was giving their guild a bad name? Gave me a chuckle!

    Karen de Soto sounds like an uninformed airhead.

    Here I am, in Australia, and I know more about your laws than that particular woman.

    If you have a concealed carry permit, then you are allowed to carry a weapon on your person.

    As far as Sybrina and Tracy Martin are concerned, they should be sued because their son used his fists in a criminal way.

Does anyone know if Jane Velez-Mitchell is an attorney? If so, I can’t imagine her before a court…

I was out most of the day so I missed the testimony today. I am glad to have a chance to get a solid recap here. Though you suggest the State regained some ground today, there seems to be despair on MSNBC this evening. I would characterize the coverage as nearly unanimous the prosecution has not made a case against Zimmerman. Marcia Clark’s botox must have pinched her so tight she has done a complete 180 from her analysis last night and is now lamenting the prosecution has made the defense case for them. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    There is nothing worse for a TV pundit to be made to look like a fool.

    Strat MC in reply to Mary Sue. | July 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I noticed the same about Marcia Clark and had to do a double- take.
    She, along with most of the CNN legal panel, thought that by not losing decisively, the State had a somewhat better day.

    Sunny Hostens, OTOH, appears to be the lone “Justice For Trayvon” hold-out at CNN. Declaring that today represented a “sea-change” for the state, she is now optimistic of a conviction.

The most puzzling ruling by the judge, for me, is not allowing the defense to question Diamond Dee-Dee on how she knew TM would hang-up the phone if was going to get into a fight. It appeared MOM was about to delve into the subject until he was cut off by the prosecution (oops i mean judge).

After reading Branca’s analysis of how victim’s character evidence is admitted I understand why such facts are disallowed*, but not being able to question Jeantel on the basis of her knowledge seems incredibly wrong. Being paraphrased from memory:

RJ: I know he have got off phone.
MOM: How do…..
BDLR: Your Honor

Nothing more said.

Is RJ able to be recalled at a later date? It seems the ability to question how any witness gained their knowledge about any facts is fundamental, i.e. how do you know the shot was fired at close range.

*I realize non-specific generalizations are allowed under some circumstances

    Fabi in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    She knew it because that’s what TM told her right before he hung up to pound GZ. And when he didn’t call back she knew he lost. She ‘got guilt’ now.

      Jazzizhep in reply to Fabi. | July 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      either I misunderstood the testimony, or I wrote a poorly constructed paragraph. I believe RJ was saying she knew TM wasn’t going to hit GZ b/c if he was going to get into a fight he would have hung up. Therefore, he didn’t start the fight.

        Fen in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        Thats the way I heard it too. I thought it was an opening for the defense to introduce evidence of Fight Club by asking:

        “so your claim that Martin would have hung up is based on experience of prior fights involving Martin?

        Fabi in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm

        She’s trying to get one past MOM and ends up indicting herself and TM in the process. She claims that the phone hung up on its own; I think that’s untrue.

        Or, as you said, she’s been on the phone with him when he’s been in prior fights (or started prior fights).

        And does this testimony not open up TM’s character to questioning?

          Jazzizhep in reply to Fabi. | July 2, 2013 at 9:35 pm

          that is what i REALLY REALLY want to know…it is not asking about TM fights per se, but how RJ arrived at her conclusions or gained that knolwedge

          swimmerbhs in reply to Fabi. | July 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm

          if the phone didnt hang up how did it get closed? Flip phones do not close on their own unless dropped and it closed that way. but the way it was found would indicate to me he had already closed the phone

    Jazzizhep in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    oops…i like the meaning of the word “generalization” so much i decided to double it by adding non-specific in front of it

    randian in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I was surprised the defense didn’t delve into the obvious tainting of her testimony. She gave her initial statement only after having had time to be worked on by TM’s parents and Crump, and gave it in their presence. It wouldn’t use it to impeach her, that was unnecessary. I’d use it to impeach the prosecutors themselves.

    jayjerome66 in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    “Is RJ able to be recalled at a later date”

    Yes. The judge told her she’s still under subpoena

    rhorton1 in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    The line of questioning you refer to is here at 1:12 – 1:14

    West asked: Has Martin ever told you that before that he was going to assault somebody and he would call you back? That question was objected to and the judge sustained the objection. The judge’s ruling was correct, as under Florida law evidence of other times Martin was engaged in fights is not admissible unless Zimmerman knew about them. Therefore, the witness’ knowledge of previous violent conduct by Martin is legally irrelevant.
    The defense is not permitted by its questioning of a witness – as in the line of questioning before the objection – to try to “force open the door” to try to make inadmissible evidence admissible. At least that’s how I see it.

      Jazzizhep in reply to rhorton1. | July 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      Agreed, I stated that prior specific acts are not relevant unless GZ had prior knowledge of them. West asked RJ if she had heard TM say that before, how is that NOT relevant? Which is what the judge ruled. Nelson, in my opinion, prevented West from determining why RJ believes he would call her back.

      RJ was basically saying TM didn’t start the fight b/c he would have called her back, and West was prevented from asking how she arrived at that conclusion. This just seems wrong to me. Is there some legal reason for this such as it was West who brought it up? I don’t know that he did, i am just wondering.

      Thx for attempting to answer my question, but my initial confusion still exists

      Voluble in reply to rhorton1. | July 3, 2013 at 2:01 am

      So you are saying their idiot witness can aver that she knew TM wasn’t going to start a fight but the defense can’t ask her what makes her think such a thing? In short she gets free rein to assert whatever she likes without the defense being able to call her on it or ask her reasoning or for proof? For instance, she could have said that Trayvon was never in any trouble and would never fight. According to you the defense would have to let that testimony stand unchallenged since it broached a subject that is out of bounds.

      And just what did the defense supposedly do to force open the door? They asked her why she acted so blase’ about her friend being in a fight which was something she volunteered. That hardly counts as forcing the issue in my book. But I realize the law is nothing if not unreasonable so I can’t rule out the possibility that you are correct in its interpretation.

        rhorton1 in reply to Voluble. | July 3, 2013 at 9:20 am

        Under the rules of evidence in every jurisdiction the judge is required to balance the “probative value” of an item of evidence against is potential “prejudice”. Probative value is the tendency of an item of evidence to prove or disprove a “material fact.” “Material fact” is a term of art which would take many sentences to flesh out. Prejudice is a term of art which again would take many sentences to explicate. Under the rules of evidence neither the prosecutor nor the defense is permitted (under the circumstances here) to ask the witness whether Martin was ever involved in previous fights, so any answer the witness may give to the efeect the Martin never fought would be improper and the defense would be duty bound to object to it, to move to strike the answer from the record and to ask the judge to instruct the jury to disregard it. If the defense, for some reason, does not do those things and the answer stands, the defense is not thereby permitted to ask further improper questions along the same lines to establish the Martin was previously violent; or to introduce independent evidence of his violence.

          Goetz von Berlichingen in reply to rhorton1. | July 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

          what? You are trying to inform us ‘bigots’? According to you, we don’t allow that here.

In GZ’s application for the SPD Rider Release Form on 3/15/2010, he lists his Race/Gender as H/M. Hispanic/Male.

He really thought out the race angle long in advance, huh!

kentuckyliz | July 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm

But…he is a H/M. And Hispanics are White. Look at a census form.

    Fabi in reply to kentuckyliz. | July 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    You’ll have to take that up with the NYT race nuance taxonomy grievance committee. Only they can make decisions of such gravity.

    rokiloki in reply to kentuckyliz. | July 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    The voter registration in my state once listed races as “white (non-hispanic), hispanic, and african-american.” they removed any white identitity and made it a ‘not something else’ identity. I checked “other” and wrote in “european-american.”

      BubbaLeroy in reply to rokiloki. | July 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

      Back in the late 1970s, one euphemism du jour for Hispanic was “Spanish Surnamed American.” I had a roommate in college whose last name was Sanchez. He got a full ride on a scholarship that was offered only to Spanish Surnamed Americans. He had red hair and freckles, was mostly Irish, but had a great-great-grandfather from Spain.

      I guess now the politically correct term for him would be a Very-White-Hispanic (or a Cracker).

        Rick Z in reply to BubbaLeroy. | July 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm

        Spain’s colonies in the New World revolted in the early 1800’s.

        There were a large number of unemployed British sailors and soldiers [Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo was in 1815]. Many of these Brits found employment with the revolutionaries.

        So “hispanic surnames” might be: O’Higgins, McPherson, Windsor, etc, if these military men stayed and raised families.

When do you think the state will wrap up their case?
My guess is they will stretch it to Monday as to not give the defense a chance to prepare over the weekend.

Connivin Caniff | July 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm

It does not matter if you actually know the law of self defense. Such knowledge is presumed under our system. The issue is whether you followed the law of self defense. So what is the relevance of Zimmerman’s educational history? Not only is such evidence very collateral, how in this day and age can you assume or even hope – he was taught the correct thing? Was the class covering that subject recorded? The irony is that if actual knowledge of the law is the path to culpability, then the judge in this case possesses functional total immunity.

    fogflyer in reply to Connivin Caniff. | July 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    And, you could counter that if George new squat about how to act in a self defense shooting, he would certainly have lawyered up much earlier than he did!

Well well. The mob has its own pet Medical Examiner. I wonder if she can shake hands and roll over, in addition to washing her feet in the instrument pans.

But I guess the real question is whether, in addition to steady raises and bonuses paid for by the taxpayers, she will get the requisite congratulatory phone call from the Organizer in Chief.

Like all of the Mob’s witnesses, she had a nugget of two that a squeamish juror can use to ignore the law and justice.

Can anyone answer this question for me?

George Zimmerman’s family was ordered out of the court room because they might have to testify in this case.

I keep hearing that Sabrina Fulton might testify, yet she remains in the court room.

Why the double standard treatment for the two families?

    Fen in reply to retire05. | July 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Am an amateur but I’ll take a shot:

    because Z is on trial, not Martin

      fogflyer in reply to Fen. | July 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Nope, it is Florida law that the parents of a deceased minor can be present even if they are witnesses.

    CalFed in reply to retire05. | July 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    As a general rule, people who are expected to be called as witnesses are excluded from the courtroom during the trial. I believe Florida has an exception for family members of the victim.

    Ragspierre in reply to retire05. | July 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    A provision in Florida criminal procedure that exempts the victim’s family from the normal rule.

    Mary Sue in reply to retire05. | July 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I think it is because Trayvon was a minor which means he is entitled to have an adult parent or guardian in court at all times. I either read that answer in one of these threads or heard it from a talking head on television. I distinctly remembered that question though because I thought it was a good one.

    Here you go:

    Zimmerman Trial: Why Can Martin’s Parents Stay in Courtroom, But Zimmerman’s Family Can’t? FL Law Explained

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Q: Dr Rao, is it medically possible for severe injury to occur from even a single blow of the head to a concrete sidewalk?

A Yes

Q Well then, wouldn’t it then be prudent for someone whose head is being bashed into a concrete sidewalk by another to stop the bashing immediately by any means possible?

Lady Penguin | July 2, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Although everyone is focusing on things you can “see” – abrasions, contusions and swelling, there is also a condition of contrecoup, which can cause far more injury internally without any visible sign showing. Many brain injuries happen this way. So having one’s head bashed on the concrete one time or several times could caused serious injury to Zimmerman.

Medically, I consider Zimmerman to be a very lucky man to have escaped without worse damage to his skull (externally) or his brain (internally).

    randian in reply to Lady Penguin. | July 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Since Zimmerman foolishly refused medical treatment (both a medical and legal error IMO), we don’t know that he suffered no internal injuries. It’s possible he had skull fractures or other injuries that have since healed. Unfortunately, even if you could prove the existence of remodeling on his skull it’s probably inadmissable because you can’t prove it’s from TM’s attack.

      He got help the next day.

      I admit I have done the same when I hurt my ankle on one of hundreds of occasions when I sprained my left ankle. That is because the incident happened a short time prior to when I was due to go babysit for another family. So I did the babysitting, and the next morning went to Box Hill hospital for evaluation…. the doctor asked if it was due to playing basketball or netball… and of course I replied no… that was kind of an in joke because most of the patients that morning were ankle injuries from playing netball!!

      My point is that George thought he was going to be ok, he also did not want to go to emergency because of the cost. He did go to his family practice the next morning so it is not correct to say that he did not seek medical attention.

    CalFed in reply to Lady Penguin. | July 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Natasha Richardson was lucid and asymptomatic for hours after a fall during a ski lesson, but died two days later from an epidural hematoma suffered as a result of the fall.

Look, Roa is a expert “whore”. She will testify to whatever it is she is pointed to.

I think it would be easy to find her taking exactly the opposite positions in a case where the State is trying to prove bashing someone’s head into concrete is a lethal attack.

That is who she is, and what her career indicates. She’s an apparent embarrassment.

Andrew, if the state is allowed to bring into evidence GZ college info, to establish frame of mind, I do not understand how 3 yr old info would establish state of mind. Wouldn’t the court be required to allow the fighting info on TM.

    No, it’s not “tit-for-tat” like that. It depends on the purpose for which the evidence is being offered, whether it’s relevant, and whether its probative weight (how much it helps prove some issue of the case, to put it simply) outweighs any prejudicial weight.

    Here the State is offering Zimmerman’s college records not merely to offer school records but to prove their theory of the case that Zimmerman was a wannabe cop who inappropriately acted out the role that fatal evening, leading to Martin’s death.

    There’s no corresponding rationale to introduce Zimmerman’s school records.

    Now, if the State was offering evidence that Zimmerman was likely the physical aggressor, Trayvon’s reputation for violence could (probably) similar be brought in, because the issue is complementary for the two sides, so to speak.

    Sorry if that doesn’t make complete sense, it’s been a long day.:-)

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      rhorton1 in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm

      Pursuant to section 90.404 (1)(a)of the Florida evidence code, the prosecution is allowed to offer evidence of defendant’s character only to rebut character evidence introduced by the defense. In other words, the prosecution cannot introduce evidence of Zimmerman’s violent character in its case-in-chief and, presumably, the defense will not open the door to the admission of bad character evidence in its case.

        swimmerbhs in reply to rhorton1. | July 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        U guys are forgetting this is the states case chief not defense although it seems like it from almost every witness.

      Voluble in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 3, 2013 at 2:24 am

      I can understand there may be a difference when it comes to the law but there is actually a fairly precise parallel between arguments. The defense’s theory of the case is (or could be if they so chose) that Martin was a wannabe thug just as the prosecution’s theory is that Zimmerman was a wannabe cop.

      From what I can tell, you are saying that the prosecution is conceding that Trayvon was the aggressor, or at least not accusing Zimmerman of being the aggressor, so there is no relevance to make an argument against something the prosecution has not alleged.

      Thanks again for your excellent coverage and patience with us non-lawyers.

        There is evidence that the Traydemark was indeed a wannabe gang member. That evidence should be relevant with regard to the events that took place.

theamishlawyer | July 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Seems to me Roa was manifestly unqualified to testify about some of the matters today.

Her money quote was: “The preponderance [of the evidence] would suggest that one impact is more plausible than – the way the head is shaped – to have two separate impacts.”

What was really needed there was a challenge of what factors or data was used to draw this conclusion. Previously she mentioned only the proximity of the lacerations.

Should have been pushed on exactly how many centimeters the lacerations were apart (does she know?) and what studies she has reviewed on the average distance between lacerations resulting from one vs. multiple impacts and how the contours of the skull affect proximity of lacerations.

Clearly she was simply making this up.

2nd Ammendment Mother | July 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

” In particular, they wished to admit Zimmerman’s college transcripts and his course records, including textbooks, from his criminal justice studies at a local junior college. ”

So, I guess if you’re trying to pursue a career in criminal justice you shouldn’t take those classes required by the course catalog from the list of provided teachers who supply a list of “required” reading materials. I’m just checking, since my daughter has a CJ minor, has her CCL and volunteers in a women’s shelter where things sometimes get volatile.

naughtynumbernine | July 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Quick ? – Is this blog inherently Conservative or does it just appear so due to a prevalence of rational people with competent, legal minds and thus a general consensus of opinion on this particular issue?

    Have a browse around of Professor Jacobson’s and his other co-bloggers’ posts here. In my opinion as a long-time lurker, I’d call it conservative/libertarian/classical liberal; but not GOP-apologist or far-right whacko.

      naughtynumbernine in reply to Amy in FL. | July 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Not sure what a classical Liberal is (maybe the smart version?), and one could contend that Libertarians are the only Conservatives left (fiscally of course) but I’m glad there’s some diversity around here. I realize now that my question was excessively (and accidentally) framed anyway so I certainly appreciate the answer. It’s just that considering what is known and what the laws are, at this point it’s fairly obvious that there’s one clear legitimate line of thought. (More parenthesis! YAR!)

    I can’t speak for the rest of the blog, but I was asked this earlier today and described myself as a “rational libertarian–a mix of “get off my lawn!” without the anarchist fantasies.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

If the Court does not accept what I expect will be a defense motion for a directed verdict, with all the lack of a state case will that allow for a reversal, should Zimmerman be found guilty of say, manslaughter? (Surely M2 is a memory by now).

Did O’Mara commit a bit of malpractice by bringing his client on TV where he made a statement that may be shown to be false?

Clear that the state is going for a manslaughter by trying to cast doubt on Zimmerman’s truthfulness and thus his claim that he feared serious harm.

    legacyrepublican in reply to DennisD. | July 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    I think GZs appearance needs to be taken in context. GZ was being tried in the court of public opinion.

    His coming on the air to answer questions by Sean Hannity provided a face, a voice, a contrasting memory to the media’s meme which was he was a white ( not true ), racist ( not true ), gun happy ( not true ), vigilante ( not true ) who chased down and killed a 12 year old black boy who was much smaller than him.

      healthguyfsu in reply to legacyrepublican. | July 3, 2013 at 2:50 am

      Looks like you got tired of adding parentheses so just to clarify I will finish for you…

      “who chased down (not true) and killed a 12 year old (not true) black boy who was much smaller (not true) than him.”

    VetHusbandFather in reply to DennisD. | July 2, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    To what ends, they cast doubt on Zimmerman’s story? If the Jury doubts some parts of Zimmerman’s story is rather irrelevant. What is relevant is whether or not they doubt the state’s story. They don’t have to believe everything Zimmerman said in order to have doubts about whether or not this was murder.

      caambers in reply to VetHusbandFather. | July 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Not really. People understand that there will be minor inconsistencies in the retelling of any story. The main point is the major points are consistent and that is what I think the jury will remember.

    Fabi in reply to DennisD. | July 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    “Did O’Mara commit a bit of malpractice by bringing his client on TV where he made a statement that may be shown to be false?”

    Felony lack of legal clairvoyance?

      raider3 in reply to Fabi. | July 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      It is never the right choice to subject a client charged with a crime to a tv interview.

    rhorton1 in reply to DennisD. | July 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Not if his client is acquitted.

      Humphreys Executor in reply to rhorton1. | July 3, 2013 at 1:01 am

      But how can you know what they are going to say before they say it? I could never, ever, advise a client facing serious criminal charges to talk openly. By doing so, he can truthfully, or by error, give the investigators pieces of a puzzle they don’t have, pieces that fit with untruthful pieces. I have often had the following dialogue with clients: Me: “There is one witness who I fear most in this case.” Client: “Who’s that?” Me: “You!”

That this trial is even happening is a huge miscarriage of justice.
Zimmerman had every right to protect himself from a viscous attack.
Travon was a thug/punk.
I’d have shot him too under the circumstances.
Travon got what he deserved and the world is a better place. Not because he was black, but simply because he was a thug/punk. If George hasn’t killed him in self-defense, Travon would have likely killed George ( and who knows how many more before his “career” was ended)

I missed the print examiner and the recap above is not clear. Did she not find any prints? Not ever GZ’s?

    raider3 in reply to hoglaw. | July 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve wondered this afternoon and evening if she found the prints of GZ.

    swimmerbhs in reply to hoglaw. | July 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    The testimony she gave, only one print was sent to her and she could not id it with anything else they had. She didnt testify that she id gz prints either.

ME Rao gives a load of BS at 26:20 thru 27:00 of this video. Geometry/physics taught me that only one point of a solid sphere(GZ’s head,though not a perfect sphere has a contour) can contact a plane at one time. Two injuries means at least two impacts. Her bringing up “forces are different” rambling was very confused for such an educated person.

Uncle Samuel | July 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Even Drudge is not giving the full, balanced, truthful story of this trial.

He has a big graphic of sweet 12-13 year old Trayvon in a hoodie and one link to this headline:
“Sanford Police Chief Fears ‘Violence’ in Response to Zimmerman Verdict…”

Of course, Drudge will get a lot of hits if there are riots, lootings and even cracka killin, but he wouldn’t incite Holder’s people, would he… ?

IMO, this was the prosecution’s strongest day yet. The defense did an admirable job of putting those brush fires out. Still lacking though, is anything that would convince me, as a juror, to vote guilty for either 2nd degree murder, or manslaughter.

Ignoring Rao’s ambivalence toward the defense, which was….obvious….I don’t see where she brought anything new to the table. Her testimony didn’t bolster the state’s case against Z.

Carol Herman | July 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Today, I finally figured out why Judge Nelson has allowed cameras in her courtroom! Ahead, she may be hoping that if a Supreme Court justice passes away, while Obama is still in office. She wants to be on the short list for replacements.

You think I’m kidding? No. I’m not. And, the longer this trial takes the harder it will be for the “Mutt & Jeff team of defense attorneys, to have anyone remembering what occurred on Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4. Day 65. Whatever.

What went wrong? O’Mara (and West) fell in love with being on camera! It’s as if they’ve got nothing else to do. But play “defense counsel” in Nelson’s courtroom. AND, SHE HATES THEM!

What happened this morning? SURPRISE! The prosecutor’s office stayed up all night to create a “motion” that Nelson used to put Mutt & Jeff on the spot!

They weren’t prepared to think on their feet!

The poor jurors. Females no less. Coming in. Sitting down. Getting. And, the only way, we the audience, can get any details about what’s happening on stage, is to come here. (Or some who “go there”) just to vent. And, pray. That Zimmerman can be acquitted.

In a mock trial (that I saw because I Googled Gerry Spence), he actually defended Lee Harvey Oswald from a murder wrap. (If he hadn’t, in fact, been murdered.)

I wish you could have heard his plea to the 12 jurors. Talking about “doubt.” And, how even if you’ve got a smidgen of doubt, it’s not good enough to convict.

Can Mutt & Jeff stop riding a bicycle around the courtroom and get very serious about the clock!

Eventually, because there’s now such a lineup of women, including the incompetent Valerie Rao, who obviously cut Trayvon’s feet off … so she could measure his height at 5’11’ … HELLO, he was taller than her measuring tape would allow!

When the Defense gets a chance to “go.” … Won’t anybody please get a medical examiner who can point to Trayvon’s actual height?

No, we don’t have all day. All night.

Hiring the wrong lawyer(s) can be more fatal than hiring the wrong surgeon. (At least in teaching hospitals, surgical work gets scrutinized. And, not just by the medical examiner.)

    raider3 in reply to Carol Herman. | July 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I am glad MOM did at least hire Bob Hirschorn, the best in the business at jury selection.

      Ragspierre in reply to raider3. | July 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      Oh, NO… Not JUST jury selection. He is a JURY CONSULTANT.

      He works the trial, beginning to end. That is a HUGE difference.

      He is…or I expect is…watching the jurors intensely, noting their reactions, weighing what moves them, what disgusts them, etc.

      MASSIVE advantage for Zimmerman.

        Fabi in reply to Ragspierre. | July 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm

        So during the trial, he’s looking for cues from the jury to tailor some kind of response from the defense?

        I think that’s very interesting (if I’m assuming correctly).

          Ragspierre in reply to Fabi. | July 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm

          Absolutely. PLUS, he is working to verify and adjust whatever conclusions he made about the jurors prior to empaneling.

          He will help shape the closing argument, down to which juror you look at while making a point.

Carol Herman | July 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Google is most interesting! I Googled Dr. Shiping Bao. He trained in China! Will the defense call him? Since he did the “real” autopsy. Since Trayvon’s height, when he was alive, was TALL. Over six feet. Are their special Chinese measurements, where you can put people’s feet into soup? And, so he just cut them off at the ankle?

Or worse. Did RAO erase BAO’s work and re-estimate some of the numbers? Oy. I hope O’Mara can challenge some of the prosecution witnesses. If not all.

    fogflyer in reply to Carol Herman. | July 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I am just guessing, but perhaps rigor mortis makes it difficult to fully elongate the body and get an accurate measurement?

      swimmerbhs in reply to fogflyer. | July 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      great guess but you would be wrong, rigor mortis only last for about 60 hrs from time of death. most mes wont do an autopsy or look at a body tell it is gone away to get complete measurements. When getting your id you are asked how tall you are. and TMs id said 6 foot so he though he was taller then he actually was too.

    swimmerbhs in reply to Carol Herman. | July 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    google said he is an me in Birmingham alabama, he got the heck out of dodge after this case lol

txantimedia | July 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Jeralyn has a post up about the trial – George Zimmerman Trial – Walking Back the Damage

The test is whether Zimmerman reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent (1) imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or (2) the imminent commission of a forcible felony by Martin against him, such as aggravated battery.

That changes things for me. I really hadn’t thought about that aspect of self defense law.

Zimmerman didn’t even need to be in fear of imminent harm or death. He was justified in shooting Trayvon as soon as Trayvon committed aggravated battery on him. Which he most assuredly did.

Surely the defense is aware of this and will bring it up in their defense, right Andrew?

    The defense will hammer it flat.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      fogflyer in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      Andrew, this is something I have been interested in.
      The Califonia law on self defense states that deadly force can be used to stop a felony from being committed. It does not specify “forcible felony”

      What I was told in my CCW class though, that while that was the law, don’t try it!
      Apparently courts/judges/case law has ruled that you better be in fear of serious bodily harm or death.

      How is a common citizen supposed to know that they can not go by the penal code of the state?
      According to the letter of the law, I should be able to shoot someone if I catch them stealing my car, but apparently, I will go to jail for a long time if I do.

      Yes, I have ordered your book already 🙂

        The statutory law tells you the legislature’s intent.

        The case law tells you how that intent is actually applied.

        Relying solely on statutory law is a good way to do a long spell in prison.

        You need to know the statutes AND how they are applied.

        Know the LAW (TM). The whole kit and kaboodle.

        Of course, since you ask how a layman is supposed to work all that out in the context of self-defense, I can only lament if only someone had written a book to address precisely that . 🙂

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          fogflyer in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

          I guess you missed the part where I said I already ordered your book. Can’t wait to read it.

          It still seems really unfair to me that a citizen can’t go by the written law. How the heck am I supposed to know what case law is? The sheriff’s office even gave me the penal code that applies when they give you the permit. Maybe there should be a big asterisk on there!

          I know that YOU know.

          Doesn’t mean EVERYBODY knows.

          Which is the goal. 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      DennisD in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Although if jurors don’t find that Martin initiated the altercation it wouldn’t apply I would suppose.

    rhorton1 in reply to txantimedia. | July 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    The self-defense instructions also contain this language:

    “In deciding whether defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you must judge [him] [her] by the circumstances by which [he] [she] was surrounded at the time the force was used. The danger facing the defendant need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, the defendant must have actually believed that the danger was real.”

    That language suggests that use of deadly force is appropriate only when there is no other way out of the predicament. The government will, I think, emphasize that Zimmerman, being 40 lbs heavier and trained in MMA did not have to resort to deadly force.

      txantimedia in reply to rhorton1. | July 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      rhorton1, you are good at ignoring the parts you don’t want to mention. I’ll give you that.

      Here’s the instruction straight from the Florida Supreme Court’s jury instructions.

      A person is justified in using deadly force if [he] [she] reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent
      1. imminent death or great bodily harm to [himself] [herself] or another, or
      2. the imminent commission of (applicable forcible felony) against [himself] [herself] or another.

      You got that? He’s justified if he had a fear of imminent death or great bodily harm OR to prevent the imminent commission of aggravated battery on him.

      IOW, Zimmerman is justified in two ways; fear of harm AND to prevent Martin’s aggravated battery on him.

      BTW, if Zimmerman was such a genius on self defense law (as the prosecution seems to be prepared to argue), he would have known that he didn’t need to “fabricate” a story that Martin went for his weapon. He would have known he was already justified in firing the moment Trayvon punched him.

      The truth is, Zimmerman screamed for help for more than 40 seconds and never pulled his firearm. It was only when he realized that it was either him or Trayvon that he drew and fired.

      I would have shot Trayvon as soon as he cold-cocked me, and I wouldn’t have just shot once. I would have shot until he went down (or got off of me if he made it that far). I could care less what color he is/was.

      Bottom line? Don’t screw with an informed CHL holder. It could easily cost you your life.

        rhorton1 in reply to txantimedia. | July 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm

        Settle down young man. Look at the middle of page 65 of those jury instructions and you will see the language I referred to. The jury will be instructed on that language as well as the language you cited. I am not ignoring anything. I am well aware of the arguments that are available to the defense. In order to correctly assess the trial, you (and everyone) needs to be recognize what the prosecution in trying to do with the jury and what the relevant law is. Just because you would acquit if you were on the jury, does not mean this jury will.

      fogflyer in reply to rhorton1. | July 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Perhaps, but I think the argument that he was on his back, with an attacker on top of him that was repeatedly hitting his broken nose and striking his head into the concrete might make it clear that his extra 40 lbs wasn’t doing him much good.

      Add to that the fact that he was screaming for help for over 30 seconds before using deadly force, certainly shows to me that he had exhausted all other resources and was justified in its use.

        rhorton1 in reply to fogflyer. | July 3, 2013 at 12:14 am

        You have accurately stated the facts that support Zimmerman’s position and have explained why those facts are persuasive to you. Now, let’s do a little exercise: state for me, the best facts and the best argument the prosecution has to support its case. Lawyers do this exercise so they can fully understand the adversarial position and what must be done to counter that position

          Isn’t that what what we’ve seen over the last seven days has been all about? That *IS* “the best facts and the best argument the prosecution has to support its case”.

          Sad, isn’t it.

          fogflyer in reply to rhorton1. | July 3, 2013 at 1:34 am

          Trayvon was unarmed.
          George admits to following Trayvon.
          George has called in suspicious black youths several times.
          George shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

          These are obviously not all the facts, but perhaps the most relevant.
          Problems are…
          1. I can’t put them into as neat and believable of a package as I can the evidence that goes toward Zimmerman’s innocence.
          2. That has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

          As far as coming up with a scenario for the prosecution, this is what I would try and go for:

          Zimmerman was profiling Trayvon and was pissed that these F’n punks always get away.

          This time he was going to make sure he kept his eye on this punk.

          Trayvon saw Zimmerman following him, several times, and got pissed. (I wouldn’t go with the fear angle as I see no way to explain why he didn’t just continue the 300 feet back home if he was scared)

          Trayvon decided to go confront Zimmerman. He went up to him and said, “Hey, why are you following me!”

          Zimmerman, as he has stated, reached into his pocket to grab his cellphone.

          Upon seeing this, Trayvon thought Zimmerman was going for a weapon and struck George in self defense.

          The fight ensued and George shot Trayvon.

          This is the best believable scenario I can come up with for the prosecution, but while it may be possible, I certainly don’t think it would remove any reasonable doubt.
          I really have tried to play out both sides, but just don’t see any way the state can meet their burden of proof.

          Of course, it is not over yet.

          The best facts for the prosecution:

          Trayvon’s assault of Zimmerman wasn’t THAT bad.



          Assumes facts not in evidence.

          Ah, finally a sensible post from rhorton1.

          Funny you should suggest presenting the contrary position–it’s something I happen to do for a living, and I’d be more than pleased to perform the task for you on a professional basis.

          To begin I will require an initial retainer of $4,000, in the form of a cashier’s check, made out to Law of Self Defense LLC, to: P.O. Box 312, Maynard, MA 01754. Details of the retainer arrangement will follow. I look forward to working with you.

          Oh . . . wait, you thought I’d do your work for you for free?

          Ha, ha, silly horton!

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Zimmerman was not trained in MMA. You will have to wait to hear what the gym person says. However, I can add here that trying to keep fit at the gym is not evidence of being trained in MMA.

Carol Herman | July 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm

When a judge doesn’t give a ruling right away, it means they contact senior members “above them” who can aid them in picking (or making) the right legal choice.

This is a public spectacle. Nelson also understands that if she rules, here, broadly in favor of the prosecution … to allow in all sorts of extraneous records … She is responsible for making the trial last longer!

At what point do the jurors just want to go home?

And, IF this “extraneous” issue is something Nelson wants to ask one of her “brethren” about … How would the judicial advice go? PAGING JUDGE RICHARD POSNER!

I guess, t’marra, there’s a college professor who is gonna come to court expecting to be called as a witness. (Does it make his mouth dry?)

Zimmerman actually comes to court each day wearing ties that are GORGEOUS! He knows how to pick out wardrobe. So every time the prosecutor says he’s a “wanna be cop” … I keep thinking … No. Chris Serino dresses like a cop.

I’m watching Danine Manette explain on Dr. Drew (HNN) the lack of empathy in this case.

She then went on to relate a story how a van circled around 3 or more times scaring her in her teen years after school got out early.

She elaborated that she didn’t know if it was an undercover, a truant officer or who, but if the man had got out of the van, she would have picked up whatever and tried to kill him with whatever was available. A rock, a bottle, whatever.

It must be even scarier if your attempting a burglary in the dark, and the neighborhood watchman catches you.(just my opinion on the totality of the facts, many which are not in evidence.)

The gun grabbers have failed in removing guns from the hands of police in blue states, and if you try to kill a truant officer, undercover, or whatever, you will likely end up dead, as the wanna be cops up here actually are cops, and they kill with impunity on a regular basis, with far less reasonableness than the GZ case.

I keep forgetting that the defense hasn’t even (formally) started presenting its case yet.

    txantimedia in reply to Amy in FL. | July 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Apparently the prosecution does as well.


    Or, to put it another way, we just completed our 7th day of State’s evidence. Is there ANYONE (even counting horton and herpes) who can genuinely say they do NOT have a reasonable doubt?

    If that’s the case, how might we expect to look after the defense has had a similar period to present it’s own witnesses, and not be constrained in questioning by the scope of direct?

    If you think it’s ugly for the State now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      I have been thinking about what the defense would do when it comes time to put on their case. They seem to have blown a lot of holes in the prosecution’s case and it seems to me they have established reasonable doubt. I wonder if they will put Zimmerman on the stand. His story has been told through the Hannity interview and his friend who wrote the book. I don’t practice criminal law but I know enough to know it’s always a risk to put the defendant on the stand.

      I think there’s also a risk of overdoing it. Sometimes the best strategy is to let things stand as they are, it’s a flaw nearly every attorney suffers from– asking too many questions, putting on more evidence when there is already enough there which can backfire. I see a lot of criticism of the defense (not from you but other sources) but they seem to me to be pretty disciplined and capable. In spite of the prosecution’s advantage in that they are putting on their case and the fact that the judge seems to rule favorably for the prosecution in most instances, the defense is controlling the narrative. It’s easier sometimes to damage another party’s theory and I wonder if they run the risk of the prosecution cutting them up when on cross of defense witnesses.

      rhorton1 in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 3, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Since I’m called out: at the beginning of the trial I thought the most likely verdict was Not Guilty Murder II, Guilty Manslaughter. Having listened to virtually all of the testimony, I now think

txantimedia | July 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Carol Herman, I swear to God I understand less than one third of what you write.

styrgwillidar | July 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm

You know, to address the point about extent of injuries not being relevant– I would recall every LEO and ask them a question along the lines of – If you were being rushed by someone with an axe, would you shoot before the blade hit you or wait until you had life threatening injuries?

Every single one.

Maybe an interesting point to throw out here: If it’s believed that Zimmerman was screaming for help, this proves not only that he was trying to desperately end the conflict but that Martin had no intention of complying.

With Zimmerman’s full story out, the defense doesn’t even need self defense because of the injuries being inflicted upon him. The issue is Martin going for the gun. It was a fight over a gun where the winner survives. If you are lawfully carrying a gun and somebody who is already hurting you goes for your gun, shooting him is your only option for survival. Preventing your assailant from getting your gun is self defense.

txantimedia | July 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb. I think, once the defense has brought forth its witnesses, to testify on self defense law, the danger of head injuries, etc., etc. the jury is going to be VERY pissed off at the state. They’re going to be thinking, these jerks have had me locked up in here and away from my family for (x) weeks for this? Screw them. It’s obvious he’s not guilty. I’m not wasting my time. Let’s vote. I want to go home now!

Since judge nelson rules she will allow school records but only the two classes here are the syllabus for the classes and nothing in this classes say anything about floridas self defense laws

    jayjerome66 in reply to swimmerbhs. | July 3, 2013 at 1:13 am

    The state wouldn’t have said it if they didn’t have ‘some’ evidence of it. (also you links are for 2013: class topics may have changed). We should know tomorrow.

It’s one thing to compare Zimmerman’s Hannity interview with his police statement. However, it strikes me as quite another to challenge the veracity of the interview that was not under given oath, and which is only in evidence because the state itself requested it in the first place. The state is challenging the veracity of its own evidence, rather than challenging the veracity of anything provided by Zimmerman. This stinks.

    Jazzizhep in reply to cpurick. | July 3, 2013 at 12:11 am

    i believe you are thinking about that incorrectly. GZ is not their witness the video of the interview is their evidence. If they were challenging the video they would be saying it was doctored, or edited. Zimmerman, and his atty, opened this can of worms up themselves. It is the same thing the defense has done with the crump interview: “See she keeps changing her story”

      cpurick in reply to Jazzizhep. | July 3, 2013 at 12:44 am

      But the state is not trying to say that Zimmerman is changing his story. They’re trying to establish that a statement in the video is false. This is different.

      The statements in the video are not offered as evidence with any assurance of truthfulness. The video may be useful to impeach testimony in evidence, but the state intends to impeach the video. The problem is that the defense has never offered any assurance that the video is truthful, so I don’t see how it’s subject to being impeached. I think this is what the defense was referring to when it claimed the state is trying to “open its own door”.

      The video is the state’s evidence. They can use it to impeach the defense’s evidence. They have offered it only because they intend to impeach it themselves. The bottom line is that the defense has never affirmed that the video is truthful, and it doesn’t conflict with any statements that have been affirmed to be truthful. The statements in question are in the video, but they are not testimony.

The no fingerprints on the gun thing is curious. I remember the media reporting at the time that “no Martin DNA found on Zimmerman gun, devastating Zimmerman’s case,” the word “devastating” being the media’s word. As if reaching for a gun makes DNA magically fly off your fingertips, cross space and adhere itself. Zimmerman merely said the Martin reached for the gun, not grabbed it. Reaching and grabbing are two different things. Are these people obtuse?

it seems that the main, perhaps only, purpose for introducing this visit was to show the moment when Hannity asks Zimmerman if he was familiar with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, and Zimmerman answers in the negative.

How is that relevant and admissible? “Stand your ground” is not applicable in this case.

    jayjerome66 in reply to WilliamJD. | July 3, 2013 at 12:59 am

    During the Hannity interview, GZ said he had never heard of ‘stand your ground’ until after the shooting. The purpose of the school testimony is to discredit him to the jury for that deceptive statement.

      cpurick in reply to jayjerome66. | July 3, 2013 at 1:24 am

      The purpose of the video and the school testimony is to create an impression that Zimmerman is so savvy with self defense law that he can fabricate a self defense defense on the fly to mitigate his crime of second degree murder.

      What the state needs is a statement from Zimmerman saying he didn’t know anything about Stand Your Ground. This tack must be a recent idea because God knows they had ample opportunity to just ask him. The video is here because it has the statement the state needs him to make.

      Discrediting Zimmerman is merely the legal excuse for bringing in this “evidence”. They’re not really trying to discredit him, they’re actually trying to build a very specific alternate explanation of the self defense argument. They want the jury to think the whole self defense thing has been staged to cover up a murder.

      Some idiots believe Zimmerman was planning the murder when he loaded the gun. Others believe he started planning it when Trayvon screamed, and he knew he’d have to claim those screams of his own if was to have any hope of getting off. There are all kinds of idiots, and they believe all sorts of crap. And, sadly, a lot of them vote, too.

      My money’s on Occam.

        was it really deceptive or was it a case of Zimmerman not remembering that it had been covered in coursework.

        Zimmerman has memory problems.

      rantbot in reply to jayjerome66. | July 3, 2013 at 2:36 am

      “Stand your ground” is a trendy modern term for a much older legal concept. I first heard of the legal rationale in the 1970s, in a discussion of the Gun Control Act of 1968, but hadn’t heard the phrase “stand your ground” until perhaps 2003.

      So it is not terribly implausible that even someone rather up-to-date on relevant laws would not be entirely familiar with the current press newspeak, particularly since the press in general seems to have not the foggiest notion about what “SYG” actually means.

      Twisting this into deception by Zimmerman will require sophistry of a truly awesome level.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to jayjerome66. | July 3, 2013 at 4:53 am

      This is not a Stand Your Ground case – Zimmerman was not standing and could not stand.

      This is not a Duty to Retreat Case – Zimmerman was overpowered, pinned down and could not retreat.

      This is a Right to Self-Defense and a Use of Deadly Force to Your Life Case.

      And this is a no one would come to help him Case.

      And this is a Gun Control, Racial hate-mongering and Election Year Politicization case.

      This is a Leftist Political Circus Case.

        Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 3, 2013 at 4:54 am

        Correction (edit button please!):

        This is a Right to Self-Defense and a Use of Deadly Force to *SAVE* Your Life Case.

Odds on the State’s intending to insert Tramommy in just before the holiday recess?

I grew up on the west side of chicago, and it’s inconceivable to me that TM didn’t have the street smarts to know that GZ was on the phone to the police. TM wasn’t scared of a stranger, he was scared of that stranger putting the cops on him. Now, whatever TM was doing that took him so long to make it to the store and back, it was something he didn’t want the cops to see. That explains why he didn’t just go home when GZ first saw him run, and that explains why he went back to find out exactly what GZ saw that made GZ call the cops. My guess is that it had something to do with the traces of Mary Jane in TM’s system. If the defense is allowed to offer an explanation of TM’s attack on GZ, it will tie everything in a nice bow for the defense.

    Fen in reply to KV. | July 3, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I wondered the same thing. But then why go all the way home to drop off incriminating evidence? Why not just find a dark corner with a bush and put it there instead?

      Being able to find it easily after he wins the fight.

      OhHappydaysAreHereAgain in reply to Fen. | July 4, 2013 at 4:49 am

      Trayvon’s street smarts is something that has not be discussed much. Unfortunately that is something that doesn’t get into trial. TM 6 foot at at a cocky age of 17 was not going to take no bs from a 5’9 chubby hispanic. He was dissed.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to KV. | July 3, 2013 at 4:45 am

    I don’t see him worried about pot. Something else. Possibly he didn’t want the police knowing where he was staying. Or, maybe he had burglary tools on him. Does appear credible that Martin would figure out that GZ was on the phone with police when he walked around his car at the club house looking in. Unlikely to ever know.

    The thing that has stayed in my mind since I saw the reenactment taken the day after the incident, is that the resaon that GZ was suspicious of Martin had nothing to do with his race or youth (which GZ didn’t know until later), but rather, because he truly looked like someone casing the house where GZ first saw him for burgary. The way that GZ described it, I think that most here would have been suspicious of TM, even, if they were able to get around the racialist narrative, many of those hoping for a conviction here. The most logical reason for TM to be walking around slowly on the front lawn of the townhouse in the middle of the rain is that he was casing the joint.

    What is a 17 year old male to do with himself, with nothing to do, no job, suspended from school, and many miles from his friends? Sure, a little drugs, but that takes money, and his father would likely resist giving him enough money to buy enough pot to keep him stoned until he could go back to school. So, he probably did what so many of us did at his age, when we had the time – he got into trouble, and the most likely thing on his mind at that point, esp. in view of his having been caught with stolen jewelry (and burglary tools?) earlier, was to pick up a bit of pocket cash through burglary.

    The problem though that he had,, is that GZ had seen him casing the one townhouse, and had gotten a decent look at him when he walked around his car. If GZ knew where he lived, and a burglary did happen in the neighborhood, TM would now be on the top of the police’s list of suspects. Or, indeed, really almost any other petty criminal act in the immediate area. And, that may be the reason that he didn’t go to the house where he was living (or did and immediately left), and instead doubled around. Or, he was just not ready yet to go in for the night.

Carol Herman | July 3, 2013 at 1:03 am

There’s a difference between common sense and “logic.” (A professor of “logic” had, stood in front of the class and said: “If the moon were made of blue cheese, and you were standing on the moon, you’d be standing on blue cheese.”) To get an ‘A’ you have to identify this as a valid statement.

You know, all the jurors have common sense. (And, perhaps? Common boredom.) And, they heard “guy” give a walloper of an opening using cuss words. “F#CK THESE @SSHOLES, THEY ALWAYS GET AWAY.”

The state is trying to prove that by expressing these views Zimmerman fits the bill for a Murder 2 charge. Proving this comes with a very heavy burden of proof for the State.

But haven’t we all cussed at one time or another?

How many of us have actually cursed under our breaths? Why exclude the jurors? Females. Do you know, for instance, what females scream out when they are in labor? It can be very graphic. And, it doesn’t come with pleasantries towards the man “who put the baby inside.”

Where’s the hearts and minds of the jurors right now?

Yes, by the time we come to the close, the “swear words” will be brought up as “proof” Zimmerman is a racist. It is a line of thinking for which I have utter contempt.

I don’t know what the jurors do, ahead. But right now? Right now I’m thinking most of them just what to go home.

If there weren’t cameras in that courtroom this case would be winding up!

Is this an intelligence test for women? Yeah. Similar to the way raising the American Flag at Iwo Jima was symbolically such a good example of America’s bravest men.

    RedSilver9499 in reply to darwin-t. | July 3, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Even if true, it has nothing to do with the trial. Zimmeran wasn’t an undercover detective investigating stolen property from Trayvon’s school.

    He absolutely did have a right to ask Trayvon who he was and if he lived in the community, if that’s all he did. We’ll never know since only Zimmerman is left because people in housing adjacent to the incident cowarded in their house while someone was crying for help, instead of responding until Trayvon was shot. This is a tough case for those 6 people.

    Trayvon’s past looks like he was walking trouble on steroids. Since the community didn’t have lighting available in a place where crime was high, I can’t figure out why it was gated. Gated + no lighting to cover common areas so people can all keep an eye on their property or something like this happening = unreasonable beyond belief. Areas so dark nobody could see anything except for Mr. Goode, except he couldn’t admittedly see well enough to know what was happening to Zimmermans’ head…..who’s in charge of this community? Zimmerman never will be even if aquitted.

      Uncle Samuel in reply to RedSilver9499. | July 3, 2013 at 4:38 am

      Yes, it has to do with this trial.

      If true, it goes to suspicious behavior that night and to motive for Trayvon jumping Zimmerman.

      Same with Trayvon’s drug, gun and fighting habits.

      As well as his love for bragging on the internet about his exploits which he would have done if he had succeeded in beating Zimmerman to a pulp or shooting him.

      “You gonna die tonight, MFKer.”

      It is doubtful that Tracy or Rachel would have turned him in.

      Tracy called a Zimmerman relative a MFKer on day one of the trial.

        Bruce Hayden in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 3, 2013 at 4:54 am

        As I pointed out above, TM was acting suspicious, wandering around slowly on the wet grass on the front lawn of a townhouse in the rain. Why else would he be doing that, except to case the place, most likely for burglary.

        The relevance of having been caught before with stolen jewelry and a burglary tool is that that is some indication that this may not have been the first time that he was involved in this sort of thing. A late adolescent male with a history of this sort of thing is more likely to be engaged in this in the future than someone who was older settled down, and had never been so involved. It doesn’t prove that TM was casing the house for burglary then or later, but rather just makes it a bit more likely.

        Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 3, 2013 at 6:49 am

        Trayvon’s history has as much to do with the incident as Zimmerman’s does.

        Trayvon’s mindset and actions that night are just as pertinent to the shooting as Zimmerman’s.

        Trayvon’s possession of marijuana, stolen goods, tweets/internet pages with photos of guns, bragging about drug use, suspensions for fighting, MMA experience, and hate speech are all pertinent to his mindset that night.

        If Zimmerman’s character, training and mindset is investigated and presented to the jury, Trayvon’s must be investigated and presented to the jury also.

          Milhouse in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 3, 2013 at 8:43 am

          Martin’s history is only relevant if the prosecution asks “why would he attack Zimmerman?”. Then the defense can offer reasons. If the prosecution is even mildly competent they won’t open that door. Had Zim recognised Martin and known of his history, then the defense could have brought it in to explain why he suspected him of being up to no good. But since he had no idea who the suspect was, his suspicion was based entirely on what he appeared to be doing, not on his unknown past, so that past is irrelevant.

          RedSilver9499 in reply to Uncle Samuel. | July 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

          I was going to respond to the responses of why Trayvons past can’t come in because of what I originally posted and respondants obviously just don’t get it or can’t critically think for themselves.

          The thing is, once I read Milhouses comment, he already explained it to the details that obviously need to be explained to people that have their mind made up about what was in Zimermans mind that night. This the most important part of Milhouses comment “Had Zim recognised Martin and known of his history,”

          What I said in my original post… “Zimmeran wasn’t an undercover detective investigating stolen property from Trayvon’s school.”….Milhouse gets it from reasoned thinking, and others plainly don’t because they most likely can’t think outside of their own wants to the outcome of this trial.

          I hope Zimmerman gets off if he truly should get off. The thing is, he is the only one that knows what was in his mind that night. The jury has a tough decision to make.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to darwin-t. | July 3, 2013 at 4:34 am

    School was covering up misdemeanors to felonies to keep young black males in school.

    Something to do with funding and/or Federal regulations, no doubt.

Would the prosecutor volunteer to allow someone to smack their head 3 times on cement so they can prove it is not serious *wink*

A graphic representation of the mma style smackdown will probably be enough when tied to a talk about your head hitting concrete “three plus times”

Can’t the argument over serious/life threatening injuries be looked at by the jurors as irrelevant? If you listen to Zimmerman’s account, it’s only until Trayvon goes for his gun that he feels he must use it.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to DennisD. | July 3, 2013 at 5:17 am

    I think that the argument is that GZ didn’t have a reasonable belief in impending death or great bodily injury from TM from only having his head bashed into the concrete three times. He may had such a fear,, but for self-defense to work, the fear had to be reasonable.

    This, of course, (probably intentionally) misses a couple important things. First, TM may have bashed GZ’s head against the concrete more than 3 times. Three was just the minimum number of times TM did this. Second, GZ probably didn’t know that TM was done doing so, if he indeed was Third, this was followed by, or coincident with, TM holding his nose and covering his mouth, essentially trying to suffocate GZ in order to keep him from yelling for help. And, finally, the stated reason why GZ drew his firearm and shot TM was that TM had seen it and was reaching for it. That alone, without any other physical contact between the two, was likely sufficient to support the use of deadly force by GZ in self-defense.

    Remember, the prosecution has a weak case here. I don’t think that they really believe, absent some sort of miracle, that they can win this case. But they would be completely embarrassed if they couldn’t come up with enough evidence to get the self-defense claim to the jury. Worse, if the judge were to dismiss the case before the defense even had to put on its case. Having the entire case dismissed (which the judge should do if there is no real evidence against self-defense) would make it clear to the world that the case was brought and prosecuted entirely for political reasons, squandering significant resources, and ruining GZ’s life. So, what they need is enough FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about what happened that a jury could just plausibly, maybe, convict. And, then get the manslaughter and self-defense/use of deadly force instructions to the jury, and let the jury do their dirty work, most likely finding GZ not guilty of manslaughter through the legal use of deadly force in self-defense.

Andrew your coverage of this trial is excellent. Really well done, sir!

Just to clarify one thing; In your day 7 discussion “Video: George Zimmerman on Sean Hannity Show, FOX” you inaccurately listed a requirement for a Florida CWFL when you wrote:

“A negative response does not ring true, if only because Zimmerman’s possession of a Florida Concealed Weapons License–which you can see here, in comparison to my own FL CWL –would have required him to take training that included coverage of Stand Your Ground and other Florida defensive-force laws.”

This isn’t any requirement to be trainined in SYG laws. There is no requirement under FL law that anyone trains anyone else on the statutes regarding self defense. The statute requirement referred on the application is 790.06(2)(h). The only thing the class is for is to certify one is “competent with a firearm.” There is no standard for these classes, and a certified instructor COULD choose not to cover them at all. Now, few probably ever would, and I don’t know any that wouldn’t talk about the laws in their class, but there is no legal requirement to do so. You might also note that seven alternative things such as military service substitute as meeting the requirements of 790.06(2)(h).

The only place you will find reference to knowing these laws pertaining to self-defense is the application for the license itself. Just above the signature, the applicant swears or affirms that “I have been furnished a copy of Chapter 790, Florida Statutes, relating to weapons and firearms, and that I am knowledgeable of the provisions contained therein.” One could, albeit foolishly, simply read the statues and swear/affirm they are knowlegable of what they contain. Florida doesn’t require any more than that (in terms of knowing laws) to get a CWFL.

I certainly don’t recommend anyone do that. I think they should get all the education on these laws they can practicably obtain, but there’s no legal demand that they do so.

Thanks for your work in the trial coverage. It’s got to be a lot of work doing both a mid-day and a final day summary, but I am glad you do it that way.

    Hey Steam, thanks for that info. I’ll make a note of it to the Day 7 wrap-up.

    In my case I never had to take any kind of training class for my Florida CWL because of other qualifications that already met the training requirement.

    I’ve never done CWL training in Florida, but have done considerable training of this sort in other states, and simply can’t imagine teaching a “deadly force” class without including–indeed, without centering the entire class on–the jurisdiction’s use of force laws. But that’s just me.

    Again, many thanks, and for anyone else who spots an error anywhere in my posts, please don’t hesitate to point it out. I won’t take it personally, I’ve been wrong once or twice before (just ask my first wife) 🙂

    In fact, I really appreciate the help in pushing everything that much closer to perfect accuracy.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

So the prosecution is really going to argue that the GZ thought so quick on his feet that he immediately came up with his story. He told it to John Manolo(sp) and Officer Tim Smith right at the scene. Manolo was within seconds. Plus he somehow knew that John Good has come outside and seen them in the grass and separately on the concrete. Smart guy, that George.

    Ragspierre in reply to LoriL. | July 3, 2013 at 7:45 am

    No, no. He had flash-cards in his wallet from his CJ classes.

    “Alibies for Dummies”.

“This trial is a travesty, and the best you can say for the prosecution is that they are conducting it in a manner calculated to lead to justice — i.e., wholly incompetently and in a way that serves the defense.”

Prosecutor Patterico at…

O’Mara said last night on AC360 that he thinks the state will be through today or Friday. If the four school/police app things get in (which we know with Nelson they will), I’d say Friday. So this time next week, it may be in the hands of the jury. I hope they have the nerves to do the right thing.

I am not a lawyer, but have had some experience in court as a simultaneous interpreter and as an expert witness (SDNY -US Attorney’s office, Federal Court, etc…, FBI, other US Federal agencies, Interpol, other international agencies…), and I see so many things here that I believe would never be allowed in Federal court, or in the New York State (or for that matter, in most European courts.
Other than the extremely strange witness deposition conditions of some of the witnesses, is it normal for a witness giving testimony in a trial to be allowed to give long-winded answers to questions requiring a simple Yes or No? In all venues where I have experience, the trial judge would admonish the witness to simply answer the question.
Thanks for this tremendous resource!

    Ragspierre in reply to Drosophila. | July 3, 2013 at 8:14 am

    To answer your question about witness answers…it varies enormously from court-to-court.

    Many judges will not help a lawyer control a witness, nor will they grant an “Object: non-responsive, move to strike” request. They should, they just won’t.

    Lawyers have to learn how to control witnesses…including their own. They also have to develop a means of communicating stuff to a jury about a witness that is being evasive, obdurate, or is simply ignoring the question and making their statement.

    One of the few things I’d fault O’Mara on is that he will let a witness run on him. He should at least have objections on the record for potential use on appeal. He also is quite quick witted, which leads him to ask compound questions, or to start one question, switch, and begin another. It is better to be more deliberate. Your job is persuasion, and you have to keep the jury with you.

Andrew, I have been following your twitter feed with much interest. You seem to have a pretty good feel of what is going on. Let me ask you this: When the State said “circumstantial evidence” did you ever think they were going to try and make what he might have been thinking circumstantial? And how do you think this is going to play with the Jury?

I have never seen a trial quite like this. An openly hostile to the Defense Judge, a State who is trying to make what is down, up, and caring about your community is a bad thing worthy of spite. I don’t get it at all.

I don’t think the State recovered that much yesterday. Mark O’Mara eviscerated that ME gently. imho.

Thank you Mr. Branca for your opinions and insight… I Am not an attorney, I just started to enjoy my retirement from driving tractor trailer… I have been following this case and I Am so glad I found this site… I was wondering if MOM use of “going fishing” upset the Judge because she did make mention of it…?? Is there a chance of Trademarks mother Taking the stand to identify who was screaming for help and if she does testify will that open the door for the defence to ask if she ever heard Trademark yell while he was in a fight or any other things about their past relationship or lack of.

Personally I’m shocked that the State of Florida is saying that Zimmerman’s injuries are irrelevant. I’m wondering if, in Florida, a battered woman calls the police with a broken nose and blood running down her face that they will say it’s no big deal and she really shouldn’t have followed her husband around the house nagging him? I guess you need to be actually dead to be a victim in Florida…

The jury is all women – I hope the defense will remind them that, if they’re ever bruised, bloody and afraid, they better not defend themselves. After all, they probably provoked it and their injuries aren’t so bad anyway…

    Excellent point. I agree completely.

    I can also see the narrative that “He shouldn’t have been out there anyway – if he’d stayed in his car none of this would have happened!” being translated into “She shouldn’t have been walking there anyway – she was asking for it!” in at least some of the female jurors’ minds.

[…] Zimmerman Trial Day 7 Wrap Up: Prosecution recovers a little, prepared to introduce college records […]

Here’s a question for the lawyers. As I understand it, the state put Zim’s interview with Hannity on, in order to point out what they think is a lie, the claim that he had never heard of the SYG law. OK, let’s suppose it was a lie; so what? Isn’t he entitled to lie to Hannity? Surely he could tell Hannity whatever he liked. He wasn’t under oath. How is his having done so (assuming he did) relevant to the case?

    Rick Z in reply to Milhouse. | July 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

    @ Milhouse :

    It can be indisputably proven in court that Mr. Zimmerman lied to Mr. Hannity, on national TV. The judge could award Mr. Hannity the right to make a really sad frown, and then to hold his breath until he turns blue in the face.

    Further, it can be shown that Mr. Zimmerman was aware of the laws against overtime parking.

    Florida law requires the judge to smack the prosecution forcefully with a large red herring.

    Ragspierre in reply to Milhouse. | July 3, 2013 at 9:14 am

    You can impeach with pretty much anything.

    The jury will decide if that is significant, or nit-picking.

      Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | July 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Yes, but what is being impeached here? His statement to Hannity? How is impeaching it relevant? Let’s assume that the entire interview was a string of lies; so what?

      Or are you saying that his (alleged) lie to Hannity is being adduced to impeach his general credibility, to establish that he is the kind of person who lies to talk show hosts, and beats puppies? I thought that line of evidence was not allowed at all, unless the defense were to open the door to it by claiming that he was a saint.

        Ragspierre in reply to Milhouse. | July 3, 2013 at 11:04 am

        Inconsistencies are always important, to some degree.

        To what degree, again, is a matter solely for the jury.

        Pauldd in reply to Milhouse. | July 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

        I agree that it Is troublesome to allow the prosecutor to introduce statements that are not part of any investigation and then impeach the statements. A couple points that occur to me.
        1) The interview was not under oath such that he would have a heightened focus on the content of what he was saying. Nor was it was not a statement to a police officer or a prosecutor who would be making decisions on whether to charge. In fact, the statement was made months after he was indicted so he could not possibly being trying the influence of the investigation. Moreover, the only reason the jury has seen the interview is because the state introduced it. Under hearsay rules, the defense could not have introduced the interview over the state’s objections. The interview was an attempt by Zimmerman to defend himself in the court of public opinion after months of unfavorable press coverage. It was not an attempt to defend himself in an ongoing investigation or trial.
        2) The answer was elicited in an otherwise friendly interview by a leading questions that clearly suggested the answer the interview was seeking (i.e. had you even heard of the stand your ground law?) Under these circumstances its easy while under the stress of a nationally televised interview to agree with suggested answer without thinking carefully about a course you had taken several years ago.
        3) “Stand your ground” is a short hand name used to refer to a subset of self-defense law that is not identified as such in the actual self-defense statutes. I think I heard the professor say he is not sure whether he referred the statutes in question by their short-hand name, although he clearly discussed their substance. In any event, Zimmerman took the course several years previously. Do you call all the technical details of courses you took in college.
        4) The account given by Zimmerman, if believed, is a straightforward self defense claim that does not invoke the stand your ground law. Zimmerman has not crafted a clever account that relies on special knowledge of the stand your ground law. Whether Zimmerman knew about the SYG law is a collateral issue that is not germaine the central issues of fact in this case.

        In short, while the fact the statement was made in an interview is unfortunate, it is hardly a severe blow to the defense. If the state had the type of compelling evidence that is typically presented by the state in a strong murder case, it would not be spending time on this collateral issue.

It is shameful that the prosecution is creating witnesses in order to promote a case against an innocent man. But it shows the power of the State. Had Zimmerman not gotten some contributions, he’d be stuck with some legal aide and going to jail.

The judge is a afraid and backing the prosecution. The jury may convict to avoid riots- as already stated by the police chief as a possibility.

Amazing level of bias and pressure. Illegal at best, criminal at worst.

Andrew – the state asked officer Serino if he had any evidence that TM was committing a crime on Feb 26, 2012? Did that open the door for the defense to introduce evidence during the defense case that TM was in fact committing a crime (e.g., smoking marijuana during his long trip to the store)?

RAO was brought in with a motive and prejudice.

But MOM cleaned her clock.


RedSilver9499 | July 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I was going to respond to the responses of why Trayvons past can’t come in because of what I originally posted and respondants obviously just don’t get it or can’t critically think for themselves.

The thing is, once I read Milhouses comment, he already explained it to the details that obviously need to be explained to people that have their mind made up about what was in Zimermans mind that night. This the most important part of Milhouses comment “Had Zim recognised Martin and known of his history,”

What I said in my original post… “Zimmeran wasn’t an undercover detective investigating stolen property from Trayvon’s school.”….Milhouse gets it from reasoned thinking, and others plainly don’t because they most likely can’t think outside of their own wants to the outcome of this trial.

I hope Zimmerman gets off if he truly should get off. The thing is, he is the only one that knows what was in his mind that night. The jury has a tough decision to make.

[…] Zimmerman Trial Day 7 Wrap Up: Prosecution recovers a little, prepared to introduce college records […]