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Zimmerman Trial Day 9 — Families Feud Over Scream Identification

Zimmerman Trial Day 9 — Families Feud Over Scream Identification

Today began with the expectation that it would the the day on which the State rested its case. That proved true, and it was. It was also among the most bizarre and disturbing days of a lengthy trial full to the brim with bizarre and disturbing days.

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s Mother

The first State witness of the day was, as anticipated Sybrina Fulton. She had two missions for her appearance: (1) identify the screamer in the background of the Jenna Lauer 911 recording as her son, Trayvon Martin; and (2) avoid saying anything nice about the reputation or character of her son that would open the door to the defense introducing into evidence Martin’s history of violence and drug use. She accomplished both.

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Part 2

Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Part 3

There was never, of course, any question that she would say exactly that, nor that the defense would fail to point out the suggestive conditions in which the identification initially took place–in the Mayor’s office, surrounded by family and family lawyers/advisors, and without any law enforcement officer present. Ms. Fulton’s credibility was also substantively damaged when she claimed that she had not known before hearing the tape that it was believed to contain the sound of her son’s last, desperate screams. That the persons responsible for playing that tape would not have prepared her beforehand for the shock–to not do so could only be described as monstrous.

Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s Half-brother

Next up was Martin’s half-brother, Jahvaris Fulton, also a son of Sybrina Fulton. He testified on the stand that the screamer was Trayvon Martin. On cross-examination, as so often has happened to State witnesses, the credibility of his testimony quickly vanished. Defense counsel O’Mara pointed out that two weeks after first hearing the recording played Jahvaris was still stating to reporters that he wasn’t sure that the recorded screams were those of Trayvon. When pressed, his answers became a series of “don’t know,” “not sure, ” can’t remember,” almost as if he’d been pushed outside the boundaries of the coaching for his testimony.

Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s half-brother, Part 2

Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s half-brother, Part 3

Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s half-brother, Part 4

Jahvaris Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s half-brother, Part 5

After Jahvaris the State introduced Dr. Shiping Bao, the medical examiner who had conducted the actual autopsy on Trayvon Marting. I can come up with no positive way to describe Dr. Bao’s testimony, nor the time at present to make the herculean effort to do so, but perhaps will touch on it in a post this weekend. Let it just be said that not only was his testimony not compelling of guilt, it would seem prudent for Dr. Bao to be exploring alternatives to his present employment.

State Rests, Defense Motions for Directed Verdict of Acquittal, Nelson Denies

At that, the State rested its case. The defense, in the person of Mark O’Mara, then made a rather desultory oral motion for a directed verdict of acquittal (in addition, presumably, to written motions separately submitted to the court). Unlike O’Mara’s usually energetic demeanor, this presentation was made in the tone of a lawyer speaking on a point of great importance on which he knew the judge had already decided against him.

Mantei provided the State’s counter to the motion for a directed verdict in a manner that cannot readily be described in language suitable for a family-accessible blog. To say it was histrionic, lacking in factual evidence, and rife with abject fabrications, would be to put the matter too kindly. O’Mara returned with fire in his belly to counter Mantei, showing the kind of firm but fierce determination we’ve come to expect from the defense.

After these lengthy arguments by both sides, Nelson rejected the motion for an acquitted verdict in a two sentence statement from the bench, which was disappointing but totally in keeping with her track record in this trial–nearly perfect reflexive support of the State prosecutors and disfavor of the defense.

What WAS surprising is when she immediately insisted–demanded, really–that the defense immediately call their first witness. This is notable because of the hour–5PM on a Friday afternoon in a long, long trial. For those not familiar with state courts, if you ever need to test fire a cannon without risk of human injury, any courthouse in the country at 5PM on a Friday is a pretty safe testing ground.

Gladys Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s Mother

The first defense witness was a bit of a surprise, but the kind I’ve come to expect from O’Mara and West–George Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys Zimmerman. She was here on a similar mission to that of Sabryna Fulton–to testify that the voice screaming for help on the Jenna Lauer 911 recording was her son. This she did. On cross Bernie de la Rionda took the tack of suggesting that one couldn’t really be expected to accurately match a person’s normal voice to that of them screaming–a deeply ironic approach considering that only before he had expected just that of Sabryna Fulton, and indeed had argued for such a matching through many days and experts of a Frye hearing. Asked if she had ever before heard her son scream like on the tape, Mrs. Zimmerman could only be honest–no, not exactly like that.

O’Mara came back strong, however. Is that scream of anguish, fear, and terror without question your son’s voice?” “Yes,” she answered.

Jorge Meza, Orange County Courthouse Deputy, Uncle of George Zimmerman

The second defense witness was George Zimmerman’s uncle, Jorge Meza, an Orange County Courthouse deputy with 36 years experience in uniform (Orange County abuts Seminole County). He appeared this day not as a law enforcement officer, however, but simply as George’s uncle. He testified that he had been at home working on his computer while his wife separately watched the news on television when he heard the scream come from the TV.

Instantly, he said, he knew it was George. “All I heard on the TV was the scream, it was my nephew screaming for his life, without question. It WAS George screaming.” He explained the sound was so familiar to him because George had long played with his own sons, and he was familiar with their laughs and screams together. “I felt the screams in my heart,” he testified firmly but emotionally. It is notable that this is the first member of either family who has claimed to have identified the voice absent a suggestive environment.

Officer Meza was the last witness of the day, and so the last two witness the jury will mull over the weekend will be Zimmerman’s mother and uncle having identified George Zimmerman as the screamer on the 911 call.

Final Thought for the Week:  Get Ready for a Brutal Defense

One aside before I fully wrap this up. To me, the biggest take home message of the day was not the scream identification of either the Martin or Zimmerman family, but rather the mid-trial motions and response by the State. Mantei’s web of half-truths and claims utterly unsupported by any evidence whatever showed the State was as hungry for George Zimmerman’s hide as they must have been when first handed the political prosecution of their careers. They would see George Zimmerman do life in prison, whether warranted by the evidence or not, or they would die in the effort. Given the almost complete lack of direct evidence, and the need to wildly interpret the available circumstantial evidence–and particularly following the utter debacle that was the Dr. Bao testimony–one could only imagine that their fervor would have diminished. Not so.

O’Mara’s response was that of a sheepdog to a wolf. If the State wanted Zimmerman’s hide, they’d have to fight for it, hard, and at high cost. Any thought that there might be a relatively brief defense was cast aside. I expect that not only will there be a vigorous defense, it will be a 10 gauge double-barreled coach-gun defense, to the head.

One cannot but draw the natural parallel–just as Trayvon Martin sought to punish George Zimmerman and discovered at the cost of his life that Zimmerman was not the easy target he’d perceived him to be, now it is the turn of Zimmerman’s defense team to similarly disabuse the State prosecutors. Their lives, of course, are secure. I would not, however, want my professional reputation to be at the wrong end of the defense’s considerable talent and righteous attention.

Have a Great Weekend!  Keep Eyes Open for Analysis Moving Forward

OK, that’s it for today. This weekend I’ll write up a lengthier post about both side’s oral arguments in their mid-trial motions today, and what it suggests for their respective strategies moving forward. If time permits, I’ll also try to put some additional detail into the remarkable detail of Dr. Shiping Bao today–the most remarkable piece of courtroom testimony I’ve ever seen by someone who is presumably a professional at such appearances.

Other than that, I wish you all a safe and secure weekend,

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

P.S. Some exciting news: “Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition” and I got quoted extensively in both the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune of the last couple of days. Read all about it, including links to the actual news pieces, here:

Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition–Mentioned in Chicago Tribune, Washington Post

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,” now available in its just released 2nd Edition, which shows you how to successfully fight the 20-to-life legal battle everyone faces after defending themselves. Take advantage of the 20% “Zimmerman trial” discount & free shipping (ends when the jury returns a verdict). NRA & IDPA members can also use checkout coupon LOSD2-NRA for an additional 10% off. To do so simply visit the Law of Self Defense blog.

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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Did you note the key word “fear”

It wasn’t just what he said. It is what he did not say.

GZ looked like a predator thug to TM (creepy a** cracker).

GZ ID’d himself.

I THINK this is substantial (from my first post yesterday.)

Point also, you do not need to hit someone for an assault. Hitting is battery; ie assault and battery.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Did YOU notice the key word UNLAWFUL…???

    Zimmerman looked like a member of a racial group Martin felt justified in hating. “Creepy-ass[ed] cracker”.

    Martin never approached the man and said, “Hey, I’m Trayvon. I’m staying with my Dad in number ______ over there.”

    He also never stopped chit-chatting with his girl friend. Who also was so little concerned about him, she never gave him another thought that night.

    Point is that you need to do something Zimmerman never did to even APPROACH assault.

    Where did you EVEN come up that that stupidity?

    VetHusbandFather in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 5:57 am

    You are correct. You don’t have to hit someone for it to be an assault. Fear is important, but making someone afraid by itself is not an assault. By the definition you posted, there has to be an imminent threat of harm.

    As for it being in “what he did not say”. I think you’ll have a tough time convincing anyone that “No” is an imminent threat of violence.

Another claim is that is was initially not opened because of GZ relatives associations to the police department and a litany of (racially) biased decisions.

BUT, there is a trial now.

Some *lawyers* mentioned 3-5 year + parole could have been a likely plea bargain for similar cases.

Clearly, the political and racial component is producing extremes.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 5:56 am

    People have said all kinds of stupid, untrue things about this matter.

    Very often to float their own agenda.

    What is yours, btw?

    VetHusbandFather in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 6:05 am

    I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of evidence the state has presented in the past two weeks showing that the Police wrongfully closed this case due to racial bias or nepotism. I’ve also been overwhelmed by the amount of new evidence that has been newly uncovered by the state, that was ignored by said clearly biased police department during the initial investigation.

    At best what we have is the State saying, “we disagree with the conclusions that the Police Department made, so we are going to try to use their testimony on all the evidence they collected to prove them wrong.”

      Ragspierre in reply to VetHusbandFather. | July 7, 2013 at 6:09 am

      I know, right? And it’s been just gang-busters for them, too.

      Seranio: “I believe him”.

        VetHusbandFather in reply to Ragspierre. | July 7, 2013 at 6:20 am

        Yeah. It’s funny how when you only reopen a case based on the ‘incompetence and bias’ of the police, they go out of their way to show that they are competent professionals. Well except for Bao. I guess we can just say he ‘plead the fifth’ on his incompetence.

          Ragspierre in reply to VetHusbandFather. | July 7, 2013 at 6:24 am

          There is no plea that would avail for Bao.

          He is guilty as hell, and free as a bird. (To continue to botch stuff up…for the time being.)

          You will never likely see a worse “testifying expert” if you sit in courtrooms the rest of your life. I HAVE, but I am oddly blessed that way.

      VetHusbandFather in reply to VetHusbandFather. | July 7, 2013 at 6:14 am

      sdk my first paragraph here was sarcastic (in case you missed it)

The problems are many with this view.

GZ was an armed aggressor with training and experience, not only in self defence law, and police/NW protocol, but also with MMA.

GZ has a higher standard to meet, because of the above factors.


    What utter ignorant blather. 🙂 You’re always good for a laugh, sdk, always good for a laught.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 7:00 am

    You squirt out from under the weight of arguments that destroy your position like so much drilling gel.

    Have you found ANY mention of a “higher standard” in ANYTHING the prosecution has uttered?

    You know why, right…???

    (They don’t want to look any more stupid than they currently DO.)

    Tertullus in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 10:07 am

    skd – You may be looking at this from the wrong end of the telescope. Pretend for a moment that you are a rational person. What evidence do you have – EVIDENCE – not conjecture or what might have been – that the defendant did not act in self defense beyond a reasonable doubt?

    kentuckyliz in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I suppose all those ladies who do kickboxing classes for aerobic exercise are now considered lethal weapons. ROTFL

    You have to register with the FBI as a lethal weapon when you order the Billy Blanks Tae Bo DVDs. ROTFL


I guess we will see who is laughing last Legal Eagle.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Oh, no. Regardless of, and independent from, the outcome of the case…

    I will always laugh at you. As will others. Treasure that up as your repayment for hours of stupid posts.

    kentuckyliz in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    We don’t have the same schoolmarm nag culture as the UK, where they believe that anything that’s not socially acceptable is actually immoral and illegal. Maybe not enshrined in law yet but a case like this is ripe ground for the nags to have their way with a GZ.

    JSMill in reply to sdk-wp. | July 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Pretty sure it won’t be Trayvon Martin.

The people who live in the complex call that area a “dog walk” for a reason. How many people who live there do you suppose use the grass to walk on as opposed to the sidewalk? Someone meandering thru my neighborhood walking thru yards as opposed to the sidewalk or street would raise my suspicions. Of course I know that grassy area isn’t considered to be part of the homeowner’s property, but even if it wasn’t called a dog walk the sidewalk was there to walk on rather than getting up close and personal into the rear of the homes.

Sorry if this posts twice-operator problems this morning:)

While we know the defense may not call all the witnesses on that list, is it usual to have so many people from the State on there? I suspect some of them could/would testify to this being purely political. Wonder if there is a sort of whistleblower among them?

    Ragspierre in reply to pausebreak. | July 7, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I think getting any testimony about “political” into evidence would be a difficult needle to thread.

    Not impossible. The suggestion would do nicely.

txantimedia | July 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

Unlike sdk, I had to sleep last night, so I wasn’t able to ridicule him all night. You gotta give him credit for one thing. He’s a Timex when it comes to his positions – ridiculous as they are.

    rantbot in reply to txantimedia. | July 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    He never makes a new point, never modifies an old point, and pays absolutely no attention to demonstrations that his legal claims are totally irrelevant or downright preposterous – so I don’t think there’s a “sdk” at all. I think it’s some sort of script making robo-posts.

    Tertullus in reply to txantimedia. | July 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I think it is time to admit that we have been “had” by sdk. sdk is a troll who is trying to get rational people upset. (Either that or he is a complete nut case). In either event I think we would all be better off if we just ignored his ignorance.

      VetHusbandFather in reply to Tertullus. | July 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

      I rather wish he was a troll. But it happens that his arguments mimic about 60% of CNN commentors and 99% of Think Progress commentors. He actually believes this stuff, and there are boat loads of other people that also haven’t watched any of the testimony so far, but will fight you to the death to defend and argument that matches their world view.

Why did no one miss TM’S until the next day? Why didn’t the girlfriend’s son call him to ask about his skittles? Sorry if already asked and answered

    kentuckyliz in reply to pausebreak. | July 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    IKR? Chad (several times starting 5 minutes after the gunshot) and Tracy (once at 12:49 a.m.) tried calling TM’s cell…but it doesn’t sound like they had any curiosity at all about the hullabaloo down the block or as to TM’s whereabouts. If I was 5 minutes late for curfew, I’d be in big trouble. I was expected to be home in the early evening on a Sunday night. My parents would be all over it if I were running that late. TM really should have been home before 7 p.m. if he just went to the store and back. Chad called him at 7:04 so he was already wondering what was taking TM so long.

I am offended. A troll? Robo-post script? A robo post could never produce what I do I do think I am supporting the prosecution point of view.

Hearsay and speculation – most of this blogs views. Let the trial play on and the jury decide.

    VetHusbandFather in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Making an argument based on the evidence presented thus far in court is hearsay and speculation, but speculating about how TM was driven to sneak up on and sucker punch GZ by an overwhelming ‘fear’ of a ‘creepy guy’, that apparently is a valid argument. Things sure work funny int he sdk-wp imaginary world of make believe.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Did YOU say “hearsay and speculation”…???


    By-the-by, since you’ve had a chance to review the entire JOA hearing, give us those case-law citations to NOT being able to claim self-defense if you start a shoving match.


    txantimedia in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    That’s because you’ve been posting the most.

    gxm17 in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    You seem confident that the jury will find GZ guilty. Will you be okay with their decision if they find him not guilty?

    IMO, the evidence supports an acquittal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the jury compromises and goes for manslaughter. So I’m ready for a verdict I don’t agree with. Are you?

      kentuckyliz in reply to gxm17. | July 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      The defense certainly is. When you’re listening and it seems rather technical and lengthy, West and MOM are actually laying the groundwork for overturn/appeal. The long MOM speech Friday afternoon was explicitly for that purpose. If this jury convicts, it’s not the end of the story. But I don’t think the nation needs to fear a bunch of “white Hispanics” rioting in the streets or killing a random person of a targeted race for George.

        Indeed. That’s why O’Mara was so flat in his delivery (at least pre-Mantei response). He wasn’t speaking to anyone currently present in the room, he was speaking, he was speaking to the audio and court reporter.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

I’ve seen a lot of the coverage of S. Fulton’s testimony and all the news reports I saw talked about the courage and dignity of TM’s mother. Sorry, but I don’t feel that way about either parent. There is a fundamental lack of integrity in the way TM’s parents have handled themselves around this tragedy. They have both openly exploited their son’s tragic death for personal profit and fame, and have shown that they are willing to send a likely innocent man to jail in order to carry out the plan. The first sign was when they went on Dr. Phil to talk about their son’s death. I have three children, and if one of my children had been shot and killed, and ANY talk show tried to book me to talk about it, I would say HELL NO. Second sign is that they know TM had issues (fighting, getting high, truancy, school suspensions, possible theft), and they know he very well could have attacked GZ in the manner GZ said TM did. But they are fighting tooth and nail to ignore that possibility. See, I don’t think it’s natural for the grieving family to push for GZ to be punished when the evidence supports that GZ acted in self-defense. So why does the Martin family persist with the GZ murdered my son line? Follow the money. If there were no dollars involved, you probably wouldn’t have heard a peep out of either parent. The cops would have taken them through the detailed investigation and explained that the evidence shows TM attacked GZ and GZ shot in self defense, and they would have buried TM and gone back to their lives, knowing in their hearts that they as parents carry some of the responsibility for not reigning TM in as he was getting into more and more trouble. But there ARE dollars involved. That’s why lawyers and publicity experts and certain “civil rights” activists get involved …. because there are dollars involved. And to carry out the plan and get big settlements and donations and early retirement packages and jet around the globe they are willing to send a man to jail who they know was probably just defending himself from an attack by their son. NO respect for either parent.

    txantimedia in reply to KV. | July 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    NONE of this is an issue at trial at this point. It may become one, but it is not now.

      mwsomerset in reply to txantimedia. | July 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      One better hope Trayvon’s history of fighting and drugs makes it into this trial….it’s the only explanation as to why Trayvon just hauled off and hit GZ in the nose. If the jurors don’t have an explanation…they just might assume Trayvon saw George’s gun when George was “looking for his cell phone” and thought George was going for his gun. That was my first question when I heard about this case….Why did the teen hit George first?

        Ragspierre in reply to mwsomerset. | July 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

        Umm… Politely, bullspit.

        Young men are often quite combative, and have been since recorded time unless they are taught not to be.

    kentuckyliz in reply to KV. | July 7, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    My family had family friends whose only child, an older teen son, shot and killed someone in cold blood because they took “his” parking spot at the mall. Life in prison. The parents were really nice and decent people and were heartbroken and we were heartbroken for them. Once the major crisis passed, we had them over for dinner several times to jumpstart their social life when others stood in judgment of them, that they must be blamed as bad parents for the heinous behavior of their son. Of course they wondered if they had done anything wrong in his raising, but there was nothing. They did everything right and this young man still went off the rails. They didn’t look to blame someone else and try and sue. They sorrowfully accepted their new reality.

If I’m not mistaken PI lawsuits must be filed within 2 years in FL. I am surprised the complex settled so fast as they could have gotten more info in a civil suit about TM. As that issue is moot at this point, if the Fulton/martins proceed with a suit against George not only will TM’s life become an issue but I suspect their’s will as well. The attorneys for TM’s parents are the ones with a big payday out of this 35% after expenses up to 1mil then probably 45% after expenses on anything above that.

Not insinuating that the lawsuit was justified. Any tv appearance by TM’s parents, the defense would more than likely ask for the unedited version don’t you think?

Does the jury really need an explanation when the photos and the Laurer and Good testimonies clearly show that GZ suffered a beating from TM (including head pushed against concrete sidewalk – Good testified to this) and GZ was screaming for help for at least 40 seconds (showing tremendous restraint) before he shot to stop the beating? An explanation of why would be useful, but I don’t think the defense needs it when they already have pretty strong evidence that the beating happened, that GZ was screaming for someone to help him (so likely trying to get away from the fight rather than continue it) and that GZ’s injuries were inflicted by TM.

These links bear reposting. The prosecution alleges Zimmerman was profiling. His stated reason for suspicion was that Martin looked like he was on drugs. So far, the judge has ruled such exculpatory evidence irrelevant. I think this is a grave error. I expect and hope that we see more motions proffering evidence of Martin’s drug habit, which apparently, goes far beyond the occasional ‘blunt’.

    txantimedia in reply to maestro. | July 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Very few people care about that. It’s been judged not relevant, and it will stay that way unless the prosecution opens the door or O’Mara discovers and existing crack.

    O’Mara doesn’t need to portray TM as a bad guy to win the case, and my judgment is that he won’t unless the prosecution starts playing hardball with Zimmerman’s background.

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

      The point of the toxicology evidence is not whether Martin was a bad guy or not, the point is that if intoxicated, Zimmermans observations of him were more accurate than they were profiling. That is exculpatory and should be let in.

        txantimedia in reply to maestro. | July 7, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        The judge has already ruled. So it doesn’t matter. It will matter in the appeal, if there needs to be one, but it doesn’t matter in the trial unless she reverses her ruling, which she appears unlikely to do.

GZ is not the real target of a Martin family lawsuit because he’s not a deep pocket. GZ could write a book or something down the road and get money from that, but that’s too speculative. The HOA has already paid up. My guess is that the real target for a lawsuit by the Martins is the Sanford PD that did the original investigation. Deepest pocket you could imagine is a government entity.

As I understand it George only fired the gun once TM was trying to reach for it. I think in the confusion of the moment that George didn’t even realize it was a fatal shot, just that his gun was fired and he had no idea where the bullet landed. For all he knew at that moment, IMO, it was a bullet graze, not a fatal shot.

I think FL,statutorily, has a limit on lawsuits against State entities and any and all awards have to be approved by the legislature. Suing the State or any of its entities would and could open the TM parents up to the same if not more scrutiny than a regular PI suit don’t you think? The State may appear to have deeper pockets but they also have deeper resources to fight ie taxpayer dollars

    maestro in reply to pausebreak. | July 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Even if it could proven to be malicious and politically motivated?

      pausebreak in reply to maestro. | July 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      That might apply if George were filing a lawsuit but TM ‘s parents wouldn’t use that.

      I’m still curious about the round looking abrasion on George’s face…wonder if they did testing on the bottom of that can? At first blush I thought it was a bite mark….could be a can mark?

I imagine there are some hoops to jump through to sue the Sanford PD, but folks sue PD’s all the time related to how the police did their jobs. Book deals, speaking engagements, donations, etc, are all part of the Martin family plan, but mixed in there somewhere is a lawsuit against the Sanford PD. And I’m sure that part of their case against the Sanford PD will be that the Martin lawyers found Rachel Jeantel and the police didn’t. The Martin family money machine will limp forward even without a conviction, but it will steam forward if they can get a conviction. They are far more interested in the future of their grand money plan than getting Justice For Trayvon.

Also, there may be some procedural advantage in getting a civil judgment against GZ before then going after the Sanford PD. So, the Martins probably want to at least get through the criminal case without GZ being granted immunity from civil liability, which seems likely given Judge Nelson’s bias against the defense. So even though the Martins know they’ll likely never collect on a civil judgment against GZ, it will be easier to get a civil judgment against the Sanford PD if they first have a civil judgment against GZ in hand.

    Ragspierre in reply to KV. | July 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    It was pointed out to me yesterday that Florida law bars a civil action under several of the “use of force” laws.

    A successful suit against one defendant under completely different facts and causes is totally worthless against another, except you have a war-chest to use.

    I doubt very much, also, that a suit against Sanford would be a winner. But, hey, that is what makes for controversies in courts.

    txantimedia in reply to KV. | July 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    If GZ is found not guilty, he cannot be sued.

    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—
    (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force,

      Matt in FL in reply to txantimedia. | July 8, 2013 at 8:36 am

      txantimedia sez: “If GZ is found not guilty, he cannot be sued.”

      I’m pretty sure Andrew already addressed that, and I think you’re mistaken. The immunity from civil action only comes “if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).” (Subsection (3))

      Section 1 goes on to say: “As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.”

      Basically you’re only immune from civil action if the incident is so “clean” wrt self-defense that they never even arrest you. Before the special prosecutor was appointed and the kangaroo court started, GZ was immune from civil action. The moment he was arrested, all bets were off.

      At least, that’s my understanding of how it works.

        Here’s the relevant statute:

        FL 776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

        It’s not that helpful because it doesn’t set out an actual procedure for implementation. A number of FL appellate decisions DID ultimately hash out a standard procedure–I just don’t have time to look them up right now with the start of today’s trial looming. I’ll try to remember to dig them up and post them.

        My recollection, however, (99%) sure is that the defendant can seek the benefits of the immunity statute EITHER pre-trial OR at trial, and if acquitted he acquires the benefits of the immunity statute as a matter of course.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Matt in FL in reply to Andrew Branca. | July 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

          Thanks for the information re: immunity. If I’m wrong, I’ll be happy (for GZ’s sake) to be proven so. I am clearly not a lawyer, but my understanding was that immunity would not simply be granted by acquittal, but that he’d still have to seek it in a post-trial motion.

          I’ll be happy to be shown to be mistaken.

TM level of THC was below the level of “performance impairment.”

GZ was on prescription drugs with known side affects, such as paranoia.

    txantimedia in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    TM level of THC was below the level of “performance impairment.”

    Testimony in the trial was exactly the opposite.

    GZ was on prescription drugs with known side affects, such as paranoia.

    No evidence of that has been introduced in the trial, and believe me when I tell you if they had that evidence it would have been introduced.

    maestro in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    False, again. But since you haven’t listened to the testimony despite your willingness to comment endlessly on the facts as you see them, you couldn’t possibly know that. Just two days ago the medical examiner revised his opinion as to whether the level of THC in Martin’s system was sufficient to have a physical and mental effect. He decided that it did.

    The judge however, instead of revising her earlier exclusion of toxicology, doubled down on stupidity and ruled, again, that it was inadmissible. Forget that it is exculpatory evidence which validates Zimmerman’s suspicions that Martin was on drugs. But the judge would rather let stand the false impression that he was profiling Martin.

From Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft on the issue of immunity:

“The jury, in finding Zimmerman not guilty based on self-defense, whether its decision is rooted in the immunity statute or traditional self-defense, is not making a finding on immunity from a future civil suit. It is merely deciding whether the state has proved the criminal charges it brought, or lesser included criminal charges, beyond a reasonable doubt.”

So I think that a jury verdict of not guilty will not decide the issue of immunity from civil liability. Civil immunity will still be decided by Judge Nelson.

    txantimedia in reply to KV. | July 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    You need to carefully parse Jeralyn’s words.

    “The jury, in finding Zimmerman not guilty based on self-defense, whether its decision is rooted in the immunity statute or traditional self-defense, is not making a finding on immunity from a future civil suit. It is merely deciding whether the state has proved the criminal charges it brought, or lesser included criminal charges, beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    Indeed, the jury cannot make a determination of immunity. The law does that. If he’s found not guilty, he is immune.

Noted with regard to the afternoon testimony regarding THC levels.
Nonetheless, on an academic point, GZ was undergoing counselling and on prescription medication during the time of confrontation.

Except for mental exercise, you all are just spinning your wheels arguing with certain posters here. If they are sincere in what they post, then they are in total denial of the facts in this case. They have to much emotionally invested in this the guilt of George Zimmerman, at this point, to accept rational evidence to the contrary. They simply won’t change their minds, no matter what evidence is presented.

The facts are that no one did anything wrong prior to the physical altercation. Martin was behaving in a manner outside the normal behavior of a person under the conditions at the moment. He was seemingly wandering aimlessly rather than proceeding quickly to his destination, as most would do considering the bad weather and the darkness. Martin may have been suspicious of Zimmerman as he came close to Zimmerman’s truck and seemingly checked Zimmerman out and then quickly walked off between the buildings. Following Martin, while probably not the best idea in the world, is still not illegal. It occurred in the common areas of the complex where both men had a right to be. Martin, if he was afraid of Zimmerman, should have simply continued home, which he had plenty of time to do. That he chose not to was, again, not the best course of action, but was not illegal. The best testimony concerning the confrontation came from DeeDee, which is not saying much. From this it appears that Martin initiated the confrontation, not Zimmerman. Now, we come to the point where legalities encroach.

Zimmerman stated that he reached into the pocket of his jacket for his cell phone, when he was suddenly confronted by Martin and that Martin immediately punched him in the nose and he fell backwards. Given the injuries that Zimmerman sustained and the lack of combat injuries that Martin exhibited [discounting the single gunshot wound to the chest], Zimmerman’s account of this portion of the interaction is much more logical than that of the state, whatever that is. So, if Martin saw Zimmerman reaching into his pocket, might it be reasonable to assume that he feared Zimmerman had a weapon and so engaged in a proactive attack/defense? It might. Then again it might not. In order for the punch to be justified, Martin would have to have knowledge that there was a weapon in that pocket. Otherwise, even given Zimmerman’s behavior, there is no reasonable evidence that he was an immediate threat. And there is no evidence that Zimmerman’s pistol was in that pocket or anywhere other than its holster.

This is the point where the legal point of lawful use of deadly force in self defense begins. The number of punches thrown is unknown. But from the lack of injury exhibited by Martin, it is fair to assume that few, if any, were directed toward him. Zimmerman, on the other hand exhibits injuries wholly consistent with his account of Martin straddling his torso and punching him repeatedly in the face and head and slamming his head, or causing the back of his head to be slammed, against a concrete side walk. This attack continued for right around a minute, before Martin was shot. This portion of the conflict was observed by an eye witness who supported Zimmerman’s account. And, there is no question that Zimmerman was unable to disengage or retreat at this point, otherwise he would have. The question in this case is simple. Given the fact that Zimmerman was undergoing an physical attack, as he described, would a reasonable man reasonably believe that, if the attack continued unabated, he would very likely suffer grave bodily harm or even death? The answer is yes. What transpired prior to the ground attack is largely irrelevant to the question involved.

Could this attack have been an attempt by Martin to disarm Zimmerman? Possibly, but not likely. It is the height of stupidity to punch someone who is obviously armed with a handgun, while the handgun is deployed. Most people would instinctively grab either the weapon or the gun-hand in an attempt to control the weapon.

Given the circumstances could Zimmerman have disengaged, prior to suffering great bodily harm or death without the use of deadly force? It is unknown. But, from the account of the eye witness, probably not.

This exactly what the Sanford PD and the Seminole County SA was faced with. All the existing evidence supported the lawful use of deadly force in self defense. The PD and the SA did their due diligence in this case. They investigated every scrap of evidence forwards and backwards. And it all fit Zimmerman’s account. And, in Florida we have a cute little statute – FSS 776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.— which precludes arrest unless probable cause exists that deadly force was not used legally as defined under FSS 776.012, 776.013 or 776.031. In this case no such probable cause existed. And, since then, no new evidence has come to light.

People can argue all they like for the guilt of George Zimmerman, but unless one ignores the evidence that exists or fabricates new evidence, no probable cause exists to believe that George Zimmerman did not use deadly force as justified under Florida law.

What the heck, I might as well jump on the “convince SDK” bandwagon too.
It is futile, I am sure, but I am just sitting here at work with nothing better to do, so why not?

So, SDK, I am going to present a situation to you, and then ask you a question. I would appreciate it if you answered that question with a YES or NO, then you can expound on that answer all you like. OK? Here goes…

Let’s say you lived in a neighborhood that had been experiencing a rash of car thefts.

At 1am you hear a noise outside by your car parked on the street.

You peek out the door and see a man crouched down by the door of your car.

You run out the door, toward the man, yelling, “Hey, get the hell away from my car!”

Now, unbeknownst to you, the man had no intention of stealing your car. He was simply a man out jogging and had crouched down to tie his shoe. You have just unfairly profiled this man as a thief. You have just ran out your door, yelling at an innocent person and confronted him.

OK…. Are you ready….here is our question….

Do you think the jogger would be legally justified in standing up and punching the homeowner in the nose, getting on top of him and smacking the homeowners’ head into the concrete a few times?

This is not even close to the situation that this trial pivots around.

I am not the only person who believes that TM may justifiably felt threatened by being pursued by some guy who left his truck, and who moments/minutes before had been watching TM to the extent that he was describing his appearance and movements to the police.

(I may be the extreme minority on this site, however.)

TM did not just barge out and hit a guy – if this happened at all.

If TM did hit GZ, it was only after GZ left his truck and pursued him (with a loaded gun).

So, yes, since TM had no idea who GZ was, he was justified in being frightened and maybe (not established) he sucker punched GZ.

Because, GZ misrepresented himself as someone who didn’t have a problem. GZ had a problem – it was TM who he had profiled. GZ never said, I am NW what are you doing here.
GZ said, “I don’t have a problem.”

GZ lied about many things.

This site seems to thing it is alright to shoot a teenager who defends himself against an aggressive wannabe cop.

I don’t.

    VetHusbandFather in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    This site seems to thing it is alright to shoot a teenager who defends himself against an aggressive wannabe cop.

    There are two conditions that make this ok.

    1) The ‘wannabe cop’ has a reasonable fear of imminent serious injury or loss of life.

    2) The ‘wannabe cop’ has not done anything to display a threat of imminent violence to said teenager.

    If you can provide indisputable evidence that these statements are false, then the State has a case. Otherwise you are making an emotional decision based on your own relative interpretation of right and wrong.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Ah, we loop BACK around to puuuuurrrr, scared Martin.

    But there is NOTHING to indicate he was “scared”.

    At all. Period.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    By-the-by, since you’ve had a chance to review the entire JOA hearing, give us those case-law citations to NOT being able to claim self-defense if you start a shoving match.


    Fen in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    “since TM had no idea who GZ was, he was justified in being frightened and maybe (not established) he sucker punched GZ”

    Bullshit. If TM was frightened, he had already reached the safety of his house – he could have simply gone inside, locked the door, and call the Police.

    Instead, he double back to *initiate* an attack on GZ

    You are a stupid troll. Go back to your echo chamber, idiot.

    fogflyer in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    SDK, if this was a reply to me, will you please answer the question YES or NO.

    I promise, I will show you the relevance to this case, but before I can, I need to know how you would answer the question.

    Mac45 in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    You have to understand the law in this case. I will explain it for those in a similar situation.

    It was not illegal for Zimmerman to follow Martin. It was not illegal for either Zimmerman or Martin to initiate a conversation. It may or may not be a crime to punch the other party in the nose, depending upon the circumstances.

    But, once the confrontation goes to the ground the situation resets. Now, the only thing that is relevant to the case at issue, is whether the circumstances warrant the use of deadly force to avoid great bodily harm or death. That is the only point of relevance here. Everything else is irrelevant to the controlling legal point.

    The level of THC in Martin’s blood stream is irrelevant. As Martin was only months from his majority and Zimmerman was only a little older, age is irrelevant. Why Zimmerman followed Martin is irrelevant. Whether Martin was justified in initially punching Zimmerman is irrelevant, as a single punch would not have justified the use of deadly force. As both were male and in good health, gender is irrelevant. Whether any racial animism exists is irrelevant.

    The only thing of any relevance in this case is the nature and length of the actual fight itself. And all evidence supports Zimmerman’s account of the fight. In order to be justified in using deadly force, only one factor has to exist. That is whether a reasonable man, in Zimmerman’s position, would reasonably believe that if he did not stop the attack immediately, by whatever means available, he was likely to suffer great bodily harm or death. In this case, given the injury sustained by Zimmerman, testimony as to the continuing attack leveled by Martin and the fact that Zimmerman was not able to defend himself or disengage within a minute of the beginning of the fight that reasonable belief exists.

    In the state of Florida, it is against the law to touch someone against their will, except in certain exigent circumstances such as to prevent them from coming to harm, or in self defense. To utilize self defense, in such a case, one has to demonstrate that circumstances were such that a reasonable man would reasonably assume that a physical attack was either under way [punch already thrown] or that such an attack was imminent [verbal or visible threats made and some action demonstrating immediate intent to harm a person]. IN this case, by stretching the requirements for legal self defense, it is possible to make a case that, given the totality of the circumstances, Martin may have been justified in punching Zimmerman, when Zimmerman reached into his pocket. However, the length and nature of the beating that Martin delivered after the punch to the nose, moves the grounds for legal self defense from Martin to Zimmerman. If Martin had punch Zimmerman and run, Zimmerman would not have had sufficient legal grounds to employ deadly force. But, this didn’t happen. If Martin had punched Zimmerman and was simply standing over him, Zimmerman would have a very difficult time supporting a claim of justifiable use of deadly force. But, this didn’t happen. The evidence has shown, unequivocally, that Martin was atop Zimmerman and delivering a pretty good beating. There is absolutely no evidence that Martin was legally justified in this course of action. The evidence strongly supports Zimmerman’s statement that he feared that Martin would kill him and that this was a reasonable fear under the circumstances. Additional testimony from defense witnesses should establish that continued punches the head, especially when coupled to the back of the head striking the concrete sidewalk, could easily lead to great bodily injury or death. And, that is all that is needed for self defense.

I do understand your argument. Simply, I see the condition opposite. I see TM more justified in using force than GZ. I think we disagree. But, note, this rift of disagreement is not just between myself and the many posting on this site.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Oh, we get it. There are lots of crazy, delusional people out there, many of them with an agenda.

    Again. What’s yours….???

    VetHusbandFather in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Frankly, I don’t care who you think is more justified to defend themselves, anymore than you should care who I think is more justified. What matters is who the law says is required to act in self defense. You’re case lacks any sort of evidence that GZ provided an imminent threat of violence, therefore TM has no legal justification to defend himself. That’s just what the law says.

    Here are some things that we’ve already ruled out as qualifying as imminent threats of violence:

    – Lying
    – Being a Creepy White Guy
    – Following someone
    – Asking someone what they are doing
    – Not identifying yourself and neighbor hood watch
    – Getting out of your car

    txantimedia in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I do understand your argument. Simply, I see the condition opposite. I see TM more justified in using force than GZ. I think we disagree. But, note, this rift of disagreement is not just between myself and the many posting on this site.

    You just forgot one thing. Your disagreement is between yourself and the law.

    Sorry, you lose.

    rantbot in reply to sdk-wp. | July 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    That’s one of your persistent errors. This trial is not about TM’s use of force and whether or not it was legally justified. It is about GZ’s use of force and whether it was legally justified. An entirely different question.

    JSMill in reply to sdk-wp. | July 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Maybe if you had given Trayvon better advice he’d still be alive.

If TM did hit GZ, it was only after GZ left his truck and pursued him (with a loaded gun).

Well, this is demonstrably BS.

First, you impute to “puuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrr scared chile” super-powers. He somehow knew Zimmerman had a gun.

Second, the transcript of the NEN shows clearly that Zimmerman LOST HIM.

‘Bout mid page 3

    VetHusbandFather in reply to Ragspierre. | July 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Not to mention you’d have to have a severe mental deficiency to double back and confront the ‘creepy white guy’ if you knew he had a gun and you were unarmed. Seems like a pretty good reason to stay at your Dad’s place and call the cops. Or maybe it was TM acting the vigilante hero, by returning to confront he crazy armed guy in his neighborhood, before he could accost any other teenagers that just happened to be outside casually enjoying the rainstorm.

      Ragspierre in reply to VetHusbandFather. | July 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      Not to mention that this is a pretty occupied development on a cool, rainy night, mid-evening.

      If I am Trayvon…and I actually WAS scared…I’m banging on the door of the first lighted I see.

      ‘Course, I would have hung up with DeeDee IF I was scared.

      Just like Martin would have. IFFFFFF he were scared.

I am promising myself that I won’t feed the troll anymore.

SDK, I have another YES/NO question for you (that you probably won’t bother to answer)

You are really hung up on the gun it seems, so I would like to know this…

If everything about this night were the same EXCEPT that George was NOT armed with a gun, would Trayvon still have had the right to hit George in the face and pound his head into the concrete?

not_surprised | July 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Question.. I read elsewhere that ‘Get off!’ is slang for bring it on, fight! if this is true, Does the defense know this?

Just curious, a bit important to dispel the who was on top given testimony of ‘get off’..

I find it makes perfect sense for TM to say that now.. right after the sucker punch while GZ is dazed..

I think that the prosecutions contention is “YES”.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 8, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Except that is a felony assault. Cripes, you really are quite stupid.

    Nor was the question about what you thought the prosecutors thought.

    So you are an intellectual coward, to boot.

The judge decides what is relevant. And the jury decides based on what is relevant.

    Ragspierre in reply to sdk-wp. | July 8, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Wrong, as usual, but why break form.

    At the end of the day, the jury decides everything (within certain perimeters).

    The judges tries to limit the exposition of information to that which is relevant under the law.

    But the jury alone will attribute weight or meaning to evidence. With some help from the attorneys. And, in this case, a VERY fine jury consultant for the defense.