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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Justice Prevails for Zimmerman -- July 15, 2013

Like many Americans, the trial of George Zimmerman captivated my attention the last three weeks. In addition to watching segments of the trial and commentary on the CNN program Anderson Cooper, I also watched many hours of live trial coverage. Closely, I paid attention to the defense, prosecution, and presiding judge's rulings. I also scrutinized many witnesses and the evidence submitted. Often I was able to compare my own experiences and recognize many nuances of court proceedings which may be missed or not appreciated by much of the public. As the trial unfolded, it became readily apparent my initial beliefs were correct. George Zimmerman should never have been charged and was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin. Last Saturday, the jury agreed and he was acquitted of 2nd degree murder and manslaughter. Despite the racial and political agitators who sought to influence the case, justice prevailed.

On Monday June 24th, the trial commenced with opening statements by the state and then the defense. Much was made of defense attorney Dan West's knock, knock joke that fell flat. However, the trial is about evidence and he did very well responding to the accusations assistant state's attorney John Guy hurled vehemently at George Zimmerman for nearly a half hour. The prosecutor claimed the defendant was angry about a string of crimes that went unsolved in his neighborhood. After spotting Trayvon Martin on a rainy night casually walking, he profiled and then stalked the teenager who was wearing a hoodie (a sweatshirt jacket with a hood). Martin was scared and only armed with a bag of Skittles tried to run home but Zimmerman caught him. After a brief confrontation, the wannabe cop began beating the youth bringing him to the ground. Martin wailed for help but Zimmerman silenced those screams shooting him through the heart. Pointing at the defendant, John Guy said he was a murderer and none of his lies justified this horrific crime. The prosecutor had a very fierce and condemning opening. However, there was just one thing wrong with it. None of it was true.

The prosecution sought to disparage George Zimmerman's character and give him a motive to kill Trayvon Martin. Witnesses were called to the stand to say after he was denied a job as a police officer, Zimmerman volunteered to be in a neighborhood watch program. Regularly, Zimmerman called in suspicious activity and described those people he saw to police dispatchers. In most of the calls the suspects were black men and on occasion he expressed disappointment when they were not apprehended. The prosecutor then played the calls to police on the night Martin was killed and attempted to insinuate Zimmerman had profiled yet another black man and this time he was not going to let the suspect get away. However, on cross examination the same people and evidence showed a different story.

Zimmerman had applied to be a police officer, but he was not rejected due to any professional or psychological reason. He was simply disqualified because of his credit rating and owing bills. Zimmerman volunteered to be a neighborhood watchman not because he was a rejected wannabe cop but because he was a good man trying to be of service to his community. There had been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood and there was ample reason for him to place the calls to police. Most of the time the dispatcher would ask him for a description of the suspect including their race and what they were wearing. This also occurred on the night he saw Trayvon Martin meandering in the subdivision wearing a hoodie. The hoodie, by the way, initially prevented Zimmerman from knowing the race of the person he called in to police as suspicious. If the defendant was trying to be a cop or vigilante, he would not have repeatedly called police. From the evidence, it seemed Zimmerman's suspicions were warranted and his motives were pure.

All of Zimmerman's statements to police and others were admitted as evidence by the prosecution. An Asian man testified he spoke with the defendant just after the shooting. Zimmerman looked dazed and badly injured. He told him he was being beaten and had no choice but to shoot. He also asked if he would mind calling his wife to tell her what happened. With the phone in his hand, he took a photo of Zimmerman with a broken and bloody nose. Not long thereafter police arrived, assessed the scene, and took some preliminary statements. They also brought Zimmerman to the police station for further questions. Once again, but in greater detail, he told detectives how he was attacked, feared for his life, and had no option but to shoot his assailant. More photos of Zimmerman's battered face were taken along with the back of his skull and grass stained jacket. There was no reason to disbelieve him and he was released.

In the following days, Zimmerman voluntarily met with police to answer more of their inquiries. Repeatedly, he went over what transpired and even reenacted what occurred in detail at the scene. The jury heard Zimmerman explain he was in his car when he noticed a man walking inbetween homes at night while it was raining possibly looking in windows. He called a non emergency number to report the suspicious activity. The man he spoke with told him to keep an eye on him and call dispatch. In the second call, he described what he was seeing and was asked if he was following. Zimmerman said he was, whereupon he was told he did not have to do that. George is heard saying "OK," and he ceased following Martin, but he got out of his car to give police his location. While he was on a sidewalk, he was confronted by Martin who asked if he had a problem before punching him in the face. Quickly, Martin had him on the ground and was on top of him. He pummeled him with his fists before he began to slam his head on the concrete. Zimmerman thought the man was about to reach for his gun but before he did, he shot him.

The prosecution believed by introducing all of Zimmerman's statements, they could pick out discrepancies. However, it only reinforced the defense and told their version of events without having to put their client on the stand. On cross examination, lead detective Chris Serino testified that Zimmerman was very cooperative, non evasive, and truthful. Later, prosecutors objected to Serino's belief Zimmerman was truthful because it was his opinion, but the damage had already been done. How many times do the police tell the jury they believe a murder defendant? There is a reason why the police released Zimmerman and the original state's attorney refused to press charges. It had nothing to do with him being a mestizo of Caucasian and Peruvian descent and Martin being black. It was because Zimmerman was innocent.

The cross examination of the lead detective reminded me of my own attorney's questioning of John Robertson.  Robertson was the police detective who interrogated me after my arrest and claimed I admitted being told by my roommate that he was going to kill Dean Fawcett. According to the detective, I thereafter let Robert Faraci use my vehicle. This was completely false, but my attorney did not contest his testimony. When William Von Hoene  returned to the defense table to look at some of his notes before continuing the cross examination, I angrily asked him what the hell he was doing! I demanded he resume his questioning and eviscerate Robertson's testimony. In the heated exchange, my attorney asked, "Didn't you hear what Robertson said? He said you were 'a cooperative witness'!" In my attorney's mind this was great, and better than having the jury think I refused to answer questions and demanded to see a lawyer some 50 times. Von Hoene thought he was brilliant, but Robertson was no Serino and his strategy cost me my life.

The state called to the stand a few eyewitnesses who but for one did not witness anything at all. The only person to get a good look at what occurred on that dark and rainy night was John Good. He came across as a very credible eyewitness. His testimony was objective, concise, and unwavering. Furthermore, he lived right next to where the shooting occurred and when he stepped out his patio door, he was within 20 feet. Good testified he saw a figure in dark clothing straddling another person raining down blows MMA style. Martin was wearing a black sweatshirt and Zimmerman a red jacket. Clearly, the person on top was the former. Media news reporters asked why the prosecution would call an eyewitness who so greatly damaged their case. From my own murder trial, I knew very well the reason.

Assistant state's attorney James McKay called the wife of my co-defendant to the stand. Rose Faraci testified to conspiring with her husband to frame me of the murder. All the stories they told police implicating me were false and intended to keep Robert out of prison. She also admitted telling a mafia informant she saw her husband come home with blood all over his clothes the night in question. This was a bombshell to the prosecution's case but they diffused the impact by preemptively calling her to the stand. This way they could pretend her testimony was not significant and did not damage their case. It, furthermore, gave the impression prosecutors were being honest and forthright. These are the same reasons John Good was called by the state in the Zimmerman trial.

The prosecution's most important witness was Rachel Jenteal. She testified to talking on a cell phone with Trayvon Martin just before the shooting. Police confirmed the time by comparing her phone records with those who called 911 and the gunshot can be heard. According to Jenteal, her friend was not doing anything wrong after he left a mini mart. He was merely walking back to his birth mother's residence when Martin spoke of a "creepy ass cracker" following him. He was scared and she said she could hear him running. Despite only being a short distance away from his destination, when she called back a few minutes later he was still in the subdivision. During this call she heard a man confronting Trayvon Martin and then there was a thud followed by a sound of wet grass. Rachel Jenteal's testimony did not come across like John Good's. Contrarily, she was incredibly suspect and ridiculous.

During the three weeks of trial coverage my cellmate rarely watched any of the proceedings. However, he missed his regular programming to be humored by the prosecution's star witness who he nicknamed "Precious" after a black comedy I have never heard of. The 18-year-old was obese and her fat face was accentuated by big round earrings, balloon lips, and hair tied into a bun on the top of her head except for some bangs. Jenteal seemed retarded, but at minimum was terribly uneducated. During cross examination, she had to admit she could not read cursive and I wondered if she was not completely illiterate. Numerous times the court reporter or Don West had to ask her to repeat herself or clarify her testimony. Jenteal could not speak proper English and had difficulty articulating. She spoke a crude ghetto dialect that even I had trouble understanding despite being incarcerated at the Cook County Jail and the IDOC for over 20 years. On the Dr. Drew show, the panel expressed sympathy for the young black woman and claimed she was just being authentic. However, her bad attitude was controllable, and authentic did not mean truthful.

Jenteal had strong motivation to lie. Trayvon Martin was her friend and regardless if he was snooping in windows, he was not afraid of Zimmerman, and had in fact doubled back to attack him. She was upset and angry he was killed. The contempt she had for Don West could not be concealed and her attitude did not change until the second day of questioning after she had obviously been lectured or coached. Furthermore, the shooting of Martin had become a racially charged incident. She was a part of the black community and probably felt tremendous pressure from it as well as Martin's family and their enormous legal team. Incredibly, Jenteal never contacted police with information which suggested her friend was murdered. Police did not question her for a long time afterwards while she was at Martin's parents' home. When confronted with this, Jenteal claimed she believed police would check phone records and eventually contact her.

If there was a more biased state witness it was Sybrina Fulton. Trayvon Martin's mother testified the cries for help heard on the 911 calls were her son's. However, I knew from countless TV interviews often accompanied by her countless lawyers, she was angry about the shooting of her son. Fulton may have acted poised during TV appearances, but she wanted Zimmerman's head on a platter just like the mobs of African-Americans who protested in the streets. What was ironic was that although Fulton was Trayvon's birth mother, she had very little interaction with him since he was a toddler.

Tracy Martin had re-married and Trayvon lived with and was raised by them. Unlike Sybrina Fulton, she was rarely mentioned by the news media and most of the public probably did not know she existed. Trayvon Martin's adopted mother was never called by the state nor was his father. Why? Possibly it was because they knew it was not their son calling for help. Tracy Martin was called by the defense and he claimed he did not know. Police, however, were brought back to court to say the father in fact said it was not his son's voice. Sybrina Fulton's testimony was also countered by Zimmerman's parents, friends, and various other people who knew him. Listening to the tape, I had no idea, but it was implausible the person raining down punches or smashing a person's head onto concrete was the one yelling for help.

The prosecution attempted to belittle Zimmerman's injuries and exaggerate the pain Martin endured. Some quack and wavering medical examiner claimed Martin could have lived 10 minutes after he was shot. I am no expert, but I know death occurs quickly when a person is shot through the heart. Shipling Bao was an incompetent babbler whose testimony was not only incredible but irrelevant to whether Zimmerman was justified in killing Martin. The defense expert was one of the best forensic pathologists in the country and he made the prosecution's witnesses look like fools. Dr. Vincent Di Maio intelligently articulated the injuries of Zimmerman and Martin. Using enlarged photographs he described the abrasions and lacerations to the back and side of Zimmerman's skull as well as his broken nose. All of this was rather apparent to me but what I thought was intriguing was his conclusions that Martin's clothes were several inches from his body when he was shot. This along with the trajectory of the bullet showed Martin was not lying on the ground, but over Zimmerman.

Contrary to the liberal media's portrayal, Trayvon Martin was not an innocent child. He was a 17-year-old juvenile delinquent of considerable size. Martin was a violent youth and had been arrested previously including while in possession of burglary tools. He was temporarily staying at his birth mother's residence after being suspended from high school. The judge refused to allow any of his school or criminal records to be admitted, but Zimmerman's attorneys fought hard to introduce evidence of THC being in his system and numerous texts. The text messages recounted a fight where Martin beat his opponent and his brother asking him when he will teach him to fight so well. There were also Facebook posts where a gun is brandished and Martin is acting like a gang banger. Judge Debra Steinberg-Nelson, however, refused to permit any of this evidence in as well citing the defense could not prove someone else did not have access to his phone or FB account. This infuriated Don West and rightfully so. The prosecution deliberately withheld critical information to validate Martin was indeed the person who posted the texts and photos. Furthermore, the jury is commonly allowed to determine whether the evidence is probative or not. I know many prisoners where the prosecution was allowed to introduce incriminating computer or phone data despite not being able to confirm the source. In fact, a man I speak to regularly was convicted based partly on Google searches made on his girlfriend's computer.

Closing arguments began on Thursday and went long into Friday. Unfortunately, I missed most of the defense and had to later watch clips on CNN. While Mark O'Mara was addressing the jury, the power went out in the prison. Despite this, I was still able to see how, as in my own trial, the prosecution had to abandon their original accusations. Furthermore, assistant states attorneys John Guy and Bernie de la Rionda relied on emotion and dramatics to mask their empty case. In contrast, O'Mara went over the evidence as well as the law comprehensively. From what I saw, he also seemed to connect with the jury and speak to them personably.

The jury deliberated for a little over 16 hours. Initially, I had no doubt Zimmerman was going to be acquitted. In fact, I believed the judge should have rendered a direct verdict before the defense even began its case. Every witness the state called was either irrelevant, totally unbelievable, or demonstrated Zimmerman's innocence. Judges seldom use their power particularly in super politically charged, high profile cases. They like to play Pontius Pilot and absolve themselves from any responsibility. In my own case, Judge Amirante told my lead attorney not to consider a bench trial. He did not want to handle the political hot potato and could not be fair. Later, my attorney even told me the judge thought I would be a fool to take the stand because the state had not proven their case. Ironically, he like Judge Steinberg-Nelson, denied my motion for a direct verdict. Now the decision was in the jury's hands and they asked for clarifications on the law of manslaughter. The lesser charge of manslaughter had not even been addressed by the prosecution nor the defense.

Saturday evening when I left my cell for dinner, I met a guard who I wagered a soda on the verdict. He was unable to watch developments on TV and I told him what had occurred. He was interested in what I thought the note meant and if there would be a conviction on manslaughter. I told him the jury ruled out 2nd degree murder but was now considering the lesser charge. We had a discussion about what the definition of manslaughter was. Manslaughter is when a person accidentally kills someone and is negligent in some way like in a DUI or bar fight. It was not applicable, however, because Zimmerman was claiming self-defense. The key was if he justifiably killed his attacker. I had no doubt he was, but a jury can sometimes come to compromised rulings, particularly in pressure cooker cases. They also probably had no idea manslaughter with a gun in Florida carried a penalty of 30 years in prison.

Close to 9 p.m., an announcement was made the jury had reached a verdict. Prisoners yelled out from their cells the news and as the courtroom assembled it became strangely quiet in the cell block. When the verdict "not guilty" was read, I jumped off my bunk and cheered. I did so because I knew nearly all the black convicts would have done so if he was convicted and I wanted them to eat dirt. Simply because Trayvon Martin was black, they wanted an innocent man to go to prison. Just like the OJ Simpson case, many African-Americans did not care about truth, justice, or law. They accused the system of being racist, however, they were racially prejudiced. The hypocrisy was made worse considering some of these same men claimed innocence.

Unlike many other murder defendants, George Zimmerman remained subdued after he was acquitted. Throughout his trial, he appeared depressed or on Valium. Did he feel like a zombie as I did after weeks of trial or was he intentionally repressing his happiness? I tend to believe he did not express jubilation out of respect to Martin's family or to subdue public anger. I told my cellmate that despite the lynch mob, he should jump in the air like he just scored a game winning Superbowl touch down and give his lawyers high 5's. My cellmate chimed in saying he could pretend his hands were guns and feign to shoot the prosecutors before running wildly down the hallway full guns blazing yelling "Yahoooo!"  Zimmerman had reason to celebrate. He had defeated racism, a liberal biased press, and politicians and prosecutors bent on destroying him. He may feel a need to suppress himself and go in hiding. However, I do not.  Justice for Zimmerman!


Editor's Note:  The date on this post is correct. It was not received by us until Sept. 5th.  We're beginning to believe someone at Stateville doesn't like Paul's blog!

5 comments:

  1. Zimmerman should have done the moonwalk across the courtroom after the verdict was read.

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  2. So I guess Mexican or other Hispanic inmates must have been somewhere in between the two largely media-driven poles of black and white on this case, because Zimmerman himself is actually half-Hispanic (his mother is a clearly "mixed-race" woman born in Peru actually). Yet for some reason this case became strictly a "black vs white" racial issue. I've read in various places that GZ at times has socially self-identified more so with his mother's ethnicity or race than with his father's. Though usually, granted, it tends to be the other way around -- at least for European-Americans (ie, most people and I think men especially, tend to be identified in this country by their surname / their father's ethnic background, as opposed to their mother's). In cases of mixed-race unions however (actually like Zimmerman really), that may be different since then it seems the child is often identified as belonging to the perceived "social inferior" of the two races. Like how Barack Obama is almost always only called black, despite having barely known his black father and having been raised by his white Anglo/Irish mother & grandparents.

    But in any case, sorry for the digression, I will agree to disagree with you Paul on the verdict itself; irregardless of race or ethnic issues, personally I felt GZ should have been convicted of at least some kind of manslaughter here. I do not feel a shoot to kill would have been necessary, having followed this case closely from start to end. Furthermore he could have avoided the whole entire thing by simply waiting in his car for real police to arrive. (For the record I myself am white/and non-Hispanic). If both of them had been lily-white Anglo-Saxon Methodists that is still how I would feel on this verdict.

    I will agree however on your other points about blacks (some of them) being hypocritical to varying degrees with regards to the justice system, etc. The prime example being, as you mentioned, the OJ Simpson case when blacks (again, some of them) openly celebrated the flagrantly wrong not-guilty verdict of a more than likely guilty double-murderer. Yet here with this case they took to the streets to chant themselves winded and protest and so on. Blatant hypocrisy; and the "Reverend" Al Sharpton and company were nowhere to be seen when OJ wrongly got off, nor do they make their presence known at all on any cases of black-on-white violence or murder in this country (though in fairness I believe stats show the clear majority of urban violence and such is usually black-on-black, "other" types of cases do occur at times and no one makes anything of it).

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have been doing research on your case as you did with the Zimmerman case. I agree with the verdict based on the evidence presented. It baffles me that you believe you will win an appeal. With all due respect, I think you should prepare yourself to spend the rest of your life in prison.

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    Replies
    1. Then you don't know Paul's case fella. Try reading with your eyes open next time.

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    2. Just exactly what type of research did you conduct to formulate your opinion? Did you hear the testimony at my trial or review evidence submitted? Have you read the trial transcripts? Police discovery? Are you aware of evidence not submitted by my defense attorneys or new evidence since procured? With all due respect, I think you are an ignorant dumb ass who simply does not like my conclusions of the Zimmerman case. I may very well spend the rest of my life in prison due to flaws at trial and on appeal. However, it is not because I had anything to do with the murder of Fawcett.

      Delete

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