Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Kelly Simms, the attorney who represents Shellie Zimmerman, predicted yesterday that a jury will find her not guilty of perjury. He said,
If you study carefully the questions she was asked, he said, she answered truthfully.
“It’s all about specificity,” he said.
I agree that the issue is all about specificity, but I do not agree with his prediction.
Keeping in mind that a witness is only required to truthfully answer the question asked and that any ambiguities or uncertainties in the question must be resolved in favor of the witness answering it, let us take a look at the exchange.
O’MARA: Another condition or another concern the court would have is a bond amount. I would ask you then realizing that one option is for the court to grant a monetary bond, if you could advise the court of your financial circumstances so I’ll ask you a couple of questions.
Are you working presently?
S. ZIMMERMAN: No, I’m not.
O’MARA: And how do you — what do you do with your time?
S. ZIMMERMAN: I am a nursing student.
O’MARA: OK. Is that a full-time endeavor presently? S. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, it is.
O’MARA: OK. How long have you been doing that?
S. ZIMMERMAN: Well, I am four weeks away from my graduation.
O’MARA: OK. So you’re not earning any income presently?
S. ZIMMERMAN: Correct.
O’MARA: Do you own the home that you live or lived in?
S. ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.
O’MARA: Other major assets that you have which you can liquidate reasonably to assist in coming up with money for a bond?
S. ZIMMERMAN: None that I know of.
O’MARA: I discussed with you the pending motion to have your husband, George, declared indigent for cost, have I not?
S. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, you have.
O’MARA: Are you of any financial means where you could assist in those costs?
S. ZIMMERMAN: Not that I’m aware of.
Shellie Zimmerman transferred money from Paypal into the defendant’s account and then from his account into her account where she parked it for awhile until he bonded out and moved it back into his account. I believe she had $67 K in her account when she answered O’Mara’s question.
She cannot credibly deny that she knew she had $67 K in her account because she deposited it into her account.
I presume Sims will argue that she regarded that money to be the defendant’s property even though it was in her account. Therefore, she believed that she did not have any assets when she answered the question.
Good luck with that, Mr. Simms.
Shellie is not a vegetable. Absent some compelling testimony from a clinical psychologist supported by test results that her intellectual functioning is so impaired that she did not understand the questions and she compensated by pretending that she did in order to avoid humiliating herself by admitting that she did not know what he meant, I do not believe that a jury would acquit her.
Indeed, O’Mara asked straightforward questions and she did not exhibit any sign of confusion or ask him to clarify any question. She also stated that she was a full-time student in a nursing program and only four weeks away from graduating. No sign of impaired intellectual functioning or lack of comprehension is evident in her responses.
Moreover, she communicated with her husband in code and carried out a deceptive scheme involving multiple transfers of money over a short period of time in amounts less than $10,000. In other words, her conduct exhibits that she knows that she is playing a shell game with his money to help him conceal $67 K from creditors and the court by concealing it in her account.
I do not think a jury will be sympathetic, given her unapologetic and willing participation in that scheme.
Simms said, she is “getting stronger every day.” I hope that means she is becoming more assertive and her husband’s control is weakening. I believe it would be in her best interests to cut and run from him. She needs to get as far away as possible and resolve her perjury case without going to trial. He used her and she owes him nothing. She will be a helluva lot more sympathetic to prosecutors and the judge, if she acknowledges that he used her, expresses a willingness to cooperate and tell all, and asks for help.
I think that’s the only way she can avoid going to prison.