Don West proved that he is a sadistic racist bigot

June 30, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Good afternoon:

Don West’s cross examination of Rachel Jenteal was one of the most offensive events in a courtroom that I have ever seen and I sincerely hope that the jury realizes that the ugliness he displayed was all about him and his contempt for black people.

She had no motive to lie and she did everything possible to avoid publicity.

The jury will soon discover that the defendant confirmed to police the two most damaging statements about which she testified. That is, Trayvon asked the defendant why he was following him and he responded by asking Trayvon what he was doing in the neighborhood.

The jury already knows from listening to the recorded NEN call and from Sean Knopke, the NEN dispatcher who handled that call, that the defendant got out of his vehicle and ran after Trayvon when Trayvon attempted to flee and conceal himself in the grassy area between the two buildings containing townhomes.

The most effective cross examination would have been to ask the following question and sit down:

Ms. Jenteal, you were not there and you did not see what happened, correct?

Instead, by exploiting cultural and language differences to impress everyone with how smart and clever he believes himself to be, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a self-centered and bigoted asshole.

Meanwhile, I believe Rachel Jenteal held up very well.

How to prepare a winning closing argument

June 29, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Good morning:

My opinion of Don West continues to plunge.

What can I say about a soporific opening statement that began with a knock-knock joke?

What can anyone say about a five-hour cross examination of a 19-year-old girl that relied on using insults to intimidate and get her to agree to his false statements?

Here is something that I can and did say to Tee about Mark O’Mara’s choice to play the possible fish game while cross examining the Physician’s Assistant.

The PA is not a specialist in diagnosing and treating traumatic head wounds.

Therefore, she was not the right person to question about the possible causes and severity of the defendant’s head wounds.

The bottom line is the defendant declined multiple offers to transport him to the ER after the shooting and he did not go to the clinic seeking treatment the following morning. He went there to get a note authorizing him to return to work and he refused to PA’s recommendation to follow up with an ENT specialist.

He also never requested or obtained an Xray, which is something that he could still do today. An Xray taken today would show a healed fracture.

There is a reason why the defendant declined medical treatment and never requested an Xray.

When O’Mara went fishing for additional possible injuries and related concerns based on an examination of the photographs of the defendant’s head taken at the police station, he caught a boatload of possible fish.

There is no known recipe for preparing possible fish.

Since the defendant did not mention, much less complain about those specific bumps or lumps on his head, there is no reason to believe those possible fish were real fish.

O’Mara pulled off a pretty good smoke-and-mirrors cross, but in the end there wasn’t anything there.

We did find out, however, that the defendant was working out for 3 hours 3 times per week doing MMA style aerobics at the Kokopelli Gym starting in August 2011.

I used cross examination to create building blocks made out of statements, admissions, or denials by witnesses. I constructed my summation or closing argument out of those building blocks.

I would be shocked to discover that Bernie de la Rionda does not have one or more medical experts who will be testifying about the defendant’s injuries.


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Fifth day of trial ends in Zimmeerman case

June 28, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Good evening:

Unfortunately, I had to go to Nashville today and missed the morning session.

I returned home in time to watch the testimony of Officer Tim Smith and Lindsey Fulgate, the PA who saw GZ the morning after the shooting. Turns out GZ’s medical records contained a gold mine of information.

Fulgate did not see GZ exhibit any symptoms of possible brain injury and thought it was unlikely that his brain sustained an injury. She recommended GZ follow-up with a visit to an ENT, but he refused.

BDLR found references in GZ’s medical records to MMA-style fighting. For example, he found a notation dated sometime in September, 2011 stating he was participating in an MMA-style aerobic workout three times per week.

Smith mentioned that he searched his patrol vehicle after transporting GZ and did not find any blood where GZ was sitting.

Good day for the prosecution.

Welcome to the fifth day of the Zimmerman trial

June 28, 2013

Friday, June 28, 2013

Good morning:

Welcome to the fifth day of trial.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.

The trial resumes at 9 am EDT.

Welcome to liveblogging day 4 Zimmerman trial

June 27, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013
Good morning:

First up during today’s session will be Don West’s continuation of his cross examination of Rachel Jenteal.

For a description of what happened yesterday, please go here.

Court will resume at 9 am EDT

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.

Prosecution crushes defense during third day of Zimmerman trial

June 26, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good afternoon:

Excellent day for the prosecution with two eyewitnesses, Jane Syrdika (W-18) and Ms. Manalo (W-13’s wife) identifying the shooter as George Zimmerman and “the boy” as the person who uttered the death shriek.

Ramona Rumphy returned to the stand to complete her testimony about the defendant’s five 911 calls over a six-month period complaining about black males whom he described as suspicious.

The next witness in the box was Rachel Jeantel (AKA: Dee Dee), a badly wounded emotional tower of strength who was determined to speak the truth, no matter how painful that might be. She could not stop trembling when she took the stand. She continued to tremble for more than an hour before she settled down. She testified that she has known Trayvon since they were in elementary school. She described their relationship as close friends who have never dated each other.

No surprises in her testimony regarding the substance, if not the form, of what they said to each other regarding his contact with the defendant. For example, she said Trayvon referred to the defendant as “a creepy ass cracker” who had been staring at him during the conversation as he sheltered from the rain in the mailbox area adjacent to the clubhouse.

She said she told him to run because the guy “might be a rapist.”

Trayvon said, “Quit playing with me,” which she understood to be a request to stop freaking him out. Nevertheless, he told her he was going to try to lose the guy by “running to the back,” which appears to be the grassy area between the two buildings that contain the two-story townhomes. The call terminated unexpectedly and when she reestablished contact, he told her that the connection was broken because his headset detached from his phone while he was running. He said he thought he had gotten away from the man and he was going to proceed to Brandi Green’s townhome where he was staying.

Then he said, “the niggah is following me.” She explained that people in their age group use “niggah” when refering to another person and should not be confused with the N-word.

Then she heard Trayvon say, “Why you following me for?”

She heard a loud and authoritarian male voice demand to know, “What are you doing here?”

Then she heard some sounds that she described as “grassy noises,” followed by Trayvon yelling, “Get off, get off.”

She lost the connection at that point and was unable to reconnect with Trayvon.

She admitted that she did not attend the wake or the funeral and briefly lost her composure when she explained why she did not attend and why she lied to Sybrina about her reason for not attending. She choked up as the tears began to flow. She was unable to speak for a minute or so as she dabbed at the corners of her eyes with a tissue and struggled to regain control over her emotions. Finally, she said she could not bear to look at his dead body.

Bernie de la Rionda finished his direct examination by asking her if she could identify the person who uttered the terrified death shriek.

She said, it was Trayvon.

Don West cross examined her for about two hours with a series of tedious and forgettable questions that appeared to be designed to run out the clock so that she would have to return to court tomorrow. I say that because he did not ask a single question regarding what Trayvon said to her and we already know that the defendant admitted to the police that Trayvon asked why he was following him and the defendant responded by demanding to know why Trayvon was in the neighborhood.

The cross examination took a sadistic turn when West attempted to exploit an inconsistency between her in-court identification of Trayvon as the source of the shriek and her statement during her deposition when she said she thought it was Trayvon.

After she admitted the inconsistent statement, West asked Judge Nelson to recess the trial until tomorrow morning. When she asked him why he could not conclude his cross today, he said he had at least two more hours of questions.

When the witness heard him say that, she responded in a loud do-not-mess-with-me voice, “No, that is not going to happen.”

West laughed in her face.

Without addressing either of them, Judge Nelson declared court to be in recess until tomorrow at 9 am.

Several people in the thread have asked whether her response may have damaged her credibility.

I cannot speak for the jury, but as far as I am concerned, it did not because West deliberately exploited her emotional pain to play with her mind and provoke an angry response.

I think the jurors understand, or will understand by the end of the trial, that there is no functional difference between saying, “that sounds like Trayvon,” or “I think that’s Trayvon,” or” that is Trayvon.”

We are talking about a terrified shriek uttered by someone who has just realized that they are going to be executed. It is a protestation against the injustice and inhumanity of what is about to happen.

We have no word or phrase in our language that adequately expresses the horror Trayvon felt when he uttered that sound. Indeed, his awareness in that moment was incapable of definition or by resort to language.

Yet, he uttered a haunting and unforgettable shriek that a part of me understands leaving no uncertainty in my mind that he was protesting what was about to happen.

No one teaches others how to make that sound and there is no source we can consult to instruct us what it means or how to reproduce it.

I would call the shriek inhuman, except that I know a human made the sound.

Because the sound is unique, unambiguous, and easily understood by anyone, no matter their native language, I do not believe that anyone can positively identify a person who uttered such a shriek without considering the context of the situation that produced it.

In other words, a person must believe they are about to be executed in order to produce a sound like that. Total. Panic.

That is why people are identifying Trayvon as the source using language like “I think” or “I believe” that acknowledges the uniqueness of that sound while nevertheless knowing exactly what it means.

There is only one person who knew without doubt that death was but an instant away and it is not the person who had the gun.

There is a reason why that shriek ended with the gunshot.

The reason is the gunshot silenced the scream forever.

That is what we know, whether we knew Trayvon or not, and that is why this jury should convict the defendant of second degree murder regardless if Don West wins his sadistic little game with a grieving teenager who is avoiding the limelight while suffering through a difficult time coping with the loss of a life-long friend.

Welcome to the third day of the Zimmerman trial

June 26, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good morning:

Welcome to the third day of trial in State v. Zimmerman.

Judge Nelson may issue a ruling regarding the admissibility of GZ’s 911 calls.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.

Second day of trial has been completed in Zimmerman case

June 25, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Good evening:

Trials ebb and flow. There are good days and bad days. The struggle for us is to remain on an even keel throughout the case, taking the good with the bad without getting too excited or too depressed.

The good news today was provided by Diane Smith, a crime scene technician employed by the Sanford Police Department. Using flashlights, she and several police officers visually searched the two sidewalks that intersect each other forming the “T.” They did not find any blood.

This result is inconsistent with the defendant’s claim that Trayvon attempted to beat him to death by punching him repeatedly in the face and slamming the back of his head into the concrete sidewalk many times.

She also testified that the DNA lab did not detect the presence of the defendant’s blood or DNA in Trayvon’s fingernail clippings or on the cuffs and lower sleeves of Trayvon’s two sweatshirts. This result also is inconsistent with the defendant’s statement.

Finally, she told us that Trayvon’s DNA and latent fingerprints were not detected on the defendant’s gun.

I believe Don West told the jury during his opening statement that Zimmerman’s DNA would have been detected on Trayvon’s clothing, if his clothing had been packaged in paper bags instead of plastic bags.

Turns out that the clothing was packaged in paper bags

Mark O’Mara joined the hit parade today when he accused witness Selene Bahador of recently changing her statement to add that she heard loud yelling behind her townhome that appeared to be moving N/B in the direction of the T. He was nasty.

She said that she formed her opinion long ago but failed to include it her statements.

I assume she is telling the truth. Whether she is or not, she did not deserve the treatment she received from O’Mara.

We resume tomorrow morning at 9 am EDT.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.

Opening Statements completed and four witnesses testify in Zimmerman trial

June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Good morning:

We have completed the first day of trial and it was bizarre.

Jim Guy’s opening statement was unlike any opening statement that I have ever heard. Focused and powerful it seemed more like a persuasive closing argument or summation of the evidence than an opening statement.

Opening statements are opportunities to educate jurors, who likely do not know very much about the case. Therefore, the emphasis should be on clarifying rather than selling a point of view. That is why lawyers preface statements about the evidence during opening statements with the introductory phrase, “We believe the evidence will show,” or establish something certain about the case.

The goal is to keep the presentation simple, accurate and relatively easy to recall (the KISS rule). Argument, spin and minutiae are not helpful.

The defense opening statement was too long, too argumentative and too detailed.

On multiple occasions Mr. West violated a fundamental rule of opening statements by asserting certain facts as undisputed when they are disputed. He also made false assertions of fact that can easily be disproven.

The prosecution called four witnesses:

1. Chad Joseph

He is Brandi Green’s 15-year-old son. He and Trayvon were playing a video game when Trayvon said he was going to walk to the 711 and asked him if he wanted anything. He said Skittles. Trayvon left and he never saw him again. He was wearing headphones and could not hear.

2. Andrew Gaugh

He was the clerk at the 711 who handled Trayvon’s transaction. He does not have an independent recollection of the transaction.

3. Sean Knopke

He was the 911 operator who fielded GZ’s call. Denies that he would have told GZ to folloe or find Trayvon and call him back with the update. They have a policy that prohibits doing that.

4. Ramona Rumph

She is the custodian of records for the 911 call center. She brought the records for all of GZ calls.

O’Mara objected when the prosecutor began to question her about a previous 911 call by the defendant that is almost identical. The implication is that the defendant has a script that he uses to report suspicious activity.

Basis of the objection: inadmissible uncharged misconduct pursuant to Rule 404(b).

Discussion ensued without a resolution. Judge Nelson recessed the trial until 8:30 am EDT when she will resume the discussion regarding O’Mara’s objection.

She told the jury to return at 9 am.

SUMMARY: Prosecution off to a good start. Defense stumbled badly out of the gate with a poor opening statement and both defense counsel exhibited poor judgment, lack of respect for Judge Nelson and the dignity of the Court, and anger management issues.

Defense hostility and lack of respect for Judge Nelson is obvious. The jurors cannot have failed to see it and likely were offended. Difficult to respect defense counsel when they act like spoiled children.

I will see you all at 8:30 am EDT.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.


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Opening statements in the Zimmerman trial today

June 24, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Good morning:

Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9 am EDT, but they probably will not start before 9:15 because both sides are going to want to get a ruling from Judge Nelson before opening statements on the defense argument that several statements by the defendant after the shooting to W13 and the police are admissible pursuant to the res gestae exception to the hearsay rule.

She previously granted the State’s motion in limine to exclude all of the defendants statements after the shooting on the ground that they were self-serving hearsay. The statements at issue today were excluded pursuant to that ruling. Therefore, the defense cannot mention them in their opening statement, unless Judge Nelson reverses her earlier decision regarding these particular statements.

They want to mention the statements during their opening statement because GZ said he killed TRayvon Martin in self-defense.

The State likely will oppose the defense motion with an argument similar to the one that I made in my Friday evening post.

I believe opening statements are extremely important because they provide the first and only opportunity for each side to explain their respective theories of the case to the jury and briefly discuss the supporting evidence. Many lawyers compare an opening statement to a road map. If a lawyer makes a good opening statement, jurors will have a good overview of the case and the evidence that will be presented. If a lawyer makes a bad opening statement, the jurors will be confused and not know what to expect.

An opening statement should not exceed 20 minutes. Therefore, clarity and brevity are important. Detail, not so much.

An opening statement is not an argument. For that reason you will hear the lawyers often say, “We expect the evidence will show ABC or XYZ.

If a lawyer starts arguing what the evidence means, you should expect opposing counsel to object.

Prior to opening statements, Judge Nelson will instruct the jury that the remarks of counsel are not evidence.

Evidence consists of the testimony of the witnesses and the exhibits admitted by Judge Nelson.

I am hoping the State will mention what the evidence will show about GZ’s phone calls before and after he killed Trayvon.

Bernie de la Rionda (BDLR) has to decide whether to introduce any of the defendant’s statements during the State’s case in chief or save them for rebuttal.

He could do it either way, but the less he introduces during his case in chief, the more likely GZ will testify.

Here’s the link to the livestream coverage.


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Please consider making a donation to keep independent journalism alive.

Thank you

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