Jury to resume deliberations Monday in Kelly-Thomas-beating case

January 12, 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Good afternoon:

The Kelly Thomas case was submitted to the jury late Thursday morning after five weeks of trial and 3 1/2 days of final arguments. The jury deliberated Thursday afternoon without reaching a verdict.

The jury was excused until Monday morning when it will resume deliberations.

This is Part 1 of prosecutor Tony Rackauckas’s rebuttal argument (51:46):

Here’s Part 2 (9:17)

Here’s the 33 minute video of the beating:

Meanwhile, check out the Hand of God.

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This is our 848th post in 26 months.

We received only two donations yesterday for which we are very grateful, but we had 666 visitors to the site and 1,358 page views. As I said yesterday, I realize it’s easy to assume others will step in and contribute, but that type of thinking doesn’t work when everyone does it.

We’ve averaged less than 1 donation per day during the past week despite hundreds of visitors per day and thousands of page views. We’re not trying to get rich here, but this just isn’t working out for us.

Fred


FOX News pimps for defendant in Trayvon Martin murder case

February 28, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The beat goes on as Mark O’Mara continues to shamelessly pimp for his client.

Edmund DeMarche of Fox News writes:

George Zimmerman, the Florida man who fatally shot an unarmed Florida teenager last year, wears a disguise and a bulletproof vest whenever he is in public, his attorney said.

“He never feels safe,” Mark O’Mara, his lawyer, told FoxNews.com. “His security has been cut and he stays inside his secure location all day long due to threats.”

As a result of the confinement, Zimmerman’s health has taken a turn for the worse, O’Mara said. He gained about 100 pounds in six months and is stressed about the threats and his upcoming murder trial, which is set to begin on June 10.

“If I was confined to four rooms all day I bet I’d gain a lot of weight, too,” O’Mara said.

Next time you see the Michelin Man wearing sunglasses while standing in line at the Donut Shop, be sure to tap him on the shoulder and ask him for his autograph. Maybe he will give it to you for free, although I would not bet the ranch.

On second thought, we don’t need you to do that because this Afro Peruvian descendant of African kings might pull out a gun and blow away your heart.

Now prepare yourself for this fine example of journalism at its finest:

Last year, Zimmerman spotted Trayvon Martin walking through his neighborhood, a gated community, in Sanford, Fla. Martin was walking back to a house he was staying at in the community after a trip to a convenience store.

Zimmerman started to follow him because he thought he looked suspicious. Despite a police dispatcher telling him “you don’t have to do that,” Zimmerman got out of his truck to pursue Martin.

They got into a fight and Martin was shot.

You gotta love that integrity.

But wait, there’s more:

O’Mara said he talks with Zimmerman every day. He said the couple relies on donations to survive since neither one can hold down a job.

He said Zimmerman, who previously aspired to be a judge, looks forward to the trial to begin, but has been disenfranchised about the legal proceedings thus far.

To be sure, even if his client is acquitted, O’Mara said he will likely never feel safe in his hometown or Florida.

“He’d have to go somewhere where nobody knows him,” O’Mara said.

So, O’Mara and his client are a “couple” and poor George is wearing bulletproof vests and disguises while he steadily eats himself to death because he doesn’t get to vote on the outcome of his trial.

Excuse me, while I cry me a river of tears.

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CNN article promotes racist description of Trayvon Martin case

February 27, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thanks to all who participated in yesterday’s memorial to Trayvon Martin.

I write today to express disgust and dismay regarding this excuse for journalism by Steve Almasy of CNN, Zimmerman’s lawyer works to dispel racial overtones in Trayvon Martin case.

The focus of the piece is Mark O’Mara’s “struggle” to get people to pay attention to the evidence instead of racism.

Whatever the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, it will be viewed less as a determination of the shooter’s guilt or innocence and more as a victory or loss for civil rights, George Zimmerman’s lawyer fears.

Mark O’Mara said he has been busy trying to dispel the racial overtones in the case by getting out more evidence about his client.

Thereafter, we get the usual he-said-she-said description of the case interspersed with O’Mara’s unchallenged mischaracterizations of the evidence followed up with this description of Benjamin Crump as a rabble rousing troublemaker pushing the race card.

O’Mara indicated at trial he will dissect the recording of Zimmerman’s 911 call and point to evidence of the wounds Zimmerman said he suffered that night.

“I believe, you know, again, the evidence is what it is and that’s for a jury to determine,” O’Mara said. “But a close reading or looking at that tape and all the evidence that followed, particularly George’s injuries and Trayvon’s lack of injuries but for the fatal gunshot, suggest that George did not begin the fight, did not continue the fight and actually was the victim of the attack rather than the other way around.”

But a lawyer for the Martins said the fight against “senseless gun violence” will continue.

“He went home and slept in his bed the night he killed Trayvon,” attorney Benjamin Crump said. “And that wasn’t equal justice.”

Crump then led a chant of “Hoodies up! Hoodies up!” at the vigil.

This false concoction is presented with a cherry on top in the form of the optically distorted and likely photoshopped digital photo of the defendant seated in the back seat of a patrol vehicle with a bump on his nose and blood on his mustache. CNN has no excuse for not knowing that the photo presents a false picture because the police photos taken at the station house a few hours later with a much better camera under good lighting show a barely visible injury with little or no swelling or distortion to the shape of the nose.

As all of us know, despite conceding that his client was the aggressor, O’Mara has been shoving his demonstrably false “bloody” photograph in front of every camera he can find in pursuit of his easy-to-disprove false narrative that the peaceful and nonviolent Trayvon for no apparent reason attacked and attempted to kill the defendant with his bare hands in the middle of his phone conversation with his girlfriend after successfully running away from the defendant who had been stalking him in a vehicle and then on foot contrary to a police dispatcher’s warning.

The simple truth is this defendant has no defense and the only mystery in this case is why anyone believes that the he did not hunt, confront, and murder Trayvon Martin for the heinous crime of walking while Black in the rain with his hoodie up.

I said long ago and I will repeat it today:

Anyone who believes the defendant is innocent is a racist and anyone who contributes money to his defense is a stupid racist.

Let there be no mistake: Although he claims otherwise, Mark O’Mara and his client are deliberately appealing to racial hatred and fear of young Black males to literally get away with murder.

That is what this case is all about and shame on CNN for not reporting the truth.


Zimmerman: 13 Questions Searching for an Answer

July 25, 2012

The shooter in a self-defense case with an unarmed victim usually claims that he thought the person he killed was armed and reaching for a weapon when he shot and killed him.

GZ has not made that claim with the exception of his first “apology” to TM’s parents in court at the first bail hearing when he said he thought TM might be armed.

I have been wondering why he hasn’t been claiming all along that he thought TM was armed.

As he was sitting in his vehicle, GZ told the dispatcher that TM was reaching into his waistband as TM was approaching him. He said TM walked past the vehicle, broke into a run, and disappeared from GZ’s view. This statement set up the I-thought-he-was-armed defense.

After he shot and killed TM a few minutes later, he patted him down for a weapon, but did not find one.

He did not admit patting him down. Instead, he said TM was lying face down. He mounted him from behind, grabbed his hands, and stretched TM’s arms out to the side in a Y-position to prevent TM, who was still struggling and cursing him at that point, from reaching his (GZ’s) gun lying nearby in the grass.

We know this story is a lie because TM’s hands were underneath his body when the police arrived at the scene. Both of TM’s lungs were collapsed and he could not push any air through his vocal cords to utter a sound, much less speak a word. More important, TM would have lost consciousness and died instantly after the gunshot destroyed his right ventricle and collapsed both lungs.

A witness told the police that she saw the large man straddling the boy, who was lying face down in the grass, and running his hands up and down the boy’s back. Her description sounds like a search for weapons.

These two established facts lead me to believe that GZ thought TM was armed with some sort of weapon when he got out of his vehicle and set off in pursuit of him to prevent this particular “asshole” and “punk” from getting away like all of the others.

Because GZ believed TM was armed, I have a difficult time believing GZ did not pull his gun out of his holster before he spotted TM and approached him.

I surmise that when he realized after the shooting that TM was not armed, he decided not to claim that he believed TM was armed because such a claim would have been inconsistent with the struggle and screaming. That is, if TM were armed, he would have drawn his weapon during the fight. A claim that he believed TM was reaching for his (TM’s) weapon and he (GZ) killed him to prevent TM from killing him would not withstand scrutiny.

GZ only had a minute or two to scramble together a story to tell the police before they arrived. I think he decided to reject the I-thought-he-was-armed defense, since TM did not have a weapon, and he decided instead to go with the-psycho-Black-gangsta-Mofo-jumped-and-attempted-to-kill-me-with-his-bare-hands defense because he (GZ) had some bleeding injuries from his struggle with TM. Then he replaced the I-thought-he-was-reaching-for-his-gun narrative with the I-felt-him-reaching-for-my-gun-in-my-holster story to conceal that he had already drawn his gun before the physical encounter started.

Because he must have known that an aggressor cannot claim self-defense, he conveniently left out the part that he attacked and attempted to restrain TM. To justify using deadly force in self-defense, he claimed TM attacked him and was slamming his head against the concrete in an effort to kill him. Unfortunately for him, the wounds to the back of his head and the pattern of blood flow depicted in the photograph of the back of his head taken at the scene of the shooting disprove this scenario.

I have been wondering why GZ’s key chain and little flashlight were found next to the N/S sidewalk a few feet south of the T-intersection and close to the tree. This is Item 1 on the Total Station. The flashlight was on.

The rest of the items, including the tan 7/11 bag (Item 2), spent casing (Item 6), GZ’s black tactical flashlight (Item 5) and TM’s cell phone (Item 7) were found close to TM’s body approximately 40 feet south of the intersection.

Why is the key chain and flashlight up near the intersection instead of with the rest of the items?

I have never believed TM attacked GZ at the intersection. I suspect he was hiding in the shadows one or two houses down from the intersection talking to DeeDee on his cell phone when GZ spotted him from the intersection.

I think GZ most likely was running or jogging E/B on the cut-through sidewalk from RVC, where he went to see if TM was running S/B toward the rear entrance to the neighborhood. When he did not see him, he realized TM must have run into the area between the two rows of townhouses. He turned around and retraced his route spotting TM from the intersection.

Here are my 13 questions searching for an answer.

1. Did GZ unholster his gun when he spotted TM and dislodge or drop his key chain and flashlight?

2. Did he grab the flashlight with one hand and the gun with the other?

3. Did he need two hands to grab the gun and drop the flashlight unintentionally as he grabbed the gun?

4. Where was it?

5. Was it hooked to his belt or a belt loop on his pants?

6. Was it in a pocket?

7. Was he holding it?

8. Was it turned on?

9. Why would he risk turning it on, possibly making himself a target, if he believed TM might be armed?

10. If so, when did he turn it on and why?

11. Did he even know that he dropped it?

12. Did he run into the tree, bump and bloody his nose or did TM hit his nose during their struggle?

13. Why is GZ’s 6-inch tactical flashlight near TM’s body?


Zimmerman: How to Select a Jury Despite the Child Molestation Allegation

July 22, 2012

Let us assume, for the purpose of this exercise, that we are representing George Zimmerman and we are going to start selecting a jury to try this case tomorrow morning.

To keep it simple, we are going to focus on W9’s allegation that GZ sexually molested her multiple times during a period of 10 years that began when she was 6 and he was 8. The allegation is unlikely to come up at trial, but lots of people know about it and it might prejudice jurors against him.

This is what she said:

The sexual abuse consisted of digital penetration of her vagina and fondling.

She ended it when she was 16 and later told her parents. Her parents told his parents.

She was discouraged from reporting the crimes to the police and did not do so until after he was arrested for shooting and killing TM. When the police asked her why she waited so long (10 years) to report the crimes, she said it was the first time she felt safe.

Our client denies that he ever sexually molested her or anyone else.

We do not know if the allegation is true, but we do know that her tape-recorded statement was available to listen to over the internet and her story was broadcast all over the world and discussed by media pundits.

We know that many, possibly all of the people in the jury pool, have heard or read her story.

What do we do?

First, let’s back up. We would have spent the past week developing a juror questionnaire. A section of that questionnaire covered pretrial publicity.

We would have prepared a short summary of the case telling the prospective jurors the names of the defendant who is White/Hispanic and the alleged victim who is Black, the date and location of the incident, a brief statement of what allegedly happened, and a statement that the defendant has admitted shooting the victim to death, but claims he did so in self-defense when the victim attacked and attempted to beat him to death. The victim was unarmed and the incident was extensively reported by the media and discussed over the internet.

Each prospective juror was then asked on the form, if they recalled anything about the incident, and if so, to write down everything they could recall about it.

Then they were asked if they had formed an opinion about the case and, if so, what it was (i.e., guilty or not guilty), whether they had ever expressed it to anyone, and how often they had expressed it.

They also were asked if they had ever argued with anyone about the case.

After the jurors reported to court, they were instructed to fill out the form. They identified themselves by juror number, rather than name, and told the forms would be destroyed after the case.

They also were instructed that they had to be truthful and sign and declare under penalty of perjury that the information they provided was true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief.

The forms were collected and copied. The prosecution, defense, and the judge each have a set.

We have reviewed our set. We set aside all of the jurors who have no recollection of the case and sorted those who do into two categories: those with opinions and those without.

Now, we aside everyone without an opinion and sort those who do have opinions into two categories: those who believe the defendant is not guilty and those who believe he is guilty.

Since we are representing the defendant, our category of best jurors will include everyone who said he was not guilty.

We are not interested in this group at this time, so we also set them aside

Question: Why do we do that?

Answer: Because jury selection is a process of choosing the prospective jurors we want to eliminate. The final product will be whomever is left after each side eliminates the prospective jurors they do not want. There is a limit to how many prospective jurors we can eliminate, however, so we have to choose carefully.

Therefore, we are going to focus on the category of prospective jurors who believe our client is guilty and rank them according to how strong their opinions are and how much they know about the case.

Those with the strongest opinions based on the most knowledge of the case will be our targeted set of prospective jurors to eliminate. Some portion of these prospective jurors will have commented to the effect that the defendant is a child molester.

We will want the judge to excuse these people.

Individual voir dire: We will question the prospective jurors individually out of the presence of the others to avoid infecting the others with prejudicial information.

Challenges for Cause: We have an unlimited number of challenges for cause. To successfully challenge a prospective juror for cause (i.e., persuade the judge to excuse the prospective juror), we have to show that the prospective juror cannot be fair and impartial.

Establishing that the prospective juror believes our client is guilty is only half the battle. The critical question is whether we can persuade the prospective juror to admit that his or her opinion is so strong that he or she cannot honestly presume our client is innocent.

Peremptory Challenges: We have a limited number of peremptory challenges. When selecting a 12 person jury, each side gets 6 peremptory challenges. Unlike a challenge for cause when we have to convince the judge that the prospective juror cannot be fair and impartial, with only one exception we do not have to provide any reason to support or justify a peremptory challenge. This is why there is a limitation on the number of peremptory challenges.

Exception to the Rule: Neither side can use peremptory challenges to systematically exclude prospective jurors based on race, gender, or religion.

Basis for this exception: To stop the routine prosecution practice in the South of using its peremptory challenges to disqualify all Black prospective jurors in cases where the defendant was Black. Since then, the prohibition has been extended to apply equally to the defense and to cover gender and religion.

What this exception means for us: We cannot use our 6 peremptory challenges to systematically exclude Blacks from the jury.

This does not mean we cannot exclude some Black people, but we have to have a reason unrelated to race and we had better be consistent in excluding White prospective jurors for the same reason.

If we do not, our peremptory challenges will be denied and we will likely be held in contempt of court.

How do we get a prospective juror to admit he or she cannot be fair or impartial?

Answer: We start by asking the prospective juror to explain why he or she believes they can disregard their opinion and presume our client is innocent.

If the prospective juror mentioned the child molester factor, get it out on the table and ask them how they could presume our client innocent, despite believing he is a child molester.

When they finish their explanation, ask them if they had to vote now, without having heard any evidence, what their verdict would be.

The typical response will be, “I can’t do that.”

Why not? you respond.

“Because I don’t have any evidence upon which to base a verdict.”

“Would you want the prosecution to introduce evidence to prove its case?

“Yes, of course.”

“How about the defense. Would you want the defense to introduce evidence to prove self-defense?”

Would you want the defense to introduce evidence to prove he is not a child molester?”

“Yes.”

“What happens if the defense doesn’t change your opinion?”

“I would vote guilty.”

At this point, you thank the prospective juror and say, “Your Honor, I respectfully challenge the prospective juror for cause because he has demonstrated that he cannot presume my client innocent and he would expect us to change his opinion that our client is guilty.”

The prosecution would be permitted to attempt to rehabilitate the prospective juror.

If successful, the judge would deny the challenge for cause and we would have to use one of our precious peremptory challenges to excuse him.

One down, five to go.

If unsuccessful, the judge would excuse the juror for cause and we would still have our 6 peremptory challenges.

In this manner, we would proceed through the panel of jurors until we have passed 24 jurors for cause, plus 3 for 1 alternate. (Total: 27)

If both sides exercise all of their peremptory challenges, there will be 17 left.

If both sides exercise their 1 peremptory challenge each against a potential alternate juror, there will be 12 jurors left, plus one alternate.

Key points to remember:

1. Sort the prospective jurors according to the order in which you want to get rid of them.

2. Keep asking open ended why-type questions and follow-up on the answers.

3. Every time you fail to get a potential juror excused for cause, you will have to use a peremptory challenge to get rid of them.

4, You have only 6 peremptory challenges.


Zimmerman: A Spectacular Fail!

July 19, 2012

Watt4Bob at Firedoglake posted a comment to my article, Should Mark O’Mara Withdraw as Counsel for George Zimmerman? He asked the following question, which probably is on most everyone’s mind this morning after the Sean Hannity interview of George Zimmerman last night.

I want to ask both Hannity and O’Mara what the hell good they think they did for that pathetic man, but I realize neither of them gives a damn and GZ is oblivious.

I can answer that question with three words:

EXPLOITATION. FOR. MONEY.

I am furious.

I cannot imagine myself, or any criminal defense attorney whom I respect, ever, under any set of circumstances, short of cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness or death, sitting passively beside my client as he denies any regret for killing an unarmed teenager, or anyone else for that matter, because it was “God’s plan” for him to die.

And to follow that statement with an “apology” to the kid’s parents in which he says he’s sorry they had to bury their child because he knows what it would be like to lose one of his as yet unborn children is . . . well,

What is it?

And all of this was delivered in a soft monotonous voice without any detectable trace of emotion as though he were describing doing the laundry.

Are there words that capture the depravity and emptiness of that shell of a human being?

If any of you were concerned whether the prosecution could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin while acting with a depraved mind,, you need not worry any longer.

The prosecution must be drinkin’ the bubbly and dancin’ in the street.

I assure y’all, no client of mine would ever have said anything like that on national television with me present because I would have done something, anything, even ripped off my clothes and mooned Amerika in all my naked glory, just to shut him up.

And this appears to have been scripted.

Jesus Christ on a bicycle.

Can there be any doubt who is calling the shots for the defense?

George Zimmerman is representing himself with Mark O’Mara dancing to his tune while playing the role of his attorney.

If anyone still believes George Zimmerman is not a devious and manipulative person, please listen to this audio recording of a jailhouse telephone call when he called right-wing Pastor Terry Jones of let’s-all-of-us-sinners-party-on-the-lawn-burnin’-Korans fame to pray with him for the healing of America and ask him to cancel a pro-Zimmerman demonstration to calm people down.

Hell, listen to it anyway.

Just for the halibut.

(h/t to Crazy1946 @ my website for spotting this recorded conversation and posting a comment about it)


Was Trayvon Martin Attempting to get Away when George Zimmerman killed Him?

July 15, 2012

Amy L. Siewert is a Crime Laboratory Analyst employed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Crime Laboratory. She examined TM’s Fruit of the Loom dark gray hooded sweatshirt (Exhibit ME 12) and the light gray Nike sweatshirt (Exhibit ME 8) that he was wearing underneath the hoodie when GZ shot and killed him

In her report dated March 22, 2012, she concluded:

The sweatshirts each display a hole located in the upper chest area. The areas around these holes were microscopically examined and chemically processed for the presence of gunshot residues. Both holes displayed residues and physical effects consistent with a contact shot.

In her bench notes, which the prosecution released in the recent document dump last Thursday, she specifically noted that her microscopic examination of the the light gray sweatshirt (ME 8) “shows results consistent with a contact shot (tearing a hole, sooting around the hole, burning/singeing, no powder pattern, vaporous Pb surrounding the hole). She also noted that the hole exhibited “stellate” tearing. She described the hole in the hooded sweatshirt (ME 12) identically, but noted L-shaped tearing.

These are the classic signs of a contact shot. That is, the muzzle of the gun was in contact with the outer hooded sweatshirt with the light gray sweatshirt immediately behind, or in contact with it.

She also test fired GZ’s gun into squares of cloth cut from both sweatshirts and verified that the muzzle of the gun was in contact with the sweatshirts.

She also noted that the holes in the sweatshirts align with each other.

She also measured the vertical distance from the hole up to to the neck seam at approximately 7 inches. The horizontal distance to the shoulder seam was approximately 7 1/2 inches.

Although these holes align with each other, they do not align with the entry wound in TM’s chest. According to the autopsy report, the entry wound is 1 inch left of the midline and 1/2 inch below the left nipple.

Therefore, the entry wound is approximately 3 1/2 inches below and 2 1/2 inches closer to the midline than the holes in the sweatshirts.

Also significant is that the entry wound was caused by a gunshot in which the muzzle of the gun was at an intermediate range of 2-4 inches.

What does this mean?

I believe it means the sweatshirts were being pulled down or being held by GZ as TM was pulling back or attempting to stand up (and probably screaming for help as he did so) when GZ pressed the muzzle of his gun against the hooded sweatshirt and pulled the trigger. The two sweatshirts were in contact with each other (i.e., gripped together) and approximately 2-4 inches from his chest.

The trajectory of the shot would have been straight through neither varying up or down nor left or right, if TM were leaning forward while attempting to get away, but restrained from escaping by GZ’s grip on his sweatshirts.


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