My Fearless Prediction For The Michael Dunn Trial

February 7, 2014 15 comments

Caveats:
1: I haven’t been following the Dunn trial, and since I actually have things I need to get done, I won’t be logging into the trial feed, or following blogs devoted to recaps of the proceedings.
2: As a review of the archives on the “We are desperate for donations. Please donate today.” Law Blog will attest (yes, that’s a direct quote), I was quite wrong in my prediction of how the Zimmerman trial would turn out. I thought Rick Scott and Angela Corey couldn’t afford a loss on such a politically charged case, and Corey would go all out to secure a conviction. Oh, how mistaken I was…

But I still think the politics matters, and having dropped the ball on GZ, it’s now REALLY important for these folks to win one. Corey’s actions in the Marissa Alexander case matter here as well. If both Dunn and GZ are walking free while Alexander remains under lock and key, that’s what the pundits would call “really bad optics.” Add in that, AFAIK, Dunn has not become the sort of Treeper/Freeper/Fox News/wing-nut cause celebre GZ became, so I doubt there’d be much political downside for putting Dunn away.

In addition to my hunch that the prosecutors will actually TRY this time, there’s the facts of the case itself. Unlike Trayvon’s killing, there were numerous eye-witnesses to the events immediately surrounding the David shooting. It should be clear from the testimony that Dunn had ample opportunity to retreat, that he initiated the confrontation by walking up to the car to accost the youths for their loud music, and that he continued to fire at the car well after it pulled out and he was no longer in any conceivable danger.

So his defense would seem to come down to “I really thought they had a gun!” Florida’s self-defense statutes may be insane enough that such a declaration could conceivably form grounds for an acquittal. And after the Z case, who knows what kind of instructions the judge might issue? But I just don’t see the external pressure to double-down on the Zimmerman rulings with an even more extreme case, and I have to imagine that judge and jury will be more likely to want to show the rest of the country “We’re not totally bat-shit crazy ALL the time!”

So I’m predicting a conviction, for murder one. Since Florida has lesser included charges available automatically, it’s possible the jury could drop to murder two, but as we learned during the Z trial, with the required extenuating circumstances that’s a very long minimum sentence as well.

We shall see, of course. Share your thoughts, if you have them, and if you’d like to post comments on the progress of the trial, feel free.

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New book on GZ trial: “Yes, the prosecution blew it.”

February 7, 2014 9 comments

Celebrity/attorney/author/talking-head Lisa Bloom has just published a book on the TM/GZ case, apparently focusing on the trial and the prosecution’s errors therein. It’s titled “Suspicion Nation” subtitle on cover: “The Inside Story Of The Trayvon Martin Injustice And Why We Continue To Repeat It.” It’s on Amazon, but only in audiobook and Kindle form, not hard-copy, and only available for pre-order, with announced delivery dates between February 27 and March 4. I could find no published reviews online, so I guess pre-release copies have not gone out to the media, either.

Click for the page on Bloom’s website.

Let’s have this thread be for a discussion more-or-less centered on this book, and keep posts on other matters in the general threads. Since it will probably be awhile until any of us get our hands on the thing (much less plow through it) don’t forget this thread is here, and do come back when the time is right.

The Amazon page notes the Kindle version will cost $10, an .MP3 $11, but also that an audio version can be downloaded for free if you sign-up for a 30-day free trial with Audible. I can’t do those things, because I always forget to cancel them and wind up paying a bunch of fees. I think it will also be on iTunes. Anyway, if/when anyone obtains a digital copy we should figure out a way to share it. No need for us to add to Bloom’s income stemming from the tragic death of TM either…

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New Year, Same Blog…

January 11, 2014 206 comments

It’s 2014. Time marches on. The threads march on…

I just turned 60. Two days before my birthday, a car pulled out of a stalled lane on the freeway right in front of my motorcycle. Crash, and whonoze went flying. If there had been traffic coming behind me in my lane, I probably would have been run over. If I had landed differently, I could have received bones, or a head and/or neck injury. As fate had it, I wound up with nothing worse than bruises and a healthy dose of road rash.

Before we hit a logical post-limit on this thread, the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder will probably have passed. It would be nice to think that something positive will have happened by then. But GZ is still Teflon, the SYG laws are still on the books, and Amerikuh is still gun crazy. Well, maybe even more states would have passed SYG laws by now if not for Trayvon’s tragedy. Maybe lives that would otherwise have been lost by now (or in the future) have been saved (or will be saved) by that…

Will karma ever catch up to GZ? Will Angela Corey ever let Marissa Alexander leave her house? Will Michael Dunn be convicted for murder in the shooting of Jordan Davis? (The trial is scheduled to start Feb. 7). Will Theodore Wafer be convicted in the shooting of Renisha McBride? (On Dec. 19th, a judge bound him over for trial.) Will GZ ditch the Latex and spring for some oils as he continues his career in fine art painting?

We shall see.

If you’re bold enough to make any predictions for 2014, feel free to post them below.

And if you want to comment on Chris Christie, or some other topic that seems even remotely connected to our conversations, go right ahead. No need to ask my permission (I do have a delete post function if things get out of hand.) Mi bloga es tu bloga!

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Don’t screw with George (because he’ll screw with you)…

November 11, 2013 385 comments

It seems like time for a new thread. I don’t know what to call it. If you make a good suggestion, I’ll change the title (but not the URL).

Why am I not surprised that the whole Jonathan Martin bullying scandal erupted on a football team that plays in Florida. I wouldn’t bet that Richie Incognito will be making joint appearances with Geroge Zimmerman, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised. As Tsar says, “Stay classy Florida.”

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Broken thread conspiracy theory :-)

September 7, 2013 396 comments

When the posts get all out of chronological order, maybe it’s not WordPress, but Zimmerman anti-karma. Since none of his accounts make any sense in terms of space and time, that spatio-temporal dislocation could infect any attempt to discuss the case at length in a single thread. OK, I read too much Philip K. Dick, but in many ways this case in stranger than sci-fi. The struggle to find truth faces many obstacles, and yet, we feel compelled to continue. Yay, us!   🙂

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A close look at the “challenge” interview suggests the State may have tanked its case

July 25, 2013 239 comments

Consider this exchange from George Zimmerman’s “challenge” interview with Chris Serino and Doris Singleton, as the investigators go over GZ’s NEN call with him:

CS: OK.
(plays tape 0:39 to 0:48)
DS: Can you just pause that for a minute? OK, when you explained it to me, you said you had pulled over initially at the clubhouse, correct?
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: OK, but it seems so fast, and then I thought you told me, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, I thought you said they asked you, can you still see him, and you said, you told them you couldn’t, and you asked, and they said, well get to where you can see where he’s at. And you told me it was at that point you moved.
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: Now you’re saying he’s coming up to your car. Does that mean you’ve already, at this point in the tape, you’re already on Twin Tree, the street you didn’t know the name of at the time?
GZ: Um, no, I was on, I called when I was at the clubhouse.
DS: OK, but he’s walking up to your car now, right?
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS:  On the tape. Cause you’re saying he’s walking up.
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: You’re talking about when you’ve already left the clubhouse and now you’re on the corner.
GZ: No, ma’am. I’m at the clubhouse.
DS: You’re still at the clubhouse
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: when he does this?
GZ: Mm hmm.
DS: OK.
(plays tape 0:49 to 1:03)
DS: OK, pause it right there. OK, where’s he, where, where are you at now? Are you still at the clubhouse?
GZ: I think I’m still at the clubhouse, yes.
DS: OK.
(plays tape 1:03 to 1:16)
DS: Have you moved yet?
GZ: I don’t think so.
DS: You’re still in front of the clubhouse?
GZ: I think so.
DS: On Retreat View Circle.
GZ: Yes, ma’am. I don’t remember even saying he had a button on his shirt.
DS: OK.
(plays tape 1:16 to 1:18)
CS: So something’s wrong with him.
(plays tape 1:18 to 1:20?)
CS: What’s that statement supposed to mean?
GZ: I don’t know.
CS: OK.
(plays tape 1:20 to 1:28)
DS: OK, where are you at now? Are you still in front of the clubhouse?
GZ: I don’t remember.
CS: OK.
(plays tape 1:28 to 1:34)
CS: That statement. These assholes…what’s behind that?
GZ: People that victimize the neighborhood.
DS: Didn’t you just tell us in there that a week earlier they made an arrest?
GZ: Yes, ma’am.
DS: So they don’t always get away.
GZ: No.
CS: Good point.
(plays tape 1:34 to 1:50)
CS: What’s happening now? Are you guys walking now, is he walking?
GZ: No, that’s, I was parked where I could see him now.
CS: So you’re…
DS: OK, so you’re definitely not in front of the clubhouse any more, at this point?
GZ: No.
CS: So you’re ahead of him?
GZ: No, I was behind him.
CS: OK, so you walked to your car, then walked along this path and you were you were behind him?
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK.
GZ: When I was at the clubhouse he walked…
CS: Are you driving slowly or something?
GZ: No, I pulled over and stopped before I called.

I  cannot see how Serino and Singleton could pursue this line of questioning — asking GZ where he was at what time in the NEN call — without being aware of the physical impossibilities in his account.

If GZ is parked at the clubhouse while he describes Martin approaching his truck, then “he’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is” which GZ finished speaking at 7:11:00, places both GZ and TM in front of the clubhouse at that time.  GZ begins describing the location his truck on TTL at 7:11:20. In the “re-enactment” video, it takes Randy Smith 43 seconds to pull out from the clubhouse and drive to GZ’s parking spot on TTL. Perhaps Mario Andretti could have covered that distance in 20 seconds, but not George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman notices Trayvon running down the dogwalk at 7:11:40. Could Trayvon have covered more distance is less time on foot (walking leisurely, remember) than Smith did by car?  It’s approximately 170 yards from the front of the clubhouse to the T. Normal walking speed is 1.5 yds/sec. Thus, at a normal walking pace, it would have taken Trayvon about 113 seconds to cover that distance. He would have to have been running at an average pace to get there in 40 seconds.

But, of course, according to Zimmerman, Trayvon did not just travel from the clubhouse to the cut-through sidewalk and break into a run near the T. Zimmerman says TM walked down the dog-walk behind the houses, then re-emerged after a moment, walked back to the truck, circled it, and then walked back to the T and disappeared behind the houses a second time.  This adds approximately 130 to the path. Meaning Trayvon would had to have covered 400 yards in 40 seconds. That’s approximately the pace Michael Johnson ran in setting the world record for 400 meters, and even Johnson at his best couldn’t run that fast wearing flats and khakis over grass and asphalt. And, of course, GZ says TM was walking the whole time.

Now, I can’t imagine Serino and Singleton would have pursued the line of questions above unless they were aware of the time discrepancies between the NEN call and GZ’s statements. And even if they hadn’t been aware of them before the “challenge” interview, I can’t imagine that Zimmerman’s responses didn’t make the problem plainly apparent. I certainly can’t imagine any competent prosecutor reviewing the transcript or tape of this interview, utterly failing to put two and two together, querying Serino and Singleton further on the subject, and confirming the discrepancy with their own measurements of distance and time.

Thus, Serino’s testimony during the trial would seem to have offered the perfect opportunity for the Prosecution to present the stopwatch-and-map evidence in combination with the NEN to establish some major falsehoods in GZ’s account of the events of 2/26/2012. And, frankly, I can see no excuse for their failing to do so. Granted, they were going easy on all the police witnesses to avoid any hint of cover-up and corruption within the SPD. But querying Serino on this subject would not have exposed him in any way. The predicate is right in the interview transcript. Zimmerman’s account was fishy from a timeline standpoint, Serino and Singleton knew it (or at least suspected), and they got answers from Zimmerman that prove his story was bogus. All they needed to do was use the occasion of Serino’s testimony to point that out: replay that part of the NEN call, replay the part of the interview quoted above, get out a map with distances marked, connect the dots.

So it seems to me that what we have here is either incompetence that stretches credulity, or  a conscious decision to exclude incriminating evidence, which is even more troubling.

Continuing with the watch-map-NEN call theme, Serino and Singleton ALSO nail GZ on the discrepancy at the OTHER end of the timeline — the “walking back to his car.”

CS: OK.
(plays tape 2:47 to 3:06)
CS: What are you doing right now?
GZ: Walking back to my car.
CS: OK.
(plays tape 2:17 to 2:41)
CS: OK, if I time this portion, this is important, OK? I almost gotta reconstruct this.
(plays tape 2:16 to 2:41)
CS: When do you start walking back to your car? Time here. You’re going towards Retreat View, right?
GZ: Yeah.
CS: OK.
(plays tape 2:28 to 2:41)
CS: OK, where you at now?
GZ: I think on Retreat View Circle.
CS: OK. Is that 2:41? OK.
(plays tape 2:41 to 2:47)
CS: OK, you’re walking back to your car?
GZ: Yes, sir,
(plays tape 2:48 to 4:03 )
GZ: I’m thumping the damn flashlight as I was walking through.
(call ends)
DS: How long is that?
CS: It’s 84 seconds. From the point where you were walking back to your car from Retreat View to Twin Tree basically.
DS: It’s what, about 30 feet.
CS: That’s a minute and…20 seconds. Did you stop at the “T”?
GZ: No, I walked through. I stopped on Retreat View Circle.
CS: That’s where you were standing?
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK. But you didn’t get back into your car?
GZ: No, sir.
CS: Why not?
GZ: I was…
CS: You’re in the rain, you’re getting wet, you’re on the phone.
GZ: Because I was waiting, I, the, I had light there…
CS: So…
GZ: Where I was at and I was trying to hit my flashlight. I didn’t want to walk back through without light.
CS: OK, a minute and 20 seconds.
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK, you’re in the rain, getting wet. You’ve wrote this guy off basically, you’re gonna meet the police. OK, you see where the obstacle is here?
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK, I want you to think about that. I am speaking for you, for everybody. I’m trying to, trying to do the best I can here.
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: It’s a minute and 20 seconds. It doesn’t sound like you were saying, well it doesn’t sound like you quite recall exactly what happened at that point, OK? (unintelligible) something else. This is not right? OK.


So confronted with the time discrepancy, GZ CHANGES HIS STORY from ‘I was still on the phone with NEN as I began walking to back to my car,” which he had also asserted in the walk-through, to ‘I stood there on RVC banging on my flashlight for 1:20.” Instead of trying to get an acceptable explanation for this “obstacle”, Serino just avers “well it doesn’t sound like you quite recall exactly,” and then Singleton changes the subject back to GZ’s “Oh shit, he’s running” remark. So we’re supposed to believe that after walking all that way to “get an address,” GZ DOESN’T get an address, but just stands at the end of the sidewalk whacking his phallashlight for a minute and a half? That makes no sense, and not just because he would have been standing in the rain. GZ’s claim that Noffke was arranging a meeting with the arriving officer at his truck is his excuse for not following through to actually get an address. If GZ was banging on his torch, he didn’t need to be standing in place while he did so. He could have walked another 20 feet or so and actually found an address. And he claims, “I didn’t want to walk back through without light,” when we all know he had another flashlight that was found ON near the T. Even without that second flashlight, he would have had no trouble finding his way back to his truck, as the path would have been outlined by the ambient light coming over from TTL.

Finally, confronted with the fact that he canceled the arranged meeting at the mailboxes with the arriving officer, “Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?” GZ comes up with this gem.


DS: Why did you tell them, never mind just have them call me when they get here and I’ll tell them where I’m at?
GZ: I was frustrated that I couldn’t think of the street name where I was…
DS: But you were gonna be back in your car from that distance in less than 15 or 20 seconds. So why would they need to call you?
GZ: I felt like I didn’t give them an adequate description of where I was from the clubhouse.
DS: OK, cause you know what the impression would be, is that you’re gonna continue to look and when they get here you’d just tell ‘em where you’re at, at that point. You see what I’m saying? Well…no, never mind
CS: Just keep the (unintelligible)
DS: just tell ‘em to call me when they get here, and I’ll tell ‘em where I’m at. Meaning I might not be at my car. Where I just told ‘em I would be.
CS: I mean, you know, we’re here working for you here, OK?
GZ: Yes, sir.
CS: OK
GZ: I know…

OK, let’s just ignore the “no, never mind” and “we’re working for you here” remarks that let GZ off without actually addressing the question any further, and note that he said, “I felt like I didn’t give them an adequate description of where I was from the clubhouse.” Uhh, only 3 SECONDS had passed from the moment he agreed to meet the officer AT THE MAILBOXES, so how could he possibly be concerned about his description of his position in relation to the clubhouse?

So, all in all, Zimmerman seriously stuck his foot in his mouth 3 times during the “challenge” interview.

Did you get that impression during the trial?

Well, neither did anybody else, because the Prosecution simply avoided their ample opportunity to call these things to the jury’s attention. And, again, they could even have done so without putting Serino or Singleton in any kind of bind. The State’s strategy, if you can call it that, seems to have been to introduce most of the key pieces of evidence, explaining or emphasizing almost NOTHING, then expect the jury to take all the myriad documents and recordings back to the deliberation room, parse the meaningful parts away from the noise, and put the pieces of the puzzle together by themselves. Really? What can I say except, “That’s real retarded, sir!”

Post-trial: What is to be done?

July 20, 2013 74 comments

George Zimmerman has been acquitted in Florida. The deck was overwhelmingly stacked in his favor.

1. Florida’s NRA-backed self-defense statutes required the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not in fear for his life when he shot Trayvon Martin. This is a ludicrous burden when the only witness who could challenge Zimmerman’s account is the victim.

2. The prosecution put up a half-assed case by any estimation, failing to introduce or explain key pieces of evidence, and failing to challenge the credibility of the corrupt Sanford Police Department.

3. Judge Nelson allowed a pro-Zimmerman jury with no black members to be seated by rejecting the State’s peremptory challenges of two jurors, on the basis of a Defense objection that the prosecution had challenged too many white women, despite the fact that Nelson herself noted that white women made up a hugely disproportionate percentage of the jury pool.

4. The jury instructions Nelson employed overwhelmingly favored the Defense.

5. Judge Nelson allowed the jurors unsupervised time with family and friends, leading to the possibility that outside information was brought into their deliberation. WFTV news story. Commentary from addictinginfo.org.

The criminal trial may be over,  but the Martin family may bring a wrongful death suit against Zimmerman, and there is a possibility (however small) the Federal Department of Justice may bring Civil Rights charges against Zimmerman, or investigate the goings on inside the SPD. More importantly, jury verdicts do not decide how major political trials will be judged by history, nor how they will ultimately influence our society and culture.

And so our discussion, and our work, continues…

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