Wow - some days chicken salad and some days Florida state prosecutor.
George Zimmerman will be released on bail, set at $150,000. The prosecution had asked for $1 million, the defense for $15,000.
CNN has 1, 2, 3 transcripts. Here is the CNN live blog and the Guardian live blog. The single most interesting blog point I have seen made is here; I discuss it below, but you won't see me spoiling the surprise up here.
This was a ghastly opening day for Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda, who seemed unprepared and admitted as much:
"Mr. Gilbreath, I didn't know we were going to be trying the case, I'm going to add up -- I apologize."
Hello! Maybe the prosecutor should have prepped himself by reading up on 'Arthur' hearings:
Jeff Weiner, a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who practices in Miami, said Zimmerman was not necessarily entitled to release on bail. He faces up to life in prison for second-degree murder, a crime for which suspects in Florida are not usually afforded bail.
But if Angela Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, wants to oppose his release, she will have to preview at least some of the evidence the state has against Zimmerman in proceedings known in Florida as an Arthur hearing, Weiner said.
“The state has the burden of proof to go forward and convince the judge that proof of guilt is evident and that the presumption of guilt is great … That’s what this hearing is about,” Weiner said.
Well, maybe the prosecution got the wrong instructional video.
It's hard to pick the lowest of the low, but the darker moments for the prosecution included:
- The admission by co-lead investigator that he had not personally interviewed George Zimmerman;
- the admission that he had not requested Zimmerman's medical records from the hospital;
- the admission that the state has no evidence to contradict Zimmerman's claim that, following the advice of the police dispatcher, he headed back to his car;
- the admission that the state has no evidence to contradict Zimmerman's claim that Martin assaulted first.
- the admission that the investigtors have not been "given any insight" by the voice experts at the Orlando Sentinel and the FBI who attempted to identify the screams on the 911 tape (My 'told you so' moment).
Among the rays of light for the prosection was this:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE [de la Rionda]: And isn't it true that a lot of statements that he made do not make sense in terms of the injuries that he described. Did he not describe to the police that Mr. Martin had him on the ground and kept bashing his head on the concrete over and over and just physically beating him with his hands?
GILBREATH: He has said that, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And isn't it true that there is evidence that indicates that's not true?
So the beating may not have been as fierce as Zimmerman described, or believed. However, the defense returned to this point, regrettably during a CNN break:
COSTELLO: Back live to the bond hearing in Sanford, Florida. Mark O'Mara, who is George Zimmerman's attorney is doing another redirect of the state's attorney investigator. They're talking about what injuries George Zimmerman had to his head that night. Let's listen.
GILBREATH: Managed to scoot away from the concrete sidewalk and that is at that point is when the shooting subsequently followed. That is not consistent with the evidence we found.
O'MARA: The injuries seem to be consistent with his story, though, don't they? [ABC pic]
Dale; The injuries are consistent with a harder object striking the back of his head than his head was.
O'MARA: Could that be cement?
GILBREATH: Could be.
O'MARA: Did you just say it was consistent or did you say it wasn't consistent?
GILBREATH: I said it was.
Not a bad cross. The fact that some evidence points against Zimmerman's story does not mean that there is no evidence supporting it, as Mr. O'Mara demonstrated.
The prosecutor did offer this for a future "Great Moments In Cross Examination" video. The topic was Zimmerman's belated apology to the Martin's parents:
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you wait so long to tell Mr. Martin and the victim's mother, the father and mother, why did you wait so long to tell them?
ZIMMERMAN: I was told not to communicate with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok. So even through your attorney, you didn't ask to do it right away? Your former attorneys or anything.
ZIMMERMAN: I did ask them to express that to them. And they said that they were going to.
Anybody can have a bad day.
NEVER BEEN IN A WEIGHT ROOM: Timothy Noah makes a possibly embarrassing admission about his own life style choices:
2.) Zimmerman "did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am." This would appear to suggest that Zimmerman wouldn't have fired the gun had he known Martin was 17. He fired the gun believing Martin was perhaps 25 or 26 (Zimmerman is 28.). The assumption, I guess, is that a 25 year-old is stronger or likelier to be carrying a gun or in some other way more potentially dangerous than a 17 year-old. There's no reason I'm aware of to believe that should be so. Zimmerman thereby confirms that he's a guy who leaps to conclusions.
I need help here - is there any sport where 17 year old males have an edge over older, stronger, more experienced 25 year olds? Riding, maybe? I'm stumped. (Yes, it's different for the young women, especially in gymnastics where puberty can be killer. For guys, puberty is muscle-up time... geez, am I explaining the birds and the bees to TNR writers?)
In any case, if Martin's age is irrelevant, why is he referred to as a child all the time? In the court of public opinion, his age matters, and if Mr. Noah thinks that apology was addressed exclusively to the people inside the courtroom, well, my goodness.
I will say his third point is a good one - Zimmerman's admission that he "did not know if [Martin] was armed or not" was not helpful to the defense. It's probably not that harmful, however - Zimmerman claims that Martin grabbed for Zimmerman's gun, causing him to fear death or grievous bodily harm.
In any case Zimmerman must have covered this ground in his repeated interviews with investigators, and what else could Zimmerman say - after the fact, what basis could he have had for saying he believed that Martin had been armed? That would be less plausible than his gun struggle claim (which I don't love - as a concealed carry permit holder, Zimmerman ought to know self-defense law and what to tell police.)
GOOD POINT: Assessments change, but on the 911 call Zimmerman described Martin as "late teens", yet he was older on the stand today. Why the change? Who knows? Maybe Martin had a deeper voice than Zimmerman associated with teens and aged him after he heard him speak just before their scuffle. Maybe Martin was stronger or fiercer than Zimmerman thought a teenager ought to be. Maybe he lied on the stand.
Well - the left will hang their hate on this, so props to Prof. Hutchinson, where I saw it first.
LOOKING FOR REACTIONS: Jeralyn Merritt has not chimed on with her thoughts (this whole day job thing interferes with so much punditry...) but her first commenter deserves a prize:
It appears the prosecution's legal strategy is... (wait for it)... The Sneering Tone of Voice.
Other than that I can't really see what he accomplished except to indicate to the judge he's a jerk.
Well, and unprepared.
The WaPo leads with the apology (as does everyone) and has this deep:
The hearing provided a few glimpses into the evidence amassed by investigators, and in some cases evidence they do not have.
Dale Gilbreath, an investigator for the state attorney’s office, testified that he does not know whether Martin or Zimmerman threw the first punch and that there is no evidence to disprove Zimmerman’s contention that he was walking back to his vehicle when confronted by Martin.
Gilbreath also said evidence does not back up parts of Zimmerman’s story, such as his claim that Martin was slamming his head against a sidewalk just before he pulled out his handgun and shot the teenager.
“That is not consistent with the evidence we found,” said Gilbreath, who did not provide details.
The NY Times makes no mention of the comical prosecution presentation. Better their readers get that grim news elsewhere. [OK, their unmarked updating has now added a section of the prosecution debacle.]
The LA Times has a bit of the bad news deep:
The hearing was also notable for the extensive grilling that O'Mara gave one of the investigators for the state attorney's office, Dale Gilbreath, who helped prepare the probable cause affidavit that was the basis for Zimmerman's arrest.
The affidavit says Zimmerman "confronted" Martin, after which a struggle ensued. In a likely preview of the defense strategy at trial, O'Mara questioned the use of the word "confronted."
"Do you know who started the fight?" he asked the investigator at one point.
"Do I know? No," Gilbreath said.
"Do you have any evidence that supports who may have started the fight?"
"No" Gilbreath said.
YOU KNOW IT WENT BADLY FROM THE HEADLINE: ThinkProgress:
Prosecutor: Zimmerman Allegedly Slapped His Ex-Girlfriend And ‘Asked Her How It Felt’
They left out "Defense Counsel Slaps Prosecutor, Asked Him How It Felt"
The judge was far less impressed that Think Progress by Zimmerman's inglorious past; fro the Guardian live blog:
The judge all but pooh-poohed the 2005 charges brought against Zimmerman for felony battery of an officer and resisting arrest. The charges were later reduced to a misdemeanor and Zimmerman never served prison time, although he was required to attend anger management classes.
This kind of thing is all too common, the judge said, suggested that the charges were somehow inflated and should not be taken as an indicator – that he, at least, would not be taking them as an indicator – of George Zimmerman's propensity for violence.
Well, the prosecutor impressed the stalwarts on the left, so he has that working for him. Too bad about the judge...
WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE RETREAT AT TWIN LAKES? More hints of the dazzling prosecution case to come:
Now O'Mara is asking Gilbreath questions again. He's driving at how long after the operator told Zimmerman not to follow Martin that the suspect "continued to follow" the scene.
Gilbreath: "We have a witness statement who observed shadows or figures running by her residence." He says he can't identify who they were.
I'm betting one of the shadows was black, but did the other shadow look Hispanic or White Hispanic?
(FWIW, I can't find that in the CNN transcript, but they did keep cutting away for revenue breaks.)
ALWAYS WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT: A comedy highlight - defense counsel O'Mara has co-lead investigator Gilbrath on the stand:
O'MARA: Ok. Have you ever had your nose broken?
O'MARA: Have you ever had your nose fractured or broken.
O'MARA: You know that that was an injury that Mr. Zimmerman sustained, correct?
GILBREATH: I know that that is an injury that is reported to have sustained. I haven't seen any medical records to indicate that.
O'MARA: Have you asked him for them?
GILBREATH: Have I asked him for them? No.
O'MARA: Do you want a copy of them?
O'MARA: I'll give them to the state. It's a more appropriate way to do it. If you haven't had them yet, I don't want to cross you on them.
Send better rodeo clowns.
YOU KNOW THAT'S RIGHT: From the conclusion of the prosecutor's closing statement:
I'm not here to argue all the facts, obviously.
Obvious as the day is long.