Zimmerman: The Backwards Trial Resumes
Week One saw the prosecution playing defense.
July 1, 2013 - 12:05 am
During her second day of testimony, her behavior was more restrained. Someone, perhaps her attorney, obviously convinced her to behave more appropriately. Even so, she still rolled her eyes, displayed aggressive body language, and resisted saying anything that did not adhere to the narrative.
West was able to elicit many stunning admissions. For example: the entire Scheme Team was present at Jeantel’s interview with de la Rionda, which was conducted in Sybrina Fulton’s living room with Fulton sitting next to Jeantel. This is a dumbfounding admission, as Fulton is Martin’s mother. No ethical prosecutor would conduct an interview himself; that’s what investigators are for, and one was present but asked not a single question. By conducting the interview, de la Rionda made himself a witness. No ethical prosecutor would allow private attorneys with a financial or political interest to have anything to do with a criminal case. No competent prosecutor would ever allow a victim’s relative to sit in on an interview, to say nothing of seating his most important witness next to the mother of the victim. All of these are incredible lapses of common sense, legal ethics, and professional protocol.
It’s hardly a surprise that Jeantel testified that her lie about being hospitalized was due to Fulton’s presence. West kindly gave her an out and suggested that it was de la Rionda’s fault, and so it was. Even so, Jeantel testified that her answers in that interview, and the telephone interview she did with Crump, were coached. This is also a significant problem for Crump — he filed an affidavit with the court stating otherwise. Due to Judge Nelson’s refusal to allow Crump to be deposed by the defense — a decision that was overturned on appeal — Crump has yet to be deposed, even though the trial is already underway. His deposition should be interesting to say the least, and will certainly not be to the prosecution’s benefit.
Jeantel was far from finished. She testified that after Martin spotted Zimmerman, he described him as a “creepy-ass cracker,” and shortly thereafter, several times, as a “n****.” This was astonishing for many reasons. Jeantel had never before — not in multiple interviews with law enforcement, not in her interview with Crump, not in her deposition — said those things. However, her manner of saying them was so garbled and hard to understand, that she and de la Rionda engaged in several minutes of dialogue with the court reporter as she struggled to get the testimony right. Jeantel also said that she thought Zimmerman might be a rapist, something else she had never before offered.
Some pundits and “narrative” supporters took Jeantel’s comments as gospel and suggested they meant Martin thought Zimmerman a homosexual rapist. Jeantel’s testimony was not for the faint of heart. In Narrative-think, this apparently would give Martin license to assault and brutally beat Zimmerman, despite the contrary politically correct implications of such comments and actions.
Jeantel shockingly testified that she did not consider “creepy-ass cracker” to be a racial statement. Jeantel also claimed that when Martin initiated the confrontation with Zimmerman — an example of her testimony fully supporting Zimmerman’s account — Martin asked, “What you followin’ me for?” Zimmerman, according to Jeantel, replied: “What you doin‘ ‘round here?” West proved that during her statement with Crump, she claimed Zimmerman replied: “What are you talking about?” — though Jeantel did say “what you doin’ ‘round here?” in her interview with de la Rionda.
In a tragicomic, almost painful moment, West presented Jeantel with a handwritten letter she claimed to have written to Fulton that explained — very poorly — her part. This was another bit of evidence withheld from the defense for months. West asked her to read the letter, and she hesitated for an uncomfortably long time, finally admitting that she could not “read cursive.” West handled her kindly, but it was clear she not only did not write the letter — another lie — she couldn’t read it.
Jeantel also admitted she and Martin never dated, though she suggested otherwise in her interview with de la Rionda, and Crump suggested otherwise as well.
As in the de la Rionda interview, she heard “grass” over the cell phone, and was never able to explain that, other than to add that the grass she heard was wet. She was consistent in one matter: she never heard fighting words or a fight.
There were many other instances of mangled testimony, butchered syntax, self-contradiction, bad behavior, and absolute absurdity. The testimony of the prosecution’s star witness not only did not help the prosecution, it supported Zimmerman’s account in a great many significant ways, and not merely because Jeantel left the stand with no credibility whatsoever.
Jenna Lauer is a real estate agent who lived at the Retreat at Twin Lakes on February 26, 2012. She was also a member of the Home Owner’s Association board. The attack took place essentially in her back yard. Lauer was an ideal witness: intelligent, attractive, photogenic, articulate, honest, unbiased, and self-assured. Any attorney would be delighted to have her helping their case, and the defense surely was. Unfortunately for the prosecution, she was a prosecution witness.
De la Rionda spent much of the first week trying to downplay the fact that it was nearly pitch black and raining heavily throughout the attack. Those factors do not in any way help the “narrative” — quite the opposite. Lauer didn’t help, testifying that it had been raining heavily all day, and still was at 7:00 PM when the incident took place. Like Jeantel, she was an ear-witness, but was actually present. She didn’t actually see anything.
Lauer heard unintelligible voices that turned to scuffling, like people playing basketball on grass and concrete, both of which figured in the case. The scuffling gradually turned to “yelping,” and then desperate screams for help. It was Jeantel who called 911, allowing Zimmerman’s cries for help and the gunshot to be recorded. Lauer confirmed that only one person was calling for help.
Lauer testified that her neighbor, John Good, stepped outside, and she heard him saying something like “what the hell are you doing” but the screams for help continued. Her 911 call was played and the screams for help and gunshot were clearly audible, but no other voices could be heard.
In one comical moment at the expense of de la Rionda, he established that Lauer knew Zimmerman slightly, having seen him at several board meetings. De la Rionda asked if she could identify the screaming voice as his and she replied: “I couldn’t; I didn’t hear him yell like that in the meetings, so … ”. This was particularly ironic as de la Rionda tried mightily to get in the testimony of a voice analyst who claimed he could compare normal speech with frenzied screams. Actual scientists testified it was impossible, and that testimony was excluded.
On cross-examination, O’Mara elicited that whoever was yelling for help “sounded like they were desperate … they really needed help.” She said apart from Good, she heard no other voices. Neatly dispatching de la Rionda’s suggestion that because she didn’t hear Martin’s death threat to Zimmerman, he didn’t make one, Lauer testified that Good wasn’t audible on the 911 tape, either.
Lauer testified that the famous photo of Zimmerman with his flattened nose and blood streaming down his face taken at the scene was the result of Sanford police officer Wagner asking if she knew Zimmerman. She didn’t want to expose herself to possible danger, so he took the photo on his cellphone and brought it to her. She testified that because of his disfiguring injuries she couldn’t identify him as George Zimmerman that night.
Lauer did not allow de la Rionda to manipulate her. Her testimony fully supported Zimmerman’s account, leaving nothing for the prosecution.
Selma Mora was another impressive prosecution witness testifying for the defense. Mora is a native Colombian who is now a U.S. citizen, having lived in the U.S. for 12 years. On February 26, 2012, she lived to the southeast of Lauer, and her backyard also faced the attack. She had a Spanish interpreter, an issue to which some might take offense, but she explained that while she does speak English, for something this important she wanted to be precise and to make no mistakes.
Hearing “cries,” she heard the gunshot, but didn’t recognize it as a gunshot. Going outside, she saw two people. She said one was on the ground and the other on top of him in a position “like a rider.” She described his clothing as some sort of pattern “between black and red,” which accurately described Zimmerman’s black and red jacket.
As with Lauer, Mora’s account was completely consistent with Zimmerman’s account and not with the “narrative.” Like Lauer, Mora was entirely credible.