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The Backwards Trial: Zimmerman Prosecutors Stumble as Defense Wraps Up

John Donnelly, the retired physician’s assistant and Vietnam combat medic whose testimony was so effective in identifying Zimmerman’s voice, was the subject of an attempt by the prosecution to exclude his testimony. It seems that Donnelly sat in on the trial for several hours over two days in violation of the sequestration rule.

There was a lengthy hearing on that matter, with the prosecution accusing the defense of all manner of mischief. It was quickly discovered that not only did the defense have no idea Donnelly was there, but when West saw him on the second day, he told Donnelly he would have to leave. Donnelly, apologizing profusely, did.

West explained that in a trial with some 200 witnesses -- they had no idea if they would use Donnelly or not -- he must have slipped through the cracks and was not notified of the sequestration rule. West took responsibility for that omission, though he clearly had nothing to do with it. It was also clear that Donnelly’s testimony was unaffected by the witnesses he heard, so Nelson dropped the matter, leaving Donnelly’s devastating testimony on the record.

This is another example of bad faith from the prosecution. In normal trials, this sort of thing is simply dealt with informally by both sides. They bring in the judge only if there is some compelling evidence of intentional malfeasance. This is particularly true in trials with large numbers of witnesses where it is very easy for witnesses not to get the message of sequestration or to misunderstand it.

Still to come are the closing statements, and a number of other unfinished motions and maneuvers put off by Judge Nelson.