Fields on Zimmerman: Dead Man May Tell Tales



Moments before he was shot, Trayvon Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend expressing concern that he was being followed by a man we now know as his killer George Zimmerman.

At trial it may be the only way that Trayvon Martin will be able to get in his side of the story.

But if that statement is admitted into his trial, Zimmerman’s lawyer will obviously not be able to confront Martin about the truth of the statement.  He’s dead.

That’s why the law is always concerned with admitting hearsay, which is a statement testified to by a person who did not originally say it.

This whole battle over hearsay comes out of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which says that in criminal cases a defendant has the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”

Hearsay seemingly violates this Constitutional guarantee.

Zimmerman can’t confront Martin about what he purportedly told his girlfriend.

And  a number of recent decisions by the U. S. Supreme Court have strengthened the Sixth Amendment and made it tougher on prosecutors trying to get their evidence into trial.

Not everything a witness repeats they heard is “legal” hearsay. But even if it is hearsay it may be subject to one of the exceptions to the prohibition on hearsay.

In this case you will be hearing a lot about three hearsay exceptions in particular:

803 (1)“Spontaneous Statement”, 803(2) “Excited Utterance” and 803(3)“Then Existing Mental, Emotional, or Physical Condition”.

The most important point is that Martin’s statement to his girlfriend clearly tends to show who started the fight. You can be sure there will be a major legal fight between the prosecutor and defense counsel over its admissibility.

The case might even turn on the ruling of whether the hearsay in this case is admissible

9 Responses to “Fields on Zimmerman: Dead Man May Tell Tales”

  1. Sam the Sham says:

    I don’t think that whatever the girlfriend has to say will carry much weight. She did not come out with her story until several days or even weeks after the incident, and could very well have been coached as to what to say. What will be interesting is the timeline of her phone call in relationship to the sounds of gunshot(s) on the 911 tapes. If Trayvon’s and her cell phone records indicate that they were on the cell together very close to the time of the gunshots, it would tend to indicate Zimmerman was the aggressor, confronting Trayvon. If, however, there is a great deal of time between their call and the gunshots, it might be interpreted that Trayvon hung up on her giving him the time to sneak up and sucker punch Zimmerman. This is only one very small bit of unreleased evidence that we don’t have so we really cannot come to an informed decision.

  2. Watcher says:

    It confounds me that this case has so many political overtones…what we should all fear is vigilantes

  3. Ed Foley says:

    Zimmerman is toast. As a “white” Hispanic as the NY Times characterized him, he is clearly guilty and deserves life in prison. This is an old fashioned lynching. What makes it interesting is the cast of characters storming the jail to ‘string up’ the victim. Rick Scott, Jesse and Al and the prosecutor. Why no Grand Jury?
    Sad commentary on the crumbling justice system. Serial killers get bounced around for 29 years but this Zimmerman kid will be on his way to Starke in a few months.

  4. ExCompassionate Conservative says:

    Mr. Fields, If I was Trayvon, in Central Florida and a guy with a truck is following me the first thing in my head is Florida serial killer or child molestor. Who can blame the kid for being scared?

    I live in a gated community and we have had some owners ask about having the gatehouse staff armed. This was quickly ended forever when the liability and potential for serious problems to take place were shown. Zimmeerman could have taken non stop pictures and kept the peace instead of killing someone.

    The family of the young man have been extraordinary in dealing with this. They just want justice, not revenge which is missing from so many people. I lived through Rev AL and Tawana Brawley in nYC and Rev Al seems like a changed man in his work here.

  5. Citizen says:

    This reminds us to avoid confrontation if and when possible, observe from a distance and let law enforcement handle it. Zimmerman may wish he could have a do-over because in hindsight this was not worth it.
    Very sad for many on both sides.

  6. Sam the Sham says:

    “observe from a distance” Too bad the “ear witnesses” were too faint hearted to even look out their windows to see what was happening.

  7. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Oh please Mr.zitty Zimmerman stalked this kid becaus e he was wearing a hoadie(so what). The dispatch told you to leave the kid alone basicly and you did not. So the defense(who is it this week?) will say that Zit face there was walking back to his car per instruction and Travon sneaked up on him. Even if its true you started it. You probably where getting your ass kicked and than you shot this kid. Secound degree murder all day.This was a fight brought on by Zimmerman,which HE provoked was on the losing end and shot him.. Spin that zitty….

  8. Sam the Sham says:

    Dear Mr. Shitty Activist,

    You are under no legal obligation to follow what a 911 operator tells you to do. Sorry. Zimmerman lived in that complex and had every legal right to go wherever he wanted. He had a legal right to question Trayvon, as to why he was there. The crux of the matter is who struck the first blow. Period.

  9. electric jack says:

    Dear Ed Foley:
    Exactly what did ick Scott do for you to gang him with that group of Ambulance Chasers? You sir are as bad as Sharpton and Jesse the stirer……… As to the 2 imbicles in Congress SHAME ON YOU MAM AND SIR SHAME ON YOU AND EVEN MORE SHAME ON THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR YOU……. You demand justice with half the facts have you learned nothing from the Sports Team in North Carolina, or the poor guy railroaded in his quest for a Supreme Court seat????