Just days after George Zimmerman’s latest arrest, I wrote in my November 19, 2013 blog posting, that he will “probably” be acquitted. (see: https://www.floridacriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/2013/11/george_zimmerman_will_probably.html) I wrote that almost all the evidence that prosecutors had to prove that the aggravated assault and other accompanying crimes were committed would have to come from the lips of the alleged victim. I opined that based upon what Zimmerman was telling the world took place, which differed from what she was alleging, prosecutors wouldn’t have enough to carry their burden, which is proof beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.
With the latest development in the case, I feel confident substituting “probably” for “definitely.” I am certain that Zimmerman will “definitely” avoid conviction on the current charges.
The latest development is that the alleged victim, Zimmerman’s girlfriend Samantha Scheibe, claims that he is innocent and wants to get back together with him. While she initially called police to claim passionately that he was breaking her belongings and that he had pointed a gun at her in a threatening manner, she now claims that she was “misinterpreted by police.” She further claims in an affidavit submitted to the court requesting that Zimmerman’s bond conditions be altered to permit contact between the two, that when she was being questioned by the police, she “felt very intimidated” and that she may have “misspoken about certain facts” in her statement to police. She now specifically swears that Zimmerman “never pointed a gun at or toward my face in a threatening manner” and that “I want to be with George.”
Of course her latest sworn testimony differs greatly from what she told the 911 dispatcher on the day of the incident: “He’s in my house, breaking all my s— because I asked him to leave. He’s got a freaking gun, breaking all my stuff right now.”
Again, let me make clear, I have no idea if Zimmerman is actually innocent. He may have done exactly what the alleged victim initially alleged. He also may have been initially framed like the Mona Lisa. Also, I have no feelings for or against Zimmerman. I am simply analyzing this case based upon my over two decades as a litigator and based on the facts as I understand them.
As I indicated on November 19th, prosecutors can’t expect to prove this case by simply showing that Zimmerman “most likely” or “probably” or “100% definitely maybe” pointed his gun at the alleged victim. Rather, they would have to have such significant evidence that they tip the scales of justice to the highest burden under the law. In doing so, they must rely, almost exclusively, on what the alleged victim is telling them. Even without all the evidence that will invariably be elicited on cross examination showing her initial alleged bias, motive and interest, prosecutors have an almost impossible task. Under these types of circumstances, jurors typically require more than simply the word of one witness/victim.
In my experience, an alleged victim, especially a spouse and/or girlfriend, changing their tune a short time after an arrest for domestic violence related offenses is not uncommon. Prosecutors don’t automatically drop charges simply because the alleged victim chooses to change her story. On the contrary, in this case, the prosecutor will probably remind the alleged victim that the case is entitled, “State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman” and not “Samantha Scheibe vs. George Zimmerman.” Therefore, she will be told that she is a mere witness in their case against Zimmerman.
The problem is that prosecutors don’t have any significant evidence to prove this case other than her testimony. Because her testimony is now clearly not credible, at best, they cannot proceed. Their chances of success are so low, so remote, it approaches almost no real value. Like it or not, I am confident announcing that George Zimmerman will definitely avoid conviction for his latest contact with the law.