Singleton & Serino Testify in Zimmerman Case

The trial of George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the case of Trayvon Martin, advanced this week with the testimony of Chris Serino and Doris Singleton. Serino, Sanford police detective, and Singleton, another investigator in the case, testified Monday on their investigation following Martin’s death.

Zimmerman has admitted that he shot and killed black teenager Trayvon Martin, but claims that he did so in self defense after the teen attacked him and began banging his head against the concrete. Martin’s family and prosecutors are trying to prove that Zimmerman had ill will against the teen, had followed and scared him, and attacked him partially on the basis of race.

When talking about the teen, Zimmerman answered questions in a straightforward, anger-free way. The state claims he profiled the teen when he saw him walking about the neighborhood’s streets, but according to Zimmerman it was he who was attacked and not the other way around.

Just a few hours after the attack, Zimmerman was quoted in an interview with Serino, saying, “In Catholic religion, it’s always wrong to kill someone.”

Serino responded, “If what you’re telling me is true, I don’t think that what God meant was that you couldn’t save your own life.”

A few days later, though Serino and Singleton suggested that Zimmerman may have been following the teen around before the attack, possibly scaring the teen. That possibility is one that many are taking into account.

“I think that the idea that Trayvon Martin is being followed by George Zimmerman is coming across,” said legal analyst Kendall Coffey in a “Spinning the Law” segment. “And by the way, that’s consistent with other evidence, including the tone of some of the police statements that have not been brought into evidence yet.”

One crucial piece of evidence is the 911 call recording, on which you can hear someone calling for help. Zimmerman claims he had just given the police dispatcher location information on where he had seen Martin and was heading back to his car when he was attacked and began screaming for help. The prosecution, however, claims that the voice calling for help was actually Martin’s.

The sound on the recording has thus far not been enough to conclusively determine who had been yelling for help, but if investigators are able to figure that out, it would be crucial to the case’s outcome—because it could show who the aggressor actually was.


Dorner Manhunt, Transparency and the Ethics of Law Enforcement

In the 10-day manhunt for ex-Los Angeles Police Department officer Christopher Dorner, reporters and the general public hoped for more clues in a deadly rampage involving former LAPD colleagues and others. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department ended its press conference on Wednesday with dozens of unanswered questions.

How did the final hideout cabin burn?

How was the suspect able to hide in a condo 20 yards away from the sheriff’s mountain command post?

In the Internet age, the lines between law enforcement, public information and media begin to blur. A report in the Christian Science Monitor raises the question: “Is it fair to expect all these issues to be addressed?”

As the media aims to inform the public with accurate and reliable information, experts in the ethics of law enforcement want to present transparency but also have a duty to protect their investigation. LAPD Chief Charlie said, “They cannot put out information when they have barely begun their own investigation into what actually happened at a crime scene,” he says. “This is an active, on-going investigation into many crime scenes by multiple jurisdictions…”

On the subject of media-strong messages, former U.S. Attorney from Miami, Kendall Coffey said, “Some messages may never reach the court of law but still register big time with public opinion.”
Although some information may never make it to the jury, “…they can be fed routinely to the press because some themes that never appear in trial transcripts will splash hugely in newsprint transcript.”

The public is focused on its demands for transparency and accountability, says Donald Tibbs, professor at the Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He says the police, “… have civil liability to think about. Anything they say could be used in a civil lawsuit that might be brought by the Dorner family, for instance.”

In the report, former Los Angeles deputy sheriff and FBI agent Frank Scafidi says the LAPD is in an unfortunate position of having to defend against charges of a “coverup” in its handling of the investigation and Dorner’s termination. He added, “…that’s why it is extremely important for officials to get as much detailed information as possible out as soon as possible before the conspiracies have time to wind up.”