Zimmerman Prosecutors Deny the Undeniable As Lawsuit Proceeds
George Zimmerman's lawsuit saga is unfolding though the Florida court system in the form of depositions and a powerful but little known tool called "Requests for Admissions."
Under Florida Law, a plaintiff can submit a list of up to 30 questions, each beginning, "Admit that you...." Under penalty of perjury, the defendant must either admit or deny each statement. If the defendant doesn’t bother to answer any of the questions, the court assumes that they are admitted as true.
In the way of background, Zimmerman is charging that Trayvon Martin’s support team, including Martin’s parents and their attorney Benjamin Crump, knowingly substituted an imposter witness for the real “phone witness” in order to secure Zimmerman’s arrest for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman and his attorney Larry Klayman were inspired to launch the suit based on the research of filmmaker Joel Gilbert, as seen in his documentary film and book of the same name, “The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America.”
Among the eleven defendants in this case, arguably the most vulnerable are the prosecutors who brought it, former state attorney Angela Corey and former assistant state attorneys Bernie de la Rionda and John Guy. Corey and de la Rionda have both since retired, and Guy is now a sitting Florida judge.
In reading through their respective responses, one gets the sense that Corey and Guy are setting up lead prosecutor de la Rionda for the fall. Corey, for one, has washed her hands of all responsibility. She replied to each of the questions with the same answer, “COREY is unable to admit or deny the statement... as her involvement in this case was very limited, such that, she does not have personal knowledge of the information requested.”
This is the same Angela Corey who, on April 11, 2012, presided over a press conference at which the following words were read, “Angela Corey, state attorney, charges that in the county of Seminole, state of Florida, on February 26th, 2012, George Zimmerman unlawfully and dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, did kill Trayvon Martin.”
At the same press conference, Corey admitted her involvement in the case from the beginning. Said Corey of her initial meeting with her alleged co-conspirators: “Bernie was there. John was there. Our prosecution team was there. The first thing we did was pray with [Trayvon’s parents]. We opened our meeting in prayer. Mr. Crump and Mr. Parks were there.”
“We don't make arrests due to public pressure,” Corey assured the media. Al Sharpton knew better. “Had there not been pressure,” he told MSNBC later that day, “there would not have been a second look.”
If Corey did not have “personal knowledge” of the case, even on her “second look,” one has to wonder how she could have issued the arrest warrant or why she described Zimmerman immediately after his acquittal as a “murderer.”
Judge Guy does not claim ignorance to the degree Corey does, but he absolves himself nonetheless, or at least tries to. No, he was not present at de la Rionda’s first interview with the imposter Jeantel in April 2012. No, he did not help draft the affidavit of arrest.
Beyond that, Guy seeks safe harbor in incompetence. He admits to not verifying Jeantel’s authenticity, not doing any handwriting analysis, not checking Martin’s cell phone records, not comparing the voices of the fake “Diamond Eugene,” Rachel Jeantel, with the real “Diamond Eugene,” Brittany Diamond Eugene. Indeed, he followed none of the routine investigatory leads that filmmaker Joel Gilbert eventually followed to their not too subtle conclusion.
Like Guy, de la Rionda pleads incompetence. Among other failures, he admits he did not “verify that Rachel Jeantel was Diamond Eugene as she had claimed.” Nor did he “attempt to verify that the voice, tone, and inflections of the 16- year-old girl named Diamond who was recorded in the roughly 20 minute phone interview conducted by Benjamin Crump on March 19, 2012 matched the voice, tone, and inflections of 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel in your recorded interview on April 2, 2012 and her later statements.”
Had de la Rionda simply chalked his poor performance up to carelessness or indifference, he would have been on relatively safe ground legally. Inexplicably, however, he waded into some seriously murky waters.
When asked whether he investigated the discrepancies between what the real Diamond Eugene said during a March 19 phone call and what Rachel Jeantel said under oath during an April 2 interview, de la Rionda’s attorney responded for him, “de la Rionda denies that he recorded an interview of Rachel Jeantel on or about April 2, 2012.”
This undeniably false claim was made twice in de la Rionda’s official “Response to Request for Admissions.” Nor was he using the word “recorded” to evade responsibility. In response to another question, de la Rionda denied that he “conducted the April 2, 2012, interview.” The interview was audiotaped. I have listened to it many times myself and read the transcript. I do not know who pushed the “record” button, but de la Rionda surely conducted it.
The description of events originally served up by Brittany Diamond Eugene, finessed by attorney Benjamin Crump, and then sworn clumsily under oath by Rachel Jeantel, formed the foundation of the case against Zimmerman and led directly to the affidavit for his arrest.
“During this time,” claimed the affidavit, “Martin was on the phone with a friend and described to her what was happening. The witness advised that Martin was scared because he was followed through the complex by an unknown male and didn’t know why.” Yes, Martin was on the phone with a friend, but every other detail was false, and the prosecutors admittedly allowed each of these details to go uncorrected.
True to form, de la Rionda also denied “that he prepared the affidavit of probably [sic] cause.” This was true only in the narrowest sense. Under oath during the bond hearing, Investigator Dale Gilbreath, the named author of the affidavit, matter-of-factly implied that de la Rionda made the final decision as to what would be included in the affidavit.
It is understandable why other parties in the case would lie. At least three of them have done it before under oath, and they have got a lot to lose.
What motivates de la Rionda’s dishonesty is unclear. Says Gilbert, “How could De la Rionda not know that the punishment in the state of Florida for the crime of perjury in an official proceeding is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 in fines for each instance?”
The prosecutors and the others involved have to be sweating the response of Trayvon’s actual girlfriend and real phone witness, Brittany Diamond Eugene. The recent criminal justice graduate of Florida State University has changed lawyers twice already, but she has never lied under oath. She has no compelling reason to start now. Maybe that’s why she did not respond to her “Requests for Admissions”?