CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

George Zimmerman Case Continues.

Aired July 3, 2013 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS ANALYST, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: And as they release, the top cartridge from the magazine will be removed from the top and loaded into the chamber and the pistol will be ready to fire. In order to fire a shot at this point, all you need to do is pull the trigger.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: All right. And is there a way to load the firearm so that you don't need to pull the slide back to chamber a round?

SIEWERT: You have to chamber. You have to pull back on the slide to load a cartridge into the chamber. That's the only way to get it in.

GUY: All right. If the magazine was full, could that be done?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Explain to them how that is.

SIEWERT: With a loaded magazine with the capacity of this particular one is seven. You can pull back on the slide and release and it will load that top cartridge. And there will be one in the chamber, six in the magazine. If you desire, you can release the magazine, load another one, so the magazine would be full for a total of seven in the magazine. Re-insert into the pistol so the total capacity between the magazine and the chamber it will hold is 8.

GUY: Do you recall how many cartridges were with the firearm when you received it?

SIEWERT: I received seven cartridges total.

GUY: The magazine holds how many?

SIEWERT: Seven.

GUY: So if that firearm had been fired, are you telling me that someone has to place a live round in the chamber?

SIEWERT: With -- the way I received it was six in the magazine and the additional one. It would be consistent with the magazine fully loaded and one in the chamber at the time it was fired.

GUY: All right. Does that firearm have features that prevent an accidental discharge? SIEWERT: Yes, it has internal safeties. It is double action only, which means that the firearm cannot be cocked unless the trigger is pulled. Pulling the trigger will both cock and release the hammer, which is located back here. It is also shrouded so you cannot get to it to be able to cock it. It also has a hammer block, which is a mechanical piece that prevents the hammer from being in contact with the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled and then that will drop out of the way and allow the hammer to hit the firing pin.

GUY: What does, what do you mean by trigger travel distance?

SIEWERT: Trigger travel distance is the distance that the trigger has to be pulled rearward in order to release the firing mechanism, or in this case, dock and release the hammer.

GUY: And what's the distance or relative distance of the trigger travel distance on that particular firearm?

SIEWERT: This particular gun has a longer descent (ph) than most typical pistols.

GUY: Is that another feature that would help prevent an accidental discharge the?

SIEWERT: Yes. You have to pull that significantly in order to release the firing mechanism.

GUY: All right. Did you also receive a holster with that exhibit with that firearm?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Would you show that to the jury how the two go together?

SIEWERT: This was the holster. There is a clip on the back. (INAUDIBLE).

GUY: All right. All right. So that would be the total size of it if a person were to wear that on their hip either inside or outside their clothing?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Thank you, ma'am. You may resume your seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

GUY: Yes, could I ask the deputy to do that?

MARK O'MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your Honor, I'll asking her some questions and using it with it as well, or do you want to wait?

DEBRA NELSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE: (INAUDIBLE).

GUY: All right. Ms. Siewert, what is meant by the term "trigger pull"? SIEWERT: Trigger pull is the amount of force required to release the firing mechanism.

GUY: And are you able to measure that with any particular firearm?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Did you measure that with this firearm?

SIEWERT: I did.

GUY: Explain to the jury how you did.

SIEWERT: I hung a series of known weights from the shooting position of the trigger where the finger will rest and I kept adding weights until the trigger was pulled and if the hammer cocked and released.

GUY: What did you find when you measured the trigger pull?

SIEWERT: This was 4-and-a-half and 4 and three-quarters pounds.

GUY: Was that within the manufacturer's specifications?

SIEWERT: Yes, it is.

GUY: Did you receive a cartridge case with this evidence?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: How many.

SIEWERT: I received one fired cartridge case.

GUY: Your Honor, may I approach the witness?

NELSON: Approach the witness.

GUY: I will see you states 147, ask you if you recognize that?

SIEWERT: I do.

GUY: How do you recognize that?

SIEWERT: The daily case number, exhibit number and my initials.

GUY: And what do you recognize it to be?

SIEWERT: It is one fired .9 millimeter Luger caliber cartridge case.

GUY: When you receive a firearm in a fire casing, are you able to determine whether or not that particular casing came from that particular firearm?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: How can you do that? SIEWERT: With a submitted firearm and magazine that I will use laboratory and/or evidence ammunition to test fire that pistol. I will then collect the fired cartridge cases and compare those microscopically to the evidence cartridge case to the cases that I've received.

GUY: Did you do that with the shell casing or cartridge case in this case and also the Kel-Tec pistol?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: What did you find?

SIEWERT: The cartridge case was fired with the pistol.

GUY: Did you also receive some bullet fragments in this case?

SIEWERT: Yes, I did.

GUY: Your Honor, may I again approach Ms. Siewert?

NELSON: Yes, you may.

GUY: Let me show you state's 165, ask do you recognize that?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: How do you recognize 165?

SIEWERT: Again by the case number, the exhibit number and my initials.

GUY: What is that? What is contained in that exhibit?

SIEWERT: There is one fired jacket portion, two fired bullet jackets, fragments and one lead core.

GUY: And when you received parts of a bullet or fragments of a bullet and a firearm, are you able to compare those to determine whether or not those fragments were fired from a particular firearm?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Explain to the jury how you do that.

SIEWERT: Similar to the cartridge cases, I will use the bullets and compare those microscopically to the submitted evidence built or bullet fragments.

GUY: And did you do that with the fragments in this case in the Kel- Tec pistol?

SIEWERT: I did.

GUY: What did you find? SIEWERT: The fired bullet jacket portion was fired from the pistol. The two smaller fragments were inconclusive. The bullet core is not suitable for a microscopic examination.

GUY: When you say inconclusive, what do you mean?

SIEWERT: I was not able to determine whether they were or were not fired from the pistol.

GUY: SIEWERT: Why is that?

SIEWERT: A lack of detail on them. They were very damaged. They had very small portions of rifling on them.

GUY: All right. Is it apparent those fragments hit something, the bullet and caused it to fragment like that?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Did you also receive some clothing in connection with this case?

SIEWERT: I did.

GUY: And if you received clothing in connection with a firearms case, are you able to determine or attempt to determine the distance between the muzzle of the firearm and the clothing at the time the firearm was fired?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: How does that work? How do you do that?

SIEWERT: When a gun is fired, a cloud of partially burned and unburned powder particles vapors and particulate lead and smoking gases will follow the bullet out the barrel. This cloud can potentially be a pattern on an object or if the firearm is in contact with a particular object, no pattern will be left, but other physical effects will be present.

GUY: All right. Did you conduct those tests in this case with the clothing you received and a .9 millimeter pistol?

SIEWERT: I did.

GUY: Your Honor, may she sit down again?

NELSON: She may.

GUY: Thank you.

GUY: We will ask to you stay right there, if you would.

Actually, we'll put this down.

If you would join me over here, briefly.

I am using the exhibit number.

155.

All right. Let me ask you to examine the packaging from 155 and tell the members of the jury whether or not you recognize it.

SIEWERT: I do.

GUY: How do you recognize it?

SIEWERT: By the case number, exhibit number and my initials.

GUY: Is this an item of clothing you examined in this case?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: And conducted distance testing on?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: If you would put that back in here. Like so.

All right. Explain to the jury first what this is, what you saw and what you did.

SIEWERT: Sorry. This was -- I have the evidence that I examined for distance determination, and what I did was I was looking at the area surrounding this hole. I was looking for partially burned or unburned gun particles. I was looking for any type of sooting present around this hole as well as looking at the ends of the fibers to whether they were blackened or singed or melting.

GUY: And how did you --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't tell whether they were blackened or singed or --

SIEWERT: Melted.

GUY: Yeah, if you would stand over there as a visual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry.

GUY: What did you do to test fire with this particular item? Did you take a cutting from it or what did you do?

SIEWERT: I did. I removed a portion of the back of the sweatshirt for testing purposes.

GUY: All right.

If you could turn this around real quick.

Can you show the members of the jury where you removed the fabric to conduct your tests?

SIEWERT: It came from this area.

GUY: Will you go back that way, this way?

Thank you.

From there, with this item removed, is there an exhibit on the back?

SIEWERT: Yes, it is.

GUY: Does that have a test fire hole in it?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: All right. Let me ask you, if you grab that packaging now. 156. Do you recognize the packaging?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: How do you recognize it?

SIEWERT: The case number, the exhibit number and my initials.

GUY: And this is, obviously, a sweatshirt that you examined in the case?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: If you can show the members of the jury the area that you focused on as having a bullet that passed through it?

SIEWERT: This area right here was where I was looking right underneath the exhibit.

GUY: As with the previous exhibit, did you make a cutting from the exhibit?

SIEWERT: I did.

GUY: Is that depicted on the back of the exhibit, if you would come around and look?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Both the cutting and then the area on the sweatshirt where it was cut out?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Show that to the jury, if you could.

And that's the display with the bullet hole through from the test fire?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: In conducting the test fires, did you capture your analysis with photography?

SIEWERT: Yes, I did.

GUY: All right. Let me ask you to look then at states 122.

Your Honor, if we could have assistance with the lights.

And if I may approach the witness.

NELSON: Yes, you may.

GUY: Laser pointer works by depressing that button right there at the top.

We're at states 122 first.

SIEWERT: This is a picture of the outer sweatshirt that I had examined for distance determination.

GUY: All right. Explain to the members of the jury just the significance of the items that you have marked on the exhibit.

SIEWERT: Sure. This is an overall shot of the sweatshirt. I measured the distance about nine inches down from the top shoulder seem and approximately 7 inches in from the side arm seem.

GUY: All right.

States 123, what's depicted there?

SIEWERT: It's a little difficult to see with the particular color of the fabric, but what I was looking at here are a few, there are a few gunpowder particles surrounding this as well as blackening right around the hole as well as tearing of the fabric and burning and singing on the fabric ends that were torn.

GUY: And is that a close-up, obviously, of the bullet hole on the sweatshirt?

SIEWERT: Yes, it is.

GUY: All right. States 124, what is that?

SIEWERT: That is the inside of that same area. Right here, you can see a little better, the blackening that I was looking at.

GUY: So that's a close-up of the inside of the sweatshirt?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: All right.

And states 125, what's depicted there?

SIEWERT: That was the distance tests that I had made using a portion of that sweatshirt. GUY: All right. Just take them through how you conduct distance tests, what ammunition you use and why.

SIEWERT: Absolutely. Using the submitted pistol and submitted ammunition, I test fired into portions of both garments that I received. And the reason for doing so is the pattern that can be left behind using a particular firearm or ammunition can vary greatly depending on the length of the barrel, the size and of the bullet as well as the amount, shape and burn rate of the gunpowder contained within the cartridge.

GUY: So you actually used one of the seven live rounds that you received with the exhibit to conduct this test?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: All right. States 126. What do we see there?

SIEWERT: That is a close-up of the distance tests that I had made. The arrows are pointing to diagonal tear that occurred in the fabric.

GUY: When you conducted the distance test with the Kel-Tec pistol and the hoodie sweatshirt, what did you determine about the distance between the muzzle of the gun and the material at the time the gun was discharged?

SIEWERT: The clothing displayed residues and physical effects consistent with a contact shot.

GUY: Meaning the muzzle or the end of the barrel of the gun was up against the sweatshirt when it was fired?

SIEWERT: Correct.

GUY: All right. Let's go to states 127. What is that?

SIEWERT: This is the other sweatshirt that I had received to do distance determination of.

GUY: There again, you made measurements where the hole is relative on the sweatshirt?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: All right. Incidentally, if both of those sweatshirts were being worn in their intended fashion, that is, forward, do the two bullet holes line up?

SIEWERT: They do.

GUY: 128, what do we see there?

SIEWERT: With this, we are looking at the tearing of the fabric, you can see there are a few gunpowder particles which are not easily depicted in this photo as well as some light sooting and burning and singing of the ends of the fabric. GUY: And the reddish-brown stain, that would be apparently blood?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Not something that you applied?

SIEWERT: No.

GUY: States 129, what is that?

SIEWERT: The inside of the hole on the previous photograph and again you can see a little better the sooting, the blackening surrounding the hole, itself.

GUY: Can you circle that for the jury as best you can?

OK.

All right, and state's 130.

SIEWERT: This is the test I generated using a portion of the back of the garment.

GUY: When you conducted that distance test, did you also use the .9 millimeter firearm as well as the ammunition that was present with the firearm?

SIEWERT: I conducted that simultaneous to the first one. I had layered the darker sweat shirt over the lighter sweatshirt and fired one shot --

GUY: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

SIEWERT: -- through the hole. This is from the same.

GUY: The hooded sweatshirt, you would have put on the outside the lighter sweatshirt would have been on the inside?

SIEWERT: Correct.

GUY: What did you find distance-wise when you conducted the test with this particular sweatshirt?

SIEWERT: This as well was consistent with residues and physical effects of a gunshot.

GUY: So evidencing the gun was against the material when it was fired?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: All right. Finally, states 131, what's depicted there?

SIEWERT: This is a close-up shot of the test that I had generated with the lighter colored sweatshirt, depicting a little better, you can see the tearing and the blackening of the fabric right around the hole.

GUY: All right.

Are your findings consistent with the muzzle of the gun having been pressed into the dark hooded sweatshirt and then fired through both the dark hooded sweatshirt and the lighter-colored sweatshirt?

SIEWERT: It is consistent with the muzzle of the firearm touching the outer sweatshirt and the inner sweatshirt being in direct contact with the outer one, yes.

GUY: Judge, that's all I have, thank you.

NELSON: OK. Thank you.

Do you want to break for lunch at this time?

O'MARA: Your call, Your Honor.

NELSON: Well, I don't know how long you think it will be.

O'MARA: I think I can probably get through it, so we will get this witness off the stand. It might take me 15 or 20. But I can't imagine more than that.

NELSON: OK.

O'MARA: And if I get to 20, you can remind me where we are, if I don't notice. But I'll get through it. If we hit a snag, I'll ask that we break for lunch.

Good morning, ma'am. How are you?

SIEWERT: Good.

O'MARA: We're going to try to do it to the way that you went through it in your direct examination. Obviously, what you've told the jury, you do in a lot of cases where these issues may be in contest?

SIEWERT: Correct.

O'MARA: You're trying to determine, for example, that the cartridge found came from the gun?

SIEWERT: Correct.

O'MARA: You know that's not an issue here?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: You do a lot of analysis to make sure that the bullet came from the gun in the case, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes. O'MARA: You know that's not an issue here?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: Concerning the firearm itself, of course, you need to be able to testify to a jury this gun can work and can fire a bullet, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: You know that's not an issue here?

SIEWERT: Yes.

GUY: Judge, I'm sorry, I'm going to interpose an objection as to the legal conclusions by the defense attorney as to what is not an issue in this case.

NELSON: Thank you.

That will be sustained. If you can rephrase your question?

O'MARA: Sure. Certainly.

From a forensic perspective, were you given any indication that there was an issue in whether or not this bullet came from this gun?

SIEWERT: We're never given an indication whether there's an issue present or not.

O'MARA: You would take it on and see what needs to be done to prove up matters even if they may not be in contest?

SIEWERT: Correct.

O'MARA: In this case you were able to document gun works, fired cartridged, fired bullet, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: Let's talk about the gun itself.

And if I might approach the witness, Your Honor, with the firearm.

If you would, I'm also going to have you testify from where you are. I'll ask you to take out the firearm and hold it, as you know how to, pointing nowhere near us, including the jurors.

I think you said you have a good history and experience in firearms generally, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: You know what different types of firearms are used for?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: OK. That is what's called a double action, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: Meaning by that that you don't need to do -- you need to have a certain amount of weight and intent to fire that firearm, correct?

SIEWERT: Double action refers to is pulling the trigger, cocking and releasing the firing mechanism.

O'MARA: The very characteristic of it being a double action is a safety feature, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: Meaning that there are some firearms, some semiautomatics where if you actually rack it, if you have a cartridge in the chamber it's ready to fire with a very light, almost featherweight pull?

SIEWERT: These are referred to as single action.

O'MARA: If I carried around single action without an external safety it might hit, it would be quite dangerous, wouldn't it?

SIEWERT: If the firearm was cocked.

O'MARA: Of course. If it's only on single action, because it has a featherweight pull, right?

SIEWERT: Yes. It has a lighter trigger pull than the double action.

O'MARA: So the double action characteristic itself makes it a safer weapon to ready to fire position?

SIEWERT: With it functioning.

O'MARA: You know that some weapons are used for self-defense, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: To protect ones self, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: A firearm has to be ready to be used for self-defense?

SIEWERT: Potentially.

O'MARA: You would not want a firearm that has an external safety that would require an additional step to make it ready to fire?

SIEWERT: I can't really say as to whether that would be -- that would be more of a personal preference, I believe.

O'MARA: If one was carrying a firearm and it had an external safety, what would have to happen before that firearm was ready to fire? SIEWERT: The safety would have to be disengaged.

O'MARA: You would have to take that extra step to disengage the safety?

SIEWERT: Correct.

O'MARA: This gun doesn't have that?

SIEWERT: No.

O'MARA: What makes this a so I have firearm to carry in a loaded way?

SIEWERT: It's a combination of the fact it's double action. It's never cocked until you pull the trigger as well as the hammer block, as I stated previously, that prevents the hammer from coming in contact with the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled. With both of these safeties functioning properly, the gun cannot be fired unless the trigger is pulled.

O'MARA: The hammer lock is an additional safety device. That's a metal plate that goes between the hammer and the back of the cartridge.

SIEWERT: Back of the firing pins.

O'MARA: If that metal plate is there it's safe? It cannot fire, correct?

SIEWERT: Correct.

O'MARA: The only way you can start pulling on the trigger, which has a four and a half to four and three-quarter pull does that plate drop in order to make the gun active?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: The very nature to having a four and a half to four and three-quarter pull is a safety feature?

SIEWERT: The trigger pull is not a safety feature.

O'MARA: Having to pull the trigger without amount of force is a safety feature, correct?

SIEWERT: No.

O'MARA: I want you compare for the jury the pull necessary to pull a double action firearm as compared to a single action?

SIEWERT: Are you talking the trigger travel distance?

O'MARA: I'm sorry. I use -- yes, the trigger travel distance.

SIEWERT: Yes. In terms of the length that the trigger needs to travel backwards to release the firing mechanism on a double action and especially this one is much longer than say a single action firearm.

O'MARA: Would you agree that also is a safety mechanism to be certain the person that the firing is not going to fire without someone deciding to make the full pull on it?

SIEWERT: That would make it a lot less likely to accidental pull. It would be a deliberate pull of the trigger.

O'MARA: You're saying it's not a safety feature or did I just misstate the word when I was using pull pressure?

SIEWERT: It's a design feature.

O'MARA: To make it safer.

SIEWERT: Potentially, yes.

O'MARA: Is that an appropriate gun then to be carrying or is it a safe gun to be carrying in a loaded and ready to fire position?

SIEWERT: This gun in working order is safe in terms of it will not fire unless the trigger is pulled.

O'MARA: There are other guns as we talked about a moment ago that have external safeties that mean you need to do undo a safety?

SIEWERT: Correct.

O'MARA: Are those more found in single action guns where the trigger distance is much less?

SIEWERT: That will be found in single action guns and double action guns and firearms that do both single and double action. It's a mix all across the board.

O'MARA: You agree this gun without an external safety is a safe gun to carry loaded?

SIEWERT: Safe is a personal preference in terms of loaded. I would say this gun cannot fire unless the trigger is pulled.

O'MARA: I don't want to get into qualitative terms but is there anything with this particular gun that found it was unsafe to carry in a loaded way ready to fire?

SIEWERT: No.

O'MARA: There are probably at least two guns in this room. Would you agree that all law enforcement carry their guns ready to fire?

SIEWERT: I do believe they do.

O'MARA: They're not much use if they're not ready to fire are they?

SIEWERT: No.

O'MARA: You mentioned as to this weapon you had chance to visit the factory a couple of times?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: It's right here in Brevard County?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: You've been there a couple of times to see. Any concern with the manufacturer of that weapon?

SIEWERT: No.

O'MARA: From your experience as to how it's utilized in this event, did it perform properly? Did it shoot its projectile the way it was supposed to?

SIEWERT: The gun functioned, yes.

O'MARA: It worked, correct?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: It worked the way it was supposed to?

SIEWERT: Yes.

O'MARA: There was no suggestion that the pull distance was malfunctioning in any form?

SIEWERT: No, there was no any indication that anything on this pistol was malfunctioning.

O'MARA: You had mentioned now talking -- anything that we haven't talked about with the gun and its safety features?

SIEWERT: No.

O'MARA: You had state in response to how you can load that is that you --