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George Zimmerman Trial, Friend: Zimmerman Shoots Right Handed

Aired July 8, 2013 - 10:00   ET



JUDGE DEBRA NELSON: What's the objection?

DE LA RIONDA: Irrelevance to this case.

NELSON: Sustained.

MARK O'MARA, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE LAWYER: Did you have discussions with Mr. Zimmerman as to how and where to maintain his firearm in a concealed way?

MARK OSTERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BEST FRIEND: My discussions with him for anything firearm-related like that, what do what is comfortable. Do what feels most natural because if a stressful situation is stressed upon you, you can always go back to what feels natural and what you have trained with.

O'MARA: Sir, is it that important in your discussions with Mr. Zimmerman that he'd have consistency in how he handles his firearm?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely.

O'MARA: Can you recall any time where you see Mr. Zimmerman use his left hand as the dominant hand for shooting a firearm?


O'MARA: Tell me about.

OSTERMAN: We practiced that. Sometimes if you are unable to shoot with your dominant hand or the hand most comfortable with, you shoot with the other hand. Sometimes you do it for marksmanship practice and sometimes you do it in case your prominent hand gets injured, your arm gets broken in some kind of event. You may need to use your left hand or alternate hand for that reason.

O'MARA: That would be used in an alternative method of use of a firearm.

OSTERMAN: Whichever one gets to the firearm, that's the one you use.

O'MARA: As you have testified before, you have known Mr. Zimmerman for how long?

OSTERMAN: At least five years. O'MARA: I believe that your wife had met him first?

OSTERMAN: She did.

O'MARA: Through work?

OSTERMAN: She did.

O'MARA: Have you had an opportunity then to interact with Mr. Zimmerman over the past five years?


O'MARA: I think you testified that he's your best friend, correct?


O'MARA: Have you heard his voice then in different varying situation or experiences?


O'MARA: And just an overview of some of the different types of voice, conversational laughing, whatever it might be as sort of the spectrum of what you have heard Mr. Zimmerman and his voice sound like?

OSTERMAN: Quite bit, quite wide in the spectrum.

O'MARA: Can you give us any examples?

OSTERMAN: Well, the anywhere from the casual conversation to the hysterical laugh to perhaps shouts over long distance, someone is downrange at the shooting range or someone is at the other side of the store and yelling to each other, but perhaps not what I heard on the 911 tapes.

O'MARA: Let's talk about that, for a machine. If I might play for you a tape of I believe it's 158, am I getting that right?


O'MARA: May I play that exhibit at this point?


O'MARA: I'm going to play an exhibit for you which I think it references the 911 call and ask first that you listen through it throughout, if you need to hear it a second time, let me know. If you need me to go back and listen to a portion, let me know. I will play it straight through one time.


DISPATCHER: 911, do you need police, fire, medical?

CALLER: Maybe both. I'm not sure, there is someone screaming outside.

DISPATCHER: What's the address?

CALLER: It's 1211 23 Blaine.

DISPATCHER: Is this in Sanford?


DISPATCHER: Is it a male or a female?

CALLER: It sounds like a male.

DISPATCHER: You don't know why?

CALLER: I don't know why. I think they're yelling help but I don't know.

DISPATCHER: Does he look hurt?

CALLER: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on.

DISPATCHER: Do you think he's yelling help?


DISPATCHER: What did you --

CALLER: There's gunshots.


O'MARA: I'm going to stop it at that point. Have you listened to the tape throughout the end of it at any point?


O'MARA: Any relevance of the rest of the tape as far as your ability to hear George's voice?

OSTERMAN: No, sir.

O'MARA: Let me focus you on what we have heard and tell the jury, first of all, if you have an opinion, to whose voice that is in the background and by that, I mean, not who we now know Miss Lauer talking to the 911 operator, but the screaming or the noise in the background, do you have an opinion whose voice that is?

OSTERMAN: I thought it was George.

O'MARA: Can you tell me why you think that?

OSTERMAN: Just the tone. Just that the volume and the tone of what I was hearing was something that, because I talk to him probably as much on the phone or had before this incident as I did in person. So hearing his voice over a recording is something that your tone is a little different. It just sounds a little different over a phone. It just sounds like George.

O'MARA: If I may have a moment, your honor.

JUDGE NELSON: Yes, you may.

O'MARA: Another question or two, just concerning the decision regarding the Kel Tec. Can you explain to the jury your understanding of double action versus single action guns?

OSTERMAN: Of course, a firearm that has double action requires the trigger in the hammer to do two separate things, two separate motions. One is as you are squeezing the trigger, the hammer was in front. Was forward it has to come back. That's the one action.

Then it comes forward and it fires the firing pin, which sets off the firearm. Single action would mean the firearm. The hammer mechanism is back and one, as you squeeze the trigger. It does one action, which is single.

Now, there are some automatic handguns that are single action or I'm sorry double action only to where internally the hammer is internal, so you really can't see the hammer coming back. But both functions are back in a double action capacity with those handguns.

O'MARA: Is the Kel Tec-9 the firearm where it can only be double action?

OSTERMAN: Correct. It makes the extra trigger squeeze even harder. It's more of a firm squeeze making it less likely to go off by accident.

O'MARA: Is that one of the safety features of that gun?

OSTERMAN: It's greatest safety feature.

O'MARA: Thank you. No further questions.

JUDGE NELSON: Thank you. You may cross.

DE LA RIONDA: Good morning, Mr. Osterman.

OSTERMAN: Good morning, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: I think we briefly talked about a book you wrote with your wife, right?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And all the proceeds are going on behalf of George Zimmerman, is that correct?

OSTERMAN: That is correct.

DE LA RIONDA: How many books have been sold so far? OSTERMAN: I'm not sure. Tate Publishing would know best. They would give us the best number.

DE LA RIONDA: Whatever money has been obtained so far, you are setting aside for the defendant, George Zimmerman?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: You were asked I guess at the very end about the knowledge of the gun that you suggested to Mr. Zimmerman, correct, the defendant?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Do you know what the trigger pull is on that gun?

OSTERMAN: The pounds per square inch, is that what you are referring?


OSTERMAN: I do not know.

DE LA RIONDA: Would you agree that an expert with firearms would be better suited to explain the mechanics of that and the trigger pull and all that stuff?

OSTERMAN: Without question.

DE LA RIONDA: You are not here testifying as a firearms expert?

OSTERMAN: I am not.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, I just want to make sure the record was clear about that.

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: But you did say that you did have discussions with the defendant, Mr. Zimmerman, regarding what type of gun he should have, I think you taught him to shoot, correct, is my recollection right?

OSTERMAN: He had been shooting at a range before his father was career military. So it was not his first time going to a shooting range.

DE LA RIONDA: But you made him a better shooter?

OSTERMAN: I hope so.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, and you mentioned in terms of discussions with him, in terms of the firearm what to get.

OSTERMAN: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: He never confirmed with you the type of holster to get, correct? OSTERMAN: He did not.

DE LA RIONDA: Right. I mean, the holster he got, he got on his own?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Did he ever show it to you once he got it?


DE LA RIONDA: That it was an internal holster.

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Right. And internal means you can hide it inside your waistband versus an external, which is what the police would have if they are in uniform, et cetera, correct, is that the difference?

OSTERMAN: That is correct.

DE LA RIONDA: So it would be hard to see, in other words, internally, people would have a hard time seeing it, that's the whole purpose?

OSTERMAN: Even without a jacket, it would be difficult to see.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. If it was dark, it would be even harder to see, correct?

OSTERMAN: I would agree.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. And you were talking about techniques in terms of shooting a gun and all that in terms of shooting, I gathered when you were shooting, whether you shoot at a target, you shoot to aim to kill, correct?

OSTERMAN: You aim center mass, center of the target.

DE LA RIONDA: Center mass, meaning the heart the torso, correct?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely correct.

DE LA RIONDA: You keep shooting until the threat is gone. In other workds, if the person is still alive, you keep shooting until the threat is gone, correct?

OSTERMAN: Well, it's not so much as the person is alive, it's until the threat is neutralized.

DE LA RIONDA: Right. In other words, you would never holster your gun if the person was still alive and is a threat to you, correct?

OSTERMAN: Well, I disagree with that.

DE LA RIONDA: You would?

OSTERMAN: I would disagree. My thought would be would be, let's say someone was a threat to me with a knife or a firearm, even if they had the knife in their hand, but they surrendered and started following my instruction, I would consider them neutralized.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. Other than in that scenario, if there is still a threat, you keep shooting, correct?

OSTERMAN: Not if they're not aggressively harming you.

DE LA RIONDA: So you would holster the gun if you felt the person had a firearm, still?

OSTERMAN: I had enough confidence to know that I might be able to retreat fast enough if they jump back at me.

DE LA RIONDA: You are saying that you shoot somebody and you still feel they have a gun and they are going for the gun, you would holster your gun?

OSTERMAN: Not if they're going after my gun.

DE LA RIONDA: Do you believe they have a gun or some type of weapon?

OSTERMAN: If their hands are free?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, if you can't see their hands?

OSTERMAN: Well, then I would keep the firearm out.

DE LA RIONDA: You would keep the firearm pointed at the person, right?

OSTERMAN: Probably.

DE LA RIONDA: And/or shoot because you thought it was a threat.

OSTERMAN: You'd only shoot if you felt the actual threat of a firearm -- a firearm pointing in your direction, then you would fire again until it's neutralized.

DE LA RIONDA: So let's make sure the question is clear. In other words, if you feel the person has some kind of weapon, you would not holster your gun, correct?

OSTERMAN: It would depend.

DE LA RIONDA: If you can't see the person's hands and that you believe they have a weapon you would not holster a gun?

OSTERMAN: It would depend. It would depend on the type of weapon.

DE LA RIONDA: If you can't tell what kind of weapon they have, you believe they have a weapon, they're threat to you, would you holster your gun?

OSTERMAN: Well, I'm a person that would give police commands and give that kind of commanding prince presence, if someone is not obeying the commands on the heels of a very stressful and physical confrontation. I would probably keep the firearm out. May be what I would do with training I've had.

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, sir. And you talked about the gun in terms of how many rounds, I guess, people refer to as bullets. You know it's referred to as a round. The bullet is the part that comes out of the gun, right?

OSTERMAN: A fair distinction.


OSTERMAN: Yes, sir.

DE LA RIONDA: You got the cartridge, et cetera, the gunpowder. But you are saying you would fully load and have one in the chamber already?

OSTERMAN: Always, no reason not to.

DE LA RIONDA: You are saying that that's per policy, are you talking about police officers?

OSTERMAN: Police officer policy and in every department I've ever worked with.

DE LA RIONDA: There is a distinction. You are not telling every citizen when they get a permit they are told automatically they have to have a gun in the chamber?

OSTERMAN: Not at all.

DE LA RIONDA: You are talking about police officers?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: There is a difference, right?

OSTERMAN: I agree.

DE LA RIONDA: Now, you are talking about in terms of scenarios that you discussed with the defendant.


DE LA RIONDA: You were asked about that. If a person, if you shot at somebody, right, and you didn't realize whether you had shot them or not, the person said, gave up, give up, what would you do? If they still were a threat to you?

OSTERMAN: OK. If they were still a threat?

DE LA RIONDA: Yes, would you shoot them then?

OSTERMAN: Could you define what the threat might be?

DE LA RIONDA: I'm just talking about what the scenarios you discussed with the defendant?

OSTERMAN: Well, what we discussed if they're a threat, let's say someone lays down on the ground and follows your commands, you told them to freeze, get down on your knee, lay down on the ground, you are not a threat at that point. At that point, I would probably try to restrain them.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. So you discussed with him in terms of taking somebody in terms of arresting them or getting them under control, correct?

OSTERMAN: If we did, it was something I wouldn't have remembered the specifics of it. He would not have needed to know how to arrest somebody or how to restrain someone. It was basically if someone is a threat to yourself or to someone in the general public, you keep the firearm out if they're an active threat.

DE LA RIONDA: That Kel Tec gun we talked about, when you fire it, you intend that bullet to go out the barrel, right. There is no like you don't like in the movies where you kind of squeeze the trigger a little bit, when you are squeezing, you are intending for that bullet to go out, correct?

OSTERMAN: Right. Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And to make sure the record is clear, now you are not saying that Mr. Zimmerman was a law enforcement officer?

OSTERMAN: Not at all.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, unlike you, obviously.


DE LA RIONDA: There is a difference, right?

OSTERMAN: I agree.

DE LA RIONDA: Would you agree?

OSTERMAN: One hundred percent.

DE LA RIONDA: A big difference.

OSTERMAN: I agree.

DE LA RIONDA: In terms of what police officers can do and what a citizen can do?

OSTERMAN: The authority is much different, correct.

DE LA RIONDA: And I'm assuming in terms of the scenarios you discussed with him, you are confronting a person, in other words, they're saying, they're giving up, they're backing up, you don't shoot them, correct?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: I'm assuming, or do you -- do the police chief teach you to shoot them?


DE LA RIONDA: OK, you mentioned about left-hand, right-handed, did you say he had shot the gun left-handed? Did I understand correctly?

OSTERMAN: He had shot both.

DE LA RIONDA: He was proficient at shooting left handed, but right was his dominant hand?

OSTERMAN: Proficient is a relative word.

DE LA RIONDA: Could he pull the trigger and hit that target?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely. I wouldn't consider that proficient, just familiar.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, so he could shoot the gun and hit the target with his left hand.

OSTERMAN: Left or right handed.

DE LA RIONDA: OK, but he was better right-handed than left handed, would that be fair?

OSTERMAN: I thought so.

DE LA RIONDA: OK. I need a moment, your honor.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take a break, Mark Osterman continuing to be cross-examined by the prosecutor, Bernie De La Rionda. We will take a break and resume our coverage right after this.


BLITZER: All right, once again, this is Mark Osterman. He describes himself as George Zimmerman's best friend. They are going back and forth. Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney is now questioning him once again about George Zimmerman and the use of that firearm, how it came about. Stand by for this.

OSTERMAN: -- we have that training. They also train that type of technique at concealed weapons permit classes to fire more than once, either at the two shot or the three shot. It depends on the scenario. It depends on the situation. It would depend on whether you have multiple assailants that are threatening you, something to that effect.

O'MARA: What's then the purpose for shooting more than once and going for center of mass? OSTERMAN: Well, if you have a smaller calibre handgun, the impact of the projectile isn't as great. If you have a rather large person, someone over 6-foot, 5 or something, very heavy in their weight, shooting a smaller calibre bullet may not have the same effect to stop them, someone who is perhaps under a narcotic that is enhancing their strength. Sometimes firing once may not stop them from being a threat. They may continue to attack.

O'MARA: We had talked, you had talked to Mr. De la Rionda about an internal holster that you were not there when that was chosen, correct.

OSTERMAN: Correct.

O'MARA: You have seen it?


O'MARA: Is there something sinister or internal in your mind about internal holster?

OSTERMAN: No, it's comfort. You wear what is comfortable to you and you wear what is -- what's going to be effective. There are some holsters that some people will get that are worn for show, but they're kind of difficult to remove the firearm. Sometimes you see that at a shooting range, where won is trying to get their firearm out of a holster, it's a struggle. Always go with what's functional and comfortable.

O'MARA: So just so we're clear, if I had a holster with the gun, the internal holster has the gun and my fingers at the gun, the internal holster -- may I approach the witness for a moment?


O'MARA: The internal holster sort of holds the gun in here, correct?

OSTERMAN: I would think, yes.

O'MARA: It's hidden from view, correct?

OSTERMAN: In its design.

O'MARA: In effect concealed. The purpose of the concealed weapons permit is to do what?

OSTERMAN: Is to make sure no one can see it. I think that's the law of Florida's concealed weapons permit. It's not to carry it open.

O'MARA: Carrying one external would have it like this, correct?

OSTERMAN: You would be required then to have a jacket or a cover.

O'MARA: So that if I had an external holster like this, this might be legal, correct?

OSTERMAN: I would agree.

O'MARA: This wouldn't be legal, would it?

OSTERMAN: That would be a violation.

O'MARA: This certainly would not be legal?

OSTERMAN: Absolutely not.

O'MARA: But with an internal holster, I might get away with having illegal carry as long as the gun was not visible.

OSTERMAN: Correct.

O'MARA: Thank you, your honor.

JUDGE NELSON: Thank you.

DE LA RIONDA: Very briefly, your honor. You mentioned in terms that you shoot more than once, it's called a double tap, I believe, am I right?


DE LA RIONDA: You are shooting not once, you are shooting twice or three times, however many times, correct?

OSTERMAN: Correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Normally it's twice?

OSTERMAN: Well, we practiced that over and over and over again, correct.

DE LA RIONDA: Thank you very much.

JUDGE NELSON: May Mr. Osterman be excused?

O'MARA: Yes, your honor.

JUDGE NELSON: Thank you very much, sir, you are excused. Call your next witness, please.

O'MARA: Subject to recall.

JUDGE NELSON: You are subject to being recalled, sir.

O'MARA: The defense will call Jerry Russo, your honor.

BLITZER: All right, we have wrapped up Mark Osterman's testimony. Earlier, we heard from his wife, Sandra Osterman. They are very, very close friends of George Zimmerman. Mark Osterman testifying about the weapon that George Zimmerman used, the weapon he used to shoot and kill Trayvon Martin.

He is self-described as the best friend of George Zimmerman. He is a U.S. Air Marshall, a former Seminole County deputy as well. Let's listen into this next witness, Jeri Russo, who is being sworn in right now. We'll see what the defense, remember, this is a defense witness, what she has to say.

JUDGE NELSON: You may be seated.

O'MARA: Thank you, your honor. Good morning, ma'am. State your name, please.


O'MARA: Last name is spelled, Russo?


O'MARA: Where do you work, I'm sorry, Jeri is?

RUSSO: Jeri.

O'MARA: That's probably the more difficult one. There are probably more variations. Where do you work?

RUSSO: I work for Digital Risk.

O'MARA: What type of company is that?

RUSSO: Digital Risk does audit reviews of defaulted mortgages and origination mortgages.

O'MARA: How long have you lived there? How long have you worked there?

RUSSO: I have been there most recently for about a year-and-a-half and I've worked there previously in the past also for just over a year. But I had about a year's gap in employment.

O'MARA: OK. And do you know George Zimmerman?

RUSSO: I do.

O'MARA: How do you know him?

RUSSO: I worked with George at Digital Risk.

O'MARA: OK, was that first one-year period at Digital Risk or more recently?

RUSSO: It was both times.

O'MARA: OK, correct in that Mr. Zimmerman was there while you were there. You left a little while. He still worked there. You came back, he was still working there?

RUSSO: That's correct.

O'MARA: Would you consider yourself a friend of George Zimmerman's? RUSSO: Yes, I do.

O'MARA: Obviously, also, a co-worker?


O'MARA: Even during the year that you weren't working there, would you keep in touch with George, Mr. Zimmerman?

RUSSO: Yes, we would keep in touch.

O'MARA: Did you know his wife as well?

RUSSO: I did not know her personally, no.

O'MARA: But yet, you kept in touch with George Zimmerman for the year you weren't working there?


O'MARA: When you came back then, how often would you see him on a weekly basis?

RUSSO: I would say sometimes daily or several times a week. It varied, quite often.

O'MARA: Have you had an ability to interact with him on almost a daily basis?


O'MARA: To hear his voice?


O'MARA: And if you can tell us, if you can, we started using the tomorrow of a spectrum of different voices, anything from conversational tone, yelling, laughing, you sort of tell us to the extent that you have heard him speak in different ways, tell us about that, if you would.

RUSSO: You know, normal conversation, personal conversation, work conversation. I heard him speak in English. I heard him speak in Spanish.

O'MARA: If you heard him laughing or yelling?

RUSSO: I've heard him laughing, not yelling.

O'MARA: OK. And my understanding is, of course, you know why we are here the event that happened February 26th of 2012?


O'MARA: And you had, did you speak to him just after that event?

RUSSO: It wasn't just after that event. But it was in some time in the year after that I couldn't be exactly sure what date.

O'MARA: OK. Do you recall if you can how far after a long after the events of the shooting that you spoke with him?

RUSSO: My best estimate would be a couple of months before he returned to Seminole County.

O'MARA: That's when he was out before he came back?


O'MARA: Have you had an opportunity to listen to what we are calling the Lauer 911 call on the tape?

RUSSO: Yes, sir.

O'MARA: I'm going to play for you and let me know if you have an opinion to whose voice it is, OK?


O'MARA: If I pay have just a moment, your honor. I'm going to play it one time straight through. If you want me to play it a second time, I know, if you want to me to go back to a particular portion of it, let me know, OK?



DISPATCHER: 911, do you need police, fire, medical?

CALLER: Maybe both. I'm not sure, there is someone screaming outside.

DISPATCHER: What's the address?

CALLER: It's 1211 23 Blaine.

DISPATCHER: Is this in Sanford?


DISPATCHER: Is it a male or a female?

CALLER: It sounds like a male.

DISPATCHER: You don't know why?

CALLER: I don't know why. I think they're yelling help but I don't know.

DISPATCHER: Does he look hurt?

CALLER: I can't see him. I don't want to go out there. I don't know what's going on. DISPATCHER: Do you think he's yelling help?


DISPATCHER: What did you --

CALLER: There's gunshots.


O'MARA: Have you heard that tape before?

RUSSO: Yes, I have.

O'MARA: If you would tell the jury, how many times or when or the circumstances?

RUSSO: I've heard it less than half a dozen times and mostly on the TV news, the first time I heard it was on the news.

O'MARA: OK. Were you able, first of all, do you have an opinion to whose voice that is?


O'MARA: Whose voice is that and let me premise it this, we know we hear someone in the foreground, a person by Miss Lauder talking to the 911 operator, could you hear the noise, the yelling in the background?

RUSSO: Yes, I could.

O'MARA: Could you identify whose voice that was yelling in the backgrounds?

RUSSO: George's.

O'MARA: How do you know that?

RUSSO: I recognized his voice. I've heard him speak many times. I have no doubt in my mind, that's his voice.

O'MARA: You said you heard the tape several times, is that mainly listening to it on TV?


O'MARA: Were you able to identify Mr. Zimmerman's voice during the very first time that you listened to it?

RUSSO: Yes. My immediate reaction was, that's George's voice.

O'MARA: Was anyone there prompting you in any way to identify the voice, one particular person over another?


O'MARA: It's something that you listened to on TV by yourself or with family members?

RUSSO: I was in my home. I had the news on in the backgrounds the first time they played it. I believe I was by myself.

O'MARA: If I may have a moment, your honor. Thank you, your honor. No further questions of this witness.