Tag Archives: closing arguments

Miami ‘Baby Lollipops’ Child Murder Conviction Overturned

ana cardona

Ana Maria Cardona, via DOC

Ana Maria Cardona, the first woman on Florida’s death row for killing her own child, has had her conviction reversed a second time. While the Florida Supreme Court found that ample evidence was presented to allow the jury to find her guilty, the Court ruled that Prosecutors erred by using inappropriate, inflammatory arguments. “As we have stated for decades, we expect and require prosecutors, as representatives of the state, to refrain from engaging in inflammatory and abusive arguments, to maintain their objectivity, and to behave in a professional manner…” Cardona will be given a new trial, though the death penalty will be in question as the death sentencing procedure in place at the time of the offense has been found to be unconstitutional.

This was Cardona’s second trial, and the first was also thrown out for prosecutorial ‘error’. The court found that the prosecutors failed to disclose additional, contradictory statements, which is a clear violation of the discovery rules. Cardona will still face a third trial, and mandatory life in prison if convicted, even if the death penalty is reinstated.

None of these opinions say that she did not do it, nor that her actions were not horrible. The poor child was found beaten and abandoned, dubbed ‘Baby Lollipops’ by the press as investigators sought to determine who the child was. While the facts are atrocious, and supported the Heinous, Atrocious and Cruel [HAC] findings, the court is simply requiring the state to make appropriate arguments. It often seems that the prosecutors are held to a higher burden of decorum when presenting their case than defense attorneys… I certainly felt that way when I was a prosecutor, but it’s appropriate to ensure that the government act in an appropriate and ethical manner at all times. Any time the freedoms, and especially the life, of a citizen is on the line, there must be no indication of improper influence to obtain a conviction.


Zimmerman Closings are Underway : Defense to Argue Tomorrow

Bernie de la Rionda

Bernie de la Rionda

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda is doing a good job with what he’s got. Regardless of the outcome, I will reiterate that it was probably a good decision for the Defense not to put Zimmerman on the stand. De la Rionda is pounding the flaws and inconsistencies in his multiple statements. That was the most effective part of the State’s case presentation. The would have had the opportunity to hammer him with difficult questions for hours on the stand; which didn’t work out so well for Jodi Arias.

The State seems to be using what I call a spaghetti approach- they are throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. They are arguing both murder and manslaughter, they keep trying to question whether Zimmerman was winning or losing the fight. I think they’d be better served going all in on the murder charge, or at least conceding that Martin was beating Zimmerman. The fact that his head was SPLIT OPEN in “only” two places, or that the impact lacerations where “only” centimeters is not a strong argument. The state should have concentrated on their stronger arguments.  The State has finished, the Defense will argue in the morning (8:30), followed by State rebuttal, then the jury will deliberate.

Closing Arguments Likely This Afternoon in George Zimmerman Case

The Defense rested without Mr. Zimmerman taking the stand, which wasn’t surprising in light of how strongly the evidence has favored Mr. Zimmerman. The Defense concluded their case by calling Zimmerman’s father to the stand to add to the litany of witnesses that identified the screams for help as belonging to George Zimmerman. The State called a rebuttal witness yesterday, and may have another today. There are quite a bit of arguments that the court decided to hear in the morning, as opposed to having another marathon session like the one that lasted until nearly midnight Tuesday night. The court expects to have the jury back at 1 pm, hopefully to begin closing arguments close to that. Both sides have asked for 3 hours.

I suspect the judge may keep the jury late to try to conclude arguments in one day. She may even offer them the possibility of beginning their deliberations  with dinner. Why not, they are sequestered and don’t have anywhere else to go. The complicated issues that have been dealt with over the weeks of testimony may cause the deliberations to run into next week: but it could be a very quick verdict. I saw a manslaughter case argued several years ago here in For t Myers where a young man was killed. The jury came back very quickly with a not guilty verdict, surprising many watchers who thought the young man’s death would warrant more substantial deliberation. However, the jury came to an agreement pretty quickly, and didn’t hesitate to walk that defendant. The facts were completely dissimilar to the fact of George Zimmerman’s case, but if the jury agrees, there could be a short deliberation.

Drew Peterson case goes to jury

Closing arguments concluded this afternoon.  Jury deliberations will begin tomorrow morning.  The Tribune’s live blog has some good highlights from arguments today.