This is the excerpt of the deposition of SPD Sgt. Santiago, taken by Mark O'Mara, provided in the defense Motion to Modify Conditions of Release. Line numbers are omitted and the Q & A designations have been replaced with the speaker's name. Part 1 is O'Mara's direct examination. Part 2 is BDLR's cross examination. Part 3 is O'Mara's redirect.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH
JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, IN AND FOR
SEMINOLE COUNTY, FLORIDA
CASE NO.: 2012:001083-CFA
STATE OF FLORIDA
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN ,
- - — - — - — - - - — - - x
Examination of a witness beginning at 11:33 AM, and concluding at 1:00 PM, on October 1, 2012, taken at 101
Bush Boulevard, Criminal Justice Center, Grand Jury Room, Sanford, Florida before DAWN ROSCHER, Notary
Public, State of Florida at Large.
MARK M. O'MARA, ESQ., 1416 East Concord Street, Orlando, Florida 32803, on behalf of the Defendant, George Zimmerman.
DONALD R. WEST, ESQ., 636 West Yale Street, 0rlando, Florida 32804, Co-counsel with Mark 0'Mara, Esq.
BERNIE de 1a RIONDA, ESQ., JOHN GUY, ESQ., OF: Office of the State Attorney, 220 East Bay Street,
Jacksonvi1le, Florida 32202, on behalf of the Plaintiff, State of Florida.
JOSEPH R. FLOOD, JR., ESQ., OF: Dean, Ringers, Morgan & Lawton, P.A., Post Office Box 2928, Orlando, Florida
32802, on behalf of the Sanford Police Department.[Excerpt begins on Page 38 of transcript]
SANTIAGO: About the phone?
OMARA: Any further contact with the case after that?
SANTIAGO: It got transferred.
OMARA: As you now look back on the investigation that you were a part of did you see any failings in the investigation that concerned you?
SANTIAGO: I think we just took too long.
OMARA: Too long to do what?
SANTIAGO: I think what we had on Day 1 is what we had two and a half weeks later.
SANTIAGO: I think we should have sent the packet out Wednesday, Thursday of the first week. I even made a suggestion to Captain 0'Connor and Chief Lee to take it to the Grand Jury to see when the next Grand Jury date is and have the people declde. That's‘what I would have done.
OMARA: Okay. .
SANTIAGO: The reason I suggested the Grand Jury thing is I don't think the state -- if. you send it to the State, the State can always say well, we only said no, because all the investigation we did. I said with the Grand Jury, you're putting everything out there and you let the people decide yes or no on it.
OMARA: Did you have conversations with the people from the‘ state Attorney's office about this?
SANTIAGO: Yes. They came, I think, from Jacksonville.
SANTIAGO: It went from up here to there. They sent an investigator down.
SANTIAGO: And he spoke to me.
OMARA: Tell me what you guys talked about.
SANTIAGO: When he came and interviewed me to talk to me, I was like one of the few that had a statement in this. So he just talked to me about this.
OMARA: Tell me what you told him.
SANTIAGO: Basically, what I did here, how I answered your questions, too, but not a depo. Then we were just talking about —- he looked like Grizzly Adams. so I was just cracking Grizzly Adams jokes. That was about it.
OMARA: Okay. Did you have any conversations with the State Attorney's office in Sanford about this case?
OMARA: And tell me about that.
SANTIAGO: We were -- well, which time?
OMARA: The first time. Let's start with that.
SANTIAGO: It was probably a week in the -- we were in the second week. I guess Captain O'Connor or Chief Lee asked the State to start coming on board at this point. Jim Carter was then attending the meetings .
OMARA: So tell me about thefirst meeting.
SANTIAGO: Just going over the case and what we had, you know, kind of where we were at..
OMARA: And did Mr. Carter make any suggestions as to any additional information that should be gathered?
SANTIAGO: Like making sure that we were getting the phones back, the injuries, whatever. I don't recall too much about it. Basically. we were kind of telling him where we were at in the case.
OMARA: What injuries were you just talking about?
SANTIAGO: The ones to Mr. Zimmerman.
OMARA: Explain that to me. What conversation did you have about that?
SANTIAGO: Well, it was all of us. It wasn't just me. It was like eight or nine of us.in the room. We were all just kind of talking. Everyday we had kind of like a hit list as to what to do.
OMARA: Who was in that first meeting, the eight or nine people? Who were they?
SANTIAGO: Chief Lee, Captain O'Connor, Crime Scene people, which would be Sargent Ciesla, Diane and Serino. then later on Sargent Randy Smith came to the meetings.
SANTIAGO: He was on vacation when this thing kicked off initially.
OMARA: In that first meeting, that Mr. Carter was at, you said you had talked about the injuries. What was discussed about that?
SANTIAGO: We were talking about, like could it have happened this way or that way.
OMARA: And what was the consensus?
SANTIAGO: What was my consensus or the room's consensus? .
OMARA: Anything you want to tell me.
SANTIAGO: I think the room's consensus was that there wasn't anything, that the injuries were consistent to what his statements were.
OMARA: So the room's consensus was that his injuries were consistent with his version of how things happened; is that accurate?
OMARA: And what was the conversation wrapped around that? Who was saying what?
SANTIAGO: I'm just giving you a synopsis of what was going on, but they were daily. Then the next day we'd have another meeting.
OMARA: How often on a weekly basis were you guys meeting about this case?
OMARA: And how many of those meetings was Mr. Carter in?
SANTIAGO: I want to say, like the last week out of two and a half weeks. He was in the last couple. I couldn't give you an exact number.
OMARA: What other concerns were being discussed about the investigation, besides the issue concerning the injuries being consistent with his story or other high points of the conversation?
SANTIAGO: That was it. Everyday we'd go in at whatever time the meeting was set for and we'd talk about updates and everything, like if Captain 0'Connor or Chief Lee said we need to get this done or make this happen and where we were on it.
OMARA: Were there ever any conversations or concerns about the way the investigation was happening from the day of the 26th forward?
SANTIAGO: Not in front of —- not in that meeting, I can tell you. That meeting was more like what we've done and what do we have to do. I think that's why Jim Carter was put on board towards the end, because we were al ready like, you know, what else can we do? Now we were starting to look at what do we have here?
OMARA: Were there, any concerns with the leadership, Chief Lee, the Captains, whatever, that things that they wanted done, were not getting done?
SANTIAGO: Not that I know of.
OMARA: Okay. Was the tone of the conversation, that things shouid be getting done, were in fact getting done?
SANTIAGO: I couldn‘t tell you. Like I said, everybody in the room kind of -— and it wasn't like it slowed down as the week went on, but everybody was getting something done that had to be done.
OMARA: Okay. And what was Mr. Carter saying about the progress of the investigation?
SANTIAGO: As far as?
OMARA: Like how it was going.
SANTIAGO: He wouid stay quiet and kind of listen to what we had.
OMARA: What suggestions was he offering at that point?
SANTIAGO: I don't recall. I couldn't tell you.
OMARA: Okay. To the extent that he told you his perspective on what he thought should happen with the case; what was it?
SANTIAGO: Jirn Carter?
SANTIAGO: We talked about, I think it was like the last day, the last meeting I was in and we talked about can we even file charges on the guy that dialed 911. I know that's how I found out that down here in Florida, you're supposed to help somebody .and not to just watch them, not just stay on with 911, like walk back into your house.
OMARA: The 911 call, you referenced, actually the 911 call that you can hear the yelling on?
OMARA: The screaming for help?
OMARA: And your question was this guy didn't do anything; can we even charge him with something?
OMARA: And Mr. Carter said what?
OMARA: what did he say about charging Mr. Zimmerman?
SANTIAGO: I'm not going to -— I can't quote him, but basically, if I was reading him right. that we didn't have anything.
OMARA: You made a comment a moment ago when I asked you do you think anything about this investigation wasn't handled right and you said it took too long?
OMARA: What do you mean by that: what took too long?
SANTIAGO: Because the information we had in‘ the second to two and a half weeks is the same information, pretty much, that we had on Day 1 or Day 2, except for the tolls on.the phone, which you can send a packet up and when the tolls come back, you forward that up to the State. so it wasn't like nothing that was, you know, oh, my God, this is new news.
OMARA: Right. Is what you're saying, then, is that you think the investigation was delayed too long as though stuff wasn't getting done or that you already had all the information to make a decision?
SANTIAGO: I think we had it already.
OMARA: All the information?
SANTIAGO: From what I saw, when I'm looking at it, yes. I don't know what Serino was doing or if there were any other meetings, In the meetings we were going to, I couldn't see anything between Day 1 and two and a half weeks later.
OMARA: And with your training and experience. when you thought enough information was gathered to have made a decision; what do you think the decision should have been concerning charging Mr. Zimmerman?
OMARA: No what?
SANTIAGO: We shouldn't have charged him.
OMARA: With anything?
OMARA: Why not?
SANTIAGO: I think that, and like I said, everybody's consensus in that room, including Jim Carter, was those injuries were defensive wounds.
OMARA: What else lead to that consensus in the room?
SANTIAGO: I think that, like I said, we were talking over the last couple days with him and from what I've seen, I don't think they should have charged him. In fact, I didn't know they charged him until the next day.
OMARA: Who. in the room, contested that consensus?
SANTIAGO: The last day Sargent Smith did.
OMARA: What did he say?
SANTIAGO: He said that he didn't believe that those injuries were consistent with that. Jim Carter even stepped up and kind of gave him a what are you kidding me look.
OMARA: And what was his concern with the inconsistencies of the injuries?
SANTIAGO: I don't know.
OMARA: How did he verbalize that to you?
SANTIAGO: He didn't verbalize it to me. It was to the room, not to me. When he said it, the whole room went like this, kind of looked at him. This was two and a half weeks later, and it was like why are you saying this now?
OMARA: Did he say anything in particular, like I don't believe he got his nose broken in the beginning or I don't think that the injuries to the back of the head were —-
SANTIAGO: I think --
FLOOD: Let him finish.
OMARA: -- significant or what was his 'concern with the injuries?
SANTIAGO: Like I said, thistis a synopsis, not a quote, but basically that the injuries were not consistent. That's when Jim Carter was kind of Iike from everything I've seen so far, they are.
OMARA: I just don't know what you mean by were not consistent with --
SANTIAGO: Like, in other words, is he really getting his head smashed or are those injuries from that or is his nose really broken. It was that kind of stuff. when he said it, everybody kind of went like that.
OMARA: Evidencing what, in your mind?
SANTIAGO: In my opinion, where have you been in these last two and a half weeks; you should have said that Day 1, not two and a half weeks later.
OMARA: And that was the first meeting that we just talked about; I think?
SANTIAGO: That was the last meeting.
OMARA: So without going over. every one; how many meetings were there that you were at? ‘
SANTIAGO: There was about two, two and a half weeks worth, off the top of my head.
OMARA: So ten to twelve meetings?
SANTIAGO: At least, yes.
OMARA: Were all the meetings of similar vein, to what you just told us about, the last meeting, which was that there was a meeting with all the hierarchy deciding what to do about the case? There was one purpose, right?
OMARA: And all the meetings were like that?
SANTIAGO: Yes. Hold on. It wasn't what to do with the case. It was more like where we were along the case.
SANTIAGO: And then if we had to do anything more.
OMARA: Okay. And was the tenure or the spirit of all the meetings that everything that was supposed to be getting done, was getting done?
OMARA: And was it a simiiar consensus throughout those two, two and a half weeks that Mr. Zimmerman should not be charged with a crime?
SANTIAGO: It wasn't that he shouid not be charged with a crime. It was that we didn't have enough to file. I think that's what Jim Carter was saying too, that we don't have enough.
OMARA: To file a charge against Mr. Zimmerman?
OMARA: That was a yes?
OMARA: And was that a consensus that existed in that group meeting for the entirety of the two and. a half weeks?
SANTIAGO: I couldn't tell you what everybody else was thinking. I can tell you what I was thinking and what I was listening to from Mr. Carter, what we had and didn't have.
OMARA: Well, was anybody in that meeting during those two and a half weeks, contesting a consensus that there was not enough to charge Mr. Zimmerman?
SANTIAGO: The only person that contested was Sargent Randy Smith, that we should charge him. That was like the last day of the meeting.
OMARA: Did he say what he thought he should be charged with?
SANTIAGO: I don't recaIl. I couldn't tell you.
0MARA: Let me take a couple of minutes I think we're about done.
OMARA: In these meetings. that we were just talking about, was Investigator Serino at all of them as well?
SANTIAGO: Yes. It was Serino, Captain O'Connor, Chief Lee, Crime Scene, myself and Randy Smith at the end.
OMARA: Okay. What wes Serino saying about the evidence?
SANTIAGO: He was pretty quiet the whole time.
OMARA: Did he ever offer anything?
SANTIAGO: That I recall, no.
OMARA: Was anyone taiking to him? I mean, at that point, he was the lead investigator, right?
SANTIAGO: Right. we had those meetings, but I couldn't tell you if there were other meetings beyond that. You know what I'm saying? I know I left that meeting and it was the next day when I found out that they actually filed charges on him.
OMARA: when you say they filed charges; you're talking about SPD?
SANTIAGO: Right, sent the packet over.
OMARA: But did Serino involve himself in any of those conversations, when it was being discussed that there wasn't enough evidence to charge him with anything?
SANTIAGO: He was quiet most of the time.
OMARA: In the last meeting. where Smith said something about the consistency of the injuries; did Serino say anything in response to that?
SANTIAGO: I don't remember him saying. anything.
OMARA: Okay. Did Serino ever evidence in any of these meetings -- and we're talking ten to twelve meetings everyday for two and a half weeks, right?
SANTIAGO: Yeah, from that first, second day to when they filed the charges. .
OMARA: Did you ever evidence anything that would have given you the impression in that meeting that he was considering filing charges the day after that last meeting?
SANTIAGO: Like I said, he was quiet. He didn't say a lot. Like I said, it was like a hit list of things to do and the bosses were talking.
OMARA: Right, but did Serino ever contest the consensus of the room that there wasn't enough to charge?
SANTIAGO: Not that I recall.
OMARA: Thank you. No further questions.