Prosecutors are considering whether to move forward with domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman even though his girlfriend is asking them not to do so.More difficult to prove? This was a simple he-said-sge-said, with no injuries or hard evidence. And the girlfriend has renounced the complaint:
Without a witness willing to testify, prosecutors can still use law enforcement reports, 911 calls and other witnesses to build a case. But such cases are more difficult to prove, State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lynne Bumpus Hooper said.
Zimmerman filed an affidavit from his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, saying she doesn't want him charged with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The affidavit was filed with a motion Monday asking a judge to change the terms of his bond so he can have contact with Scheibe.
Zimmerman was arrested last month after Scheibe accused him in a 911 call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, denied pointing a gun at her and blamed her for the broken table.
In the signed affidavit, Scheibe -- referring to Zimmerman as "my boyfriend" -- said detectives misinterpreted what she said and that she hadn't been coerced into signing the document.Of course juries want to see that a crime was committed, before they vote for a conviction. Without a complaining witness, how could there be a crime?
"I am not afraid of George in any manner and I want to be with him," Scheibe wrote.
It's not uncommon in domestic violence cases for the alleged victims to change their minds about pursuing charges, said Blaine McChesney, a former prosecutor in Orlando who now is a defense attorney.
"In the heat of the moment, they're angry about what has happened. Later, upon reflection, they're not as angry. They're not as upset," McChesney said Tuesday. "The feelings of love and compassion overcome any feelings the victim had."
Although prosecutors can move ahead without the cooperation of the victim, it makes it difficult to convict if there is no physical evidence of injuries, he said.
"Juries really want to see the alleged victim on the stand talking about the case," McChesney said. "It's very hard to convict in a case when the victim isn't there."
Some victims refuse to cooperate believing the person who assaulted them will wind up in prison, said Carol Wick, chief executive of Harbor House of Central Florida, which offers shelter and programs to victims of domestic violence.Yes, some women realize that sending a boyfriend to prison for a little argument is not fair.
In reality, the courts offer alternatives to prison such as mandatory therapy and anger management classes. In metro Orlando, where more than half of the cases that end up being dropped are due to victims unwilling to testify, police are starting a program that tries to get victims in touch with counselors within 24 hours of a reported assault.
"People don't understand the psychological manipulation that goes on when this happens," Wick said.