Simply put, in order to win the case against Shellie Zimmerman, the state must be able to prove every element of the offense: that she (1) while under oath (2) in a judicial proceeding (3) made a false statement (4) that she knew to be false about (5) a material matter. In addition, that statement must be about a matter of objective fact, not an opinion or an incorrect guess. If a prosecutor doesn’t ask sufficiently direct and specific questions so as to elicit objectively factual responses, he’s out of luck.
Out of luck, that is, unless that prosecutor is engaged in a political action that ignores the law and legal ethics.
In many ways, the largest impediment to a successful perjury prosecution is the necessity of proving what a defendant believed. In this case, all the prosecution appears able to prove is that Zimmerman was under oath in a judicial proceeding.......
There is nothing illegal or in any way wrong about discussing how to pay one’s bills and expenses, which is precisely what the Zimmermans were doing. It is also smart not to openly discuss such things during phone calls that one knows are being recorded – and with criminals nearby. The Zimmermans could not know who would have access to those recordings or who could overhear their conversations. The “codes” about which the prosecution insinuated were nothing more than the Zimmermans, in terrible circumstances, trying to protect themselves and survive day-to-day.
If de la Rionda was actually interested in the truth, why didn’t he simply arrange for the telephone testimony of the brother-in-law, as Shellie offered?
It appears he was trying to construct a perjury trap......
If it is proved...then she will incur a punishment. If it is not...she goes free.
That's the way these things work.
The Innocent and the Death Penalty
Eighteen people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the United States after serving time on death row. They were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 229 years in prison – including 202 years on death row – for crimes they didn’t commit.
Kirk Bloodsworth served eight years in Maryland prison – including two years on death row – for a murder and rape he didn’t commit, before he was exonerated in 1993.
Rolando Cruz, and his co-defendant Alejandro Hernandez, served more than 10 years on Illinois death row for a murder they didn’t commit before DNA testing proved both men innocent in 1995.
Verneal Jimerson and Dennis Williams were sentenced to death in the infamous Ford Heights Four case in Illinois for a pair of 1978 murders they didn’t commit. Jimerson was cleared in 1995 after a decade on death row and Williams served more than 17 years on death row before he was freed in 1996.
Robert Miller spent nine years on Oklahoma’s death row for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before he was cleared by DNA testing in 1998.
Ron Williamson spent a decade on Oklahoma’s death row for a murder he didn’t commit before DNA testing secured by the Innocence Project proved him innocent in 1999. His co-defendant, Dennis Fritz, was sentenced to life and spent 11 years in prison before DNA cleared him as well.
Ronald Jones, an Innocence Project client, served a decade on Illinois death row for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before DNA testing proved his innocence and led to his release in 1999.
Earl Washington, a Virginia man with limited mental capacity, was sentenced to death after he allegedly confessed to committing a 1982 murder he didn’t commit. He served a decade on death row, once coming within nine days of execution before receiving a stay. He would serve a total of 17 years behind bars before DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project cleared him in 2000.
Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on Florida’s death row after serving 14 years for a murder and rape he didn’t commit. He was cleared by DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project 11 months after his death.