The first jury had been told that tests on DNA from cigarette butts at the murder scene did not match Zimmerman. But the appeals court said Zimmerman's attorney also should have introduced evidence of many other DNA tests - on hairs from Thompson's pants and sweater, as well as scrapings from her fingernails - that also did not match Zimmerman.
The retrial was held in Juneau in Dodge County because of publicity in Eau Claire surrounding the first trial. Before the jury returned for duty Friday, Eau Claire County District Attorney Richard White announced that he was dropping the charges....
Zimmerman's lead attorney in the retrial, Keith Belzer of La Crosse, said much of the testimony in the first trial was incriminating because it was incomplete. He said that more thorough questioning of witnesses in the retrial, including those commenting on the mass of physical evidence that did not implicate Zimmerman, made it clear that Zimmerman could not have committed the crime.
Belzer said Zimmerman was too exhausted to give an interview, but [Innocence Project co-director Keith] Findley, who assisted Belzer in the retrial, said the former Augusta cop initially was upset to learn that the prosecutor was dropping the charges. "No, I don't want him to do that. I want the jury to find me not guilty," he quoted Zimmerman as saying.
Findley also said Zimmerman had refused a plea bargain that was offered several months before the retrial and again during the retrial. He said Zimmerman could have been convicted of a reduced charge of reckless homicide and been given probation, but refused.
"That's not what a guilty man does," Findley said.
April 30, 2005
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports a victory for the Wisconsin Innocence Project of the University of Wisconsin Law School: