FBI Forensic Accountant's Testimony Scrutinized At Zimmerman Murder Trial
Kirk Zimmerman’s lawyer pushed back forcefully Monday against an FBI forensic accountant’s testimony, claiming he misrepresented and manipulated Zimmerman’s finances to the jury in order to strengthen the state’s motive for murder.
Zimmerman is accused of killing his ex-wife, Pamela, in 2014 in part over a financial dispute involving child support payments. During a tense cross-examination Monday, defense attorney John Rogers attacked veteran FBI forensic accountant Tom Byers’ analysis of Zimmerman’s finances in the years leading up the murder. Rogers suggested that Byers based his entire analysis only on documents supplied by prosecutors, rather than seeking more records and a more complete picture.
“Are you a puppet, sir?” Rogers asked.
“No,” Byers replied.
Byers’ testimony is a key part of the prosecution’s theory of motive. Prosecutors say the triggering event happened 10 days before the murder, when Pamela allegedly sent Kirk a letter notifying him that she planned to take him back to court over child support.
As the Zimmerman trial entered Week 3, jurors spent Monday afternoon looking at 10 pages of charts showing Zimmerman’s personal finances between 2012 and 2014.
In 2012, when the Zimmermans were still married, their joint net worth was around $517,992, Byers testified. In 2014 after the divorce, Kirk Zimmerman’s net worth had plunged to $109,127, weighed down by new debts—including a $205,000 home and a $22,900 vehicle. His liabilities also now included $57,000 in court-ordered child support obligations over the next several years, plus a $37,170 loan against his 401(k).
After child support and other deductions, Zimmerman was only taking home around $628 in his State Farm paycheck every two weeks, Byers testified. His monthly expenses exceeded his income by around $2,300, he said. He said his testimony was based on a detailed review of Zimmerman’s personal financial records, including bank and credit card statements.
In cross-examination, Rogers repeatedly argued that Byers exaggerated Zimmerman’s financial problems to aid the prosecution. Rogers called it an “agenda-driven purposeful misrepresentation.” He previously argued the dispute between Kirk and Pamela was not enough to kill over.
Rogers questioned why Byers never sought records showing Pamela’s debts; Byers said he was only working with the documents provided by prosecutors. Rogers also criticized Byers for not including Zimmerman’s State Farm pension among his assets, even though he had not retired.
“It’s only the assets that are of value,” Byers said. “A pension has no value until you retire.”
Prosecutors say Kirk Zimmerman, now 60, shot his ex-wife four times inside her office on East Washington Street in Bloomington in November 2014. She had just gotten engaged days before.
Zimmerman’s arrest the following July came after an eight-month investigation involving a team of Bloomington Police detectives who spent thousands of hours on the case.
Zimmerman has been free on bond but under home confinement. His trial is expected to last another two to four weeks.
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