A jury took less than eight hours to find Kirk Zimmerman not guilty of killing his ex-wife Pamela, swiftly ending a case that took nearly five years to reach trial.
The 60-year-old from Bloomington walked out of the McLean County courthouse with his family and friends soon after the verdict was returned Monday afternoon. His attorney, John Rogers, said he planned to have dinner with his family.
“Obviously we’re elated,” Rogers said. “It’s been four long years being accused of a crime Kirk didn’t commit. It’s a relief not only to Kirk but to his family.”
Prosecutors failed to win over jurors during a four-week trial that called on 60 witnesses and four terabytes of evidence. Ultimately, it took jurors just seven and a half hours to reach their verdict, split over two days. Audible gasps were heard in the courtroom, from behind Zimmerman, as Judge Scott Drazewski read the verdict. Zimmerman wiped away tears before embracing his family, including his children.
Also in the courtroom Monday was a heavy contingent of McLean County sheriff’s deputies and their boss, Sheriff Jon Sandage. They were instructed to remove anyone who acted out after the verdict was read. Nobody did.
McLean County State’s Attorney Don Knapp praised his team and the eight-month Bloomington Police investigation that led to Zimmerman’s arrest. Zimmerman was free on bond but under home confinement ahead of the trial.
“While we’re disappointed in the outcome, we certainly respect the jury process and the jury’s decision in this matter,” Knapp said.
Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman fatally shot Pamela, a CPA and financial planner, in her Bloomington office in 2014 because he was strapped for cash and upset that she was pursuing more in child support. She had also recently gotten engaged.
The defense claimed that police had tunnel vision for Zimmerman and never fully investigated alternate suspects, including Pamela’s then-fiancé and the last client she saw the day she died. The gun that killed Pamela has never been found.
Zimmerman did not address the media after his acquittal. But he issued a one-page statement pointing to a “lack of real physical evidence” and “problematic evidence-collection techniques” and “laughably” flawed analysis of his personal finances.
“We have seen breakdowns in our local legal system in the (Alan) Beaman case, the (Don) Whalen case, and now this case. As the trial revealed, I was treated as the only real suspect from the start, at the virtual exclusion of others in Pam’s life. This community deserves, and should demand, more from its public servants,” he wrote.
Zimmerman also criticized the media—specifically The Pantagraph—for its coverage of the case. Many other media outlets, including GLT, have also covered major developments in the case. A crew from NBC’s “Dateline” covered the trial.
Here’s Kirk Zimmerman’s statement after his acquittal. Mostly a criticism of @Pantagraph coverage of the case, even though many media outlets reported the same things. “This community deserves, and should demand, more from its public servants,” he says of the legal system. pic.twitter.com/oEGH61J30o
— Ryan Denham (@ryanWGLT) May 6, 2019
Knapp declined to speculate as to why the jury chose to acquit. He said his office would reach out to jurors to learn more, which he said was customary.
He said lead prosecutor Brad Rigdon did a good job during his two and a half hour closing argument, though he suggested more time may have been helpful.
“I think you saw Brad put it together—although maybe hurriedly—in that two and a half hours, he put it together pretty well,” Knapp said.
It’s unclear what happens next in the investigation into Pamela’s death. Knapp said it was up to BPD to decide whether to re-open the case.
“Those will be conversations we’ll have,” Knapp said.
"Our police department, specifically our Criminal Investigation Division, performed admirably throughout the entire investigation. While we are disappointed in the outcome, we respect the jury and their decision," said Bloomington Police spokesperson John Fermon.
The police department will review any new leads or additional information should any become available, Fermon said.
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