It was a strange development in a case that has seen more than its share: Chris Serino, the lead Sanford police investigator in the Trayvon Martin shooting, hired famed Casey Anthony defense attorney Jose Baez to represent him at his upcoming deposition in the case.
It’s unclear what prompted Serino to hire a private attorney — eschewing available representation by the city of Sanford, his employer. But one issue likely to come up is his double-talk on whether there was enough evidence to support George Zimmerman’s arrest as controversy surrounding the case spiraled out of control last spring.
Serino wrote in a sworn affidavit that there was probable cause to arrest Zimmerman. But he later told the Federal Bureau of Investigation he was pressured to author that document and didn’t believe the evidence was sufficient for the manslaughter charge he recommended.
“Nobody put a gun to his head,” says Michael Grieco, a Miami defense lawyer and former prosecutor. “When you sign an affidavit, you swear under oath.”
And Serino isn’t the only Sanford officer whose testimony could prove troublesome for prosecutors in the second-degree murder case against Zimmerman: High-ranking fellow officers largely agreed in March that there was not sufficient evidence to arrest Zimmerman.
Zimmerman’s legal team has since listed several of them, including former Sanford police Chief Bill Lee Jr. and Serino’s supervisors, as witnesses the defense plans to call at trial.
Baez was not available to comment for this story. But in a recent interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Baez said that Serino hired him because “it’s a very politically charged case, and he just wants to make sure that everything is done by the book.” Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s office — which Gov. Rick Scott appointed to handle the case — also did not respond to requests for comment.
Eugene O’Donnell, a former police officer and prosecutor who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said Serino’s decision to hire his own lawyer “is very wise.”
This kind of thing is virtually unheard of. The only case I can recall where a cop hired his own attorney during a murder case was when Mark Fuhrman got caught committing perjury on the stand during the OJ Simpson trial.
Baez was Casey Anthony’s attorney. If you are a cop you don’t go out and hire a big name attorney like that unless you know your ass is in trouble. And it ain’t civil liability he’s worried about.
The feces have definitely made contact with the air circulation device.