BLOOMINGTON — A crime scene photo of Pam Zimmerman's body behind a desk at her office with multiple gunshot wounds was displayed in a courtroom Monday on the first day of her ex-husband’s murder trial.
The victim’s close friend and neighbor Julie Koh wiped away tears as she identified Pam Zimmerman as the person whose body she saw on the morning of Nov. 4, 2014, at Zimmerman's east Bloomington office.
As the state’s first witness, Koh described the call she received earlier Nov. 4 from the victim’s fiancé, Scott Baldwin, who was concerned he could not reach Pam Zimmerman. The two had become engaged three days before Zimmerman was killed.
In response to the call, Koh went to the victim’s office at 2103 E. Washington St. where she was met in the parking lot by Ina Hess, the victim’s secretary.
Inside the office, Hess spotted the victim and covered her mouth with her hands in disbelief, said Koh.
When asked what she saw next, Koh said, “I saw Pam lying there in a fetal position without apparent signs of life.”
Kirk Zimmerman and two of his three children avoided looking at the photo.
Other witnesses to testify Monday included Bloomington police officers and first responders summoned to the death scene.
In his opening statement Monday morning, Assistant State's Attorney Brad Rigdon said greed, hatred and murder ended the life of Pam Zimmerman.
Zimmerman “pointed a gun at his ex-wife and shot her four times,” said Rigdon.
A desire to end his child-support obligations was behind the shooting, said Rigdon.
Kirk Zimmerman "was quickly bleeding money ... spending more money than he made every month," said Rigdon.
The defendant shook his head at the prosecutor's suggestion that Pam Zimmerman's Oct. 24 demand for $3,900 pushed the suspect to buy a gun and use it against his ex-wife.
But defense lawyer John Rogers argued Kirk Zimmerman, 60, did not shoot anyone.
“He was happy,” Rogers said of Kirk Zimmerman’s life at the time of the slaying. He had moved on and was dating another woman, said Rogers.
Rigdon described several mistakes made by Zimmerman that led to him becoming a suspect. Zimmerman's lack of knowledge of forensic science was behind those errors, said Rigdon.
The state will introduce testimony and witnesses to show Zimmerman's vehicle was in the parking lot outside the victim's office building around the time authorities believe she was killed, said Rigdon. A state expert will explain how cellphone tower data can be used to track a vehicle's location, technology Zimmerman overlooked in his plan to kill his ex-wife, according to Rigdon.
Rogers described Pam Zimmerman as a woman who had dated several men she met over the internet, including some "not so positive" interactions. After several months, she became engaged to a man Rogers identified as Baldwin, who allegedly remained romantically involved with another woman while dating the victim.
Rogers also dismissed the state's claim that Bloomington police conducted a thorough investigation that included efforts to exclude as well as identify suspects and witnesses. Zimmerman, he said, was a primary suspect very early on in the investigation.
The defense lawyer termed some of the anticipated testimony from state witnesses "borderline ridiculous" and "meaningless." The Zimmermans, he said, were "a happily divorced couple" who were co-parenting their three teenage children.
The trial is expected to last four to six weeks. There also is a gag order in place that bars prosecutors, defense lawyers, both sides' legal staffs, court employees, police involved in the case and any anticipated witnesses from participating in media interviews during the trial.
Witness testimony will resume Tuesday.