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Assistant State's Attorney Adam Ghrist, left, listens to Kirk Zimmerman's defense lawyer, John Rogers, dispute evidence during pretrial testimony in May 2017 in Zimmerman's murder trial at the McLean County Law and Justice Center.

BLOOMINGTON — Surveillance video of a car pulling into a parking space outside Pam Zimmerman's office shortly before she was killed and fears she relayed about her former husband could be key evidence at his trial on murder charges.

The Bloomington woman was found Nov. 4, 2014 lying on the floor behind the reception desk of her office in the 2100 block of East Washington Street, the victim of multiple gunshot wounds. Her former husband Kirk Zimmerman is charged with murder.

A preview of some of the state's evidence against Zimmerman was unveiled during four days of hearings this week on whether statements Pam Zimmerman made to friends about the suspect will be allowed at trial. Those remarks ranged from fears that he would punish her if she tried to take half his State Farm pension in their divorce settlement to fears that he would kill her if she became engaged.

Jurors will not see forensic evidence that ties Zimmerman to the crime scene or hear evidence that he purchased or possessed a gun, according to testimony Thursday from Bloomington Detective Tim Power.

The detective said several items were taken from Zimmerman's home, including financial documents and a "to do" list that lists yard work and a date with his former girlfriend as activities on the day of the shooting. No weapon was found in Zimmerman's home and a lead that he may have gone to Indiana to buy a gun did not produce evidence, said Power.

The state does intend to introduce state crime lab results that indicate gunpowder residue was found on the gear shift handle of Zimmerman's car. 

Detective William Lynn testified about how police put together a video to determine if a car seen pulling into Pam Zimmerman's parking lot at 4:36 p.m. matched the Hyundai Sonata driven by the suspect. Lynn admitted that no license plate could be determined from the surveillance video that shows a light colored car parking outside the office building. Screenshots of the car on the surveillance video and the car in the police video appear to be exact matches.

Bloomington police Detective Tim Power testified Thursday that police narrowed the time of Pam Zimmerman's death to between 5:30 p.m. to about shortly after 6 p.m. Data from the victim's phone indicated it was taken from her office several minutes after 6 p.m., he said.

Thursday's hearing opened with testimony from Zimmerman's daughter Rachel Zimmerman, who could not recall several statements she made in 2014 related to tension between her parents in the months leading up to her mother's shooting death.

Zimmerman did not look at his daughter, now 18, during her 20 minutes on the witness stand.

Rachel Zimmerman recalled her mother talking to her about the possible division of her father's State Farm pension as part of the couple's 2012 divorce settlement. Pam Zimmerman, 53, "said she didn't care about getting the other half" of the pension, said her daughter, adding "money wasn't a big issue for her."

First Assistant State's Attorney Adam Ghrist played portions of an interview videotaped at the Children's Advocacy Center after her mother's death.

Rachel Zimmerman, who is one of three children of Pam and Kirk Zimmerman, told the CAC interviewer that "he got so mad she just let him have the money."

Rachel Zimmerman acknowledged the pension dispute is a key element of the state's theory as to why her father allegedly killed her mother. She also admitted talking to her father about her testimony.

"I knew the subject was the pension. Like I said, I talked to my dad," she said. 

Crime scene photos depicting Pam Zimmerman's body behind the reception desk of her office were displayed in court. She was found lying on her side on a blood-stained carpet when her office manager, Ina Hess, reported to work on Nov. 4, 2014.

According to police, Pam Zimmerman was shot four times.

Hess testified Wednesday that two cordless phones and a large desk calendar were missing when she arrived at the office. The front door of the office, in an office complex in the 2100 block of East Washington Street, was locked, but the deadbolt on the back door was open, said Hess.

Hess' recollection of how she ended the day on Nov. 3, 2014 conflicts with testimony Wednesday from Eldon Whitlow, the last client to leave the victim's financial planning business. 

Hess recalled leaving before Whitlow arrived for his 4 p.m. appointment. Whitlow testified that he visited with Hess before meeting with Pam Zimmerman, who escorted him out of the office around 5:30 p.m.

Police have estimated the time of Pam Zimmerman's death based on Whitlow's exit and data from her cell phone, which was found the next day with several other personal items along Robinson Street near Taylor and Felton streets. 

Arguments on the issues related to the statements and other pending motions are set for July 10 and 11.

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.