BLOOMINGTON — A woman who heard sounds similar to gunshots near the office where Pam Zimmerman was killed waited two weeks before telling authorities about her observation, according to her testimony in a pre-trial hearing on the murder charges filed against the victim's ex-husband.
Jody Seip testified that she was meeting with a counseling client in her office at 107 S. Regency Drive in Bloomington on Nov. 3, 2014, when she heard a series of explosive sounds.
Seip, who was called by the defense, said she and her client simultaneously asked, "What the hell was that?" when the noise erupted. The time of the sounds that Seip described as "almost rhythmic" in their rapid succession was 5:17 p.m., said Seip, recalling that she had looked at the clock in her office.
But it was not until mid-November that Seip called CrimeStoppers with the information about the shooting. Her conscience, she said, had led her to make the call.
First Assistant State's Attorney Adam Ghrist confronted Seip with audio of her interview with Bloomington police on Nov. 21, 2014, in which she put the time of the noise at 5:22 p.m.
Ghrist also questioned the witness about her close friendship with Zimmerman's former girlfriend, Kate Arthur, and the conversations the two had after Pam Zimmerman was found murdered in her office in the 2100 block of East Washington Street where she worked as a financial planner. According to Seip, Arthur was upset that Kirk Zimmerman's home was being searched by police and he was considered a suspect in his ex-wife's death.
Seip denied that she discussed her testimony with Arthur.
The timeline of the gunshots allegedly heard by Seip conflicts with what police know about Pam Zimmerman's final hours. The victim's last meeting with a client ended shortly after 5:30 p.m. and an analysis of her cellphone showed it was taken from the office around 6:15 p.m.
Pam Zimmerman's last client, Eldon Whitlow, testified Wednesday that she walked him out to the lobby of the building after the two ended their meeting. Whitlow was briefly scrutinized by police who examined his 9 mm gun, a weapon that matched the type used to shoot Zimmerman four times.
Other testimony Wednesday focused on more statements people heard Pam Zimmerman make about the marital discord between her and the suspect.
Talks between the couple over money issues became so heated during divorce mediations that she predicted he may kill her, according to Karen Anderson, a divorce mediator and parenting coordinator, who recalled Pam Zimmerman's statement after a mediation session in April 2012 where Kirk Zimmerman's pension was discussed.
"He's going to kill me. I'm really afraid he's going to kill me," Anderson testified, quoting Pam Zimmerman.
Anderson is one of about a dozen witnesses who have testified about statements they attribute to the victim during her contentious 2012 divorce and the days leading up to her death after she became engaged.
The fact that Zimmerman's State Farm pension was part of the marital assets normally considered for division in a divorce made him "extremely angry," said Anderson.
After one mediation session that ended with Zimmerman commenting, "this will not happen," in reference to a split of the pension, the mediator said she had serious concerns for Pam Zimmerman's safety.
Anderson said Pam Zimmerman decided not to pursue a portion of the pension as part of the divorce settlement.
Emails submitted as evidence during the hearings indicate that Pam Zimmerman initially tried to use the pension as a bargaining tool in the divorce settlement but she withdrew from that effort and signed a child custody and property agreement.
Earlier Wednesday, Eric Hjerpe, a fiend of the victim, testified that Pam Zimmerman declined to push for the pension because she feared her ex-husband's reaction.
Defense lawyer John Rogers repeatedly raised objections during the testimony from state witnesses who sometimes struggled to produce a verbatim recollection of Pam Zimmerman's statement.
Curtis Ronnekamp was specific is his recollection of what Zimmerman said to him and his wife when they met with her several days before her death.
After talking to Pam Zimmerman about their financial plans, the three chatted about her anticipation that she was about to become engaged to a man she had been dating for several months.
"She said she didn't know she could be this happy," said Ronnekamp.
When Ronnekamp asked Zimmerman how she felt her ex-husband would react to her marriage plans, she said "he will go ballistic," according to Ronnekamp's testimony.
Pam Zimmerman also told the couple that she thought about the proximity of Kirk Zimmerman's new home just down the street from her. When she stood at her kitchen window, she sometimes imagined her ex-spouse shooting her, said Ronnekamp, raising his finger to his temple as if holding a gun, the same gesture he said Pam Zimmerman made when she made the remark the last time he saw her.
The state expects to conclude its case with four witnesses Thursday.