BLOOMINGTON — The jury in the Kirk Zimmerman murder trial deliberated about two hours Thursday before going home, ending a day that included more than four hours of closing arguments from lawyers for the state and defense.
Zimmerman is accused of killing his ex-wife, Pam Zimmerman, who was found with four gunshot wounds in her east-side Bloomington office on Nov. 4, 2014.
First Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon told jurors Zimmerman shot her four times as a means to finally end his child support obligations and avoid another trip to court over unpaid debts to her. The Zimmermans were married 20 years before a bitter divorce in 2012.
"The only thing she was to him was a debt. The easiest way to take a debt off the ledger is four bullets," said Rigdon.
Rigdon reviewed a timeline the state laid out in the monthlong trial.
Zimmerman's three children and several of their supporters shielded their faces as autopsy photos of the victim on the floor behind her desk were displayed on a screen in the courtroom. The fourth shot fired from behind the victim into her back after she collapsed on the floor showed a level of hatred that only her ex-husband felt, Rigdon told jurors.
Zimmerman's plot to kill his former wife started Oct. 24, 2014, after he received a letter from Pam Zimmerman demanding $4,000 in past-due child support, said Rigdon.
Analysis of cell tower data by an FBI agent showed Kirk Zimmerman's car traveled to Indiana where police claim he bought a gun the day after his wife’s letter arrived.
The same cell tower data was used to trace Kirk Zimmerman’s car near the victim’s office at 3:55 p.m., 4:19 p.m. and 6:12 p.m. on Nov. 3, said Rigdon. Testimony from the federal agent indicated the defendant’s car also was traveling on the city’s southeast side between 10 and 11 p.m. in an area where some of the victim’s possessions were found.
Police believe Pam Zimmerman was killed sometime after her last meeting of the day ended around 5:30 p.m.
The cell tower data also contradicts Zimmerman’s statement to police that he did not leave his home the night of the shooting.
Defense lawyer John Rogers challenged the state’s evidence and the Bloomington police investigation leading to Zimmerman’s arrest in July 2015.
“Kirk Zimmerman did not kill Pam Zimmerman over $3,999,” said Rogers. Calling the state’s theory of the case a “fabricated motive,” Rogers said the homicide “should continue to be in the unsolved mystery category.”
Police ignored suspicious circumstances surrounding two other men who knew the victim, Rogers argued.
Eldon Whitlow, the last client to visit Pam Zimmerman at her financial services office, owned a gun similar to the one used to shoot the victim, he said. Rogers was critical of the delay by police in securing that gun.
Whitlow and his gun were cleared of any involvement in the case.
The victim’s fiancé, Scott Baldwin, escaped the same immediate scrutiny Kirk Zimmerman faced from police, said Rogers, despite evidence that he was unfaithful to the victim.
Authorities found no physical evidence to tie Kirk Zimmerman to the crime scene, Rogers argued.
Rogers closed his remarks asking jurors to acquit Zimmerman and spare his children another loss.
“The only thing worse for the Zimmerman kids would be to lose two parents, he said.
Rigdon used his final time with the jury after Rogers’ remarks to remind jurors of the state’s theory that Kirk Zimmerman was hemorrhaging money two years after the divorce.
After deductions for child support, loans and a car payment, Zimmerman lacked enough money to cover his mortgage payment, said Rigdon.
Jurors will return Friday to continue their deliberations.