Osterman has declined to comment. In his book, he blames The Miami Herald for revealing his identity and compromising his position with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also acknowledged that shortly after The Herald revealed his name in July, he wrote the book and went on national TV.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said he had never heard about a struggle for the gun. He said he read a draft of the book before it was published, but felt asking Osterman to change details would amount to witness tampering.
“He’s a friend of George’s trying to explain George to be different than the way he was perceived to be. Great — that’s a story that’s not been told,” O’Mara said. “I don’t like him talking about things George spoke to him about in confidence. I didn’t like yet another statement of George’s out there for review. It’s more of a headache.”
Although he questioned whether Osterman’s memory is accurate, O’Mara admitted that between Zimmerman’s various interviews to police, his father and brother’s accounts to the press and now Osterman’s, there are several versions of what happened that night, but he characterized the discrepancies as a surmountable obstacle. If everyone’s story was exactly the same, O’Mara said, then it would smack of a lie.
O’Mara said it took him 10 days to respond to the book draft after he received it, but when he got around to asking Osterman to scrap the book, the publishing contract had already been signed. O’Mara chalked it up to miscommunication, adding that Zimmerman has taken a court’s “no contact with witnesses” order to heart, and has not spoken to any state witnesses except his parents since he left jail on bond while he awaits trial on a charge of second-degree murder.
“We will be able to respond to the six, seven, eight different renditions of the story, how and why there are different statements,” O’Mara said. “The jury is going to believe what the jury is going to believe.”
Although Zimmerman has said Trayvon jumped him from out of nowhere, the book says he told Osterman that Trayvon first approached Zimmerman from a distance of at least 15 feet and asked him if he had a problem. In a TV interview, Osterman also claimed Zimmerman had a concussion, something that was never noted in medical records or claimed in the statements.
To explain why Zimmerman got out of his car while on the phone with police, he quotes a conversation between his friend and the dispatcher that never took place: “If you can’t see him do you still need us to send an officer? We need you to get to a place where you can see him,” he quotes the dispatcher in an exchange that is not contained on copies of the police call or transcripts widely posted on the Internet.
Trayvon’s supporters believe Osterman’s book proves that Zimmerman can’t keep his story straight because none of it is true.
“He has done George no favors by writing this book,” said attorney Natalie Jackson, who represented Trayvon’s parents in their mission to get police to make an arrest. “This book is huge. It hurts George a lot.”
Although second-hand quotes are generally inadmissible in court, Jackson said this is a type of citation that would be exempt from the hearsay rule.
“The state would be precluded from directly using any excerpts from the book, as the words on the pages are hearsay, but the Ostermans could be subpoenaed to testify against him to his detriment if Zimmerman embellished, added or changed facts in the version he gave to them,” said Miami Beach criminal-defense attorney Michael Grieco, who has been following the case. “Any inconsistencies amongst the numerous statements Zimmerman has given will be used against him and his credibility.
“Zimmerman’s credibility is the key to his affirmative defense.”