Godin found guilty in shooting death of librarian

By Melody Mendoza

Published: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Updated: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vanessa, Northeast Lakeview librarian Donald

Tyler K. Cleveland

Vanessa, wife of Northeast Lakeview librarian Donald "Devin" Zimmerman, who was shot and killed by Alan Godin Oct. 13, 2008, is consoled by family members Tuesday following the guilty verdict in the 187th District Court of Judge Raymond Angelini.

Prosecuter Daryl Harris

Tyler K. Cleveland

Prosecuter Daryl Harris demonstrates Tuesday to the jury Alan Godin's intent when loading the gun before killing Northeast Lakeview College librarian Donald "Devin" Zimmerman Oct. 13, 2008. Harris said that Godin's loss of memory was "magic."

Alan Godin

Tyler K. Cleveland

Alan Godin looks away from the screen as the prosecution gives closing arguments to the jury Tuesday during the third day of trial.

Assistant District Attorney Lorina Rummel

Tyler K. Cleveland

Assistant District Attorney Lorina Rummel gives closing arguments speaks to the jury Tuesday during the third day of trial for Alan Godin, who was found guilty for killing Northeast Lakeview College librarian Donald "Devin" Zimmerman Oct. 13, 2008. Rummel said, "ladies and gentlemen, this is his biggest acting career right now."

Defense attorney John A. Convery

Tyler K. Cleveland

Defense attorney John A. Convery of Hasdorff &' Convery, P.C., gives closing arguments Tuesday during the third day of trial for Alan Godin.

Alan Godin

Tyler K. Cleveland

Alan Godin smiles Tuesday as defense attorney John A. Convery of Hasdorff &' Convery, P.C., expresses regret for the guilty verdict in Godin's trial for the shooting death of Northeast Lakeview librarian Donald "Devin" Zimmerman Oct. 13, 2008.

The 12 jurors in the first-degree murder trial of a former district librarian returned a verdict of guilty about 3:20 p.m. today.

After deliberating only 3 1/2 hours, the jury returned the verdict on the third day of the trial.

The defendant, Alan Godin, showed no reaction at the verdict, but his attorney John Convery and Northeast Lakeview College Librarian Robert Vaughn, the victim's best friend at work, lowered their heads.

Godin was arrested at the scene of the shooting, the library of Northeast Lakeview, Oct. 13, 2008, after witnesses watched him fire repeatedly at close range at Librarian Donald "Devin" Zimmerman.

Vanessa Zimmerman, who was pregnant when her husband died, began crying and about a minute later began sobbing.

Godin's former wife, Christine Crowley, dean of learning resources at Northwest Vista College, had been in court earlier on Tuesday but was not in the courtroom when the verdict was returned.

Dr. Eric Reno, president of Northeast Lakeview College, was also present, sitting next to Vaughn, behind the Zimmerman family.

Convery told reporters he was disappointed in the verdict.

"I thought we had a strong case. It was never (about) who did it."

Prosecutors declined to comment.

The punishment phase begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 187th District Court.

This morning, Day 3 of the trial, Judge Raymond Angelini of the 187th District Court began by reading the jury their rights.

He explained the jury could not consider previous knowledge of the case, but they should consider the evidence and decide for themselves. He notified them to fill out a verdict form and sign it.

The prosecutors, Daryl Harris and Lorina Rummel, and Godin's attorney, Convery, gave closing statements.

Harris took the jury back to Wednesday when jury selection began, saying that Rummel said the state had to prove an indictment of who, what, when, where and how the crime was committed.

He said the prosecutors proved that each element proved Godin was guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

"Let me take a few moments to bring back the evidence," Harris said. "The terrors on the afternoon of Oct. 13 were cause by that man," he said as he pointed at Godin.

He said it is the jurors' duty to decide if the evidence proves murder by considering the testimonies and should be made through the juror's competence.

"You have a decision to make," he said.

As he reiterated the incidents on that day, he picked up each item he described.

Harris said Godin walked into the library, passed Robert Vaughn, fellow librarian who was an eyewitness, who said Godin had put sunglasses on.

Harris picked up the ear protection that Godin put on before shooting the gun and picked up the gun Godin used to shoot Zimmerman.

Harris recalled the experts who collected five bullets and six shells.

"That's what he went there with," Harris said of Godin on the day of the shooting.

Harris said Godin's actions were intentional, resourceful and purposeful.

"He knew at 2 in the afternoon that Devin would be there," Harris said. "He used the hearing protection so he wouldn't be distracted by screaming and he could focus on ‘get Devin Zimmerman, get Devin Zimmerman, get Devin Zimmerman.'"

Harris said there was a witness who saw recoil after the first shot. He said before he shot again, he stabilized himself, got his other hand, and shot a third, fourth, fifth time.

"Fired bullet, fired bullet, fired bullet," Harris said.

He said the experts ran gunshot residue tests and found the same residue on Godin's hands. The shells matched the shell casing to Godin's gun.

"When you hear the lack of paucity of evidence of sanity, you don't contemplate ... you mean to accomplish that end."

Harris said no one can explain what goes on in somebody's mind.

He went over the testimony of the two doctors who testified Monday.

He said Dr. Brian Scop, general forensic psychologist, was familiar with transient global amnesia.

"I believe he formed the intent and carried it out," Harris said.

He said Godin may have taken some herbal tea that created "magic" that affected his memory. "Shucks," Harris said as he snapped his fingers.

Convery followed Harris with a closing statement as he carried the box full of medications Godin was taking.

He said during jury selection, he told them this was crazy and the jury would hear the tragic events in the library.

"I told you Alan Godin did the act, but he did not commit the crime," Convery said.

He said Godin had never been in trouble in his life and obtained a gun permit 10 years ago.

"Magic?" Convery asked. "I think not."

He asked the jurors to look at the basic fact that the act was senseless and crazy.

The judge instructed the jury to look at two things — insanity and intent.

Convery said his team showed Godin suffered from transglobal amnesia and both doctors who testified said it was a severe mental defect to be considered as insanity.

He recalled the barbecue grill incident when Godin was first diagnosed with transglobal amnesia. He asked the jury to go back and realize how hard-working Godin was and that he was upset when he couldn't remember.

"We showed how serious this really is," Covery said.

He continued and said the issue becomes the reoccurrence of transglobal amnesia.

He said Dr. Michael Arambula, pharmacologist, had more experience and spent more time treating defenders in similar cases.

Convery said Godin experienced additional complications such as hepatitis C, which Arambula said affects the thought process.

He said Godin's case was different because he had an abnormal thought process.

Convery reviewed an article he brought up before Scop Monday that said one remote factor of transglobal amnesia was anxiety resulting from conflict at work or home.

He pointed out that Scop had "just had a couple of patients," but that both doctors agreed the diagnosis is unusual and rare.

Some 96 percent of transglobal amnesia occurs in ages 51-80 "just like Alan Godin," Convery said.

He recalled the charts and factors of hypertension and migraines Godin suffered.

"Are these magic?" Convery asked.

He pointed out that both doctors agreed that Godin had transglobal amnesia in 2006 when the incident of the barbecue grill arose.

"This is something that affected him," Convery said of Godin.

He pointed out that the amnesia usually occurs during morning or mid-day.

"Magic? I think not," Convery said again.

He said his team tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together because it makes no sense.

As he lifted the heavy box of medications that were in Godin's cabinet at home, Convery said, "Look at what's in here. Some are normal ... some are toxic," he said.

He said these medications combined with hepatitis C and hypertension affected his thinking and in the end resulted in a "very sick man," a man who Arambula said had to be put in a straight jacket because of thoughts of suicide after the shooting.

He said the prosecutors couldn't prove if the gun Godin used that day had been loaded for years.

"You just don't know," Convery said.

He said Arambula, who is a skeptic of the "I don't remember" excuse, took months to make a final determination of Godin's condition.

"He did not intently or purposefully kill Devin Zimmerman," Convery said.

Rummel made her closing statement following Convery by saying that this is not a typical murder trial.

She said this case is so clear because they have all the evidence laid out for the jury.

"That man right there, used this hand gun and shot these bullets and killed Devin Zimmerman," she explained.

She accused the defense attorneys of persuading the jury to let Godin walk through the door with no responsibility.

She went over the scenes of the library that day again and said Godin purposefully drove 27 miles, put on ear protection and focused on the one person he had issues with.

She said the jury should look at the incidents before, during and after.

She said the before is Vaughn stating the movie lines Godin quoted the Saturday before the shooting.

Godin said the shooter in the movie said, "I don't want to get away with it; I just want to do it."

She said the eyewitnesses who were performing CPR and holding Zimmerman's hand before he died explained the "during" incidents.

The afterwards, she said, were the quotes from the officers.

Godin said, "I guess I really messed up. I don't care," after the incident.

Officer Michael Williams Nemcic of Alamo Colleges police department said Godin also said, "Handcuffs are meant for punishment. I deserve to be punished."

Rummel said Godin knew what was going on.

She said when Godin was interviewed by doctors, he knew why he was being interviewed and therefore, was able to fake memory loss.

"He's smart, has his master's degree and has been an actor his entire life," Rummel said. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is his biggest acting career right now."

Rummel said the jury should first decide if Godin suffered from transglobal amnesia at the time of the shooting and second, if Godin knew it was wrong.

She said the doctors agreed there was no test to show someone suffered from transglobal amnesia; therefore, there is nothing to show.

She also brought up Crowley's testimony given Monday.

Rummel said Crowley was unconvincing when she answered the question if Godin suffered another episode of amnesia on the day of the shooting.

Crowley replied, "Yes, I guess so," and later said, "I hope so."

She said the defendants believe if there was no good motive, it must be amnesia.

Rummel said their tactic was the shotgun effect by saying he was depressed, had headaches, high blood pressure and other issues.

She said, "It's such a serious condition, yet his wife didn't even take him to the hospital until the next day."

She said there is no literature or medical expertise that says if a defendant doesn't remember means the defendant had no intentions.

Rummel said transglobal amnesia did not affect his cognitive functions when he was building the grill and if he did have reoccurring amnesia at the time of the shooting, it wouldn't affect his cognitive functions either.

She also said there was no clouded consciousness following the incident.

Rummel pointed out that in the barbecue grill incident, his wife testified that he asked repeated questions after, but after he shot Zimmerman, he only had statements and was aware.

"It is very, very clear that he committed murder with intent," Rummel said. "And did he know his conduct was wrong? Yes."

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