Zimmerman’s wife takes the stand
Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:10
On the two-year anniversary of Librarian Donald "Devin" Zimmerman's untimely death, the family can finally close a tragic chapter, knowing the killer will remain behind bars.
Jurors rejected Alan Godin's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and today sentenced him to 25 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. He will be eligible for parole in 12 1/2 years.
Godin, 64, was convicted Tuesday of murder in the first degree for shooting fellow librarian Zimmerman multiple times in the library of Northeast Lakeview College.
Godin's lawyers argued he suffered from transient global amnesia and didn't remember the shooting.
Godin opened fire at the former Albertsons facility on Pat Booker Road, where Northeast Lakeview was temporarily housed.
The prosecution argued that Godin affected several lives Oct. 13, 2008, when he walked into the library, donned ear protection and shot Zimmerman at close range with a 40-caliber Glock handgun.
The sentencing phase started at 9:30 a.m. today in the 187th District Court of Judge Raymond Angelini. This was the final day of the trial that began Oct. 6 with jury selection.
The victim's wife, Vanessa Lucio, took the stand today as a witness during the punishment phase and explained to the jury what kind of person her husband was.
Lucio said she met Zimmerman, 37, while he was a librarian at another university.
"Devin and I were always very close," she said. "He was my best friend."
She testified that her husband of two years was a cat lover with many interests including reading, gardening and writing music and poetry.
She said he was a quiet and reserved person who loved the outdoors and was formerly a park ranger.
Zimmerman had a brother, Daniel, who lives in Dallas, one niece and a nephew and kept in touch with his mother frequently, she said.
"I would say that we had a loving relationship, as close at two people could be," Lucio said.
Lucio, who burst into tears Tuesday when the verdict was read, wiped away tears as she told the jury about their 15-month-old son, Devin Lucio Zimmerman.
Lucio was about five or six weeks pregnant the day her husband died.
She found out she was pregnant about a week after his death. They had been trying to conceive for a few months, in which she had experienced a miscarriage.
The defense declined questioning the witness.
Godin's attorney, John A. Convery, tried one more time to convince the jury that the defendant was suffering from mental illness and shouldn't receive the maximum punishment of 99 years or life in prison.
"We somehow think that by punishing people, that will deter them," Convery said. "It's not the answer."
He said time in jail would mean something different to a man Godin's age and to think about the fact that he will be a convicted man forever and about what it means to his reputation.
He compared time in jail to being in school for 12 years because of the amount of growth and change during those years.
Convery ended his statement to the jury by pleading for justice, not revenge.
The prosecutors asked the jury to again focus their attention on the crime and all of the lives that were affected by Godin's actions two years ago.
Assistant District Attorney Lorina Rummel explained how parole works and that a person is eligible for parole after serving half a sentence.
"Focus on the senseless nature of this crime, the brutality of this crime," she said.
Rummel said, in addition to the family's loss of a man still in "the prime of his life," the jury needed to remember the people in the library that day.
She spoke of Librarian Robert Vaughn, the victim's best friend at work, risking his life to protect students and take away the gun from Godin.
Rummel called Vaughn a "hero" who did what he could to save Zimmerman and held his hand as he died.
She also mentioned former student Joseph Francis, who helped a woman with a broken limb get out of the library and came back to administer CPR despite blood gushing from the victim's mouth.
Rummel asked the jury to remember how Tracy Mendoza, Northeast Lakeview dean of learning resources, helped a student who was in shock escape the library's lab at the time of the shooting.
She asked about the employee hiding under a desk in a back office and all of the students who chose to study in the library that day.
She countered the defense's argument about how much a person grows within 12 years of school by asking the jury to remember Zimmerman's son.
The prosecutor said the jury needed to consider the amount of growth Zimmerman's son should experience from kindergarten to 12th grade without a father, never even meeting his father.
Rummel said someday Zimmerman's son might ask about the jury's decision and what they did to the man who killed his dad.
She finished her statement by calling for an appropriate punishment to make sure Godin cannot do this again.
After the verdict was read and the jury departed, Molly Zimmerman, the victim's mother, and Vaughn stood in front of Godin to give him their last words.
Zimmerman told Godin that he should have pled guilty and not let his attorneys lead him into thinking he was guiltless.
She sarcastically named Godin a "great actor" and said she believed Godin carefully planned this act.
"But not many people believed your act," she said.
She said no verdict or punishment will ever be enough; there was no true justice.
"I hope you never forget my words," she said to Godin. "You'll be before a higher judge that you'll have to answer to."
Vaughn spoke next and told Godin he had executed an honorable man.