NLC librarian sentenced 25 years for murder
Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010
Prosecuter Daryl Harris demonstrates to the jury Tuesday Alan Godin’s intent when loading the gun before killing Northeast Lakeview Librarian Donald “Devin” Zimmerman Oct. 13, 2008. Harris said that Godin’s loss of memory was “magic.”
Wednesday marked the two-year anniversary of the killing of Donald “Devin” Zimmerman.
A co-worker, Alan Godin, 64, shot the Northeast Lakeview College librarian at close range.
This week, Godin was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years and a fine of $10,000.
The five-day trial began Oct. 6 with jury selection – eight women and four men – in the 187th District Court before Judge Raymond Angelini.
The defense team, John A. Convery and Julie K. Hasdorff of Hasdorff &” Convery, P.C., opened Oct. 7, the first day of the trial, with a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity caused by transient global amnesia.
The Mayo Clinic website defines the condition as “a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that can’t be attributed to more neurological condition, such as epilepsy or stroke.”
The prosecution brought in six witnesses, including an eyewitness and co-worker at the library, Godin and Zimmerman’s former supervisor, three Alamo Colleges police officers and Bexar County’s chief medical examiner.
Librarian Robert Vaughn, the victim’s best friend at work, painted the most complete picture of the shooting and described the last moments of Zimmerman’s life.
He said Godin arrived three hours before his regular shift, donned ear protection and began shooting.
Vaughn said he immediately yelled to get students out of the library and called for security.
When he came back into the library, he said Godin was sitting at a library table.
Vaughn said he grabbed the gun and placed it in an employee workroom.
He joined two students trying to revive Zimmerman with CPR and said with tears in his eyes, “I was holding his hand,” when Zimmerman died.
During his testimony, Vaughn repeated the odd movie quotes Godin used just days before the shooting.
“I don’t want to get away with it. I just want to do it,” Godin quoted a shooter in the movie.
Sgt. Alberto Marin, Alamo Colleges criminal investigator, showed the evidence, which included the ear protection, five bullets, six shell casings or spent ammunition, a 40-caliber Glock handgun and positive gunshot residue tests.
On Day 2 of the trial, Oct. 8, a former student, Joseph Francis, testified. He said he was studying in the library the day of the shooting and tried to revive Zimmerman.
“He was having a hard time breathing,” Francis said. “Blood was coming out of his mouth; he tried to say something, but I didn’t know what it was.”
Edward I. C. Wallace, Bexar County crime lab forensic scientist supervisor, also testified to explain the details of the gun and bullets used.
Sgt. Chester E. Johnson Jr., a Live Oak police officer who responded to the shooting, said he took Godin to a police office on campus after the shooting.
Johnson said while waiting for police, Godin said, “I guess I really messed up. I don’t care.”
Christine Crowley, Godin’s then-wife, testified on Day 3 of the trial, Oct. 11.
She told the jury about Godin’s previous diagnosis of transglobal amnesia in 2006.
She said Godin had an episode in which he couldn’t remember spending a day assembling a barbecue grill, where it came from or anything else that day.
The defense team argued again that Godin had transglobal amnesia at the time of the shooting despite testimony that a second episode rarely occurs.
Dr. Michael Arambula, a pharmacologist who evaluated Godin on Dec. 8, 2008, said he also believed Godin had amnesia that caused the murder.
Dr. Brian Scop, a general forensic psychologist, was also called to testify and disagreed with Arambula.
The doctors said they interviewed Godin and evaluated his body language, speech and eye contact and later reviewed his medical history and the crime.
Godin had history of high blood pressure and depression and took many medications at once.
The prosecutor and defense team returned Tuesday to give their closing statements.
Prosecutor Daryl Harris told the jury, Godin “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.'”
Convery told the jury, “I told you Alan Godin did the act, but he did not commit the crime.”
He reminded the jury of all the problems Godin has and argued this case was different because he had an abnormal thought process.
Assistant District Attorney Lorina Rummel followed, telling the jury they had all of the evidence laid out for them.
She pointed out that Godin had been acting his entire life. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is his biggest acting career right now.”
She argued that there wasn’t evidence to say Godin had transglobal amnesia at the time of the shooting, and, therefore, should not be excused.
Jurors then deliberated for 3 1/2 hours and came back with a guilty verdict.
Wednesday, the final day of the trial, was the punishment phase.
Vanessa Lucio, Zimmerman’s widow, was the only person to testify.
The jurors deliberated for about three hours and sentenced Godin to 25 years in prison.
After the jury was dismissed, Molly Zimmerman, the victim’s mother, and Vaughn delivered their personal statements to Godin.
Zimmerman told Godin he should have pleaded guilty and called him a “great actor.”
Vaughn said, “It was assassination.”
After the trial, Lucio told the media she was pleased with the punishment. “He will rot in prison,” she said. “That’s good enough for me.”
Zarah Farah and Laura Garcia contributed to this story.