The defense of a Livermore man charged with murder likely hinges on whether the Fremont man he was under the influence of drugs at the time.
Cort Holbrook, 42, is charged with the killing. His attorney, Eric Schweitzer, is awaiting a toxicology report on victim Ricky Ziesmer.
Ziesmer, 48, had a long history of possessing, selling and using methamphetamine in several East Bay cities, including Pleasanton, Newark and Hayward, according to court records obtained by Livermore Patch.
"His actions were consistent with someone who is under the influence of methamphetamine. His criminal record is consistent with someone who is under the influence of methamphetamine," Schweitzer said of Ziesmer. "Now we'll see if his toxicology report is consistent of someone under the influence of methamphetamine."
However, Schweitzer said whether or not the victim was under the influence of drugs, Holbrook could have been killed in the fight had he not defended himself.
"Cort, had he not acted the way he did, would probably not be with us here right now," Schweitzer said. "It would be the other way around."
Alameda County court records show Ziesmer has been convicted multiple times of misdemeanor charges related to possessing, selling or using methamphetamine.
According to court records, Ziesmer's most recent case was on May 8, 2010.
Fremont police responded to a disturbance on the 42000 block of Gatewood Street, where Ziesmer was living.
He was on parole for a drug sales conviction and told an officer he had used methamphetamine about two weeks ago. Police searched his room and found a glass methamphetamine pipe, which Ziesmer denied was his. He then admitted to smoking methamphetamine about 14 hours prior to the police visit. He was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Other cases filed in court include:
— On May 24, 2009, Fremont police arrested Ziesmer on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine. He was charged with a misdemeanor.
— On April, 28, 2008, Ziesmer was placed on probation for three years after a misdemeanor conviction of being under the influence of a controlled substance in Pleasanton.
— On March 20, 2008, Fremont police pulled Ziesmer over for traffic violations (failing to stop fully at several stop signs). Officers had followed him after they spotted his vehicle leaving a well-known drug house. Ziesmer was arrested on a charge of possessing 1.0 grams of methamphetamine. He was on parole and had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant.
Several other cases, dating back to 2003, detail arrests of Ziesmer in Livermore, Hayward and Newark, and all involve methamphetamine, a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and when used in large doses for prolonged periods of time can result in psychosis and violent behavior, according to the American Council on Drug Education.
In 2005 Ziesmer was also was ordered to register as a narcotics offender and acknowledged his struggles with the drug.
"I started using drugs again, but I know I'm done using," Ziesmer said to authorities while in custody in 2005, according to court records. "I've got too much to lose if I don't stop using drugs."
Livermore Patch hasn't recently been able to reach friends and family for comment,but in previous interviews those who knew him described Ziesmer as a caring man with a huge heart. They also said he was one never to back down from anybody.
A woman who identified herself as Ziesmer's mother, Marylin, left the following comment in a :
"Ricky was a wonderful son, and it was a true blessing to be his mother. He was a guy with a huge heart and always wearing a beautiful smile. Regardless of the situation he was always there to help anyone, even willing to give a stranger the shirt off of his back."
Holbrook, a software programmer, to the March 9 killing on the basis that it was self defense.
In an last week during jail visiting hours, Holbrook said wounds on his hands, arms and face were from defending himself.
"I think about every minute of that day. It's one of those things on my mind, among other things," Holbrook said. "I think about how I survived and I wonder how my family is doing."
Roshell Morgan, Ziesmer's girlfriend, was in the car and witnessed what unfolded the day of his death.
She said in an that Holbrook began honking at them when they merged into another lane on First Street in Livermore. Ziesmer and Holbrook exchanged words and eventually pulled off on Old First Street downtown near the and .
The two began to fight and Holbrook pulled out a knife, Morgan said.
In a filed in court by Livermore police, Holbrook said Ziesmer started the incident by drifting into his lane several times and nearly colliding with him.
It also states that Holbrook said Ziesmer punched him several times when they got out of their cars and started arguing. Ziesmer punched Holbrook in the face twice, knocking him to the ground, according to the statement.
As the confrontation continued, Holbrook reached into his driver's door compartment, retrieved a dagger and stabbed Ziesmer in the upper chest and stabbed the driver's side rear door of Ziesmer's car to prevent him from leaving.
Ziesmer drove to on East Stanley Boulevard in Livermore. The health center does not offer emergency services, which are based at ValleyCare's Pleasanton facility.
Ziesmer was transferred to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, a higher level trauma center, where he died.
Holbrook is scheduled for a pretrial hearing at 9 a.m. April 22 in Dept. 703 of the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton.
He is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.