Comments Off on Road Rage Killing: Defendant’s Attorney Discusses Fatal Stabbing

A Livermore man charged in the killing of a Fremont man is scheduled to appear in court Friday for a pretrial hearing.

Cort Holbrook, 41, in March pleaded not guilty to the murder charge stemming from a road-rage argument that left 48-year-old Ricky Ziesmer dead from a fatal stab wound.

Holbrook’s attorney, Eric Schweitzer, said the killing was done in self defense.

“Mr. Ziesmer had every advantage. He was bigger, stronger, better armed and fast to hit,” Schweitzer said. “He could have left the scene after delivering the damage he had already dished out, but he didn’t.”

On March 9, Holbrook and Ziesmer were involved in an altercation at a parking lot on Old First Street near the Livermore Cyclery and John’s Char Burger.

Before pulling over, the two exchanged words while driving on First Street in Springtown toward downtown.

Holbrook, a software programmer and the married father of two children, was driving his 2003 Chevy Silverado pickup and Ziesmer was driving a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier owned by his girlfriend, Roshell Morgan of Newark, who was in the passenger seat.

Holbrook told police that Ziesmer started the incident by drifting into his lane several times and nearly colliding with him, according to a probable cause statement filed in court by the Livermore Police Department.

Morgan’s account differs.

She said in an interview with Livermore Patch that Ziesmer merged into a lane on First Street when Holbrook, who was driving behind them, blared his vehicle’s horn.

“(Holbrook) kept screaming that we cut him off,” Morgan said. “Ricky said, ‘I didn’t cut him off. Didn’t he see my blinker?’ ”

During the altercation in the parking lot, Ziesmer punched Holbrook in the face twice, knocking him to the ground, according to the probable cause statement.

In a statement to Livermore Patch, Schweitzer said, “Ziesmer broke Mr. Holbrook’s glasses off of his face with his first unprovoked blow to Mr. Holbrook’s head.”

“That blow was followed by several more, and then Mr. Holbrook was kicked in the belly while on the ground,” Schweitzer said.

Holbrook then pulled himself off the ground as Ziesmer walked away. He reached for his cell phone and attempted to take a picture of Ziesmer to assist police, Schweitzer said.

“Ziesmer sees this, and he becomes more enraged than he was during the first beating,” Schweitzer said. “This is understandable, because had it all ended right there and then, Ziesmer was surely going back to prison for a long time.”

Ziesmer had a criminal 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.

Morgan, 48, said Ziesmer had stopped using methamphetamine recently and was focused on getting his life together so that he could move to Arkansas to be with his mother.

After Holbrook pulled out his cell phone, Ziesmer charged back toward Holbrook, Schweitzer said.

As the confrontation continued, Holbrook reached into his driver’s door compartment, retrieved a dagger and stabbed Ziesmer in the upper chest, according to court records. He also stabbed the driver’s side rear door of Ziesmer’s car in an attempt to prevent him from leaving.

“It is not unlawful to use that knife in self defense, when faced with an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm,” Schweitzer said. “It is entirely possible that Ziesmer meant to kill Mr. Holbrook, and I am sure that it looked that way to Mr. Holbrook at the time…Mr. Holbrook had every right to stand his ground and to defend himself from Mr. Ziesmer.”

Holbrook’s pretrial hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday in Department 703 of the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton.

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