Road Rage Killing: Defendant Feared For His Life

Detective's testimony recaps Livermore man's account of March 9 road rage incident.

feared for his life.

That's according to a police detective who testified Monday at a preliminary hearing for the of .

"I didn't want it to go down that way," Holbrook said in a report provided by Detective Marco Esquivel. "I didn't have any choice."

Holbrook, 42, and his attorney, Eric Schweitzer, have said the was done in self-defense.

, Ziesmer's girlfriend and the primary witness in the case, testified , saying that .

Esquivel provided details on his investigation after being questioned by Schweitzer and Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Connie Campbell.

The police department's investigation says Ziesmer, 48, suffered a cut to his left wrist and was stabbed in the left side of his chest and his back.

Esquivel described the knife as a push, punch or fist knife about 5 inches long. Officials previously described the weapon Holbrook used as being in a "T" shape.

The detective's report, which Schweitzer highlighted portions of in court, provides Holbrook's account of what happened.

Holbrook, married and a father of two, told Esquivel that while he was driving in Springtown, Ziesmer cut in front of him without using a signal. The two got into an argument and Ziesmer attempted to use the vehicle he was driving as a battering ram to hit Holbrook, according to Esquivel's report.

Monday's testimony also provided details of the 911 call Holbrook made shortly after he stabbed Ziesmer, who drove away to seek medical help at a hospital.

In recounting what he heard on the 911 tape of the call, Esquivel says Holbrook told an operator that someone tried to run him off the road three times. In addition, Holbrook told police that he decided to pull over at the parking lot on First Street because he feared others would get hurt if the incident continued in downtown.

When the two pulled over, Holbrook said he was "bum rushed" and struck by Ziesmer in the head shortly after he exited his truck.

Esquivel's recap of an interview with Holbrook is similar to what Schweitzer previously told Livermore Patch:

  • Holbrook took a beating and was knocked to the ground;
  • He got up and attempted to use his cell phone to take a picture of his attacker;
  • An enraged Ziesmer rushed back at Holbrook, who then reached for a knife and stabbed him.

For further details on the .

Holbrook, who was dressed in a yellow inmate suit during his court appearance, kept his head down when his attorney and Esquivel reviewed details of the fight, which left Holbrook's face covered with cuts and bruises.

After the preliminary hearing, which likely will be finished Tuesday, the judge will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to hold a trial.

Trevor Tooze October 04, 2011 at 05:09 AM
DMG, I agree with you 100%. Well said.
Ru4reel October 04, 2011 at 09:32 AM
You are absolutely correct when you say "over kill." Does anyone have the right to kill you because they don't like the way you drive and specifically change lanes? If he was in fear for his life why did he stay there and try to keep the victim and the passenger in the car at the scene? People that are afraid of someone or something try to escape not try to keep what they are afraid there with them...I just don't buy the fear factor in this case.
RU11550 October 07, 2011 at 04:55 AM
This is why you call the police when you have an issue, because you never know who the other person is or what they are capable of these days. So many opportunities missed that could have avoided this!!
Martin Lassen March 25, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I worked with Cort Holbrook at Ciena Corporation and NEVER knew him to be anyone but honest and compassionate. When a fellow co-worker was dying from a serious medical condition, Cort was the first to step-up and offer assistance in any way possible. I consider Cort to be a person of even temper; meaning, he would not act in anger unless legimately provoked. If the same circumstances applied to me, I would have used any tool at my disposal considering the surroundings (a broken piece of glass, a rock, a chair, or a knife) to protect myself and my life. Cort's facial bruises and scrapes are quite telling. Cort's attorney knows who I am and how to contact me. I have offered to testify on Cort's behalf as a character witness at his trial.
Steve March 02, 2013 at 06:34 PM
Now wait a minute... it seems the defendant was still held in jail in October 2011, 7 months after the incident. Why is that? And the trial is just starting now. Has he been in jail the entire time? If yes, that is absolutely catastrophic. If the guy is acquitted, he will still have two years (or more) of his life taken away.


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