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Road Rage Killing: Victim Had Drug Record

Defense strategy of Livermore man charged with murder may depend on toxicology reports of dead Fremont man.

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.

Ryan Hedrik February 09, 2013 at 04:57 AM
Rick is my uncle .. He was with me 1 week before his tragedy .. Rick came a long way in his kife and has been through the ringer .. For you who think he was in jail because of previous drug charges you are all wrong you all think you know him but unless you are a family member or some one close to him then yiu wouldnt know the truth .. If you heater d the real story then you wouodnt be so quick to judge .. My uncle was the most loving caring man you had ever met and if you got in his way or hurt his family well you were on the wrong side of the fence because he was a man and a man of his word ! I dont understand how you get in a good old fashioned fist fight and you clearly get your ass whooped and go about your way every dog has his day .. but instead this guy Holbrook took it upon his self to stab him then chase the car down and stab him and the car repeatedly ** doesnt sound like self defense no way no how ** we have all heard the story and thise who know Ricky were sick about it all .. but Ricky is in peace he loved his family and he died loving his family ! HE IS IN HEAVEN AND STILL IN OUR HEARTS !! As far as justice I know first hand and am keeping taBs on the trial and his trial is and has been post poned several times ! Justice will be soon ..
The Real Anon March 21, 2013 at 06:03 PM
You're misinformed, Holbrook did not willingly enter a fistfight, he pulled over to confront Ziesmer about his reckless driving and then Ziesmer assaulted him. That isn't mutual combat, its an assault, the same as if you were talking to any other person who suddenly punched you in the face. Then when Holbrook attempted to take a picture of the car Ziesmer was driving, with the intention to report to the police, Ziesmer charged him while yelling a death threat. It is those facts - the assault by Ziesmer, and the second assault and death threat by Ziesmer, that led Holbrook to fear for his life and to grab a LEGAL knife from the little pocket of the drivers door of his car and use it to defend himself when Ziesmer finished his charge (at the door of the car, not halfway across the parking lot or at Ziesmer's car...at the door of Holbrook's car. Do you understand how the physical placement of all this operates? Ziesmer was the aggressor.
Albert Rubio March 22, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Anon, Are these facts public record at the time of this article? are they today? where? Do you personally know Holbrook? >"he pulled over to confront Ziesmer about his reckless driving" This is part of what is in dispute. It is not easy to tell the real motive but anger is certainly believable. > the same as if you were talking to any other person who suddenly punched you in the face. It could be the same, or not. "Ziesmer exchanged words with Holbrook and the two pulled into a parking lot off Old First Street downtown near the Livermore Cyclery and John's Char Burger." - another article Clearly he already verbally confronted him about his driving, Holbrook did not need to pull into a parking lot and confront him again. It was ill advised wouldn't you agree? I think the situation was not premeditated, but it just kept being escalated by both parties, driven by rage. It is a textbook road rage on both parts. I don't yet see any real evidence to the contrary. Of course I could be wrong but it has to be demonstrated in court. When is this going to trial?
mona fredrick March 22, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Hi Albert, The trial just ended and I was there for a lot of it. Holbrook said in court he pulled over first and they did have "words" on the road before that.. Yes he could have kept driving.
Albert Rubio March 23, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Wow... looking for articles on the outcome. You could have spoiled it for me ;-)

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