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The Backwards Trial: A George Zimmerman Prosecution Primer

The bizarre trial, in which the prosecution must impeach the police investigation, begins.

by
Mike McDaniel

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June 24, 2013 - 9:34 am
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With an all-female jury seated (five white, one Hispanic) and opening arguments occurring today, understand that not only should the charge against George Zimmerman never have been filed, but that the case is remarkably backwards. The shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, was an unremarkable event — similar self-defense related shootings occur regularly. In virtually all of those cases, the local police do their work, local prosecutors review it, charges are filed or declined, and only local communities are aware of or care about it. Whereas the Trayvon Martin case is an anomaly that reverses all of the conventions and behaviors normally present in the criminal justice system.

With that in mind, a primer about what to expect may be useful.

The “Scheme Team”: Attorneys Benjamin Crump, Natalie Jackson, and Daryl Parks are not only closely aligned with the prosecution, but they have already negotiated one civil settlement with the insurance company representing the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the neighborhood where George Zimmerman lived and served as Neighborhood Watch captain. Crump has been instrumental in engaging the full might of prominent racial-grievance figures, and arguably caused Florida Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to appoint Special Prosecutor Angela Corey to charge Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Crump was also pivotal in encouraging the FBI to investigate Zimmerman for hate crime or civil rights violations.

It was Crump who apparently discovered Witness Eight, “Dee Dee,” Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend who was supposedly on the phone with Martin before he was shot. Crump conducted an interview with her with ABC’s Matt Gutman present, and claimed that her testimony would obliterate Zimmerman’s self-defense claim. His claim would influence the prosecution to charge Zimmerman. He eventually arranged an interview with Dee Dee with deputy prosecutor Bernard0 de la Rionda. Not only was the “Scheme Team” present at that interview, but Martin’s mother was seated next to Dee Dee, an almost unimaginable violation of interview protocol.

The Scheme Team represents Trayvon Martin’s parents, ”those sweet parents” as Corey called them at her press conference in the style of a political victory rally announcing Zimmerman’s arrest. For the time being, they have contented themselves with conducting daily press conferences in the courtroom, but if the trial should not go their way, expect them to further inflame racial tensions.

The Prosecution: Without conducting any new investigation, Corey’s office produced an affidavit that not only failed to produce any probable cause that Zimmerman violated any of the three essential elements of the offense. It was also factually incorrect and withheld vital information of Zimmerman’s innocence. Any attorney or police officer filing an affidavit promises to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This one, filed by special prosecutor investigators T.C. O’Steen and Dale Gilbreath at the direction of de la Rionda and on behalf of Corey, fell far short of the most minimal requirements of the law. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, attorney and commentator Mark Levin, attorney John Hinderaker of Powerline, and other notables took it to task in the harshest terms.

In response, an enraged Corey called the dean of Harvard Law School and, speaking with a representative of the Office of Communications, ranted about Dershowitz for 40 minutes and threatened to sue him and Harvard. Harvard was apparently unimpressed; Dershowitz still teaches there.

Bernie de la Rionda has taken the lead in handling the case. De la Rionda learned no later than August 2, 2012, that Dee Dee committed perjury but, despite multiple requests from the defense over many months, withheld that information until the evening of March 4, 2013, only hours before the matter would be heard in court and he would be forced to divulge the information.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara filed a motion for sanctions against de la Rionda for improperly withholding important evidence, and de la Rionda filed a petulant, angry, and unprofessional response that is a model of improper legal writing. He eventually admitted in court to withholding the evidence, with an excuse of: “I forgot about it.” Despite multiple defense requests, he forgot — for seven months — that his most important witness was a perjurer. Judge Nelson has yet to rule on O’Mara’s motion for sanctions despite de la Rionda’s admission.

Another example of de la Rionda’s malfeasance is his withholding — for many months — of digital color photographs of Zimmerman’s injuries taken immediately after Zimmerman was assaulted by Martin. It’s easy to see why de la Rionda would not want the defense to have those photos — they clearly depict Zimmerman’s badly broken and bleeding nose, and his bruised, lacerated, and bloody face, as well as multiple bloody cuts on the back of his head.

Recently, the IT director for the special prosecutor’s office blew the whistle on de la Rionda’s hiding of evidence from Martin’s cell phone, including photos of stolen jewelry, an image of Martin blowing what appears to be marijuana smoke, and an image of what appears to be Martin holding a handgun.  Discovered in early January 2013, much of that and other evidence was not turned over to the defense until June.

The Defense: Mark O’Mara and Donald West are experienced attorneys who have demonstrated professionalism up until this point in the trial. Normally, it is the defense that tries its case in the court of public opinion, yet in this case it has been the prosecution relying on public opinion and political support to sustain their case.

The Media: The media wasted no time in working with the Scheme Team — their narrative was quickly born and disseminated: Trayvon Martin, 17, was actually a small, slight, innocent scholar with a bright future. On February 26, he was temporarily living with his father in Sanford and walked to a nearby 7-Eleven, where he bought iced tea and Skittles for his little brother. On the way home, he was spotted by Zimmerman, a huge, hulking “white-Hispanic” many times his size who “profiled” Martin and ruthlessly ran him down as Martin fled in fright, desperately trying to reach the safety of his temporary residence.  Zimmerman pursued Martin because he was black and wearing a hoodie, and brutally murdered him without provocation.

For the media, the Zimmerman case fit well with their preferred narrative lines, and they embraced it fully as a too-good-to-check case. However, their bias and lack of professional skepticism quickly blew back at them.

NBC was caught doctoring the call Zimmerman made to the Sanford Police to make Zimmerman appear to be a racist (a civil suit against NBC is on temporary hold during the criminal trial). CNN’s attempt to brand Zimmerman a racist by claiming he called Martin a “coon” during the same phone call also fell flat, and CNN had to retract their story (Zimmerman said that it was “cold”). ABC’s Matt Gutman, who worked closely with Crump, filed a variety of stories, including a story about Zimmerman walking in the halls of the Sanford Police Department without handcuffs. Gutman failed to inform readers that, at the time, Zimmerman was fully cooperating with the Sanford Police and was not under arrest, and like any citizen could enter and walk in the public access halls of any government building.

ABC also provided grainy police surveillance photos purporting to show that Zimmerman suffered no injuries. Clear and unmistakable photos of Zimmerman’s injuries forced them to retract that story as well.

Dee Dee: The young woman known as Dee Dee was represented by Crump and de la Rionda to the court to be a juvenile — a ploy to keep her identity hidden under juvenile privacy laws. However, it was eventually revealed that she was 18 when interviewed by de la Rionda on April 12, 2012. That interview revealed that Dee Dee did not have information that contradicted Zimmerman’s self-defense account, and that she would be a terrible witness. De la Rionda’s questioning of her was inept and appeared to indicate that he had tampered with her testimony, which in many respects made no sense. Dee Dee, by her own admission, knew Martin for many years and would know his habits, his social media posts, and have intimate knowledge of his criminal activities. These are absolutely not things the prosecution would want a jury to hear, yet putting her on the stand would open the door to that, as well as to her perjury regarding her age and her lie that she was so distraught by Martin’s death that she was hospitalized and could not attend his funeral.

The Facts: Normally, the prosecution is the natural ally of the police. Using their investigation — the facts — prosecutors are able to establish all of the elements of the offense and win a conviction. In the Zimmerman case, the prosecution must ignore, try to explain away, or try to construct reasonable doubt about the case of the police — a bizarre state of affairs.

The Sanford Police Department conducted an unbiased and competent investigation, and the local prosecutor, Norm Wolfinger, declined to press charges because all of the evidence supported Zimmerman’s self-defense claim under Florida law, and none contradicted it. Prosecutor investigator Dale Gilbreath admitted this on April 20, 2012.

However, that investigation and its results did not fit the narrative, and so Corey was tasked not with doing justice, but with charging and convicting Zimmerman regardless of the evidence. Corey’s office has never produced the slightest evidence proving that the Sanford Police failed in their duty or exhibited racial bias.

That being the case, what are the grounds for charging Zimmerman with any crime?

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Top Rated Comments   
That being the case, what are the grounds for notcharging these prosecutors with any crime? Or at least filing multiple grounds-for-disbarment lawyer ethics violations with the Florida Bar?

If lawyers won't police their own profession, soon an angry public will demand that a hostile government police it for them. And the result will not be pretty - for the lawyers, that is.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
George Bush might be at fault in setting one of the precedents (not the first one by far).
But this particular case is owned by our Fearless Leader Barack Husein Obama and his imaginary hooded gangsta son, he mentioned in one of his comments about this case.
Buck stops with B.H.O anyway.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
One mistake there, Zimmerman was arrested. He was, however, released that night because the police found no evidence he committed a crime. He was brought into the police station in handcuffs. He was unhandcuffed when leaving because he was not charged with a crime.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (70)
All Comments   (70)
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Have you ever wondered why the elements in this case are unique?
By which I mean where are the other news reports of incidents where a person has been profiled, stalked (by a murderer disobeying the orders of the 911 dispatcher), engineered into a confrontation and murdered by the person who is ultimately responsible for the encounter, because the murderer could have avoided the whole encounter if they had obeyed the 911 dispatcher?
Anyone?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Got to keep that narrative going, no matter how false it is:
1. No evidence of profiling, Zimmerman did not mentions treyvons race until the dispatcher asked. He was concerned about treyvon only bacuse he thought he night be high on drugs (which on later testing turned out to be true)
2. No stalking, orviolation of 911. He followed him at a discreet distance so he could point him out to police, and as soon as 911 told him not to he stopped and returned to his car, at which point treyvon followed him and attacked him.
3. Enginered a confrontation. No evidence for this at all. Zimmerman had com0pletely lost track of treyvon, at which point treyvon found him and attacked him. He never barred treyvons way from peacefully leaving the complex.
4. No murder, zimmerman was pinned to the ground, being beaten, when he fired, clear self defense. Prosecution has zero evidence to contradict this, and zimmerman has evidence to back it up, sich as independent witnesses, and comparisons of injuries (clear injuries due to a beating to zimmerman, no injuries at all for treyvon other than the gunshot, indicating zimmerman never threw any punch at treyvon).

What DOES make this case unique is a routine self defense case was falsely turned into a 2nd degree murder charge, because a bunch of race baiters would not rest until it was, and the FLA gov, being afraid of race riots, with added pressure from Obama, caved.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"No evidence of profiling, Zimmerman did not mentions treyvons race until the dispatcher asked."

True, but in reality, Zimmerman did not mention race, and the police dispatcher asked "Does he look black or Hispanic?" And Zimmerman said "Black, I think."

So Zimmerman was in effect goaded into describing Martin as being black. Any profiling was done by the police dispatcher.

Zimmerman "profiled" Martin as being a possible threat based on the facts that he was no someome who lived in the complex and thus was not recognized and was wearing a hoodie.

I would suspect that any regular resident of the complex who noted Zimmerman following him by car or on foot would have walked over and said "Hi, George! How's it going? What do you think of how the basketball games are going?'" The fact that Martin displayed a wariness of Zimmerman was a "profiling" indication right there.
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
The person who hits hardest -- and hits first -- usually wins. However, not in this case. In this case, Zimmerman got a broken nose. But he also had a gun.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Without the gun, Zimmerman would be the one dead.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
THE STORY THE REPORTERS FORGOT: MARTIN ATTACKED ZIMMERMAN
On Day 1 of the shooting Martin's gf said on TV that Martin knew he was being followed and that he was going to make this guy sorry for following him. This is consistent w/Zimmerman's story about being attacked by Martin.
This "I'm-gonna-get-the-guy-following-me" recording was on TV and has now seemingly disappeared. Even the reporter who put this on TV seems to have forgotten it.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
hello. it is easy in the south when there is a dead black person, to accept the narrative of the sole survivor. why was Zimmerman so far from his vehicle when he murdered Trayvon, if he was not stalking him? turns out he was hunting him. so whom was it really whom acted in self defense? does anyone have a right to take out a gun and murder anyone? especially when you are only getting the snot beat out of you? no matter how Trayvon's character is maligned, has he ever murdered anyone before? who's to say even if he got the gun away, that he would even have fired it? ...let alone, aim to murder? by the way, marijuana stays in someone's bloodstream for weeks after usage, without influencing behavior at all. so what we really have is someone pulling a gun and murdering someone, because he was losing a fist fight... a young someone; by someone whom was stalking and acting suspiciously: perhaps threateningly, nearby to the victim's place of residence. Trayvon was in his own neighborhood. It would concern me to be followed by someone close to where I live. we will never know to what extend Trayvon was provoked, prodded, or threatened into retaliation. we do know that had he been left alone, he would be alive today. when an unarmed person is murdered at point blank range by a gun wielding, self righteous lunatic- how can you allow him to walk freely in society? dead black people in the south must still be at a premium.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the South? In the South? Where did you leave your time machine?

And, by the way, it has a defect, it landed you in a parallel universe. In this universe, having your head repeatedly pounded against the pavement can kill you. So can "getting the snot beat out of you".
42 weeks ago
42 weeks ago Link To Comment
He was out of his car because it was night and Martin was walking between houses and thus could not be observed from a car.

And when a security guard - as the community considered Martin to be - follows a person WHO DOES NOT LIVE THERE (that was not Martin's neighborhood), that is not "stalking."

Now, how many cases have there been where Zimmerman beat someone up? Zip!

How many cases have there been where Martin got into a fight? MULTIPLE! The reason he was VISITING Sanford was that he had been KICKED OUT OF SCHOOL for fighting!


43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, to be on that jury and be that last check against government misconduct.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
A very good summary and analysis and some good comments here. I listened to the defense’s opening statement yesterday – carried on a local radio station and as a result I now un-misunderstand some facts. Also, there are some other developments not mentioned in this piece.

1. Mr. Zimmerman was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car after he admitted to shooting Martin. This was a normal “officer protection” procedure following such a shooting, not due to an arrest. He was then taken to the police station and questioned.

2. The State attempted to use the testimonies of two “experts” who claimed that the “Help!” cries heard over the 911 phone call were from Trayvon Martin rather that George Zimmerman. Multiple other experts described the analysis of the State experts as being wrong and not employing recognized techniques and so the testimony of the State experts was disallowed by the judge. Even a local TV legal analyst described the State experts as having been proved inept.

3. Very soon after the shooting Trayvon Martin’s father said he son was shot “only a few hundred feet away from home.” In reality, Trayvon Martin was not at home. His father was visiting a female friend in the housing complex. Home for Trayvon Martin was in Miami, not Sanford, and he was not in Miami because he had been kicked out of school due to acts of violence. There was no reason to expect George Zimmerman or most of the people in the complex to recognize Trayvon Martin.

4. George Zimmerman only shot Martin once. If he simply had been enraged over a black intruder I would think he would have emptied the magazine. It is a pity Mr. Zimmerman did not say that Martin attacked him – as witnesses support - and that then the gun went off by accident during the struggle, just like in the movies. But George Zimmerman was honest about what occurred.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for this very good summary.

Two quick points:
1. Mark Levin is also a former AUSA. I believe he was a colleague of Andy McCarthy at SDNY.
2. While police and prosecutors may not hide exculpatory evidence, an affidavit is only a demonstration that the affiant has probable cause (50.1% or greater) to believe that a certain crime has been committed. In my experience affidavits usually include a boiler plate statement such as, “this affidavit does not contain all evidence collected in the investigation but merely such evidence sufficient to establish probable cause”.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The accusers are guilty. That's about it. The only racists here are the left accusing everyone of racism.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Several prospective jurors expressed fear that a “not guilty” verdict would result in riots, or put their families and themselves in danger.

If I were black, I would be ashamed that this is even a reasonable possibility.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"five white, one Hispanic"

Language like this plays into the left's scheme to cast Hispanic/Latino as a distinct race, complete with a pre-packaged set of grievances against other racial groups.

The term Hispanic describes a CULTURE, not a racial category.

If it were me, I would not even mention this woman's heritage. The other 5 women on this jury are unlikely to descend from the same immigrant population. One might be of German descent, another French, another Irish. Most are probably descended from many different groups. Yet all are described as being "white." Why? Because they are Americans....just like our Hispanic juror.

Singling out individuals of Hispanic descent for special notice creates and perpetuates the imaginary notion that they are somehow different from everyone else.

This is destructive to our republic.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh come now! Only someone utterly unaware of the early aspects of this case could make such a comment.

Early on, Zimmerman was described as "White." Then when his ancestral heritage was shown to be mainly Hispanic he was then described as a "White Hispanic" in an attempt by the race hustlers to maintain the "White on Black" aspects.

Given all that, it is quite natural that the jurors would be descibed as "White" or "Hispanic."
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hispanic isn't a culture even. A category that includes Cubans, along with Puerto Ricans , Brazilians and Mexicans does not describe any logical grouping of people whatsoever.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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