The Backwards Trial: After Two Bizarre Weeks, Zimmerman Prosecution Rests
The astounding details of how a prosecution appeared to establish reasonable doubt.
July 8, 2013 - 9:54 am
Bao testified that he originally thought that Martin might have been alive for one to three minutes after being shot, and would have been entirely unable to move. Now, he thought the time frame to be from one to ten minutes, and wasn’t sure if Martin could have moved or not.
Bao’s earlier conclusion was that the amount of THC (marijuana) in Martin’s blood would have had no physical or mental effects. His new conclusion was that there might have been mental effects, but he phrased it oddly.
Another amazing admission was that Bao had done independent research on these issues and written his own set of notes — notes not in any official records — which he brought to court and began to testify from, an extraordinary and dumbfounding thing by itself. West, of course, asked to see them, and Bao was very reluctant to allow that, or to allow the court, at Nelson’s order, to copy and disseminate them to the prosecution and defense.
Nelson bizarrely ruled that after they were used in court, the copies would be destroyed.
It’s hard to imagine what she was thinking. Any such notes brought into court and used in testimony are automatically fair game and must be provided to both sides. In addition, they must be entered into the trial record, particularly in case of appeal. She did eventually relent and they were entered into evidence.
At the conclusion of Bao’s destructive testimony, the prosecution rested its case, leading to a motion by the defense, as expected, for a directed verdict. Also as expected, the defense argued the law, the evidence, and precedents. The prosecution, in a loud and hysterically emotional manner, argued “The Narrative.”
The prosecution engaged in misrepresentation of evidence and outright falsehoods. Prosecutor Rich Mantei claimed that four separate witnesses testified that Zimmerman pursued Martin. In fact, only one witness — Selene Bahadoor — testified that she saw light or shadows moving from “left to right,” and her testimony appeared for the first time in court. Mantei also repeated, at every possible opportunity, that Martin was shot in the heart, and every possible variation of that. He implied that Zimmerman took careful aim, intending to shoot Martin directly in the heart (there is no evidence of that whatsoever).
The prosecution’s case ended with nothing but conjecture and supposition to disprove Zimmerman’s self-defense claim. As to Zimmerman’s depraved mind, Mantei had nothing more to suggest than the idea that merely shooting someone is prima facie evidence of ill will, hatred, and a depraved mind. This is an outrageous misstatement of the law. If this were true, there could be no such thing as self-defense, for any shooting regardless of the circumstances must be murder. And this was offered up as proof of the elements of the crime.
The prosecution rested and Judge Nelson demanded the defense begin their case immediately. The first defense witness, Gladys Zimmerman — George Zimmerman’s mother — identified the screaming voice as belonging to George.
The most compelling witness was Jorge Meza, George Zimmerman’s uncle. He retired from the Army as a command sergeant major, a rank few ever reach, and became a deputy sheriff — a job he still holds — to continue to serve. His commanding presence hasn’t diminished in the least. An extraordinary aspect of Meza’s testimony is how he first heard the Lauer 911 recording. He was aware of Zimmerman’s involvement in a shooting, but knew little else, and was determined to stay completely out of it. One night he was working at his computer, his TV behind him. His wife was watching the news, and the Lauer recording was played. Upon hearing the screams for help, Meza immediately said “that’s George,” and asked his wife what was on TV. He learned that it was the Lauer recording. “I felt the screams in my heart,” he said. The jury doubtless took this to heart as well.
With that, the trial ended for the week. Even the New York Times admitted that the prosecution’s witnesses aided the defense.
Two weeks of prosecution witnesses ended without the prosecution proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, the three elements of the offense. As they previously offered no probable cause to prove those elements in the affidavit for the charge, this is hardly surprising. In the many months between Zimmerman’s arrest and trial, the prosecution could find no new evidence to demonstrate that the decision of the Sanford police and the local prosecutor to file no charge was wrong. The prosecution was also unable to prove beyond any doubt that Zimmerman’s self-defense account was unsupportable. In fact, most of their witnesses supported it, either fully or in part.
For readers unfamiliar with the workings of the law and the criminal justice system, it’s difficult to explain how utterly amazing and bizarre this is.
As I’ve previously written, it’s as though the entire system suddenly flipped backwards. For a prosecutor to complete his case and to be unable to disprove self-defense, offering nothing but theories unsupported by any credible evidence, and for a prosecutor to be unable to offer evidence to fulfill the elements of the offense is simply astonishing.
It demonstrates yet again: this case should never have been filed.
As bad as the prosecution’s case has been, it can only get worse for them in the next few weeks as the defense goes on offense.