The Backwards Trial: A George Zimmerman Prosecution Primer
The facts of the case are simple. On a cold, rainy evening, George Zimmerman was leaving his neighborhood to shop for groceries when he spotted Trayvon Martin in the gated neighborhood, a neighborhood that had recently been plagued by thefts and burglaries, most committed by young black men. He did not recognize him as a resident. Because Martin was wearing a hoodie, Zimmerman only became aware of his race later when Martin approached his vehicle, and only mentioned his race in response to a dispatcher’s question.
Martin appeared to be under the influence of drugs to Zimmerman, and rather than walking with purpose to get out of the rain, Martin appeared to be casing the area. Zimmerman didn’t know it at the time, but Martin was under the influence of marijuana -- it would be found in his blood. Zimmerman called the police and asked for officers to speak with Martin to see who he was and what he was doing, and the dispatcher asked Zimmerman to keep telling him what Martin was doing.
After approaching Zimmerman and circling his vehicle menacingly, Martin ran off between two long rows of homes. Zimmerman told the dispatcher Martin was running, and tried to get to a position where he could see Martin to direct the police he believed to be on the way and due to arrive at any minute. By the time he was able to leave his vehicle, Martin was long gone, and Zimmerman told the dispatcher he had lost him and was returning to his vehicle to meet the officers.
Zimmerman hung up, and within seconds was approached by Martin, who punched Zimmerman in the nose and took him to the ground. Martin repeatedly pounded his head into the concrete sidewalk while Zimmerman screamed for help. This was seen and heard by multiple witnesses, and recorded – poorly -- by the police as a witness called 911.
Stunned, helpless, and afraid for his life, Zimmerman drew his 9mm handgun and fired one round into Martin’s torso at near-muzzle contact range. Martin sat up and Zimmerman was able to get away from him.
The police arrived within seconds and Zimmerman cooperated fully with them. Their photographs, observations, and collected evidence -- recorded in their reports -- fully supported Zimmerman’s account. Zimmerman continued to fully cooperate with the police, including taking and passing two-voice stress tests (a sort of lie detector), and participating in a videotaped walkthrough of the events of that night with them.
There is no question that if Martin wanted to be in his temporary home, out of the rain and out of sight of Zimmerman, he had more than enough time. However, he chose to hide and lay in wait for Zimmerman, a man who thought he had lost track of Martin. Martin was not a slight child, but a lean and muscular 5’11” and 158 pounds -- substantially taller than Zimmerman.
But why would a young man like Martin attack Zimmerman? Martin was a teenager on a fast track to trouble. His social media presence shows a young man immersed in thug culture. He tried to obtain guns, and often wrote about drug use, which explains the narrative’s constant repetition that Martin was carrying tea and skittles when shot. He was not. He was carrying a watermelon-flavored drink and Skittles, two of the three ingredients, along with Robitussin cough syrup, of a drug concoction know as “Lean” or “Purple Drank.” Martin often wrote about using that concoction, and about smoking “blunts,” hollowed-out cheap cigars filled with marijuana. There is evidence that Martin bought a blunt at the 7-Eleven he visited about 45 minutes before his attack on Zimmerman. Martin was caught at school with stolen property -- women’s jewelry -- and had been suspended from school multiple times. The most recent suspension of ten days put Martin with his father in Sanford.
As for Zimmerman’s racism, the FBI’s investigation not only found no evidence of racism, but quite the opposite. When a relative of a Sanford Police officer beat a black homeless man, his tireless advocate was none other than George Zimmerman.
Judge Nelson: Judge Debra Nelson replaced the earlier judge, removed for obvious bias against Zimmerman. Judge Nelson would quickly prove herself no slouch at anti-Zimmerman bias. Her rulings have unmistakably favored the prosecution. Among the most egregious example of that bias has been her treatment of Crump.
Nelson initially allowed O’Mara to depose Crump, but before the deposition could be done, Crump submitted an affidavit instead, and Nelson accepted it over O’Mara’s objections and canceled the deposition. O’Mara was soon able to provide evidence that Crump was untruthful in the affidavit, but Nelson would not allow a deposition. O’Mara filed a motion with a higher court that overturned Nelson’s decision. Unfortunately, this occurred so late in the process that Crump has not yet been deposed and likely will not be before the trial begins.
Nelson has refused to rule on the multiple motions for sanctions against de la Rionda, saying only that she’ll handle them after the trial. This of course gives the prosecution the ability to continue to withhold discovery.
Nelson’s rulings, on balance, have hampered the defense and assisted the prosecution, and she shows no tendency toward balance as the case goes to trial.
What To Expect: As the trial begins, the defense will rely on the police and their investigation -- on the facts -- and the law. Expect them to move for dismissal at the beginning of the trial, and multiple times during the trial. In an unbiased court, this case would never have been filed. No rational judge would have issued an arrest warrant based on such a badly flawed and inadequate affidavit, and no professional judge would have allowed it to continue.
Zimmerman’s self-defense argument is supported by all the evidence and is not contradicted by any competent evidence. The prosecutor will be put in the unenviable position of arguing against the police, the evidence, and the law. Their case is the narrative, a provably false tale of race and hatred grounded only in a desire to inflame racial passions.
Do not expect Zimmerman to testify. The facts, including his videotaped reenactment of the events, will speak for him. Also expect the defense to produce highly qualified, impressive, and believable scientific witnesses. Expect the prosecution to produce poorly qualified, confusing, and easily impeachable scientific witnesses (particularly expect Judge Nelson to allow such incompetents to testify for the prosecution).
Expect the defense to be calm, steady, professional and trustworthy. Expect the prosecution to be angry, arrogant, and -- if their pre-trial demeanor is any guide -- to take considerable liberty with the facts and the truth. Expect them to defend the narrative with all their might; it is their case.
The narrative remains. Several prospective jurors expressed fear that a “not guilty” verdict would result in riots, or put their families and themselves in danger. Despite evidence of growing public boredom with the case, this is not an unreasonable fear.
Should Zimmerman be convicted, expect the case to be overturned on appeal due to prosecutorial misconduct, and to multiple and egregious instances of reversible error by Judge Nelson. There is reason to believe that the appeals court is carefully watching this case. Even so, expect Judge Nelson to do all she can to assist the prosecution and to hamper the defense, and to help the Scheme Team.
Regardless of the outcome, there will be no winners at the conclusion.