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The State of Florida vs George Zimmerman: The Trial

 
 
firefly
 
Reply Mon 24 Jun, 2013 10:30 pm
Well, the Zimmerman trial began today.

Quote:
Zimmerman opening statements: Expletives and a knock-knock joke
By Graham Winch and Amanda Sloane, HLNTV.com
Mon June 24, 2013

(CNN) -- A prosecuting attorney greeted the jury in the George Zimmerman trial Monday with a quote full of expletives, while his adversary decided it was appropriate to tell jurors a knock-knock joke.

And that was just the beginning of opening statements in Zimmerman's long-anticipated murder trial.

In a case that has ignited national debate about gun laws and race relations, Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, is accused of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida.

Prosecutor John Guy's first words to the six-woman jury may have raised a few eyebrows.

"Good morning. 'F*****g punks, these a******s all get away,'" Guy quoted Zimmerman. "These were the words in this grown man's mouth as he followed this boy that he didn't know. Those were his words, not mine."

Zimmerman, Guy said, "got out of his car with a pistol and two flashlights to follow Trayvon Benjamin Martin, who was walking home from a 7-Eleven, armed" with a fruit drink and a bag of candy. Eventually the two became entangled on the ground in a fight. A witness has said Martin was on top of Zimmerman, Guy said.

"The defendant claims that while Trayvon Martin was on top of him, he said, 'you are going to die tonight,'" said Guy. "Nobody heard that."

Guy told jurors that no witnesses saw what happened the night of the shooting from beginning to end. Witnesses only saw "slices" of what happened, he said.

"We are confident that at the end of this trial you will know in your head, in your heart, in your stomach that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to," Guy said. "He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to."

In the first day of testimony, jurors heard witnesses recount Martin's trip to the convenience store, Zimmerman's call complaining about a suspicious person walking through his neighborhood before Martin's killing, and a call from the previous August, in which Zimmerman reported an alleged burglary to police.

Proceedings ended for the day when defense attorney Mark O'Mara objected to the earlier call, which prosecutors argued was necessary to explain Zimmerman's remark about burglars who "get away."

The Martin family sat watching the proceedings behind State Attorney Angela Corey. Before witness testimony began, Judge Debra Nelson denied a defense request that Martin's father, Tracy Martin, leave the courtroom.

Tracy Martin is a potential witness, and potential witnesses can be forced to sit outside of the courtroom to keep their testimony from being tainted by other witnesses. But the next-of-kin of victims are allowed to remain in court even if they're expected to testify.

O'Mara also accused Tracy Martin of using an obscenity toward a friend of Zimmerman's while holding the door for him during a hearing two weeks ago. The friend, Timothy Tucholski, testified that he hadn't wanted to make an issue of it before.

"I wasn't planning on coming up here. I don't want to be sitting here," he said.

But Nelson denied the request, and Martin remained in court -- but Zimmerman's parents were covered by the rule regarding potential witnesses and had to sit outside, as did Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Martin's parents.

At one point, Martin's father began crying as Guy detailed how officers tried to save his son's life. Zimmerman has mostly stared straight ahead without any signs of emotion.

Following Guy's statement, defense attorney Don West came forward to woo the jury. As he began, he told a knock-knock joke. But it failed to win a laugh. "Knock knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? Good, you're on the jury," he said. Later, West apologized. "No more bad jokes, I promise that," he told jurors. "I was convinced it was the delivery."

West quickly got on with the business of making his case: that Zimmerman was forced to act in self-defense to save his own life

"The evidence will show this is a sad case; no monsters here. ... George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. He shot Trayvon Martin after he was viciously attacked."

With the help of PowerPoint visuals, West spent hours hammering home his argument.

He broke down Zimmerman's 911 call in which he first reported seeing Martin and told about following him.

"Little did George Zimmerman know at the time in less than 10 minutes from him first seeing Travyon Martin that he, George Zimmerman, would be suckered punched in the face, have his head pounded on concrete and wind up shooting and tragically killing Trayvon Martin," West told jurors.

West also deconstructed a 911 call a neighbor made, in which it is possible to hear screams and a shot in the background that West said was the sound of the fatal bullet.

As the dramatic recording audio filled the courtroom, Zimmerman showed no emotion. Martin's mother left the courtroom.

"At the moment this actually became physical was that Trayvon Martin -- I will use my words -- that Trayvon Martin decided to confront George Zimmerman," West said. "That instead of going home. He had plenty of time. This is, what, 60 or 70 yards. Plenty of time. He could of gone back and forth four or five times."

West quoted a witness named John Good who described the fight. "He called it a 'ground and pound' by Martin, who he said was on top of Zimmerman, beating him."

"He saw enough that this was serious," West said. Zimmerman cried out for help, looked at Good and said, "help me." But the beating continued while Good went inside his home to call 911, West said.

There was a shot. Shortly afterward, according to West, Zimmerman said Martin "was beating me up, and I shot him."

West also disputed the prosecution's claim that Martin was unarmed.

"Travyon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman's head," said West. "No different than if he picked up a brick or smashed his head against a wall. That is a deadly weapon."

West showed jurors photos taken of Zimmerman after the fight. "What you can really see in these pictures that you will have in evidence are the lumps," West said. "The big knots on each side of his head. Consistent with having his head slammed into concrete."

Among the first prosecution witnessed called was the 911 dispatcher who took Zimmerman's call before the shooting. Seat Noffke testified that he was trained to give general commands instead of direct orders to people.

When Zimmerman said he was following Martin, Noffke told him, "Okay we don't need you to do that." Noffke told the prosecutor he's liable for any direct orders he gives someone.

On cross-examination, defense attorney O'Mara pointed out that Noffke asked Zimmerman, "Which way is he running?"

"If you tell somebody twice to let you know if the person that they're concerned about is doing anything else -- do you think they're going to keep their eye on them?" asked O'Mara.

"I can't answer that," said Noffke.

"You did tell him twice to let you know if that guy did anything else," said O'Mara.

"Yes sir," said Noffke.

Noffke went on to say he only wanted a location of the suspect for officers and that he never told Zimmerman to follow or keep his eye on Martin.

Shortly before court got under way, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, spoke to reporters, asking people to "pray for me and my family because I don't want any other mother to experience what I'm going through now."

Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

In a CNN poll released Monday morning, 62% of respondents say the charges against Zimmerman are probably or definitely true.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/24/justice/zimmerman-trial


I felt the prosecutor gave a passionate, tight, well organized, well delivered, opening statement that clearly laid out the state's case.

The defense attorney, Don West, did start with that unfortunate knock-knock joke, and then went on to deliver a very long opening statement--I think it was almost 3 hours long--it was so long, I just stopped listening after a while. I hope the jury was better able to maintain their attention than I was. I fail to see why it took so long for the defense to lay out their case.

The other defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, did a much better job for the defense in his cross-examination of the police dispatcher who took Zimmerman's call, carefully trying to raise the possibility that Zimmerman followed Martin in an attempt to give the dispatcher needed information, despite the fact that the dispatcher had told him that was not necessary..

Testimony of the first few witnesses went fairly quickly. This may not be such a long drawn-out trial. It will be interesting to see if Zimmerman takes the stand.

Anyone else watching the trial? Any comments on Day 1?
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firefly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jun, 2013 10:59 pm
On the HLN Web site they took a vote...
Quote:

Zimmerman trial: Who did a better job with opening statements?
June 24, 2013
83% State
17% Defense

The vote was 167 for the state, and 25 for the defense.
http://www.hlntv.com/poll/2013/06/24/zimmerman-trial-who-did-better-job-opening-statements/results


I'd have to agree with that. The state just made a clearer, tighter, better organized, presentation.

You can see some video clips of what went on in court today here
http://www.hlntv.com/clusters/george-zimmerman-trial
0 Replies
 
RABEL222
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 12:35 am
bump
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 06:00 am
Couldn't believe that knock knock joke. It was so insensitive with one young man dead, his parents sitting in the court room and the other on trail for murder. It didn't go over well, and rightfully so.

They're supposed to make a decision on whether to allow for Zimmerman's other 911 calls where he apparently had suspicions of another black man.
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 06:59 am
@revelette,
I thought the knock knock joke was silly, but not offensive, just a recognition of how hard it was to select a jury. I'm not really following the trial other than to read an article or two the day after, but I think Zimmerman walks. Sure, he armed himself and went after a kid for no reason, but in the end, he was getting pummelled (with witnesses) and defended himself. Maybe Martin felt he was in danger when an armed bigot approached him on the street, but he's dead and can't testify.
gungasnake
 
  -2  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 07:18 am
@revelette,
Quote:
Couldn't believe that knock knock joke. It was so insensitive with one young man dead, his parents sitting in the court room and the other on trail for murder. It didn't go over well, and rightfully so.


The kid's parents are the first two people I'd want to execute if I were on that jury. But I'd probably have started off talking about fairytales and not jokes.

The defense is serving up an entire collection of fairytales, including the idea that "Profiling(TM)" a kid who looked entirely like the perpetrators of seven or eight recent burglaries in that neighborhood, was somehow or other "unreasonable" or that giving voice to thoughts like

Quote:
******* punks, these assholes always get away...


under those same circumstances was unreasonable or somehow marked Zimmerman as a bigoted lunatic.

If I'm the parent of ANY black teenager in that neighborhood, I would very carefully explain the reality of that situation to him and insist that he not

  • Dress like a punk/gangsta
  • Look like a punk/gangsta
  • Act like a punk/gangsta in any way
  • Think like a punk/gangsta (walk around in the rain in a slow/detached manner as if scoping the neighborhood for a burglary)


And if I were providing the roof over such a kid's head, I'd tell him that any violation of one of those list items, and he'd be out on the street.
parados
 
  3  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 08:03 am
@gungasnake,
America, the home of the free. (Unless you are someone that gunga doesn't think should have the same freedom he has.)
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 08:37 am
@engineer,
I think it was more than silly, but I guess everyone has their own take on things. I have read some of those witnesses accounts, most of them don't make a whole lot of sense.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 09:05 am
@parados,
If Martin's "Parents(TM)" had done as I mentioned that I'd have done, the kid would most likely still be alive. How does that make me into some sort of a villain, Paradork?
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  3  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 09:58 am
@gungasnake,
Quote:
******* punks, these assholes always get away...


The prosecution began their opening statement with that quote from Zimmerman to establish his mindset--and the extent of his anger toward Martin even before any confrontation took place.

The state is not contending that Zimmerman is a "bigoted lunatic"--they are contending he was very angry about those, "******* punks, these assholes..., " who did commit crimes in that area. They are not mentioning race, and they are not saying Zimmerman's anger about the crimes in the area was unreasonable.

But they are establishing Zimmerman's emotional state toward Martin, before any confrontation took place--and the fact that his anger wasn't related to anything Martin was actually doing to justify that anger.

In other words, they are building their case for second degree murder.

And they are using evidence--like Zimmerman's own angry words--to do that.

Could we, please, just discuss the trial progress in this thread, gunga? Zimmerman doesn't need you to defend him in this thread--he's got two lawyers doing that for him in a courtroom right now. Let's talk about how those lawyers are doing.

So far, how do you think the defense is doing in cross-examining the state's witnesses?
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 12:42 pm
@firefly,
After the explosions so to speak yesterday, today, so far, has been pretty hum drum. Going through these witnesses pretty quickly. My take on it, I would say the neighborhood watch coordinator went to the defense and the other retired guy went to the prosecutor, the officer just basically went to the prosecutor without much input from the defense.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 12:47 pm
@firefly,
Just keeping tabs.
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 04:06 pm
@revelette,
It is moving along quickly, isn't it. That's making it one of the least tedious trials I've watched in a long time.

The defense has been good at trying to get something useful to themselves from the state's witnesses so far. And none of the cross-examination has been really contentious. The atmosphere in the courtroom is rather calm and not at all unpleasant, except, of course, for the families, they must find this very difficult, all of it.

It has been rather hum drum today, but not boring. I've had it on in the background while I'm doing other things.

I do think Zimmerman's significant weight gain since the time of the shooting might affect the defense efforts to portray him as the physically weaker party during the altercation, because he certainly looks sturdy now. I'm curious how both sides will handle that when they address the actual altercation.

0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  0  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 08:14 pm
http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/06/zimmerman-trial-day-2-analysis-of-states-witnesses/

Quote:
Posted by Andrew Branca Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 9:04pm

Today can only be characterized as an utter debacle for the prosecution in Florida v. Zimmerman. Besides the testimony of a couple of highly professional law enforcement witnesses, the testimony of the the other State witnesses ranged from signing George Zimmerman’s praises, to acknowledging the utility of following a suspicious person from a distance, to being utterly discredited by razor sharp cross-examination of the defense.

Before we even get to the disaster that was the State’s witnesses, however, we first have to discuss this morning’s hearing and the extent to which it evanescent is the State’s case against George Zimmerman.....





ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 08:17 pm
@gungasnake,
What is Mr. Branca's mother tongue?
gungasnake
 
  0  
Reply Tue 25 Jun, 2013 09:20 pm
@ehBeth,
No idea, but I'd guess it wasn't English.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jun, 2013 05:24 am
... bump
0 Replies
 
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jun, 2013 06:43 am
I have to admit that the defense did a good job with Bahadoor. However, I don't think any of the testimony is going to erase the images of Trayvon Martin's body after he was killed. The defense went a long time going through Zimmerman's lumps and bumps on his head, wasn't the same impact. It really didn't look like he was sucker punched or his head smashed repeatedly against the sidewalk.

firefly
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jun, 2013 07:26 am
@revelette,
Quote:
I don't think any of the testimony is going to erase the images of Trayvon Martin's body after he was killed. The defense went a long time going through Zimmerman's lumps and bumps on his head, wasn't the same impact.

I was surprised that the state introduced the pictures of Martin's body so early in the witness testimony, but I think it was a very effective move--they reminded the jury what the trial is about, which is that dead kid, and the photos provided emotional impact for testimony which might otherwise have been somewhat cut and dry. And the photos of Martin's hands showed no evidence that they had just been used to beat someone, so that begins to chip away at Zimmerman's version of events.

The defense had to use photos of Zimmerman to establish that he did show evidence of injuries. But they couldn't compete with the photos of Martin, in terms of emotional impact, nor were they intended to. At this point, all they were doing was trying to balance out the state's presentation in the mind of the jury.

Clearly, the issue of the rain that night is going to be a factor in the defense case--they will assert that the rain might have washed off Zimmerman's blood, DNA, etc. from Martin's body and from the sidewalk. And they'll likely argue that the crime scene was not well preserved. So evidence which might support Zimmerman was lost, and the lack of such evidence doesn't mean he lied. They seem to be setting the stage for all of that.

Onto Day 3....
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  0  
Reply Wed 26 Jun, 2013 07:36 am
@revelette,
Quote:
It really didn't look like he was sucker punched or his head smashed repeatedly against the sidewalk.


http://www.foreyes.com/

http://www.foreyes.com/images/ForEyes-Old-Logo-150px.jpg
0 Replies
 
 

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