Zimmerman: The State's Failure to Humanize Trayvon Martin

The mistakes of the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial began with overcharging Zimmerman with second degree murder. But they went far beyond that. USA Today has a new article, Experts: Prosecutors Failed to Humanize Trayvon Martin.

While the state played the emotion card hard in closing, there was a disconnect and the jury wasn't swayed by it. Why? Because one thing the jury never got to hear was the story of who is Trayvon Martin? He was never personalized or humanized.

What many may not realize is that this was a strategic decision the state made, not an unintentional omission. The defense had let the prosecution know that once the state introduced evidence of Trayvon Martin's good character, the floodgates would open and it was ready with an avalanche of text messages, photos, videos, school records and more to fight back. While I have no intention of discussing the specifics of what the defense would have introduced to counter the state's character evidence, it's available for all to see at the Zimmerman legal case website. It's referred to in pleadings and court orders. Please do not include details in your comments, or they will be deleted. [More....]

As one of the commenters on our forums wrote:

There was no school teacher called to provide some positive educational insights. There was no church pastor to vouch for his spiritual side. There was no coach from football to recollect some team contributions. There was no “best friend” to recall humorous events. The jury may be left to wonder about the “real” TM in their deliberations.

For GZ, there has been a lot of video in the trial from the police interviews and some background information as well. The testimony provided has often had some positive component. He has been present in court and visible to the jury for several weeks, and I would expect them to notice his personality.

In thinking back to other murder trials, prosecutors typically go to great lengths to have the jury see and practically feel the victim -- even playing video montages in closing. The Martha Moxley trial comes to mind as an example, as does the penalty phase of Timothy McVeigh's trial.

Here, the state didn't forget to put on that evidence. It weighed the risks, and decided to steer clear of it. Even the questioning of Martin's parents was carefully curtailed to include nothing but their opinion it was his voice on the tape. The son of Brandy Green, his father's girlfriend at whose home Trayvon Martin was staying, was asked about nothing besides what happened that night. Trayvon's brother was only asked if they were close (yes) and had the same friends (the answer was not really.) Even Rachel Jenteal didn't describe Trayvon the person(although that might be because she also acknowledged that except for the last two weeks of his life, she hadn't been in touch with him for years.)

The state did not even play any recordings of Martin's voice at trial, probably not wanting to take the risk that the jury might decide, based on such recordings alone, it was more likely Zimmerman was screaming for help than Martin.

The public has heard for 16 months about how Trayvon Martin was a wonderful child, a great friend with a good sense of humor, who once saved his father's life, and who had aspirations of going to college. The jury heard none of that.

But the jury did get to spend 6 hours a day for three weeks in the presence of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was a real person to them. They saw him interviewed by numerous law enforcement officers, always cooperative, always mild-mannered and polite. They heard him speak. They saw his respectful demeanor in court.

By contrast, Trayvon Martin was depicted either in cryptic language or in autopsy photos. How could jurors be expected to form an attachment to him? While the Martins, who were present in court every day, were also real to the jury, they were never provided the opportunity to tell the jury about the Travyon that they knew. Had they been given that chance, they would have extolled his virtues and minimized his flaws. There's nothing unusual about that. Everyone is more than the sum of their misdeeds.

Prosecutors, especially, know how important it is to humanize a victim. As defense lawyers, we battle mightily to keep such character evidence out of the trial. It unduly plays on the sympathy of the jurors.

That the state knew it would proceed without good character evidence that humanized Trayvon Martin, except through their opening statement and closing arguments, and that it had no witnesses to testify as to how the encounter began between Martin and Zimmerman, makes it even more perplexing they chose to introduce George Zimmerman's statements, which only served to further humanize Zimmerman in the eyes of the jury. Rather than viewing Zimmerman's inconsistencies as lies as argued by the state, the jury perceived them as natural variations or acceptable exaggerations. And since Detectives Serino and Singleton viewed them the same way -- as no big deal or indication Zimmerman's overall version was not to be believed -- that was another critical misstep.

Had the jurors never heard Zimmerman's voice, it's unlikely they would have empathized with him. Zimmerman would have had to take the stand to get his version of events across to the jury. Otherwise, the court would have excluded his interviews as self-serving hearsay.

Don West called the prosecution a "disgrace." I would call it reckless. The scary part is that but for the skill of two defense lawyers and a jury consultant who picked the perfect jury for the case, another jury might have bought what the state was selling: Assumptions and perceptions about what George Zimmerman may have been thinking and feeling, that it claimed amounted to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted with ill-will, hatred, spite or evil intent in shooting Trayvon Martin.

Look at the state's affidavit for probable cause filed at the beginning of its case, which I've underlined to make the same point I made here more than a year ago:

Zimmerman, who also lived in the gated community, and was driving his vehicle observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal. Zimmerman felt Martin did not belong in the gated community and called the police. Zimmerman spoke to the dispatcher and asked for an officer to respond because Zimmerman perceived that Martin was acting suspicious.

....During the recorded call Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated "these a*sholes, they always get away" and also said "these f*cking punks".

....Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman who didn't want the person he falsely assumed was going to commit a crime to get away before the police arrived.

This is the same theme the prosecution laid out in its opening statement and repeated in closing and used to support its refrain, "The defendant didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him because he wanted to."

In closing arguments, Prosecutor De La Rionda told the jury the case was about assumptions. Even though he meant Zimmerman's assumptions, it was an invitation for the jurors to substitute their assumptions for proof. Prosecutor John Guy asked the jury to look into George Zimmerman's heart and find hate. He talked about the window into George Zimmerman's soul. He told them to use their "G-d given common sense." Prosecutor John Guy also told the jury, "Race. This case is not about race. It's about right and wrong. It's that simple."

Right and wrong does not translate into legal and illegal. Common sense can assist in interpreting evidence, but it is not a substitute for proof. It's simply frightening to think that a person might be convicted of a crime and sentenced to life in prison based on a determination in which the jury substituted its subjective judgment of what was in a man's heart or soul for objective facts and proof.

This trial will be analyzed by trial observers and law professors for years. Overcharging was just the beginning of the state's perplexing strategic choices.

(Please do not include details of how the defense would have rebutted good character evidence. Since it wasn't introduced into evidence, there's no point in bringing it up now, and it's not necessary to a discussion of the strategic choices the state made and how they impacted the jury.)

< Zimmerman Juror B37: It Was Self Defense | Juror B-37: Part 2 of Anderson Cooper's Interview >
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    Jeralyn, thank you for the analysis (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by MKS on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:39:35 PM EST
    Very informative and interesting--more concrete and informative than what has been on t.v.

    What kind of jury should the prosecution have picked?

    Breaking my TL silence to say (5.00 / 10) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:44:35 PM EST
    I really liked this post.

    Yay!!! (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:24:48 PM EST
    So good to hear from you BTD.

    He's been spending his time (5.00 / 3) (#58)
    by bmaz on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:32:22 AM EST
    ...battling me on twitter on these same issues. From my perspective, the way the case was charged and transmitted to the jury with the instructions as given, I don't think it was winnable for the prosecution even if they had not made the "mistakes" discussed in the post. Yes, clearly the case proceeds down a different path, but I think the result the same.

    I think the popular belief that Zimmerman would have been killed on the stand is false; I think his words hold up mostly...just like Serino and Singleton say. And Zimmerman comes across well, just as he did in the video walk through. There would have been FAR more emphasis on the defense case instead of so much being done in the state's case, but the result the same. The self defense instruction was just too much to overcome under the facts of the case and evidence.


    DKos (none / 0) (#68)
    by gaf on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:54:32 AM EST
    Please do a write a DKos diary about the case. Even if you disagree with Jeralyn, I am pretty sure your diary will bring a much needed informed perspective on the case which is sadly missing in the DKos echo chamber.

    There were some interesting diaries... (none / 0) (#77)
    by magster on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:55:00 AM EST
    ... on this case over there that weren't the rah rah type. You just had to look harder for them.

    I have read the evidence (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by lousy1 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:53:01 PM EST
    and your conclusions may be  too strong.

    The unseen evidence did not cast TM as a psychopath or even a malicious person. IMO it did place him in the small, aggressive and rebellious  percentile of 17 year old boys.

    In my experience many of these kids come to bad ends. Conversely many survive to mature and even thrive.

    The significance  of the  (somewhat cryptic and slang) collection of tweets, posts and text messages is that they would allow the defense to develop several theories that established TM's previously unexplained motivations.

     Particularly it could demystify the the reasons that Martin re-engaged and attacked GZ after he had lost and out distanced GZ.

    Pls read the evidence and hare your thoughts.

    Jeralyn, I read this post when it first (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by Anne on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:18:22 PM EST
    went up, and the overwhelming feeling I had at first read was one of sadness; coming back to it now, that feeling hasn't gone away.

    Thinking back on my own kids' lives, I think there were probably times when, if you had taken a snapshot of who they were at some discrete time period, you might have formed the opinion that they were not such nice people.  

    But they grew out of it.  They learned from their mistakes.  Their hormones stabilized, their need to rebel was replaced by a desire to succeed.  Their smart mouths grew respectful as they matured.

    They grew up.

    Whatever ammunition the defense had on Trayvon Martin, his was a life that was just getting started.  And now it's over.  None of us will ever know what kind of man Trayvon would have been.  His parents will believe he would have grown out of whatever it was he was going through.  I suspect a lot of people here will believe he was never going to amount to anything and would just have broken his parents' hearts eventually anyway.

    We'll never know.  

    But if I were his parents, I'd be angry that no one told the story of my son - not the rebellious teenager, but the son of my heart.  I'd be mad that the defense wasn't willing to defend my son and caved in the face of the defense's implied threats to "expose" the real Trayvon.

    Those women on the jury?  I think most of them are parents - they would know about the ugly times kids go through that they grow out of.

    All of this that I'm expressing isn't meant to be a condemnation of George Zimmerman, and I hope it won't be taken that way.  It just makes me sad for all that has been lost by both these families, and I sincerely hope they all find a way to heal.

    George Zimmerman is human too. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Payaso on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:39:26 AM EST
    But if I were his parents, I'd be angry that no one told the story of my son - not the rebellious teenager, but the son of my heart.

    If I was the father of George Zimmerman I would be outraged at the distorted picture that was painted of my son.

    Our mid-teens through mid-20's is a rough time for men.  Men of all races are more likely to die from accident or violence during that period than at any other age.  Hormones and peer pressure are a dangerous combination.

    We laugh about how stupid we were when we get older, but some of us, like Trayvon, never get the chance to get older.


    I know how you feel (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 05:13:20 AM EST
    I have two sons.  They are both in their early 30s now. I know exactly what you are saying and I have worried about exactly what you are saying.  With one, had he died at a certain time in his life I feared most people would not have seen, as you say "the child of my heart".
    I guess the difference is that had my son been sitting on someone beating him.... if I were the mother of Trayvon Martin, at this point, I would not be willing to watch GZ be turned in to the villian of the nation and hounded the way he has been.

    I assume you mean the difference (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:07:17 AM EST
    between you and Trayvon's mother, and not the difference between you and me, since I didn't go there in my comment.

    As for what Sybrina Fulton is and isn't willing to do, given some of the things I'm aware of her saying, I'm not so sure she sees Zimmerman the way you've described it.  It's easy to believe that the family's association with Crump and Company is proof that she is willing to allow GZ to be demonized - but it's also entirely possible that she was never the driving force behind that strategy, and her passivity had more to do with being bullied into it because a united front was better than a divided one.

    I don't know - I'm guessing as much as you are.

    My feeling would be one of wanting to be able to ask my son what he was thinking - why didn't he just run home?  I'd want to know what really happened when there was no one around to see or hear anything.  I'd want answers I wasn't getting, and wasn't going to ever get.  I wouldn't want to think the worst of my child, but I wouldn't be able to ignore the trouble he'd been in.

    It would pain me, but I would have doubt.  And that little sliver of doubt is what would have me, in the dark night when there's nothing to distract from the pain, acknowledging that George was not evil, was not a bad person.

    I'm just grateful beyond words that I'm not the one lying in bed at night, mourning the death of my child, and feeling all the pain of the last year and a half, and trying to figure out how I was ever going to make peace with it.


    yes (4.00 / 3) (#76)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:53:23 AM EST
    the difference between her and I.  I think I would by now, have to do something to relieve this horrible situation.  Admitting that my son played a huge part in his own fate and attempting to forgive Zimmerman publicly, I think would be my only way forward.

    The Parents Have Known since the beginning (2.60 / 5) (#75)
    by Nettles18 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:48:20 AM EST
    what choices their son made that night.  Rachel was on the phone with Trayvon right up until the point he punched George in the face.  I suspect strongly she knew what he was going to do and she may have encouraged or tried to discourage him.

    Rachel testified that her friend told her that TM died at 7:17pm two days after the shooting.  I have been looking everywhere and I can't find a report dated Feb. 28th or before that reports the exact minute Trayvon was shot.  I suspect that even Serino couldn't have told us that on Feb. 28th as the case was so new.

    I suspect Tracy Martin gave that information to Rachel before Trayvon's funeral. I think she may have lied about attending the funeral to keep this fact concealed.  It's not hurtful to tell a mother you didn't attend because you didn't want to see the body.  There is no reason to make up an elaborate lie about the hospital unless you are hiding the reason you didn't attend.  I think it freaked her out to be told her was the last person to talk to Trayvon and I think Crump told her before his funeral and that's the reason she didn't attend.

    The parents have known since the beginning what happened that night.  Between Rachel telling them of the conversation and what the police told them, plus getting the tapes released on March 16th they had a pretty clear picture.

    Rachel's timeline of Trayvon running doesn't hold up.  If GZ is parked in front of the Lauer home and Trayvon is in front of him, GZ says "Shit he's running" at 7:11:43 and Rachel's call drops with Trayvon at 7:11:47.  This is likely Trayvon running south along the "T" sidewalk.  

    We hear GZ's call for the next 2 minutes and clearly he lost Trayvon before he ever left the car.  When George said he was running you don't hear the car door until Sean asks "Which way is he running?"  Then the car door opens.  I think it was this question that prompted GZ to look because Trayvon ran out of sight behind Lauer's house.

    Rachel's call reconnects at 7:12:06 and ends at 7:15:43.  We know from her testimony that the two guys came together around the ending of her call and the phone shuts off.  In her testimony to the prosecutor she said "Trayvon bum...someone bumped Trayvon".  I think Rachel knew exactly what was to occur.  She thought it was just a fight; something that didn't worry her at all.  She phoned no-one and went about her business.

    After 4 minutes of running the two met up at the back of Lauer's house.  This strongly suggests Trayon confronted GZ.

    The parents do know what happened and they chose to proceed the way they did.  They put out younger pictures of Trayvon.  They moved to take his online presence down.  They reminded school officials, school records are sealed.  They gave their son a new reputation.  Sybrina trademarked phrases within a month.

    The parents called for an arrest.  They never called for nor did they want an investigation into the truth of what happened.  No one ever asked them what will you do if the evidence shows your son put Mr. Zimmerman in fear of his life?  

    I would argue the parents hindered the investigation into the truth.  Tracy told reporters on March 8th, he won't help the police get into his son's phone.  When they learned of Rachel, they didn't alert the authorities.

    It's odd to me the parents were not in the courtroom for the reading of the verdict.  I wonder if a split between the lawyers and the parents occurred.  The parents weren't in the courtroom at the beginning of the day on Saturday, nor were they there for the jury question.  Daryl Parks said they left late in the evening on Saturday and were on their way back to Miami when he texted them the verdict.

    What caused the parents to leave?  We may never know.


    While you may have an abiding interest (none / 0) (#85)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:16:25 PM EST
    in continuing to obsess over the details of a case that has reached a conclusion, my interest was in addressing the failure to humanize Trayvon, and to speak from my own perspective as a parent.

    It appears to be very important to you that the world know what a terrible person Martin was, and that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

    Given that Zimmerman was acquitted, this would seem like little more than an exercise in vindictiveness, that serves no one and nothing.


    Abiding Interest in Details? (2.33 / 3) (#86)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:26:46 PM EST
    As for what Sybrina Fulton is and isn't willing to do, given some of the things I'm aware of her saying, I'm not so sure she sees Zimmerman the way you've described it.  It's easy to believe that the family's association with Crump and Company is proof that she is willing to allow GZ to be demonized - but it's also entirely possible that she was never the driving force behind that strategy, and her passivity had more to do with being bullied into it because a united front was better than a divided one.

    IOKIYAA (its ok if you are Anne)


    I feel much as you do, Anne, and (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by melamineinNY on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:42:46 PM EST
    I have a feeling many other people feel the same way who also believe what happened was a tragedy and not a crime.

    I question the role of Trayvon's parents and other authorities in his life as he was apparently heading in a bad direction, but I was very impressed by Trayvon's brother when he took the stand, and with his stepmother and the picture she painted of him in an interview. I think it quite possible he could have grown into adulthood as the person she knew him to be if given some direction. OTOH, Rachel Jeantel was and is a pathetic mis-representation of Trayvon's memory IMO, and she did him no honor in being the most memorable witness in court personally associated with him - and it had nothing to do with how she talked or what she said, but everything to do with her self-absorbed attitude and, as Jeralyn commented elsewhere, her manipulativeness.

    Trayvon's best self has not been well-served by divisive and promotional agendas, but given time I think he will be seen for the 17 year old that he was and in the circumstances in which he found himself, some of which were beyond his control.


    A ten year old in a red Hollister shirt (3.00 / 3) (#36)
    by ding7777 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:44:52 PM EST
    But if I were his parents, I'd be angry that no one told the story of my son

    The parents willingly promoted the false narrative pushed by Crump's PR campaign and the media.

    The parents did not even release a single phone message so we could hear his voice. Why? Maybe if we had heard his voice the question of who was screaming would be clearer.


    Just making it up (3.67 / 3) (#48)
    by Yman on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:01:55 AM EST
    A ten year old in a red Hollister shirt

    Every time I read one of these comments he gets younger.  Where is the evidence for these kind of claims?


    You are pretending (3.25 / 4) (#50)
    by Isabela Hernandez on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:26:49 AM EST
    the media, the parents, the PR firm, the parents' attorney Crump and political/religious leaders didn't deliberately try to convince people that a small, innocent, helpless child "armed only with skittles" was attacked by a racist man. What does your attitude do to help those who still believe that original misrepresentation about Trayvon's age, size and attitude?

    Martin was possibly a belligerent angry young man who was egged on by friends to behave as he did and become a person who's attitudes led to his death. What if even one parent, one friend, one other person in his life interrupted his progression toward becoming a hot headed attacker? What if society and those around him encouraged him to be different? Could his parents or a neighbor or even someone like YOU help him understand why Zimmerman might think he's up to no good, and to realize that a neighbor's wariness is a GOOD thing?

    What vested interest to YOU have, Yman, to continue this false meme?


    Yman (3.25 / 4) (#51)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:35:56 AM EST
    why don't you give the correct age?  

    I don't need to (5.00 / 2) (#53)
    by Yman on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:48:45 AM EST
    I'm not the one making the claim that he's 10 years old in the hollister photo... you are.

    BTW - Only his family knows how old he was in this picture.  Their attorney said this picture was taken in August, 2011, 5 months before his death.


    August of 2010, maybe... (4.00 / 3) (#106)
    by unitron on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:48:59 PM EST
    "Their attorney said this picture was taken in August, 2011, 5 months before his death."

    Too much change in his face in the more recent cell phone pictures, even allowing for lens distortion, to have happened that quickly without some underlying medical condition.


    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by Yman on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:51:21 AM EST
    More baseless, specious claims.

    But hey - now the range of uninformed, wild guesses has magically moved from age 10 to age 16!


    Not August, I'd say 5th of February to be exact... (none / 0) (#117)
    by gbrbsb on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:14:54 PM EST
    whether 2011 or 2010 can't be sure, but from facial appearance probably more 2010. So Crump got it wrong or...

    And why "5th of Februay", you may ask. Well, it's one of a set (imo it is a set because of the same crisp, apparently new, Hollister T-shirt, plus same location, light, hair, face, etc.) of 9 birthday photos because in several of the set there is a cake with "Happy Birthday Trayvon" written on it.


    "Facial appearance" - heh (none / 0) (#118)
    by Yman on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:30:09 PM EST
    IOW - Your guess.

    BTW - There is absolutely no reason to believe the released photo was taken on his birthday or part of a "set".  The "same light" is an indoor photo with a flash.  The location is someone's house (possibly his own) with a white wall, he wears his hair short, he's wearing the same shirt (kids usually wear them more than once), etc., etc., etc.


    We have the same view on this case, I think, so... (none / 0) (#119)
    by gbrbsb on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:46:58 PM EST
    I don't want to argue with you. I am as disappointed with the ending as you probably are, even if I expected it because of Florida's laws. I don't often post here on this case precisely because of my views. I post on PL's blog for this.

    Yes, you are correct, it is my guess, but an educated one as images are my work. I don't see a problem whatever the age anyway. Trayvon was killed when a kid of 17, still not an adult, that's what matters to me.  There are more clues as to his age, e.g. Sybrina is taller than he is, there is no tattoo which, iirc, he got when 16. I downloaded the series from MySpace last year and three of the series were shown on the Martin's interview with DR Phil.


    Your fidelity to fact-finding is appreciated. (none / 0) (#124)
    by melamineinNY on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:13:24 AM EST
    I've come to see the young pictures of Trayvon less cynically even though I see the outcome as just; I believe the parents would have wanted their son known as the boy they knew him to be, as represented by the younger pictures, and not the phase he was going through as a 17 year old, evident in more recent pics. Seeing him as he was a couple years earlier (as well as an interview with his step-mother) helped me to see another part of Trayvon that was not represented in the trial.

    If TM is not ten years old in the photo (none / 0) (#99)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:29:02 PM EST
    my error (fwiw, I meant to say twelve).

    The media kept showing the photo without an age while calling TM a child - not a teenager mind you - but a child - I concluded TM was less that 13.  

    Had the parents provided the more current Reese shirt photo of TM there would be not confusion of how old the  "child" is.


    That's a shame - several, in fact (5.00 / 2) (#103)
    by Yman on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 04:49:09 PM EST
    1)  I don't know what "media" you're talking about, but numerous articles described Martin as a "teenager" or "teen" after the shooting"

    Here's one.

    Here's another

    And another

    Yet another

    Etc., Etc., Etc.

    Not to mention the fact that, under Florida law, Martin was - in fact - a "child".

    1.  The fact that you concluded Martin was less than 13 means nothing.  You claimed the photo showed "a 10 year old in a Hollister shirt", as though it were a fact.  Your revised opinion (that he is less than 13) is also baseless.

    2.  Martin's parents are under no duty to clear the photos of their dead son they choose to release with you or anyone else, regardless of how much "confusion" it creates in your mind.

    Yman (3.50 / 4) (#107)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:56:57 PM EST
    TM's actual age in  the red Hollister shirt photo is secondary to his perceived age in the photo

    Crump's PR meme of "unarmed child" along with said photo was intentional, effective and false.

    Next time I'll be sure to say "Crump and family's deliberate misleading PR photo showing a much younger TM in a red Hollister shirt" was the family's way of telling Trayvon's story.


    And you'll STILL be wrong (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by Yman on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:48:11 AM EST
    TM's actual age in  the red Hollister shirt photo is secondary to his perceived age in the photo. Crump's PR meme of "unarmed child" along with said photo was intentional, effective and false.

    There was absolutely nothing false about it.  Martin was unarmed and was a child under Florida law (anyone under 18).

    But at least you've let go of the baseless, 10-year-old/12-year-old claim, as well as the false implication that the media didn't specify Martin's age or describe him as a teenager.



    Child is used up to 18 in most western coutries (none / 0) (#120)
    by gbrbsb on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:15:38 PM EST
    Oxford dictionary:
    "a young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority"

    The UN Convention on the Rights of Children states:

    "a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier"

    FYI, the UK definition for child protection purposes is:

    "a child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday".

    Isn't the forthcoming civil case (none / 0) (#15)
    by Peter G on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:30:24 PM EST
    the place for TM's parents to paint that picture?

    why sue though? (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by woodchuck64 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:00:09 PM EST
    Memorialize Travyon by bringing in the good and the bad, letting everyone see how a good kid lost his way but might have found it back if he had lived.  It sounds like healing, but if his parents are truly comfortable with the bad, don't they see that George's version might be the truth?   And if George is telling the truth, it was all a result of a very bad confluence of improbable events, fate playing with human lives.  There's no one to blame accept society's laws (and I notice both Obama and Holder trying to gently move the anger in that direction).

    If they sue, (3.40 / 5) (#49)
    by Isabela Hernandez on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:11:20 AM EST
    they will expose themselves to judgments about their parenting as well as negativity about their son. Many more details will emerge about his behavior.  Those who listen to only the anti-Zimmerman people will be influenced by criticism of who Trayvon was and what he chose to do both that night and beforehand, with his text messages, his pictures and his discussions about wanting to fight, the drugs, the school problems, being found with stolen jewelry, etc. Many will ask why his parents didn't know about Trayvon's behavior, or perhaps didn't care or didn't try to correct it. The father could have picked him up after he was suspended from school. Instead they stuck the kid on a bus. Yet the father told the police he had gone to get him, as if he knew how it would look for a parent to not bother driving his son, spending time with him, discussing the kid's life. The father was off with his girlfriend all day and night instead of home parenting his obviously troubled son. All of this will come out, be analyzed, be criticized, and become widely known even to those who currently believe the original media story.

    Sometimes it's better to just leave things as they are rather than let the whole story come out. The parents feel terrible pain as it is. They will reduce the amount of sympathy and support they receive if they open this up and expose all the details.


    Perhaps they will not sue further.... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Cashmere on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:35:44 PM EST
    I hope they don't.

    That is true (none / 0) (#17)
    by MKS on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:34:12 PM EST
    The Martins' damages, assuming they get by an immunity hearing, would be measured in part by their loss of companionship with Trayvon.  

    Thus, I would argue all the good stuff comes in, and only the bad stuff the Martins know about comes in.  The bad stuff they do not know about is inadmissible character evidence.  Or so the argument would go.


    Before A Civil Case (none / 0) (#59)
    by RickyJim on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:33:06 AM EST
    Zimmerman will try to head off civil action against him by requesting immunity under Florida 776.032.  The hearing to determine if he gets it will be before a judge and decided by a preponderance of evidence.  It is generally assumed that Zimmerman will have to testify at such a hearing. Many people who want a legal ruling against Zimmerman think it will happen as a consequence of a poor performance under cross examination by a relentless questioner.  The question of what will happen under those circumstances may keep interest in the case up at least until that immunity hearing is completed.

    Anne, I just want to say... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Teresa on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:24:03 PM EST
    You know how I felt about the legal case during this trial.

    But I woke up on Sunday with an incredibel sense of sadness. What I felt was what you wrote, much better than I'd have ever been able to.

    It made me hate myself. Legally, I still felt the same, but without the tension of the trial, etc., that's exactly how I feel.

    I still find it disturbing that the state can act like it did. In the lead up to the trial, the arrest, the media, all of it. I don't want that to happen to someone else. But the human side of it, you nailed the tragedy of it.


    I will learn to use spell check (none / 0) (#31)
    by Teresa on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:33:27 PM EST
    All of this that I'm expressing isn't meant to be a condemnation of George Zimmerman, and I hope it won't be taken that way

    I didn't take it that way.

    Meant to add, like you, I'd want my son's story told, if as Peter said, it can legally come in.

    I know in the "confrontation" interview with GZ, they told him some good things about TM to see GZ's reaction. I wonder if that might be a way to legally get it in? I wonder if the defense would have objected or seen it instead as an opening they were willing to accept. Probably not.


    the comment is fine Anne (none / 0) (#43)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:25:46 AM EST
    it's not a condemnation of GZ. But think you meant you'd be upset as a parent if the state didn't defend your child. You wrote:

    I'd be mad that the defense wasn't willing to defend my son and caved in the face of the defense's implied threats to "expose" the real Trayvon.

    You're right, Jeralyn - that is what I meant. (none / 0) (#52)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:48:30 AM EST
    Thanks for picking up on that!

    Think back to the mid-80s, when Bernie Goetz (5.00 / 6) (#23)
    by scribe on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:55:10 PM EST
    (remember him?) shot 4 kids on a NYC subway car.  He did it, so he said, in self-defense when, he claimed, they tried to rob him.

    What was he convicted of?

    Out of the plethora of charges - attempted murder, reckless endangerment (one of his shots missed and endangered the innocent riders in the subway) and gun possession charges (NYS had seriously strict gun laws then), the only thing he was convicted of was the gun charge.  In fact, the grand jury initially declined to indict him for anything but the gun charge.


    In part because New Yorkers were fed up with the crime wave in their city, something the testimony in the Zimmerman trial showed the Sanford residents shared.  In part, because Goetz stood up for what a lot of people thought was right - keeping (prospective) criminals in line.  Recall the juror who gave her interview yesterday said she (and the others) felt - based on the testimony - that Zimmerman was a guy whose heart was in the right place and tried to do the right thing.  

    And, in part, because Goetz' defense was able to show the four kids he shot (all teenagers) were, based upon their records and performance to date, punks and criminals.  What could Zimmerman's defense have brought out about Martin at trial had the prosecution made a play to humanize him?  The dope, the texts, the fighting.  Maybe there was a juvenile record out there.  

    The Adjective Store sells to both prosecutors and defenders.  Given the demonstrated competence of the defense team, I think it entirely likely they could have managed to paint Martin enough of a punk or criminal to have the jury lose any sympathy they might have had for him.

    But, I'm just one of the guys in the room who's actually tried cases to juries, so I surely don't know sh*t about it and am a troll, a bad person, and otherwise am required to kowtow to the whims and mass hysteria of a bunch of propaganda-dazed know-it-alls telling me so.

    hell no (none / 0) (#81)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:03:20 AM EST
    But, I'm just one of the guys in the room who's actually tried cases to juries, so I surely don't know sh*t about it and am a troll, a bad person, and otherwise am required to kowtow to the whims and mass hysteria of a bunch of propaganda-dazed know-it-alls telling me so.

    Please do not kowtow to that bunch.  It's a pleasure to read your comments on this topic.


    When all is said and done (5.00 / 1) (#116)
    by scribe on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:52:36 PM EST
    straightening up after this case and the blizzard of propaganda the hustlers and the prosecution spewed will make cleaning the Augean Stables look like hosing down the sidewalk.

    So many people have viewed this case (5.00 / 9) (#33)
    by Isabela Hernandez on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:03:41 PM EST
    through the lens of their own preconceptions that it's practically impossible to change people's minds about what happened that night. I've spoken to many white people who are so biased that they simply cannot see the obvious elements in this case. The bias comes not from direct racism toward other groups, but rather, fear of racism. White guilt actually perpetuates anti-black racism because it creates blocks that prevent people from seeing reality. Because we don't want to be called racist, we desperately try to frame events in a light that ignores reality.

    Trayvon Martin is dead. Perhaps his own actions caused his death. Perhaps he is complicit, both legally and ethically. Perhaps not. But there are other children like him who will face similar situations in the future. Those who are still screaming "Justice for Trayvon," in spite of the evidence indicating Martin came back and confronted and attacked Zimmerman, do a grave disservice to the rest of our children. Many will continue to act like hoodies are a cultural badge that cannot be criticized, seeing it as a "right" to dress a certain way, rather than a statement that defines our values. Our youth would be better served by understanding the full complexities of the interaction that night so they do not make the same mistakes.

    Please try to understand the dangers those disingenuous people pose to our children. In their zealous attempts to be compassionate about racism, they cannot see that a young black man might be more racist or even just more hostile than the supposedly "white Hispanic" who he thought profiled him. How do I teach my kids not to be hotheads when millions of people continue to believe Martin had no choice in this conflict because some racist white bigot stalked him then killed him?

    The take-home lesson from all of this might be "Belligerence Kills." I will teach my children and their friends that lesson. I hope those of you who are angry that Zimmerman wasn't punished will try to understand that perpetuating a false scenario about an event like this hurts people of color by creating even more racial enmity, in this case, animosity toward whites, and excuses for angry youth and parents who do not properly parent their children.

    thank you for your comment (5.00 / 4) (#35)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:43:38 PM EST
    I agree there may be negative consequences that result from the false narrative that has been constructed and spread by the media and those with a vested interested in Zimmerman being convicted.

    Unfortunately, mob mentality is difficult to change once set in motion.

    All I can do is keep pointing out the evidence at trial (and prior to trial) does not show what those perpetuating the myth claims happen. I'm glad you are going to explain it to your children  and I hope others do the same.

    If both of them were the same race, whichever race that was, the discussion would be about whether Martin was justified in punching Zimmerman or whether he should have gone home. Before trial, we didn't know if the state was holding something back that would show something different happened. Trial is now over and the state did not produce evidence to contradict that Martin attacked Zimmerman. Not a shred of evidence was introduced that Zimmerman physically threatened Martin (which would be a necessary showing for Martin's attack to have been justified.)

    Angela Corey said yesterday the state has never denied Martin struck Zimmerman. The state argued for a jury instructions that Zimmerman provoked Martin's attack on him, and after hearing from both sides, and considering case law and the statute, she ruled against giving the instruction.

    The jury has now determined GZ was justifable in shooting Martin. They heard all the evidence. Their reasons for that belief may differ, and some may not be sympathetic to GZ as B-37, but they all voted manslaughter didn't apply either because GZ's use of force was justifiable, or because the state failed to prove it was not.

    Those who are clamoring for GZ's head are arguing that a lesser burden than proof beyond a reasonable doubt be the law of the land when it comes to people they don't like. That is about as slippery as a slope can get.


    Belligerence Kills (none / 0) (#87)
    by lily on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:34:04 PM EST
    is an astute observation which is something our community struggled with a few years ago when a very bright, promising 19 year old black woman was killed. She was home from her Sophomore year at Brown and attending parties around UCB. She got into a drunken argument with newly arrived CAL football players outside her apartment building. Rather than walk away she called her best friend, a young man with a history and personality a lot like Trayvon. She asked him to bring the heat to scare off the guys she was bantering with.  When he arrived from another party also high he stepped out of the car and fired a few warning shots from about 100 yards. He thought he fired up into the air.  One bullet struck her squarely in the heart, she was dead immediately.

    My son and his friends were her classmates in a Berkeley high social justice small school. They were devastated when learning of her death. As the police put out the evidence in the press and we learned about her culpability the kids were deeply troubled by the inherent ethical and moral issues.  Many did not attend the memorial because of their deep frustration with violence and the hypocrisy they are forced to endure.


    Jeralyn, I was searching for (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Teresa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:27:25 AM EST
    something else and ran across this video. I don't watch Greta but O'Mara and West were on there for 14 minutes tonight.

    They addressed the discovery violations and also Corey calling GZ a coward for not testifying. I believe it was O'Mara who said there were two cowards in the room and I can't remember the rest but it referred to them challenging a defendant on their constitutional right not to testify.

    The also addressed the "murderer" comment and an attorney for Crump's office who said her job is not just to act as an attorney, but as a "social engineer" when verdicts such as this happen. O'Mara suggested that she go back to school and get an engineering degree. They also discussed the texts, and the media. It's pretty interesting if you have enough free time.


    thanks theresa (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 02:03:50 AM EST
    I will watch. You are getting very proficient with your summaries!

    Thanks Teresa (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:29:55 PM EST
    it's nice to hear what they have to say after being inundated day after day by friends and relative and media idiots ALL getting it so wrong.  
    Soon no one I know will be talking to me anymore.  Their mob mentality is so abhorrent to me, I just can't keep my opinion to myself.... so MOM and West are a nice change of pace.

    Have you noticed how edgy O'Mara (none / 0) (#101)
    by Teresa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 02:34:03 PM EST
    is every time you hear West gets a question? You can even hear him in a few interviews whispering to him. I think he's trying to keep him out of trouble with his views on Corey and group.

    It's kind of funny in this sad case. I found an even longer interview on Hannity, but I felt dirty even looking at it, much less linking it. I could see O'Mara do that there, too. That interview was a little longer, but didn't flow as fast. It seemed a little boring in a way, but it was really late and that may be why I can't remember it making much of an impression on me.

    I couldn't stop thinking - I wonder how these liberal lawyers feel being on that show, as friendly as it was toward GZ.

    I would liked to have seen the orginal interview with AC before they got bumped with the last minute unexpected interview with the juror.


    Burden of proof is only on defendant in Ohio (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Harold on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:12:56 AM EST
    As the linked article points out, Eugene Volokh points out with specificity that's true in Ohio and he's not aware of anywhere else it's true.

    The authors of Self Defense Laws of All 50 States looked at all the states as of 2010 and agree.  I just looked at the Wisconsin section and there's unusual case law in State v. Watkins that despite the law which makes this generally illegal, it is legal to "point a gun at another in self-defense ... to prevent or terminate ... an unlawful interference" (!).  Normally the threat of lethal force can only be used in response to a threat of lethal force.

    Tom Hall writing (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:20:00 AM EST
    at laprogressive.com makes some interesting humanizing points...

    Trials determine legal guilt or innocence.  They do not determine reality.
    A picture of Trayvon Martin, as he lay dead in the Florida grass, was offered in evidence at the trial.  All media except NBC refused to broadcast the picture.  NBC only aired it by mistake, and then apologized.

    What the picture of Trayvon Martin shows was a child who was shot in the chest, while clutching a paper bag in his left hand.  What the picture shows is that Trayvon Martin was clutching a paper bag.  Clutching it as he allegedly grasped George's head.  Clutching it as he allegedly grappled for George's gun.  Trayvon Martin left DNA traces on the paper bag, but not on George's head and not on George's gun.  The picture was not `newsworthy' because it showed the utter dishonesty of George's constantly mutating lies.

    George refused to testify, as was his right.  So there was no evidence to support his claims that Trayvon Martin attacked him. No evidence that Trayvon Martin grasped his head and slammed it into the ground. There was no evidence that Trayvon Martin grappled for George's gun. Those were arguments by George's attorneys - arguments without evidence.
    Legal innocence is not factual innocence.  Our criminal trial system is intended to test whether prosecutors have presented sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction.
    It was the picture that convinced me.  I know that George is legally innocent.  I also know that he stalked an unarmed boy who was carrying junk food in a bag, and that he shot that boy before the boy could even drop the bag.

    I just wish he hadn't called him a "monster." Wait, he didn't...

    Actually, what Hall makes... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by bmaz on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:49:49 AM EST
    ...are a running series of slanted and/or duplicitous misstatements of the evidence at odds with that which was adduced at trial.

    Except, of course, if you look at the picture (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Harold on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:07:28 AM EST
    It shows nothing of the sort but a tiny hint/possibility.  WARNING, GRAPHIC, a copy is here (and their site is getting hammered).

    This is the first I've heard of such, let alone it having his DNA on it (a search for the latter is difficult, since putting wet stuff in a paper bag or the like is necessary to let it dry out and avoid having bacteria and fungi eat the DNA, and this was a major point made during the trial).

    I also have to ask, was the prosecution so fantastically incompetent they would have not noticed this and made a big deal of it?  They were desperate for anything to impeach Zimmerman's account of the fight, but had to grasp at straws like who was screaming in the audio captured by a cellphone with all the artifacts that introduces.


    So where (none / 0) (#74)
    by DebFrmHell on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:37:02 AM EST
    is the mysterious paper bag to which you are referring?  The mask is up by his head, there is nothing in his hands, what looks to be a medical glove is by his left hand.

    There were only two plastic bags at the scene.  The beige 7-Eleven bag was on the side walk and the Wal-Mart bag was brought out by one of the witnesses.


    That article was full of things that (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by Teresa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:54:21 PM EST
    aren't true. I'm not sure of its purpose other than to continue the anger at a verdict that wasn't unjust, but was correct, as even he admits that GZ legally was not guilty.

    Deb, can you refresh my memory? I though the skittles were in his pocket and I know the juice can was in his hoodie front pocket. One of the plastic bags was from 7-11? I remember two bags but not the 7-11 part. Why did he have the empty bag, I wonder?

    That was a glove by his hand, and not even marked as evidence. Where he got paper bag, I'll never know. (They don't even use paper) He should be ashamed of writing such an unimformed article, but we've seen the same and worse all during the trial.


    Originally he put... (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by DebFrmHell on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 05:19:20 AM EST
    the candy in his front pocket and the can was placed in a tan plastic bag ((7-Eleven video))

    The tan plastic bag ended up on the sidewalk and there was never an explanation for how it got there though plenty of theories.  

    My interest was why was the AZWFJ can in his pocket at all?

    I am thinking the medical equipment was logged into evidence.  I know it is in the Forum somewhere.  I will look for the link in there later on since I need another nap. It's 5am!


    Thank you, Deb (none / 0) (#113)
    by Teresa on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:22:22 PM EST
    I guess if the officers trying to save him tried that bag before they asked for another, and it had a hole or some other reason for not working, we'd know that?

    I was just wondering if they took the can out of the bag. I can see Trayron keeping the can in the bag and putting it in the front pocket, but I can't think of a reason that the can would still be in the pocket, but not the bag, unless the police took it out.


    I don't think the 7-Eleven... (none / 0) (#115)
    by DebFrmHell on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 06:05:20 PM EST
    was ever considered for covering that wound during CPR.  It was on the ground, wet pavement and who knows what.  The Wal-Mart bag they got came from a witness.  At least it from the inside.

    Then again, that could just be me thinking "Eww" to a dirty bag over an open wound.



    That wasn't even the position (none / 0) (#80)
    by Isabela Hernandez on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:02:38 AM EST
    Martin was in when the police came.

    Posting that picture is just one more rude, insensitive attempt to distort the truth and generate more media induced money grubbing page hits.


    not humanizing (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by woodchuck64 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:35:08 AM EST
    These points have little to do with humanizing Trayvon Martin and everything to do with distorting the evidence with the intent of demonizing Zimmerman, the jury, and the justice system.

    For example,

    Trayvon Martin left DNA traces on the paper bag, but not on George's head and not on George's gun

    George's head was tested for DNA?  That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard.  Also, George did not claim in his interview with police that Martin actually grabbed his gun.

    So there was no evidence to support his claims that Trayvon Martin attacked him.  No evidence that Trayvon Martin grasped his head and slammed it into the ground.

    Clear injuries consistent with both is not "no evidence" it is "evidence".

    And Harold has pointed out that "clutching a paper bag" is a complete fabrication.


    Can't imagine how you could do the DNA testing (5.00 / 0) (#71)
    by Harold on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:21:15 AM EST
    George's head was tested for DNA?

    Oops, hadn't noticed that howler.

    If you're going to do that sort of thing, which of course is done all the time for sexual assaults, you've got to have some method to separate the cells of, let me use M and Z for this example, Martin and Zimmerman.

    Any sample of cells on Z's skin would have so many more of Z's cells you can't throw them all in the PCR amplification bath, the small number of M's cells' DNA would get swamped.

    So you have to have different types of cells, separate the ones that could only be from M, and then amplify them.  In this case I can't see there being any different types, i.e. you'd expect skin and maybe blood cells from both, not e.g. male sperm cells and female skin cells.


    I guess (none / 0) (#72)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:29:18 AM EST
    presumption of innocence has to prevail, presumably, yes?

    Trayvon enjoys that presumption as much as Zimmerman does, yes?


    Though maybe (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:31:00 AM EST
    "is entitled to" would be a better term than "enjoys"?

    IANAL (5.00 / 0) (#78)
    by DebFrmHell on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:55:50 AM EST
    He was portrayed during the trial as the innocent victim.  He was afforded that entitlement until closing.  The Prosecution represented him in that manner.

    The jury saw the evidence in the self-defense case and voted accordingly.  IMO.


    Is Zimmerman's acquittal (none / 0) (#79)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:59:20 AM EST
    Trayvon's conviction? IYHO?

    IMOHO? (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by DebFrmHell on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:11:15 AM EST
    I don't know that I can answer that and stay within the rules.  By accepting the self-defense argument and voting "Not Guilty" of the charges, it would stand to reason that young Martin caused the injuries on Zimmerman.

    The 5th DCA made a comment in a ruling
    "That the attacker sustained a mortal wound is a matter that should have been considered by the deceased before he committed himself to the task he undertook." - 5th DCA, Stinson v. State (Fl)


    I guess we'd better (none / 0) (#84)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:27:04 AM EST
    dig up Trayvon, charge him with assault or something, and let a jury decide, eh?

    Let's forget all about the silly presumption of innocence? It just confuses the issues?


    Silly premise (5.00 / 0) (#95)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:07:05 PM EST
    The presumption of innocence is a right that is ONLY afforded to a criminal defendant. It is a specific and concrete prinicple of law.

    Throwing the term around regarding Martin is as silly as playing the "what if" games.


    This (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by Cylinder on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 04:31:28 PM EST
    In my layperson opinion though no direct evidence was submitted to the jury, Martin's peacefulness was a question of fact for the jury to decide. There's no presumption of either guilt or innocence that attaches to Martin - indeed such a comparison would be meaningless in this context.

    Zimmerman was entitled to the presumption that his use of force was lawful until the state provided evidence to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt of its lawfulness. One of those doubts could have been that Martin attacked Zimmerman without provocation. Zimmerman is entitled to the presumption of that theory until it was removed by evidence.

    So no - Trayvon Martin is not entitled to the same presumption of innocence in this case.


    It certainly would (none / 0) (#104)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:32:55 PM EST
    interfere with presumption of guilt, of course. I understand clearly where you're coming from.

    Hopefully you do (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by jbindc on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 10:05:15 AM EST
    I'm coming from the side of the law.

    You are coming from the side of wishful thinking.


    You are pretty far off to the side (none / 0) (#114)
    by Edger on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 03:45:32 PM EST
    as usual. I'll grant you that. Be careful you don't fall off the edge.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#88)
    by rage of on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:34:47 PM EST
    But a not guilty verdict does not mean all the jurors bought a self defense argument.  Just that the SA did not  prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Can You Cite When Somebody Pulled It Off? (5.00 / 0) (#70)
    by RickyJim on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:17:08 AM EST
    That post goes on the argue that under laws like Florida's "if you're ever in a heated argument with anyone, and you're pretty sure there aren't any witnesses, it's always best to kill the other person. They can't testify, you don't have to testify, no one else has any idea what happened; how can the state ever prove beyond a doubt is wasn't self-defense?

    You mean no other evidence beside the shooter's word?  If it were that easy, there would be plenty of cases in which it happened.  I read the summaries of Florida self defense cases, compiled by the Tampa Times a year ago, and I don't remember any like that.  If Zimmerman had such a plan in mind, he would have to be certain that any recording of his victim screaming was of sufficiently bad quality to make scientific identification impossible, no unknown witnesses to the whole thing, arranging for a contact shot with the victim's clothing with a separation from his skin indicating the victim was hovering over him, making sure he was beat up both front and back of his head while he victim had no injuries but the gunshot wound, etc.

    If someone ever pulled off (none / 0) (#105)
    by Char Char Binks on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:53:13 PM EST
    how would we ever know?  I doubt anyone would be found not guilty in court, and then shout "Yes!  I got away with murder!  Whoo hoo!"

    A Third of All Homicides Go Unsolved (none / 0) (#111)
    by RickyJim on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 07:41:20 AM EST
    See here.  That indicates that killing somebody and claiming it was self defense is riskier than other options.

    You sure wouldn't shout it out in the UK ! (none / 0) (#121)
    by gbrbsb on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:45:22 PM EST
    Since 2005 we varied the Double Jeopardy law for serious cases if there is compelling new evidence. We have already tried and convicted several acquitted murderers who had confessed after being acquitted, and others where compelling new evidence was found inculpating them.

    I am of the opinion... (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by DebFrmHell on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:04:17 AM EST
    that the Defense humanized Trayvon Martin moreso than the Prosecution.  The door was wedged open a couple of times and they didn't push it open.  They didn't even bring in the Tox report even though they could have.

    To my knowledge, MOM never said anything bad about young Martin even in closing.

    I won't defy TL's (3.00 / 4) (#11)
    by lousy1 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:18:21 PM EST
    request to rebut you. Several excellent sites have done detailed forensic analysis of all the social media evidence. Early in the case the were treated with derision and the quality of their research challenged.

    After some months of analysis I can conclude the documentation turn out to be overwhelmingly correct

    IMHO The evidence of TM's malfeasance is much broader than you suggest.

    no you may not post the links here (none / 0) (#42)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:18:37 AM EST
    I also wouldn't call cutting and pasting twitter feeds and taking screenshots of facebook as forensic evidence. (I agree there is little doubt they are his since they were widely available before everything was taken down.)

    I don't think the defense was planning on introducing tweets. They were planning on introducing text messages, photos and and videos that forensic analysis of his phone revealed. Most of it was done by the state. The defense also had their expert. The defense proffered him at trial as an expert and we have a long post on that. It's one of the few rulings of this court that I think was unsupported by the law. The records the defense sought to introduce are on their website here.


    I don't care that you not a lawyer (1.00 / 0) (#41)
    by Rjpjrca on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:15:29 AM EST
    But your argument basically seems to be that a gun should never be used to deter a violent conflict, only to end one by causing death or serious injury. In the case we are referring to the warning shot clearly had its intended effect- no harm came to the woman after firing it and her husband cease to threaten her- but you assert that had she just not done anything that the same outcome would have occurred? I guess I understand why you are not a lawyer if you honestly believe that.

    Warning shots are not legit (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Harold on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:23:05 AM EST
    As a matter of safety they are considered to be a very bad idea.  As a matter of law, most everywhere---but not Wisconsin! (see other comment in this thread)---a threat of lethal force can only be used to counter a threat of lethal force.

    If that's so, if the threat of lethal force you're facing is indeed real, then a warning shot is frequently not going to be a proper response, ignoring the safety issue.  E.g. note the "waste a bullet" argument; if the threat is indeed real, if the warning shot does not stop the threat, you may very much regret not having it and the time it took to shoot it and look for a response when you have to switch to shooting to stop.


    a warning shot gives them time (5.00 / 0) (#93)
    by TeresaInPa on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:02:03 PM EST
    to grab the gun and shoot you instead.  

    Rjpjrca, you do not get to pick (none / 0) (#122)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 05:06:18 AM EST
    the topics here and hijack the threads into a discussion of what you think is important.

    Your comments are filled with your objections to the verdict and your assumptions, some of which are based on false facts. You are also blog-clogging.

    The trial is over. The evidence is in. You don't like the verdict and have said so. If you'd like to debate the issues from your point of view, you will need to get your own blog.


    Jeralyn, I'm beyond curious to know (none / 0) (#2)
    by txantimedia on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:40:53 PM EST
    do you think the outcome would have been different had the prosecution decided to introduce character evidence regarding Trayvon?

    I think it might have been different had they chosen to "force" Zimmerman to testify by not introducing any of the tapes or videos of him, but it's hard to say for sure.

    Taking this further (none / 0) (#6)
    by Harold on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 07:37:39 PM EST
    It occurs to me that a near-total failure by either side to credibly paint his character resulted in Martin being a mystery, which allowed the jury to negatively fill in the blank canvas.  Especially if they bought Zimmerman's narrative of who started the fight and how, and they pretty much had to accept the end sans noticing the gun and Martin's claimed threat and reaching for, due to eyewitness John Good who they found credible per juror B37.

    The defense did get an opportunity to introduce one piece of negative evidence due to the autopsy, but as noted they didn't.  If they had presented it, perhaps the jury could have latched on that, without taking it too much further?  I'm not at all sure about that, a large fraction of this negative stuff including it pales in comparison to the Zimmerman narrative they were presented with of insufficiently provoked assault and battery, the pictures of his wounds, etc. etc.

    I would have introduced the THC (none / 0) (#62)
    by txantimedia on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:03:39 AM EST
    evidence to show that Zimmerman's "profiling" was correct ("he looks like he's on drugs or something"), but I would not have raised any issues about impairment or the effects of THC in the blood.  I think that would have buttressed their position that there was no ill will or hatred.  Clearly O'Mara and West disagreed with me.  :-)

    J - How would the prosecutor's evidence (none / 0) (#13)
    by Peter G on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:26:43 PM EST
    of the alleged homicide victim's good character be relevant at all, much less more probative (of their case) than unfairly prejudicial (to the defendant)?  I thought that "victim character" evidence pretty much had to be sneaked in by homicide prosecutors, such as by calling the sobbing widow to identify a picture and prove the "life-in-being" element (that the victim was alive prior to the defendant's action). I thought the admissibility of any such evidence was sharply limited.  After all, it is fundamental to our criminal justice system that all lives are deemed to be of equal worth. Killing a fellow gangbanger in a drug war, for example, absent justification or excuse, is the same crime as killing the homecoming queen out of jealousy. I therefore don't understand how the DA would have had the option to call a schoolteacher, a pastor, a coach, etc., even if they had thought it could be to their strategic advantage.

    I am so far off in my understanding (none / 0) (#63)
    by Peter G on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:05:08 AM EST
    of evidence rules that none of the lawyers here are able to say why they agree or disagree with my critique of TL's post?  I must be wrong for some reason, but it seems to me from looking at Florida Evidence rules 403 and 404 that what Jeralyn posits in this post is legally mistaken -- it looks to me like the prosecutors would be severely restricted by law from any effort to present an emotionally compelling portrait of Trayvon in the context of this criminal case.  As I say, since TL is ordinarily so spot-on about how criminal trials are conducted, I feel I must be missing something.

    No, you are not particularly wrong at all (5.00 / 1) (#96)
    by bmaz on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:13:26 PM EST
    Those are the concerns. But, that said, there are a LOT of ways to slide humanizing character info into the picture. For instance O'Mara slid quite a bit in on Zimmerman, for instance through John Donnelly. The prosecutors here made a tactical decision to steer far clear of any of that out of fear that it would open the door for entrance of the texts, school records of suspension and other unappealing things about Martin. Those impeaching things may or may not have been ultimately allowed, but looks fairly clear to me that is the decision they made. And, frankly, it may well have been a sound decision.

    Scribe, settle down (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:41:22 PM EST
    the comment about "public service" is what was out of line. I had to delete your whole comment. TXantmedia asked a question.

    Sorry about that. (none / 0) (#24)
    by scribe on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:00:50 PM EST
    The point I was trying to make was that the jury would have had little sympathy for Martin, and more for Zimmerman, had evidence about Martin's character come in.  I just posted a comment about the parallels between this and the Bernie Goetz case, where a lot of people felt Goetz was right (and he wasn't even indicted for anything more than a gun charge on the first go-round to the grand jury) and where he retained a significant level of support throughout because the character of the guys he shot was on display in court.

    FWIW, some of the same actors raising hell about the verdict now were doing that in Goetz' case then, claiming the verdict acquitting him of everything but the gun charge was the obvious product of race and racism.  Broken records, they.


    Perplexing strategic choices (none / 0) (#22)
    by vicndabx on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:48:36 PM EST
    No argument from me there.  Since IANAL, in my layman's mind, I think the state did what they could with a nil hand.  Only minor quibble I have that nonetheless aligns w/the theme of the post, is, at the end, John Guy did invite the jurors to consider race, or at the very least he tried to use race as something to sway the jurors.  Shortly after, he implored the jurors to not think of it in terms of race but, as you put it, right and wrong:

    The most discordant note in the entire three-week trial came in the prosecution's rebuttal closing argument, its last chance to drive its points home with the jury. John Guy, a prosecutor in the case, insisted forcefully that the case was not about race; relying on a strategy reminiscent of John Grisham's book "A Time to Kill," Mr. Guy asked the jury to consider a role reversal: would Martin be convicted if he had followed and then shot George Zimmerman? After this obvious, if implicit, reference to race, Mr. Guy finished up by reminding the jury that the case was not about race.


    I would agree w/Anne above and go a bit further.  I think the state counted on these women viewing TM as a kid  - thus he was already a sympathetic figure.  Clearly a miscalculation.

    I agree about the kid part. (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Teresa on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:09:39 PM EST
    For three weeks we heard much talk about the jury makeup being five mothers. Now that we're into "blame the jury", and I don't mean your comment vic, I don't hear that anymore. But, that was the main thing TH's were talking about when they expected a conviction. My guess is that the prosecution thought that was their avenue to a guilty verdict.

    IANAL, so like Peter said above, maybe the prosecution couldn't bring in character stuff on TM. The lawyer TH's sure are criticizing them for it (not knowing the possible hazards of that), so they may just be talking about stuff they don't know again.

    One of the guys on AC tonight, I believe is a current prosecutor, and he particularly pointed out that they didn't humanize Trayvon. He was just a victim, not a person in this trial. I think that's sadly, but legally, a true statement.


    I don't think the kid thing (5.00 / 3) (#65)
    by txantimedia on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:08:37 AM EST
    was a miscalculation, but when you refer to a 17 year old young man as a "child" (as they did repeatedly) it's discordant.  No one thinks of 17 year olds as children.  Young men yes, but not child.  It was obvious they were trying to sell something, and the jury equally obviously didn't buy it.

    Had they referred to him as a high school student or a young man on the cusp of adulthood, I think they would have gained more of a sympathetic ear.


    Shoot. The purpose of my comment (none / 0) (#27)
    by Teresa on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:15:29 PM EST
    which I didn't even write, was that Monday morning quarterbacking, maybe it was worth the risk, seeing the weakness in their case.

    Like Anne said about kids above, maybe one of those moms, or all of them, had 17 years olds who acted out and seemed to be headed down a bad road, but then changed and became good, productive adults.

    Especially seeing Trayon's older brother. They may have looked at him and pictured Trayvon as more mature and like his brother in a few years.

    Legally, though, I still think the jury would have had to look at those few moments last year and determine if GZ was reasonable in his actions, just in those few minutes, not any other time.


    Apparently three jurors (none / 0) (#32)
    by DennisD on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:37:06 PM EST
    wanted to convict him initially and some were trying to find something to convict him of so some did seem to connect or sympathize with Trayvon.

    Interesting post. (none / 0) (#25)
    by Blast Freezer on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:07:15 PM EST
    During the trial the defense made a great deal out of Trayvon mounted on Zimmerman "MMA-style," while doing a "ground and pound" on him.  

    What I didn't hear was the prosecution pointing out that MMA is a sport. In MMA no one dies or suffers "great bodily injury" except by accident.  I wondered why the prosecutor didn't ask the martial arts instructor if anyone ever died or suffered serious bodily injury in his studio....and so George Zimmerman never saw anyone die or suffer great bodily injury in your studio, right?  He could have said to the instructor "so in MMA someone can be on the bottom for a long time, getting hit the whole time, and not die or suffer any serious bodily injury, right?"  Trayvon Martin may have been engaging George in an MMA-style, but there was no evidence that Trayvon was a trained fighter, or that he had particularly dangerous skills.

    I mean, I'm not saying that this is the greatest argument in the world.  But I don't understand why the prosecution didn't even bother to raise the issue.

    No, it isn't a great argument at all (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by scribe on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:24:46 PM EST
    Because it assumes that just because Martin was on top acting like an MMA fighter, he was doing it by what passes for rules in that sport instead of just brawling.  

    All the defense would have had to have done to counter it was remind the jurors of Zimmerman's broken nose and ask one of their doctors whether someone can die from a broken nose.  The answer is "yes" - if a person's nose is punched in such a way that there is upward force, the bones of the nose can be pushed up and in and then are driven into the frontal lobes of the brain.  Death often results.  Yet another good reason to not engage in fistfights....

    And that argument by the state, had it been made, would have enhanced the defense's argument that Zimmerman feared for his life and wss justified in shooting, particularly if he knew (maybe from his criminal justice classes or whatever the professor the state called had taught him) one can die from a nose broken that way.


    Well, (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by bocajeff on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:30:12 PM EST
    Did the MMA studio have cement floors? Were the people in the MMA studio "sparring" or having full on fights? Were there people in the studio monitoring the sparring sessions so they don't get out of control? Roughly 700 people a year are killed in the U.S. from fights that had no weapons. You sure you want go in that direction?

    Adam Pollock stated (4.00 / 3) (#34)
    by ding7777 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:29:32 PM EST
    that in the gym the signals to stop was either to tap, or yell stop.

    TM ignored GZ's stop signals.


    First, MMA fighters HAVE died (none / 0) (#66)
    by txantimedia on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:14:51 AM EST
    http://www.mmajunkie.com/news/2013/04/amateur-mma-fighter-dies-following-unregulated-event-in-michig an

    Second, others have suffered permanent brain damage.


    So, if they had asked that question, it would have opened a can of worms they couldn't close afterwards and buttressed Zimmerman's fear of bodily harm.  Especially since he KNEW what MMA fighting was, even though he wasn't any good at it.

    Finally, under the law, you don't have to have any injuries.  You just have to have a reasonable fear of great bodily harm.

    So, no, that wouldn't have been a productive line of questioning.


    I disagree completely with the disclaimer (none / 0) (#60)
    by terraformer on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:41:29 AM EST
    (Please do not include details of how the defense would have rebutted good character evidence. Since it wasn't introduced into evidence, there's no point in bringing it up now, and it's not necessary to a discussion of the strategic choices the state made and how they impacted the jury.)

    At the very least acknowledging that there existed material to impeach any witness claiming Trayvon Martin was somehow a great kid... I can't even finish that sentence without violating the disclaimer because to say what he wasn't leads to what they had to impeach those statements.

    Anyhow, any attempt to humanize Martin would have had two immediate and long lasting effects. One, it would have opened the door for impeaching of a large amount of positive spin on Trayvon Martin. Two, and far more importantly, it would have introduced into evidence information the jurors could have used to determine the likelihood of who it was who started the physical confrontation. This was a major live controversy. And a fundamentally important one.

    The ability to introduce evidence the victim had a proclivity towards violence has been protected in case law in state systems and there are even mentions of it in federal case law. See Commonwealth v. Adjutant, 443 Mass. 649 - (2005), State v. Fish (2009) and even to some extent Wallace v. United States, 162 US 466 (1896).

    A few notes on the above. Adjutant is from the MA SJC who gave the world Commonwealth v. Shaffer, 326 NE 2d 880 (1975) so this is not a court with a history of expanding the right of self defense. In State v. Fish, the state sustained a conviction when they were able to paint the "victim" as just a man out walking his dogs. Once they were facing the retrial where evidence would be introduced that the "victim" used his dogs as weapons on prior occasions, they declined to even retry the case. This shows just how important prior bad acts are in determining who may have initiated violence.

    Jury Selection (none / 0) (#69)
    by gaf on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 09:57:15 AM EST
    IANAL nor do I know much about law, but I feel that jury selection serves no purpose at all as far reaching justice is concerned.

    I think calling a pool of juries and then using a good random number generator to select the juries would serve justice better.

    I really do not understand this thread. (none / 0) (#90)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:50:08 PM EST
    Regardless of whether TM  was "humanized" to be either Mother Theresa or Joseph Stalin, shouldn't the jury come to the same conclusion regarding guilt?

    Your question exposes the fallacy (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:58:20 PM EST
    I have argued about throughout this trial.

    Tactics are OK when they are used on behalf of the side you want to win.


    My point was "humanizing" (none / 0) (#94)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:06:25 PM EST
    should have no effect on the trial's outcome, as the law is the law.

    I know what your point was (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:15:25 PM EST
    that you had to ask the question was mine.  "Humanizing" and other subjective concepts shouldn't matter but they do w/wide-ranging impacts.  

    Gotcha and agree. (none / 0) (#98)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 01:17:29 PM EST
    That is the only argument (none / 0) (#123)
    by Darby on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:45:54 AM EST
    The prosecution had - emotional appeal.  Even now, post veredict, the martins standard reply is 'what if it were their child?'