After two weeks of testimony, Florida prosecutors rested their case in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, the killer of Trayvon Martin. And I have to say, overall, the state did a good job with the witnesses and evidence it presented to the jury. That Judge Debra Nelson flatly rejected a defense motion for a judgment of acquittal is a testament to that. But that doesn’t mean the defense didn’t do well for itself.
Assistant State Attorney John Guy kicked off opening arguments with an expletive that he repeated over and over again. It was a strong start. Yet the prosecution put witnesses on the stand who bolstered Zimmerman’s version of events. There was the neighbor who testified that he saw Trayvon on top of Zimmerman and hurling punches at him. There was the lead investigator who testified that he found Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense credible. But the state ended with testimony from DNA and firearms experts, the medical examiner, and Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton that put the prosecution’s case back on a strong footing.
For their part, defense attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don “Knock-Knock” West did their job masterfully. Their No. 1 goal is to plant enough doubt in the minds of the all-female jury that they don’t believe the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted with “ill-will, spite and hatred” and with “depraved mind without regard for human life.” From nit-picking details of DNA evidence and Trayvon’s autopsy to hammering away at inconsistencies and lies in the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, the young woman on the phone with Trayvon until just before he was killed, O’Mara and West effectively raised questions about the prosecution’s case.
And now it is the defense’s turn to put on its case. To counter Fulton’s powerful, steely and direct testimony that the screams on the 911 calls were those of her son Trayvon, the defense called Zimmerman’s mother as its first witness. She testified that the screams were that of her son George. But just as the defense picked apart prosecution witnesses, watch for the state to do the same with Zimmerman’s witnesses next week.
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