When George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin the night of Feb. 26, 2012, he ignored an admonition not to do so from the police dispatcher. The request for his arrest, written by the lead detective, noted that Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon could have been avoided if he’d remained in his vehicle or identified himself “as a concerned citizen.” Just what in Zimmerman’s past might have led him to take these actions and kill an unarmed teenager with a gunshot to the chest is relevant in this case.
What is not relevant is Trayvon’s past. And Judge Debra Nelson made that clear today when she denied several motions by Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara to introduce the 17-year-old’s suspension from school, past marijuana use and his participation in fights. There’s a possibility that such evidence could make it to trial, but by releasing all the information last week, O’Mara ensured that everyone, including potential jurors, knows what lurked in his client’s victim’s past. But thanks to Florida’s incredible sunshine laws, we know a few relevant things about Zimmerman.
In July 2005, he was arrested for “resisting officer with violence.” The neighborhood watch volunteer who wanted to be a cop got into a scuffle with cops who were questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking. The charges were reduced and then waived after he entered an alcohol education program. Then in August 2005, Zimmerman’s former fiance sought a restraining order against him because of domestic violence. Zimmerman sought a restraining order against her in return. Both were granted. Meanwhile, over the course of eight years, Zimmerman made at least 46 calls to the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department reporting suspicious activity involving black males.
We also know that Witness No. 9 accused Zimmerman of molesting her when they were children. The relative’s revelation is appalling but irrelevant. What most folks don’t know is that Witness No. 9 made an explosive allegation against her cousin. “I know George. And I know that he does not like black people,” she told a Sanford police officer during a telephone call in which she pleaded for anonymity. “He would start something. He’s a very confrontational person. It’s in his blood. Let’s just say that. I don’t want this poor kid and his family to just be overlooked.” At the end of the call, Witness No. 9 urged the officer to “get character reports from other people and see if he’s ever said anything about black people, about being racist or anything like that because I guarantee you there’s somebody out there who will say it.”
That phone call was significant because it was placed two days after Zimmerman killed Trayvon and a couple of weeks before the case drew national attention. Witness No. 9 wasn’t seeking attention. “I’m a mom,” she told police. “I can’t stand seeing that some kid got shot and killed over a stupid fight, especially one that my [redacted] … because I know who he is.”
George Zimmerman is the one who stands accused of second-degree murder. He, not Trayvon Martin, is the one on trial starting June 10. And who Zimmerman is more relevant to the proceedings than who Trayvon was.
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