Zimmerman trial: For jury, anguished task to resolve death of Trayvon Martin
The Zimmerman trial testimony is complicated and hard evidence scant, but the jury’s choices are basic: Is Zimmerman responsible for the death of a teenager? Or was it precipitated by Trayvon’s own actions?
Did an angry, hate-filled George Zimmerman “track” Trayvon Martin and, at earliest opportunity, kill him, as prosecutors claim? Or was he a community-conscious and mild-mannered volunteer watchman who can claim “absolute innocence” in the unarmed black teenager’s death, as the defense suggests?Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Florida vs. George Zimmerman: Case closed?
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The clash of two people – an armed adult, an unarmed teenager about 40 pounds lighter – has occupied the country for going on 16 months, and the trial is now winding down into its final days. The trial has gone on for nearly a month, during which the six-woman jury has been sequestered.
The trial is being watched nationally, and with particular interest in Florida, as it’s seen widely as a cultural and political commentary on the state of race relations and the impact of liberalized gun laws that make it harder to prosecute people who claim self-defense in contested shootings.
While the testimony is complicated and hard evidence scant, the jury’s prospects are also basic: Does Mr. Zimmerman, 29, bear responsibility for the death of a teenager? Or was the shooting precipitated by Trayvon’s own actions?
The jury is basically being asked to consider a span of a few minutes, from when Zimmerman, who aspired to become a police officer, first spots a “suspicious” person, makes a comment to a police dispatcher that these “[expletives] always get away,” and then follows him on foot.
Those actions suggest he’s a would-be police officer with a grudge, the prosecution told the jury.
The defense says Zimmerman acted reasonably and in accordance to instructions from the dispatcher in traveling through a dark passageway where Trayvon had run to check an address. There’s also testimony in the case where Zimmerman admits he was scared of Trayvon Martin, and that earlier he had rolled his window up after he claimed Martin “circled” his SUV. Zimmerman says Trayvon hid and waited for an opportunity to confront, then strike him with a left-handed punch, knocking him to the ground.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, asked the courtroom to be silent for the four minutes to punctuate the span of time between the point at which Trayvon ran away from Zimmerman and the point of the attack, to suggest that he could have run to where he was staying with his father, but did not. He had told a friend that a “creepy-ass cracker” was following him.