Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


How prosecutors portrayed Zimmerman as a predator

In closing arguments presented to an all-female jury in Florida Thursday, prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin case accused George Zimmerman of profiling the black teenager and lying about the events leading up to his death.

By Daniel TrottaReuters, Barbra ListonReuters / July 11, 2013

Assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda demonstrates to the jury how George Zimmerman allegedly pulled his gun while presenting the state's closing arguments during the trial in Thursday. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Gary W. Green, Pool

Enlarge

SANFORD, Fla.

"Wannabe cop" George Zimmerman wrongly profiled Trayvon Martin as a criminal, followed him with a gun and provoked him into a fight that resulted in the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager, a prosecutor said on Thursday.

Skip to next paragraph

"A teenager is dead," Florida state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda told the jury in closing arguments of Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial. "He is dead through no fault of his own. He is dead because another man made assumptions. Because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin will no longer walk on this Earth."

Sounding indignant, de la Rionda portrayed Zimmerman as a predator, not the good citizen who, as portrayed by the defense, was attacked by a 17-year-old whose actions led to his own death.

Defense lawyers were due to present their closing arguments on Friday, followed by a final prosecution rebuttal, after which the jury would begin deliberating a case that has captivated and polarized much of the U.S. public.

Time and again, de la Rionda accused Zimmerman of lying about what happened the rainy night of Feb. 26, 2012, when he spotted Martin inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford.

Zimmerman called police, saying he believed Martin was suspicious and noted that there had been break-ins in the neighborhood.

But Martin was a guest in the home of his father's fiancée, who lived inside the gated community, and was returning from a nearby convenience store with a snack in preparation for watching the NBA All-Star game.

De la Rionda tried to undermine Zimmerman's claim that he was not following Martin but looking for a street address to relay to police. The prosecutor sought to reveal inconsistencies in Zimmerman's statements and repeatedly quoted him speaking in police jargon.

Pointing at Zimmerman, who was seated at the defense table, de la Rionda asked the jury to use common sense to answer the question: "Do you believe there's an innocent man sitting over there?"

"Who started this?" he asked. "Who followed who? Who was minding his own business? And of the two, who was armed?"

De la Rionda avoided mentioning race but said Zimmerman "profiled" Martin, suggesting he assumed Martin was a criminal because he was black.

'I had a dream'

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer