That was the beginning of two hours of closing arguments in which the prosecutor painted Zimmerman as a police wannabe who took the law into his own hands against someone he showed ill will toward by assuming Trayvon should be included in the category of "assholes" and "fucking punks," terms de la Rionda apologized to the jurors for using practically every time he did so.
The defense will present about two hours of closing arguments of its own Friday, followed by an hour of rebuttal from the prosecution. Jurors will then be given instructions about the law and what charges they can convict or acquit Zimmerman on and sent off to deliberate.
Aided by placards printed with color-coded timelines, slides and videos of interviews and a "reenactment" of the shooting, de la Rionda repeatedly told jurors "you decide" as he called Zimmerman a liar several times and challenged his claims he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Among key interrelated points, some of them re-emphasized throughout his argument:
• Zimmerman's actions led to the confrontation with Trayvon. De la Rionda said: "But who followed who? Who was minding his own business? Of the two, who was the one who was armed and who knew that they were armed?" Zimmerman brought a gun to a fight that he started, de la Rionda said.
• Zimmerman's claims to police that he was fearful don't make sense. The fearfulness Zimmerman expressed, de la Rionda contended, was part of a string of exaggerations used to convince police that he felt threatened. Among these were his claim that Trayvon circled his car and seemed at one point to be reaching into his waistband. "Why does this defendant get out of the car if he thinks [Trayvon] is a threat to him? Because he has a gun, an equalizer."
• Zimmerman's claim of self-defense is bogus. "Is it really self-defense when you follow somebody?" De la Rionda reminded jurors that the defendant had taken a course in which the curriculum included studying the law in terms of self-defense. "So [he] knows all the bullet points needed to show that."
Read below the fold for more from the prosecution's closing arguments:
• Zimmerman used bad judgment. De la Rionda pointed out that the Neighborhood Watch volunteer didn't approach Trayvon and introduce himself and tell the teenager that he was behaving suspiciously and the cops were coming.
• Jurors should not dismiss the testimony of Trayvon's friend Rachel Jeantel because of her lack of sophistication and education. Jeantel was on the phone with him when the confrontation began and said Trayvon had called the person following him a "creepy ass cracker." Said de la Rionda: "I had a dream that today a witness would be judged not on the color of her personality but the content of her testimony." And: "But did she speak the truth?" The jurors, he said, should think about what she testified that Trayvon Martin had said. "Isn't it consistent with the other evidence?"
• The fact that Zimmerman called Trayvon an "asshole" under his breath was "not a description," de la Rionda said. "Why is he uttering that word, other than that is how he feels. [...] I would say that is more than a little angry: that's ill will, that's hatred." By calling him a "fucking punk," the prosecutor went on, Zimmerman indicated he had already made up his mind that Trayvon was a criminal.
• De la Rionda noted that paying attention to what was going on in the neighborhood was a good thing. And that wanting to be a cop and taking criminal-justice courses, as Zimmerman had done, were also good things. But it was wrong for him to take the law into own hands, he added.
• The prosecutor used snippets from taped police interviews with Zimmerman, the reenactment of the shooting and an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity to support his argument that Zimmerman changed his story.
For instance, de la Rionda said, Zimmerman claimed to police that he was not following Trayvon but looking for the name of a street that he didn't know even though he had lived in the gated community where the shooting took place for four years and walked his dog there every day. The prosecutor says it was an obvious lie for him to say he didn't know the street's name.
Zimmerman's description of the fight he says Trayvon started in a surprise punch to the nose also doesn't stand up to scrutiny, de la Rionda said, noting that Zimmerman quickly caught himself and backtracked during the reenactment with the police: "When I walked back toward him ... I saw him coming toward me."
Zimmerman's description of the fight also makes no sense, de la Rionda told jurors. Zimmerman said that he fell backward onto the grass after Trayvon punched him. Trayvon then climbed on top of him, in Zimmerman's version, and kept punching him, saying "you're going to die tonight, motherfucker," as Zimmerman began screaming for help. At this point, Trayvon put his hands over Zimmerman's nose and mouth and went for Zimmerman's gun, according to his version.
How many hands did Trayvon have? de la Rionda asked. And how did the teenager see the gun, in the dark, with Zimmerman on his back and the weapon holstered inside his waistband on the back of his hip beneath him. "How did the victim see this gun? Or is it just another lie that [Zimmerman] tells?" And, "He's holding one hand over his mouth, one hand over his noise and with that third hand he reaches for the gun?"
De la Rionda said Zimmerman had told officers that after firing his pistol, he didn't at first realize he had shot Trayvon. But if that was the case, the prosecutor asked "What the heck's he doing holstering the gun?"
As to the testimony of eyewitness John Good, who said he saw the darker-skinned, darker-clothed person in the fight on top swinging his fists at the person beneath, de la Rionda pointed out that Good didn't see the actual shooting or the blows hitting. And he didn't see the defendant's hands. "Did [Zimmerman] have the gun out? ... Was [Trayvon] trying to protect himself from the gun?"
• If Trayvon was beating Zimmerman so badly, de la Rionda asked, why did the police and medical examiner find minor injuries to his knuckles and no blood from Zimmerman on his hands?
• After the shooting, Zimmerman said he spread Trayvon's arms out, claiming that he was looking for a weapon. Said de la Rionda, "Why did he have to say that? Because it's part of wanting to be a cop. [...] Because that's what cops do." When the police arrived and found Trayvon face down, his hands were underneath him.
To believe Zimmerman's version, the prosecutor said, jurors have to believe that Trayvon surprised him with a sucker-punch, that Zimmerman lay on the ground being whaled on and finally managed to pull out his pistol and shoot the teenager through the heart from a difficult angle.
Instead, de la Rionda said, there was a fight in which the two rolled around, with the victim and the defendant each sometimes on top. "But, again, why did this occur? What led up to this?"