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Without re-hashing the many other missteps made by the prosecution, I think it's important to review one critical element of the trial -- the alternate version of events presented by Zimmerman's defense.  In order to create reasonable doubt, the defense needed to portray a plausible, reasonable version of events to explain Zimmerman's behavior leading up to his shooting of Martin.  In order to claim self-defense, the Zimmerman defense needed to do two things to explain the confrontation without implicating Zimmerman in a crime:  (1) explain how Zimmerman came to be out of his car in an innocent fashion; and (2) portray Zimmerman as the victim of an attack from which he needed to defend himself.  To do this, the defense claimed (1) Zimmerman got out of his car to "check the street signs" in his own neighborhood, and that's when he was "attacked;" and (2) Zimmerman was having his head repeatedly smashed on a concrete sidewalk -- 20 to 30 times -- and that's why he feared for his life.

But here's my problem with the prosecution and the jury:  The defense's alternate version of events was completely, utterly idiotic and nonsensical; the prosecution did a horrible job undermining the defense's ridiculous claims; and the jurors were utter imbeciles for accepting Zimmerman's claims as a reasonable alternate explanation.

To begin, let me make it clear that I think the jurors were morons, clearly unable to separate fact from fiction, and reasonable explanations from fantasy.  That being said, however, prosecutors know that jurors may not be sophisticated enough, intelligent enough, rational enough, or even fair enough to make these distinctions.  That's why it's the prosecutions' job to spoon-feed a jury a clear, compelling narrative, one that both makes their case AND undermines the defense's claims, leaving them no choice but to convict.  The prosecution here did an abysmal job of attacking the defense version, allowing the jurors to give credence to the defense's ludicrous claims.

First, on the critical issue of why Zimmerman left his car, the defense offered the explanation that he got out of his car not to confront Martin, but only to "check the street signs" in his own neighborhood.   Seriously?  This is the version the prosecution barely attacked?    After following Martin and muttering about "assholes always getting away," Zimmerman claims he just happened to get out of his car only "to check the street signs" in his own neighborhood, consisting of a total of 3 streets, where he had lived for 4 years and was Mr. Neighborhood Watch?   And that it just happened to be at or near the spot where Martin was waiting to attack him?  Seriously?   He was following some kid in his car, complaining about him getting away, but he got out to "check the street signs"?    That's the most obvious line of b.s. I've ever heard, yet the prosecution did a horrible job pointing out just how ridiculous Zimmerman's version was.  Instead of hammering to the jury that Zimmerman was just spinning a ridiculous excuse to try to explain why he got out of his car instead of the obvious reason that he got out to confront Martin, they basically just let it stand as a he-said/he-said issue.  Again, the jurors were morons if they believed that version, but that's why, as prosecutors, you don't give them a chance to believe that version.  Zimmerman didn't know his own neighborhood?  His own watch?  What person gets out of a car to check a street sign?  And it all just happened to occur right where Martin was lurking, waiting to "attack him"?  Where were these questions?  Where was this argument?  Practically non-existent.  This should have been hammered to the jury to undermine the defense's credibility.

Next, to explain why he "feared for his life," the defense claimed Zimmerman had his head repeatedly smashed on the concrete sidewalk 20-30 times.  His head was supposedly repeatedly smashed on concrete, yet he had only a couple scratches on the back of his head?  Really?  No concussion?  No fractures?  No -- um, you know -- being dead?    Once again, the prosecution was pathetic in undermining Zimmerman's ludicrous version of events.   Instead of hammering the jury on the point that the defense could not explain how someone could have their head slammed on a concrete sidewalk even ONCE without being knocked out, having a fractured skull, or even being dead, they let the jury imagine that Zimmerman was having his head "smashed" into the sidewalk 20 to 30 times?  If that's true, then how is Zimmerman still alive?  How was his skull not bashed in?  How did he not even have a concussion?   Hmmm . . . maybe because his defense is completely and unbelievable and idiotic?  This was the obvious conclusion, and the obvious line of questioning and argument, yet instead of presenting any basic narrative showing just how ridiculous Zimmerman's claims were, the prosecution once again basically let Zimmerman's version stand as a he-said/he-said.  

Sure, the jurors were probably morons (or worse) not to figure this out on their own, but it's the prosecution's job to point it out, and it's the prosecution's job to remove the juror's ability to buy a fairy-tale version of events.  Zimmerman walked because the prosecution let the jurors find a version of events on which to hang their hat instead of showing the whole world how ludicrous that claimed version is.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Mystified (2+ / 0-)

    Did the prosecution have an invisible muzzle on them? Why on earth wouldn't they confront such a ludicrous narrative aggressively? I can't fathom this.

    Who wants to be well-adjusted to injustice? What kind of human being do you want to be? --Cornel West

    by Clarity1 on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 10:21:03 AM PDT

    •  They didn't care enough, maybe? (3+ / 0-)

      I'm not quite cynical enough to think that the prosecution tanked the case -- almost, but not quite.  What I will suggest, however, is that the prosecution just wasn't all that invested in getting a conviction.  They and the cops bungled the case initially, and would have been quite content to sweep the whole mater under the rug without any charges at all in the first place.  So, having essentially been forced to bring the case by public outcry, did the prosecution basically play a "told you so" game of not caring enough to really go after Zimmerman?  Look at their smiling press conference afterward -- the "oh, well, but we brought the case" attitude, as if that were enough.

      •  incompetence (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Reggid, happymisanthropy

        is always the first go to answer.

        This was a simple case but also very complicated, lot of moving parts, and they simply were not up to the task.

        You could tell that in the witness order which had no rhyme or reason, when one of the 101 steps is determining a witness order that builds your story, burying weaker witnesses in the middle, etc.

        They didn't lead or finish with their strongest witnesses...and they put on some of the defense's best witnesses for reasons I find inexplicable (why not subject them to your cross instead of the defense's cross?).

        Just struck me as a wholly unorganized and haphazard approach, not one of lack of investment, but simply lack of competence.

        •  The prosecution called certain defense witnesses (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite, Dr Swig Mcjigger

          because they knew (from depositions) what the defense was going to have them testify to.  The prosecution thought they could pre-empt the defense and take the sting out of the witnesses' testimony.  They misjudged.

          "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

          by Neuroptimalian on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 12:05:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I still don't see why they thought that would work (0+ / 0-)

            Can somebody who understands law explain this to me?

            Here's my naive view as a non-lawyer.  Tell me where I'm wrong:

            1. The prosecution doesn't have to prove lack of self-defense until the defense first makes a prima facie case.  So in their main case, they merely have to show that TM was killed with a gun, GZ was there and had ownership and possession of the gun that killed TM.  Maybe additionally the "they always get away" statement to demonstrate intent.

            2. They should wait for the defense to raise self-defense.  Then the defense will have to introduce all of GZ's statements in their main testimony (where they aren't allowed to ask leading questions).  The prosecution can introduce all the contradictions and conflicts in cross-examination (where they are allowed to ask leading questions).

            3. And finally, after the defense rests, the prosecution then gets an extra chance to call rebuttal witnesses to poke additional holes.

            On top of that they get the advantage that they both start and finish in closing arguments.

            What am I missing?  How can the way they did it ever be better?  

            In addition, why don't they have a separate pre-trial on the affirmative defense of self-defense so that defendants are forced to start with introducing this evidence?  Otherwise, why can't I just plan a murder by going to my victim when there are no witnesses around, take him by surprise and kill him, arrange to get some wounds while there, and give a pre-prepared story to police of how he and I got into an argument, he hit me, made me fearful of my life and then I shot him?  With no witnesses, and just my wounds, how can a prosecutor keep a trial from ending just like this, acquittal because of failure to prove no self-defense beyond reasonable doubt?  

            •  it's worse than you think (0+ / 0-)

              the defense CANT raise the accused's statements because they are hearsay, and they'd have to find an exception, and I don't think they could have.

              So the ONLY way to get his story out would have been through testimony by the accused, subject to cross examination.

              It rarely is better, unless you have a full blown confession (I killed him in cold blood, I had no excuse, it wasn't self-defense).

          •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

            they may have had that reason, but it was a bad reason.

            When it's your own witness and it's in favor of the other side, it's like a double hit.

      •  I suggested the case was being tanked from the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        opening statement and was told that 'real lawyers don't do that'...

         Um, no (4+ / 0-)

        No lawyer intentionally creates an ineffective assistance claim against himself. At least lawyers playing at this level, in a televised trial.

        Black Holes Suck.

        by Pi Li on Mon Jun 24, 2013 at 09:28:31 PM EST

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 11:21:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Um (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Neuroptimalian, VClib

          My remark was in response to your comments that the defence was intentionally trying to throw the case. That was your theory back in opening statements.

          Now your theory is that the prosecutors were trying to throw their own case. If you want to argue they were incompetent (and they weren't), fine. But the suggestion that they intentionally tried to "tank" their own case is, of course, absurd, just like your similar allegation against the defence.

          Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

          by Pi Li on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 11:43:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Me too; this trial was to give some moldy crumbs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nuclear winter solstice

          To TM's family & the 2.4 million people on their side. Angela Corey had to pretend to care so she could get re-elected by her white supremacist voters.

          It's called the oke-doke.

          FUCK the evil police who were on the side of the perp, GZ. FUCK the jurors, FUCK the law, FUCK FL. You live in a shithole. RUN if you can otherwise your men folk will be exterminated, by humans worse than the Dalek.

          nosotros no somos estúpidos

          by a2nite on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 05:43:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I am; it was a show for TM's family & a bad one (0+ / 0-)

        nosotros no somos estúpidos

        by a2nite on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 05:44:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I agree. Zimmerman is not be be believed. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    The GOP: Fearing things that have never existed while ignoring things that have always existed, i.e. gun registration/starvation.

    by StevenJoseph on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 10:25:40 AM PDT

  •  Overcharging hurt the prosecution (0+ / 0-)

    Given the long sentences available for manslaughter involving a minor and the use of a firearm, the prosecution made a fundamental mistake in charging Murder 2.

    By charging Murder 2, instead of manslaughter, it forced the prosecution to develop its case in a manner that was much more complex to try and prove the elements of Murder 2. By adding complexity it put more elements of the case in play. In a case where the prosecution did not have a single, laser like view of the crime it could articulate to the jury it gives rise to doubt. More elements in play made it more difficult to achieve a guilty verdict on manslaughter than had the prosecution been able to craft their approach, from the start, just to the charge of manslaughter.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Jul 14, 2013 at 01:34:43 PM PDT

  •  The Fox interviews did wonders... (0+ / 0-)

    Yep, Zimmerman got to tell HIS entire side of the story on tv interviews, WHILE he did NOT get cross examined.

    THAT was what won him the verdict!

    And you watch as it will become the standard. The law has to be changed so that when an accused used the airwaves, he IMPLICITLY waives he right to remain silent in open Court, and WILL be cross examined.

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