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.