First, regardless of whether it would have changed the outcome, the prosecution's handling and control of its own witnesses was abysmal. One prosecution witness after another appeared unprepared, offering confusing or even conflicting testimony. Even worse, numerous prosecution witnesses appeared hostile to the prosecution's case -- I'm sure many people wondered, as I did, why the prosecution called some of their own witnesses, as all they did was undermine the prosecution's case. From their own witness allowing the defense to portray Martin as a racist, to their own witness placing Martin on top of the scuffle, to the unhelpful detectives' testimony, the entire prosecution seemed to be based on putting on witnesses (a) without having any ides what they were going to say; and (b) without adequately preparing them for cross-examination. This was simply inexcusable.
Second, instead of making this a case about a vigilante stalking an innocent kid, the prosecution turned the case into an argument over the minutiae of the fight; i.e., whose voice was on the tape, what position Martin and Zimmerman were in, and the competing versions of how the gun was supposedly pulled during the scuffle. By reducing it to these hyper-factual minutiae, the prosecution was practically begging for a case of reasonable doubt.
All of which makes one question why the prosecution did not create a narrative about Zimmerman stalking Martin. Zimmerman's numerous, blatant, and idiotic lies about what started the confrontation (i.e, the non-existent bushes, the ludicrous claim of looking at street signs, the ever-changing accounts of the severity of his claimed injuries and how he got them) were so easy to expose, and would have devastated his credibility and his claim to self-defense. The fact that the prosecution barely even touched on these lies is inexcusable. It's as if the prosecution decided that because Zimmerman wasn't taking they stand, they didn't need to attack the credibility of the nonsensical versions being posited by the defense. That's the thing about "reasonable doubt" -- the practical upshot is that you have to present a compelling version of events AND undermine the credibility of the alternate version presented by the defense. The prosecution basically just left it as a he-said/he-said proposition. Again, inexcusable.
Finally, the manner in which the prosecution handled the introduction and argument of certain physical evidence was practically negligent. Most notably, the prosecution completely dropped the ball in its presentation and argument regarding the blood evidence (and lack thereof). Time and time again, the prosecution could have undermined the defense significantly by pointing to the lack of Zimmerman's blood on Martin, and vice versa. But once again, rather than create a clear narrative that the defense's version was simply fabricated, because the blood evidence simply wouldn't allow for the defense's claims, the prosecution allowed the case to go to the jury with the focus on Zimmerman's injuries.
For me, the turning point -- the point at which I became completely discouraged -- was when the prosecution allowed that block of sidewalk into evidence -- no WAY should that ever have been allowed, and the prosecution should have fought the admission of that concrete block tooth and nail, even taking it up on immediate appeal if necessary. It was highly prejudicial, and was completely divorced from reality. No one in the case picked up a block of sidewalk -- not even the defense claimed that. Yet the prosecution allowed the defense to plant the notion in the jurors' minds that Martin was actually armed with a deadly weapon -- a block of concrete. To me, that was the ballgame right there.
I'm sure others may have already discussed other shortcomings, but to me, these were the critical failures of the prosecution. If I were just a little more cynical, I might suggest it was a case designed to fail. What I will say, though, is that I think it demonstrates that the prosecution wasn't truly invested in a conviction.
Comments are closed on this story.