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Day 10 of the Zimmerman Trial: The Case for the Defence

07/09/2013 08:37 EDT | Updated 09/08/2013 05:12 EDT
AP

1) Trayvon Martin's Father Testifies

In a bold and virtually unprecedented move by the defence, Tracy Martin was called to testify. His evidence was preceded by two Sanford police officers, including the lead investigator, who confirmed that in the days following his teenage son's death, Tracy Martin was unable to identify the voice on the 911 call crying for help. Martin contested the officers' testimony stating that ''I never said it wasn't my son's voice.'' He later concluded that it was his son after listening to the call ''as many as 20 times.''

The defence decision to call Tracy Martin was criticized as being an attack on the victim and a huge blunder that allowed the jury to share a grieving father's palpable pain and anguish speaking about his son's death. The jurors would have been unforgiving if the defence strategy was viewed as gratuitous and unnecessary. It could have played a decisive factor in the jury's verdict. However, this jury will appreciate that the father's evidence was crucial for the defence. Mark O'Mara's examination was probing but respectful. The jury has now heard from two family members of Trayvon Martin, his father and brother, who were equivocal in their initial identification of the voice captured on the 911 call. The defence will be certain to highlight their evidence in its closing statement to the jury.

2) The Role of Benjamin Crump

The main lawyer for the family of Trayvon Martin is Benjamin Crump. In the weeks following Trayvon Martin's death he assumed a prominent role in the media pushing for George Zimmerman to be charged. He also conducted a questionable independent investigation that has come under scrutiny at the trial. In his examination of Tracy Martin, Mark O'Mara asked him if he had instructed Benjamin Crump to announce publicly that both police officers were lying about Martin's failure to identify his son's voice. Tracy Martin denied providing such instructions. The jury may conclude otherwise and the family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, may have ultimately damaged the prosecution's case.

3) The Friends of George Zimmerman

A group of Zimmerman's close friends identified his voice on the central 911 call. Individually, there evidence may have been insignificant but the cumulative effect of their certain identification of their friend's voice on the call is quite helpful to the defence. It also stands in contrast to the prosecutors' decision to call only two witnesses in their case to affirmatively identify Trayvon Martin's voice.

4) The Gym Owner

The owner of the gym where George Zimmerman had trained was called to testify that Zimmerman was ''physically soft'' and an inferior boxer. The purpose of this evidence was solely to refute the prosecutor's anticipated assertion in his closing statement that George Zimmerman had trained in mixed martial arts. The defence can now legitimately reply that he was an inept fighter. His injuries and the eyewitness testimony support that conclusion.

5) The Toxicology Report

The trial judge denied a motion by the prosecution to exclude a toxicology report from the autopsy that Trayvon Martin had a small amount of marijuana in his system. It was described as a ''backdoor'' attack on Martin's character. The judge's key ruling is important for the defence for two reasons. A defence expert will testify that the amount of marijuana found shows ''some level of impairment''. The evidence also supports George Zimmerman's contention in his statement to the police that his assailant appeared to be on drugs. It wasn't a contrived excuse to justify Zimmerman profiling the teenager.

6) Computer Animation

The defence will seek to introduce a simulated computer animation of the incident to support George Zimmerman's claim of self-defence. A computer animation is only useful to a jury when there is undisputed evidence about the critical incident relating to the alleged crime. In this case, however, a computer animation of the shooting incident will be more confusing than helpful to the jury.

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