On the morning of the first day of the Zimmerman trial, CNN released a poll that showed that 62% of the respondents polled maintained that the charges against George Zimmerman are probably or certainly true. If all of the six jurors in the Zimmerman trial find that his charge is probably true, he will be acquitted.
The following six take-aways emerged from day 1 of the Zimmerman trial:
1) The prosecution's theory to support a conviction for second-degree murder will be an implausible stretch for the jurors to accept. In an opening statement delivered with flourish, Assistant State Attorney, John Guy, told the jurors that George Zimmerman complained to the police dispatcher about ''punks'' who '' always get away.'' The prosecutor concluded that ''George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to.''
The prosecutor's theory of a callous and cold-hearted killer flowed from his position that George Zimmerman ''profiled, followed and murdered an unarmed youth.'' However, there was an important gap in the prosecutor's chronology. Between following and fatally shooting Trayvon Martin there was a fierce struggle resulting in facial injuries to Zimmerman that was vividly captured in police photos. The jury will not skip over this struggle.
2) Humour has no place in a murder trial. In his opening statement, Zimmerman lawyer, Don West, made an ill-conceived 'knock-knock' joke that was poorly received by the jurors. He later apologized for telling the joke. It is fortunate for George Zimmerman that his lawyer's mistake was made on the first day of trial and will likely be forgotten by the jurors by the time they reach their deliberations.
3) The defence punched a gaping hole in the prosecution's strongest argument. The evidentiary obstacle that the defence has to overcome at the trial is that Trayvon Martin was an unarmed high school student when he was fatally shot by Zimmerman. The defence position is that the concrete sidewalk was the teenager's weapon. As Don West noted in his opening statement: ''Trayvon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman's head; it's no different than if he picked up a brick or bashed it against a wall, and the law is very specific as to when you can defend yourself if the other person has a deadly weapon.''
4) The most significant witness for George Zimmerman at trial may be an independent neighbour in the gated community where the fatal incident occurred. The defence outlined in its opening statement that the neighbour, John Good, stepped outside of his home and observed a scene involving a ''ground and pound'' fight where someone wearing black was straddling and beating another person dressed in red who was pleading for help. The evidence will show that George Zimmerman was wearing a red jacket that night.
5) The statements that George Zimmerman provided to the police over the course of days without a lawyer present will be a major battleground for the prosecution and defence at the trial. It is unlikely that Zimmerman will testify and his statements will be the foundation for his claim of self defence. In setting out Zimmerman's position, Don West highlighted that his client had told the police that Trayvon Martin punched him, slammed his head into the concrete and that Zimmerman feared for his life and thought that Martin was about to grab for his gun when he shot him. The prosecution pointed to the inconsistencies and calculated ''tangled web of lies'' spun by Zimmerman in his various police statements in an attempt to justify his actions.
6) The initial police investigation by the Sanford police will come under attack by the defence. John Guy noted in his opening statement that none of Mr. Zimmerman's DNA was found on Trayvon Martin. Don West suggested in response that the Sanford police failed to place protective bags over Trayvon Martin's hands to protect any DNA or other evidence that could have been on them.