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.
New York's Daily Intelligencer blog details how the Trayvon Martin story, which hadn't received a lot of attention, <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/03/trayvon-martin-shooting-now-a-national-news-story.html">landed on the radars of the national media.</a> A good deal of the national attention and outrage over the case was centered around the fact that Zimmerman claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense, a category with broad meaning because of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, and was not arrested or charged with a crime for more than a month after Martin's death.
Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announces that he will be convening a grand jury to determine if Zimmerman should be charged in Martin's death. In a statement, Wolfinger said that he would be "utilizing the investigative resources" of the Seminole County grand jury which he said would be called to session on April 10. "I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin," Wolfinger said. "I respectfully request that the public remain patient as this process continues forward ... As I have previously stated, the public is entitled to no less than a thorough, deliberate, and just review of the facts. We intend to honor that commitment." Lawyers for the Martin family anticipated that the state attorney would call a grand jury, saying that the move is little more than "passing the buck."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/trayvon-martin-case-george-zimmerman-bill-lee_n_1371635.html?1332389437">Sanford's city commission gave a vote of “no confidence” to beleaguered police Chief Bill Lee Jr.</a>, who was under fire for his department’s investigation into the shooting.
In a brief press conference, Chief Bill Lee announced that he would be "temporarily" steppng down from his position, saying that his role in the case had become a "distraction."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/trayvon-martin-state-attorney_n_1374206.html">Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger steps down</a> due to "conflict of interest."
President Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/obama-trayvon-martin_n_1375083.html?ref=trayvon-martin">issues his first public statement</a> about the case.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/trayvon-martin-police-video_n_1386764.html">Newly released video of George Zimmerman</a> at the Sanford Police Department the night he shot Trayvon Martin to death show the neighborhood watch volunteer without blood on his clothing or bruises on his face or head.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/travon-martin-george-zimmerman_n_1412693.html?utm_hp_ref=trayvon-martin">Zimmerman launches an official fundraising site</a> to help pay his legal fees.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/george-zimmerman-trayvon-martin-charged-second-degree-murder_n_1417198.html">Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced</a> that George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/george-zimmerman-bail-hearing_n_1440175.html?ref=black-voices">Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set Zimmerman's bond at $150,000</a>
A new photograph released by ABC News shows a bloodied George Zimmerman with injuries on the back of his head. The photo, which was reportedly taken three minutes after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, could serve as possible evidence supporting the neighborhood watch volunteer's claim of his violent confrontation with the teen.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/george-zimmermans-bond-re_n_1563304.html">A Florida judge revoked bond for George Zimmerman</a>, and ordered that he turn himself in within 48 hours. Prosecutors had asked Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to revoke Zimmerman's bond because they contend that he was disingenuous at an earlier bond hearing when Zimmerman's family and attorney claimed that he was cash broke. The motion filed by prosecutors claimed that Zimmerman "misrepresented, mislead [sic] and deceived the court."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/shellie-zimmerman-arrested-george-zimmerman-wife_n_1591153.html?utm_hp_ref=trayvon-martin">George Zimmerman's wife Shellie, was arrested</a> and charged with one count of perjury, according to law enforcement officials.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/george-zimmerman-released_n_1654831.html">George Zimmerman left a Florida jail</a> after posting a $1 million bond that a judge set for him Thursday, Bay News 9 reports. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester, who revoked Zimmerman's bond in June for misleading the court about how much money he had, said he set the bail significantly higher to circumvent the possibility of Zimmerman using hidden funds to flee the country.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/george-zimmerman-judge-lester_n_1841293.html">Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal rules that Judge Kenneth Lester should enter a motion to disqualify himself</a> in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder case. Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara asked the court earlier this month to overturn a previous ruling by Lester not to leave the case.
George Zimmerman's murder trial for the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/george-zimmerman-trial-date-set-june-10-2013_n_1973469.html">set for June 10, 2013</a>
George Zimmerman ordered remain under 24-hour GPS monitoring while awaiting trial in the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and must stay in the county despite the defense's concerns about his safety.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/05/george-zimmerman-denied-trayvon-martin-trial_n_2623282.html?utm_hp_ref=trayvon-martin">A Florida judge rejected a bid by George Zimmerman to delay his June trial</a> for the murder of unarmed, black teenager Trayvon Martin, whom he shot and killed a year ago. Zimmerman is expected to appear in court for an April hearing where his lawyers plan to argue that he should be immune from prosecution in the case because of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law. The National Rifle Association (NRA) heavily lobbied Florida legislators to pass the law in 2005 and encouraged lawmakers not to change it after Martin's death.
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