Huffpost Canada ca
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Steven Skurka Headshot

How George Zimmerman Might Have Won the Trial on Day 5

Posted: Updated:

I believe the fifth day of the George Zimmerman murder trial will be revisited after the trial finishes as the day that Zimmerman secured a not guilty verdict. Here are the six key factors that emerged from the evidence on Day 5:

1) Zimmerman's Wet Clothing

Tim Smith was the first Sanford police officer to arrive on the scene of the altercation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. He testified that Zimmerman was wearing a jacket and ''the back of it was wetter than the front of it. It was also covered in grass.'' The officer also described the back of Zimmerman's jeans as ''wetter than the front'' and agreed in cross-examination that it was consistent with someone lying on his back in the wet grass.

This points to unassailable physical evidence that buttresses George Zimmerman's claim of being on the bottom in the struggle with Trayvon Martin and forced to defend himself.

2) Medical Personnel Viewing Zimmerman's injuries

A paramedic, Stacey Livingston, was at the scene for five minutes and observed Zimmerman with a ''very swollen, bleeding nose'' with ''lacerations to the back of his head.'' A physician assistant, Lindzee Felgate, treated Zimmerman the day after the altercation with Trayvon Martin. She agreed in cross-examination that the bumps, swelling and abrasions she noted on Zimmerman could be consistent with a head being hit against concrete and being struck in the face.

These two witnesses establish that Zimmerman's injuries, as documented in photos, weren't contrived or self-inflicted but directly related to the fatal altercation. They also conform with Zimmerman's account of self-defence to the police.

3) Zimmerman's Statements at the Scene

Zimmerman's neighbour, Jonathan Manalo, was the first to approach him at the scene. Zimmerman related to him that ''I was defending myself and I shot him.'' Manalo agreed in cross-examination that from what he could tell at that moment, Zimmerman's statement seemed completely true and that it appeared to him that Zimmerman ''had just got his butt beat.'' Zimmerman told Lindzee Felgate that ''his head was hit into the pavement multiple times.'' He also complained of nose pain.

These statements of George Zimmerman were made at an early stage before George Zimmerman consulted with a lawyer and will likely be given enhanced credibility by the jury as a result.

4) Zimmerman's Assertion that He Cried for Help

The Sanford police officer, Tim Smith, testified that when he was escorting Zimmerman to his police car, Zimmerman stated to him ''that he was yelling for help and that nobody would come help him.'' A neighbour of Zimmerman, John Goode, was an eyewitness to part of the altercation and testified that he thought that it was Zimmerman calling for help.

This evidence may potentially match up for the jury with the 911 call introduced into evidence where a cry for help is distinctly heard. The jury may conclude that it's George Zimmerman yelling for help on the 911 call.

5) The Evidence of John Good

John Good watched the ''tussle'' between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin a few feet away from his patio. He is the eyewitness with the most optimal vantage point of the struggle. He provided measured and balanced testimony about his observations. For example, he was unprepared to claim that he could tell 100 per cent that there were actually fists hitting faces. He carefully described ''arm movement going downward'' that looked like punches being thrown. Good's evidence is likely to be the preferred eyewitness version accepted by the jury.

6) John Good Supports Zimmerman's Self Defence Claim

Good testified that he observed two people wrestling in a straddling position. In cross examination the following exchange took place:

Q. ''And he [Trayvon Martin] was the one who was raining blows down on the person on the bottom, George Zimmerman, right?''
A. ''That's what it looked like.''

The defence will be certain to emphasize John Good's testimony in its closing statement. The prosecution carries the burden of disproving self defence in a case where an independent witness it called provided a critical component of the defence.