THE BLOG

Day 6 of the Zimmerman Trial: Murder or Self-Defence?

07/02/2013 08:32 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT
AP

1) George Zimmerman's Version of Self-Defence is Before the Jury

The jury has George Zimmerman's complete legal defence presented in his own words. The prosecution introduced four statements Zimmerman provided to the police after the fatal shooting incident. In his statements Zimmerman described yelling for help as the person (later identified as Trayvon Martin) was ''whaling on my head.'' He placed his hands on Zimmerman's nose and told him that ''you're going to die tonight.'' Zimmerman thought that his assailant was going for his gun and shot him one time.

2) The Police Witnesses Undermined the Prosecution Theory

The prosecutor's opening statement to the jury highlighted that George Zimmerman's various statements to the police revealed a tangled web of lies. Two officers testified on Day 6, Sanford police officers Chris Serino and Doris Singleton. In cross-examination by the defence, both Singleton and Serino minimized the significance of any discrepancies in Zimmerman's statements. Officer Singleton testified that any differences in the statements were insignificant agreeing that ''most people don't tell you the same story the exact same way two times.'' Detective Serino was asked if he could recall any major inconsistencies in Zimmerman's interviews and video-recorded walk through of the scene the day after the shooting. He replied: ''I can't think of any, offhand. None come to mind. None that I can articulate.''

The prosecution will be forced to argue in its closing statement that the investigating officers in the case lack credibility. Bon chance.

3) George Zimmerman Will Not Testify

I made the prediction prior to trial that George Zimmerman would likely not testify at his trial. After the introduction of his statements on Day 6, that is now a certainty. The defence will point to the ''challenge interview'' conducted by the police as a worthy substitute for cross-examination.

4) The Devastating Final Question in Cross-Examination

Chris Serino recounted that during his questioning of George Zimmerman he suggested that there was a strong chance that there would be a videotape of the incident. Serino testified that: ''I believe his [Zimmerman's] words were, 'thank god. I was hoping somebody would have videotaped it.'" Serino was asked by Mark O'Mara what that response indicated to him. He replied that; ''Either he was telling the truth or he was a pathological liar.'' Asked if he thought Zimmerman was telling the truth, Serino responded ''yes.''

The lead investigator's assertion that George Zimmerman genuinely wanted the shooting incident captured in videotape is compelling evidence for the jury that Zimmerman believed that he acted in self defence.

5) The Defence Interviewed Both Police Officers Prior to Trial

Mark O'Mara's cross-examination of Chris Serino and Doris Singleton was masterful. It is also true that he was clearly aware that they would be helpful to the defence. As an experienced trial lawyer, he would know that to invite the police investigators in a criminal case to comment on his client's consistency and veracity would invariably lead to damaging and incriminating responses. The risk of asking such questions would never be ventured by the defence without an absolute guarantee of success.

Why did the police co-operate with the defence in this case? It suggests that both officers lacked confidence in the prosecution of George Zimmerman for a charge of murder. The Orlando Sentinel reported that after Chris Serino's investigation, he forwarded an affidavit to the local prosecutors' office requesting a manslaughter charge against George Zimmerman. In a later interview with the FBI, Serino told the agents that superior officers pressured him to file charges in the case. Serino retained Jose Baez, Casey Anthony's former attorney, to represent him. Chris Serino was the lead investigator for the Sanford police department. Subsequent to his investigation in the Zimmerman case, he transferred voluntarily to road patrol.

6) The FBI Audio Voice Analyst

The first witness on Day 6 was the FBI audio voice analyst, Hirokata Nakasone. Nakasone testified about the scientific challenges of identifying the age of the person crying for help on the 911 call introduced at the trial. He agreed with Don West's suggestion in cross-examination that anyone who has preconceptions or ''a bias'' prior to hearing a recording could make a mistake in identifying the speaker.

The FBI expert's caution of bias will be significant for the jury as Trayvon Martin's parents are expected to testify in the next couple of days and will identify their son as the person crying for help on the 911 tape. It will be emotional and powerful evidence for the jury. It will be followed by the defence calling George Zimmerman's father who will identify the voice on the 911 call as the defendant.

Trayvon Martin Timeline