Wednesday, July 03, 2013

CNN airs a lot of Zimmerman testimony "live" ; expert witnesses taking over from judge

On Wednesday morning, CNN continued live broadcast of the testimony of the Second Degree Murder trial of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.

The prosecution called witnesses  (including an instructor) showing that Zimmerman had taken criminal justice courses, even made an A in one, and applied for jobs with police departments.  They were trying to show that Zimmerman could have been planning a crime that would look like an accident or “heat of passion”, but this idea sounds very speculative.

An expert witness  testified on the meaning of “stand your ground”, and the degree of fear one needs to act, and that Zimmerman did not necessarily have a duty to retreat when outside his home.

If one is unarmed in public (the usual case), one can only retreat.  That has happened to me a couple of times (once at a turnpike service plaza), and always worked out.  The NRA would say that I have been lucky.
Jeffrey Toobin said that the testimony amounted to having part time law teachers giving instructions to the jury from the witness stand.

It seems to me that there are other criminal justice problems in the news more pressing than the Zimmerman trial.  One of them is gratuitous prosecution for Internet statements taken out of context, as with a case in Texas described in my Internet Safety blog this morning.
CNN’s best link (actually HLN) with transcripts is here.

It seems to me that it will be pretty easy for the defense to establish reasonable doubt on 2md Degree Murder.  They could get a conviction for voluntary manslaughter, or certainly involuntary manslaughter.  Imagine the outcry that will follow. 
Good thing I'm not on a jury, at least something controversial.  If I was sequestered, I couldn't follow the news or blog.  

Update: July 5

The lack of Zimmerman's DNA on some of Trayvon's effects is seen as helpful to the prosecution.

But a medical examiner brought notes into the courtroom today. The notebook must be made available to everyone (the defense), and this behavior by a witness may hurt the prosecution.

If Zimmeran is convicted "only" of voluntary manslaughter, under Florida law he still could get 15-20 years since Trayvon was under 18.

Jonathan Capehart has an important column Sunday in the Washington Post, "5 Myths about the Killing of Trayvon Martin", link.   The column may give the defense a little more ammunition, even for acquittal.  The 9-11 emergency operators cannot give Zimmerman direct orders without liability; hence they worded things indirectly, "We do not need you to do that."

Picture: Naples FL, Gulf Coast, 2004. 

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