Nation & World News

Defense Rests In Zimmerman Trial; Race ‘Permeates The Case’

By Mark Memmott on July 11th, 2013

The defense is expected to wrap up its case Wednesday afternoon at the murder trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer accused in the February 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin.

Update at 4:50 p.m. ET: Defense Rests Case

After its motion to acquit Zimmerman was denied, his defense team rested its case. Their final witness was Zimmerman’s father, Robert. The defendant did not testify.

“In one memorable moment Wednesday, attorneys from both sides grappled with a foam dummy on the floor of a Florida courtroom,” CNN reports, “working to demonstrate to rapt jurors their competing versions of what happened the rainy 2012 night Trayvon Martin died in an altercation with George Zimmerman.”

USA Today has also isolated that video on its website.

Closing arguments are expected Thursday. The case could be in the hands of the sequestered jury by late Thursday or early Friday.

Our original post continues:

At midday, The Orlando Sentinel was leading its latest story with this news:

“The judge in the George Zimmerman murder trial issued key rulings this morning, blocking the defense from putting on testimony about 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s text messages or using a computer animated recreation of the teen’s shooting as evidence. The defense will be allowed to use the animation as a demonstrative aid, likely during closing arguments. But it will not go back with the jurors as evidence when they deliberate.”

As we’ve written many times, Trayvon’s death and the way authorities handled the investigation reignited a national discussion about race relations.

The 17-year-old was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman had called police to say there was a “suspicious” person in the area. At some point, the two came into contact. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon in self defense, after the younger man attacked him. Trayvon’s family members and their supporters say Zimmerman racially profiled the African-American teen and should not have followed him. They also dispute Zimmerman’s claim that he was defending himself.

Anger over the fact that authorities didn’t immediately arrest Zimmerman led to protests in Florida and in cities across the nation.

Wednesday on Tell Me More, former federal prosecutor Pamela Pierson told host Michel Martin that during the trial so far, “race is the 500-pound gorilla in the room that nobody is talking about. [But] I think it permeates the case — it has from the very beginning. The furor about whether Zimmerman was going to be charged. … And despite the judge’s and the attorneys’ efforts to keep racial or racist language to a minimum or out of the courtroom, I think it definitely is permeating the case.”

Pierson, now a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, said she saw race entering the picture particularly in the reactions to the defense attorneys’ cross examination of Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel.

Defense attorneys, she noted, try “to destroy someone’s credibility. … That’s their job — to attack their credibility. But we wouldn’t be hearing ‘Oh this was unfair’ or ‘this is racially biased,’ [if the witness had been] a thin, white, well-spoken woman” instead of the African-American Jeantel.

As for the case itself, Georgetown Law professor Paul Butler said on Tell Me More that:

“It’s a kind of lousy murder case because for murder the prosecution will have to prove what’s going on in Zimmerman’s mind. That he was malicious. That he hated Trayvon. That he had all this ill will. And I’m not sure we’ve seen a lot of evidence of that.

“On the other hand, it’s a pretty good manslaughter case. And the jury will have the option, almost certainly, of convicting him of that. Because for manslaughter, all that has to be proved is that Mr. Zimmerman was reckless, that he’s kind of a loose canon. And I think we’ve seen plenty of evidence of that.”

Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts Tell Me More.

Closing arguments are likely to begin as soon as Thursday.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Video shows a woman trying to outrun a train.

WATCH: Video Shows Women Narrowly Escape Death On Railroad Tracks

The 4,000-ton freight train could not come to a stop. But the women laid down between the rails and survived.


Video shows a woman trying to outrun a train.

WATCH: Video Shows Women Narrowly Escape Death On Railroad Tracks

The 4,000-ton freight train could not come to a stop. But the women laid down between the rails and survived.


Video shows a woman trying to outrun a train.

WATCH: Video Shows Women Narrowly Escape Death On Railroad Tracks

The 4,000-ton freight train could not come to a stop. But the women laid down between the rails and survived.


A Palestinian girl cries while receiving treatment for her injuries caused by an Israeli strike at a U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya on Wednesday.

Gaza Conflict: Shell Strikes U.N. School, Killing Up To 19 Who Sought Shelter

One U.N. official said this was a “breaking point.” The conflict, now going into its 23rd day, shows no sign of abating. The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 1,200.


Water cascades down a stairway to a parking structure adjacent to Pauley Pavlion, home of UCLA basketball.

Water Main Break Dumps Up To 10 Million Gallons Of Water, Flooding UCLA

It took officials about four hours to figure out which valve needed to be closed. By then, the UCLA campus was under water, with some staircases looking like waterfalls.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments