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

Treasury Announces New Steps To Reduce Corporate Tax Dodges

The Treasury said corporations were increasingly moving their parent companies overseas to dodge U.S. taxes. The Treasury said the practice erodes the tax base.


A Secret Service police officer stands nears tourists outside the White House in Washington on Monday.

Prosecutor Says White House Intruder Had 800 Rounds Of Ammunition In Car

Omar J. Gonzales, 42, jumped a fence and made it past the White House’s North Portico doors before being apprehended by the Secret Service.


Massive Volcanic Eruption Is Making Iceland Grow

The eruption has been going for weeks. So far it hasn’t been catastrophic, but it has been creating new ground.


3 Afghan Army Officers, Who Had Gone Missing, Detained At Canadian Border

The men are described as senior Afghan army officers who were vetted before being allowed to participate in training exercises. They are not considered a threat, officials say.


Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service clean up hot spots of the King fire in the El Dorado National Forest near Georgetown, Calif., late last week.

Largest Of Calif. Wildfires Destroys 10 Homes, Other Structures

More than 5,500 firefighters are battling the so-called King Fire in the Sierra Nevada forest area. Some 2,800 people have been evacuated.


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