It has not been a good week for George Zimmerman. The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin is currently sitting in a Florida lockup charged with second degree murder. The two lawyers who were representing him quit, saying he had stopped contacting them, but had started making calls to the special prosecutor's office and that champion of civil liberties Sean Hannity. The attorneys, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig. hinted not so subtly that Zimmerman was suffering a mental melt down. Of course they had never even met their "client". Their only contact with him had been over the phone and through text messages.
Zimmerman's new attorney of record is one Mark O'Mara who is described in the media as "a seasoned defense lawyer." He has said his client will plead not guilty. Well, no surprise there. Unless special prosecutor Angela Corey knows something none of the rest of us know it will be exceedingly tough to prove the charges she brought in the case.
As criminal defense attorney Richard Hornsby explained to MSNBC, to get the current charges to stick the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman, "engaged in an intentional act of ill will, hatred, or spite."
Even Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton isn't willing to go that far. In an interview she said she thinks the shooting was an accident. In her words, "I believe it was an accident, I believe that it just got out of control and he couldn't turn the clock back."
The current thinking is that Zimmerman's first line of defense will be to invoke the Florida stand your ground law. He will maintain he was attacked by Martin, felt his life was in danger and exercised his legal right to defend himself with deadly force.
There will be an evidentiary hearing first where Zimmerman will offer that argument not to a jury, but a judge. If the judge finds in his favor, our man George walks. The defense has a problem though. It was very clear in the 911 tapes that the "captain" of the neighborhood watch was at least following Martin, if not outright chasing him. That Zimmerman ignored the instructions by Sanford dispatch to cease the pursuit. Mr. O'Mara will have to show that against all logic Trayvon Martin went from fleeing an unidentified man, to being an aggressive attacker.
No, this thing is going to trial. It might be that Corey ramped up the charges because she has some forensic evidence no one else knows about. Cynics will claim she is simply playing to the crowd. Knowing that is exactly what some are thinking she issued a statement that said, "We did not come to this decision lightly. We do not prosecute by public pressure, or by petition." The personal feeling is that she went for the maximum hoping to force Zimmerman into a plea bargain. She is asking for murder two, but will take man slaughter.
One thing is certain, it is going to be nigh impossible to find an impartial jury one way or the other. Even a change of venue to say Outer Mongolia might not make the nut. Hung juries, multiple trials, and endless appeals seem in the immediate future if Corey doesn't have more than it appears she does.
Tragically this open wound isn't healing any time soon. One can only hope the infection doesn't spread.