It all began on February 26, 2012. That was the night Trayvon Martin wandered out into the darkness and rain to buy some ice tea and skittles. It was also the night George Zimmerman decided to save the world from young black males who wear hoodies.
Both the prosecution and defense have rested their cases now and closing arguments will be made to the jury tomorrow.
The witnesses for the defense were an odd and mercenary lot. The most damaging was probably forensic pathologist Vincent DiMaio who testified the gun shot evidence supported Zimmerman's version of what happened that night. Of course DiMaio was hired by the defense and while Don West and Mark O'Mara might be many things they aren't stupid. They aren't going to pay a guy to say the evidence makes their client look like a liar.
Former police officer Dennis Root, who volunteered to work for the defense, testified about memory holes that occur right after a high stress event. His recommendation to police everywhere is to wait at least 72 hours before questioning someone about such an event in order to let that person's recollection recover entirely from the aforementioned holes. He also claimed to have interviewed Zimmerman's gym trainer and was of the opinion that the defendant would, "likely find himself lacking" in fighting skills compared to Trayvon Martin. He did not say where his knowledge of young Mr. Martin's superior level of fighting skills came from.
Olivia Bertalan, a resident of the gated community, told the jury about how she'd been robbed while at home by two teenagers six month prior to the shooting. She also testified that Zimmerman was quite concerned for her safety and volunteered to get her a lock for her sliding glass door.
John Donnelly, who may, or may not have violated Florida law by being in the gallery days before he was called to the stand, said he thought the voice on the 911 tape calling for help was George Zimmerman's. Donnelly had previously donated to the Zimmerman defense fund and in fact bought him the suit he has been wearing in the court room.
Robert Zimmerman, George's father, was "absolutely sure" it was his son calling for help. Of course Martin's mother was equally sure it was her son yelling on the tape. The only thing the rest of us is certain about is that the screaming stopped immediately after the gun shot.
Today, Judge Debra Nelson ruled the jury could consider a lesser charge of manslaughter. She said she'd take under consideration the prosecution's motion of allowing the jury to also have the option of murder in the third degree with child abuse as the felony element. Martin was, at the time of his death, a minor. The defense fought against both motions. Don West found the mention of child abuse, "outrageous."
There is a reason the defense doesn't want those lesser charges available to the six woman jury. Murder two was a reach even before the trial began. Now, after everyone in the world has disagreed on who was actually yelling for help and all manner of people have claimed this, that, or the other, depending on who called them to the stand, reasonable doubt has probably been established. However, according to Florida law manslaughter has occurred, "when a homicide does not meet the legal definition of a murder. It does not require evidence of a defendant's premeditation, or depraved mind." Voluntary manslaughter happens when "a homicide is intentionally committed while in the midst of a provocation."
Yes, that is a much easier sell to the jury, especially one, while not convinced Zimmerman set out to shoot Trayvon Martin, has no doubt he stepped way over the line in his cop wannabe act.
While the state and nation waits on the verdict authorities in Florida are running public service spots on TV urging people not to go crazy when they hear what the outcome of the trial is.
Meanwhile, in Colorado lawyers for James Holmes, the man accused of opening fire with semi automatic weapons inside a crowded theater, admitted he did it.
Oh, you think?
In a statement they claimed Holmes suffered from "severe mental illness" and committed the act while, "in the throes of a psychotic episode." The defense team is arguing that Holmes has shown good behavior in past court appearances and that he shouldn't be restrained during his trial and "kept hitched to the floor like an animal."
I don't know. If I am a defense attorney trying to get someone off the hook by claiming he is insane I might want my guy trussed up in a straight jacket that even Houdini couldn't get out of.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client is so utterly and uncontrollably demented we must keep him heavily bound. God only knows what horrors he'd commit if he is turned loose in this room.
Holmes' trial is set for February of 2014.
The wheels of justice grind slowly sometimes. And sometimes they don't grind at all.
We'll all see for ourselves soon enough.
sic vita est