As the prosecution in the George Zimmerman murder trial approaches the end of the presentation of its case, media commentators and legal experts are beginning to concede that the evidence and testimony so far is likely too weak to land a second degree murder conviction, meaning Zimmerman may walk.
“I don’t think there is much expectation that Mr. Zimmerman will be found guilty,” Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson said yesterday on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir Show. “I think that there are mass people invested in this case because their children are vulnerable like Trayvon Martin [who] feel that he is being re-traumatized and that there is little hope he will be convicted.”
The prosecution’s case was severely damaged after the testimony of Trayvon Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel, who set off a national debate about race and black youth culture following her muddled, defiant and inarticulate testimony, during which she revealed that Martin called Zimmerman a “creepy-ass cracker.”
It also was hurt after the testimony of neighbor Jonathan Good, who saw the confrontation between two men outside his townhouse on a dark, rainy night and who supported Zimmerman’s contention that Martin was on top of him.
Good described a scuffle that supported Zimmerman’s contention that Martin had been the aggressor, throwing the punches and pounding Zimmerman’s head into the ground.
Good called the blows “ground and pound” and said, “I could tell that the person on the bottom had a light skin color.”
In addition, one of the detectives who worked the case, Chris Serino, testified that he couldn’t find any inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense—though it should be noted that it was the Sanford Police Department that felt Zimmerman’s actions didn’t even warrant an arrest in the case. That decision prompting a national outcry, causing the state to bring in a special prosecutor who got the grand jury indictment.
According to John Jay College forensics professor Lawrence Kobilinsky, the evidence thus far presented against Zimmerman is insufficient to prove second degree murder.
“What I’m hearing is the state’s case is getting weaker and weaker as every day goes by,” he said. “I think they’re going to be wrapping up pretty soon.”
“Even though I’ve got some problems with George Zimmerman’s testimony – even though I have a problem with how it seems to not jibe with the physical evidence we’ve heard so far — that I think the prosecution has got to put on a much stronger case,” said MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor.
“The prosecution overreached,” Fred Grimm wrote in the Miami Herald. “Manslaughter, maybe. I wouldn’t bet on it. But a second-degree murder conviction for George Zimmerman looks ever more doubtful. Civic leaders, mindful that public assumptions about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin aren’t governed by the legal niceties of Florida’s self-defense law, might want to start planning. Zimmerman may well walk. The reaction could be ugly.”
As noted by the New York Times, the jury could still find Zimmerman guilty of manslaughter, but it is up to the prosecution to argue for that result—without appearing to concede that second-degree murder might have been overreaching.