George Zimmerman’s Attorneys Misrepresented Evidence In Court

Well, this isn’t something you want to have to admit to less than three weeks before your client goes on trial for murder:

Attorneys for George Zimmerman apologized Sunday for mischaracterizing evidence they said boosted their theory that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor in his fatal meeting with their client last year.

Lawyer Mark O’Mara said during a hearing last Tuesday that the defense had obtained video footage of three fights, including one in which he said two of Martin’s friends “were beating up a homeless guy.”

But Zimmerman’s defense team corrected that statement on  Sunday, saying O’Mara had unintentionally “misstated the nature” of the footage.

In a statement posted on Zimmerman’s website, the defense lawyers said the footage actually showed ”two homeless guys fighting each other over a bike.”

Now, I’ve made misstatements in the middle of a hearing myself sometimes. When you’re speaking extemporaneously, it sometimes happens. When you realize you did it, you correct the mistake, make the appropriate apologies, and move on. Nonetheless, this one strikes me as a pretty serious mistake, and one that is likely to influence the relationship between the Judge and the defense team as the trial moves forward.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    I am shocked, shocked! to find George Zimmerman’s attorneys lying in court!

  2. anjin-san says:

    “Martin was a thug” has taken on a life of its own.

    Mission accomplished.

  3. Ernieyeball says:

    Tuesday they said the recording showed:

    …two of Martin’s friends “were beating up a homeless guy.”

    Sunday they said the recording showed:

    ”two homeless guys fighting each other over a bike.”

    So was there a full moon between Tuesday and Sunday and somehow by the moon’s gravitational pull the recording was altered as it was stored in a supposedly moon gravity proof safe that didn’t work?
    I mean if I were the Judge I would accept that explanation along with their apologies.

  4. MM says:

    @anjin-san: Exactly. Zimmerman’s team is more than happy to have this out there right now.

  5. legion says:

    Now, I’ve made misstatements in the middle of a hearing myself sometimes. When you’re speaking extemporaneously, it sometimes happens.

    When you’re an ordinary attorney running an ordinary trial, you’re right. But this isn’t an ordinary trial. This is what happens when you try to simultaneously run a trial in court and a trial in the media – you get tempted to “sex things up” for the press in ways you would never consider in front of a judge.

  6. Matt Bernius says:

    Well you know this is perfectly understandable… I mean, black kids really all look the same right? Oh wait… I meant to say they all look like homeless people… Wait… umm…

    So were Treyvon’s friends even in the video to begin with?

    Doug, can the prosecution use incidents like this to cast doubt upon other defense “evidence”?

  7. Matt Bernius says:

    Slate has a far more understandable story about the gaffe. Here is a bit more context:

    During the Tuesday, May 28th hearing, Mr. O’Mara misstated the nature of video from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone which was included in the Defendant’s 3rd Supplemental Discovery. He stated that the video showed “two buddies of his beating up a homeless guy,” when what happened was Trayvon Martin, along with a buddy, was videotaping two homeless guys fighting each other over a bike. Though it was unintentional, it is a particular concern to us because we are and have been committed to disputing misinformation in every aspect of this case, not causing it. For that, Mr. O’Mara apologizes.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/06/03/trayvon_martin_homeless_fight_video_zimmerman_team_concedes_video_isn_t.html

  8. @Matt Bernius:

    There’s not much the prosecution can do with it directly,but as I said, when you start losing credibility with the trial Judge you’re going to feel the impact

  9. nemerinys says:

    I’m spitting nails.

    The defense, and defendant’s brother, have persistently pounded the issue of race in the media, when the issue of race is not part of the criminal charge, nor an issue that will be raised during the trial.

    The defense has persistently conjectured that the charge was made due to political grandstanding by Angela Corey, providing, among other things, a deposition taken of Sgt. Joseph Santiago, who stated that the department was surprised when Inv. Serino recommended Manslaughter (we later learned he prepared five drafts of the capias, the first three recommending Murder 2). You’d have to read the deposition to learn that Sgt. Santiago had never read any of Zimmerman’s statements, hadn’t watched either the CVSA and reenactment videos, and, in fact, hadn’t reviewed any of the forensic evidence. Angela Corey, on the other hand, had the evidence procured from a lengthy and thorough FDLE investigation, supplemented by two of her own investigators. If charging Zimmerman was at all political, a Manslaughter charge would have been appropriate. Clearly, she felt Murder 2 was not only applicable, but provable.

    The defense has repeatedly and increasingly been trying the case in public, ramping up its efforts to present Trayvon Martin as a violent pothead thug who behaved aggressively on the night he was killed, despite his non-aggressive and reasonable behavior, according to Zimmerman’s own words.

    In court, defense attorney West “accidentally” mentioned the name of a friend of Witness 8, despite the efforts of one particular pro-Zimmerman (and racist) web site that had already “doxied” two young black women they thought were Witness 8. One would think that the defense would be particularly careful since it has been affiliated with that web site.

    In a post-hearing press conference, defense attorney West “accidentally” provided information that was not only premature, but that had been discussed in-camera.

    In court and in various media appearances, O’Mara has repeatedly stated that a witness will testify that Martin was MMA pounding and head-bashing Zimmerman, when said witness retracted his statement, twice affirming under oath that he had seen no such thing (that, in fact, he never saw anyone’s hands at all).

    And, now this. As noted by former criminal defense attorney (and pro-Martin) Frederick Leatherman, the defense knew about the bicycle video for at least nine months, linking to a letter from West dated 12 September 2012:

    You mentioned that you had seen a video connected to him [Trayvon Martin] in some way regarding a bicycle. We were previously unaware of anything like that, but later saw a clip taken from his cell phone SIM card that may have been what you were referencing.

    Having known about, and presumably seen, the video in question, it could not have an “accident” for O’Mara to “misinterpret” its contents.

    Sorry for an already loooong rant, but one more thing: People watching the case closely already appreciate that Rene Stutzman at the Orlando Sentinel has been a source for O’Mara. Rather than the somewhat understated apology on the GZ Legal Case website, this offers a better look at what’s going on:

    On Thursday, in preparation for the anticipated release of the fight video, an Orlando Sentinel reporter drafted a story describing it, intending to publish it once the video had been made public. A web producer prematurely posted it to OrlandoSentinel.com Friday but quickly took it down after discovering the video had not been released. The story correctly characterized the video. After readers found a cached version of the story online Sunday, Zimmerman’s attorneys released their statement and decided against posting the video.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    But this is what happens when a child of Republican media tries to do something in the real world. Republican Media intentionally and continuously plays fast and loose with the facts, jumping from one half cooked mess to another because, quite frankly, they couldn’t care less about truth or reality. Every once in a while one of the people inside the bubble are exposed to reality and their floundering and bemused puzzlement are painful to watch.

  11. bill says:

    here’s what will probably happen
    – there’s a backdoor deal to give zimmerman a little time so the angry mobs won’t destroy some major cities.
    the only way zimmerman gets off without a major city being torched is it was via an all black jury.
    deal with it, it’s reality.

  12. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    Actually, the whole country may be destroyed. You should leave.

  13. @anjin-san: I’ll even pay for the plane ticket, on the condition that he never comes back.

  14. Jenos Idanian says:

    Looks like both sides have put some effort into pissing off the judge. The prosecution was caught trying to withhold evidence from the defense a while ago.

  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: That’s actually a fairly good description of you and the rest of the “hang Zimmerman” side. On the previous Zimmerman thread, I came up with five examples off the top of my head:

    1) Zimmerman was a white racist. (He’s Hispanic with black ancestry, grew up in a mixed-race home, and a few years ago led a protest after a police officer beat a homeless black man, even getting black churches involved in the effort.)

    2) Zimmerman was barely injured in the fracas.

    3) Zimmerman used the word “coon” in the 911 talks. After repeated listenings, there’s a definite “X” sound at the end of the word — which “coon” does not have, but “punks” does.

    4) Zimmerman said Martin was acting suspicious, and “looked black.” Zimmerman didn’t mentino Martin’s race until the 911 operator specifically asked about his race.

    5) Zimmerman’s father is a retired judge who probably pulled strings to help Zimmerman. The father spent six years as a magistrate several states away, and likely has little or no “pull” in Florida, especially in as high-profile a case as this.

    Plus, one of the authors here invented out of whole cloth that Zimmerman chased down Martin “with his gun drawn” and, when challenged, defended it by saying he “couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

  16. James Pearce says:

    Martin had a bum fight on his phone and that “boosts their theory” that Martin was the aggressor that night? I can see why the defense would be a little slippery on that one. Doesn’t hold much water, does it?

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    Funny thing about the list you just made:

    1) Zimmerman was a white racist. (He’s Hispanic with black ancestry, grew up in a mixed-race home, and a few years ago led a protest after a police officer beat a homeless black man, even getting black churches involved in the effort.)

    2) Zimmerman was barely injured in the fracas.

    3) Zimmerman used the word “coon” in the 911 talks. After repeated listenings, there’s a definite “X” sound at the end of the word — which “coon” does not have, but “punks” does.

    4) Zimmerman said Martin was acting suspicious, and “looked black.” Zimmerman didn’t mentino Martin’s race until the 911 operator specifically asked about his race.

    5) Zimmerman’s father is a retired judge who probably pulled strings to help Zimmerman. The father spent six years as a magistrate several states away, and likely has little or no “pull” in Florida, especially in as high-profile a case as this.

    1, 3, 4, 5 are all conspiracy or allegation based issues. Clearly these make sense for the “hate zimmerman” crowd. But you sneak #2 in there:

    2) Zimmerman was barely injured in the fracas.

    Which is actually something that is verifiable (broken nose, black eye, contusion on back of head, and no concussion) and run against his own account of having his head “repeatedly bashed on the pavement.”

    I’m having a hard time seeing how pointing out the ACTUAL MEDICAL EVIDENCE is seen as being a “hate Zimmerman” move. But please, enlighten me.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Jenos, Please provide links to where serious media have promoted these ideas, and reiterated them after the facts were known. That’s what separates serious media from Republican media: a desire to find the facts and correct mistakes.

  19. rudderpedals says:

    If the reporting’s correct O’Mara takes the lead and apologizes at whatever the next hearing is set for because disciplinary rules and reputation.

  20. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos

    Zimmerman’s father is a retired judge who probably pulled strings to help Zimmerman. The father spent six years as a magistrate several states away, and likely has little or no “pull” in Florida, especially in as high-profile a case as this.

    You are responding to speculation with more speculation. You have no idea how much pull ZImmerman’s father might have. Influence is an interesting thing, and it can work in ways that are not obvious. (the not obvious part is probably where you get left behind) It can certainly work across state lines.

    As for the alleged use of influence by the elder Zimmerman on behalf of his son, that took place shortly, perhaps almost immediately after the shooting – long before this became a high profile case. So are you lying, again, or just confused?

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: Let me clarify, Matt, on that one point:

    The narrative that was pushed was that Zimmerman was “barely injured” in the fracas, and videos and stills were altered or edited to conceal the extent of his injuries. The point was to discredit his self-defense claim by pushing the idea that he wasn’t really that badly hurt, so he wasn’t in very much danger. I remember one of the networks ran the police station video of Zimmerman showing his lack of head injuries — but stuck a chyron over the bottom of the screen right when we would have had a good view of the back of his head. Amazingly, the ABC chyron blocks actual views of his head.

    Zimmerman had a broken nose and several very bloody wounds to the back of his head. Personally, I’d consider that fairly serious enough.

    Let me clarify what I was trying to say. In each numbered point, the first sentence was the false message trying to be sent; then I rebutted each point.

  22. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    The narrative that was pushed was that Zimmerman was “barely injured”

    And you (and others) keep pushing the narrative that his head was “bashed into the pavement, over and over”, which is obvious nonsense. Interesting that you are so outraged about the former, and so comfortable with the later.

    In fact, Zimmerman’s injuries are superficial. Ordinary fight injuries, indicating an ordinary fight. No evidence of a brutal beating either on Zimmermann’s head, or Martin’s hands.

    Your claim that Zimmerman’s head wounds are “very bloody” is also nonsense. The amount of blood in the photos I looked at is also pretty trivial. I one watched a fight between two busboys in a parking lot that produced so much blood we had to hose it down afterward. They both walked away with no serious injuries.

    Zimmerman Injuries

    Personally, I’d consider that fairly serious enough.

    To kill over?? Really? I’ve asked you several times if you have any real world experience with fighting. So far, you are ducking the question. Matt sounds like he has enough experience to be an expert witness in court. I saw too many bar fights and worked with bouncers and occasionally as a bouncer, over a period of 20+ years. What do you bring to the table to make your opinion relevant, aside from a willingness to believe without question anything that supports Zimmerman’s story?

  23. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Zimmerman had a broken nose and several very bloody wounds to the back of his head. Personally, I’d consider that fairly serious enough.

    And in making statement like this — in the face of all of the *non doctored evidence* that is floating around out there — you continue to reveal far more about your understanding of “serious injuries” than anything about the actual evidence.

    @anjin-san:

    Your claim that Zimmerman’s head wounds are “very bloody” is also nonsense. The amount of blood in the photos I looked at is also pretty trivial. I one watched a fight between two busboys in a parking lot that produced so much blood we had to hose it down afterward. They both walked away with no serious injuries.

    THIS! While the amount of blood resulting from a fight is not necessarily an indication of the severity of damages (I’ve been concussed without a bit of blood), the fact that Jenos continues to characterize Zimmerman’s wounds as “very bloody” (see non-doctored police photos on the Wikipedia page) again tells us far more about @Jenos’s understanding of this topic than anything about the actual evidence.

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Zimmerman had a broken nose and several very bloody wounds to the back of his head. Personally, I’d consider that fairly serious enough.

    It is…if you’ve never been in or seen a fight. But a broken nose and a few cuts don’t at all rise to the level of injuries serious enough to be life-threatening.

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    the fact that Jenos continues to characterize Zimmerman’s wounds as “very bloody” (see non-doctored police photos on the Wikipedia page) again tells us far more about @Jenos’s understanding of this topic than the actual evidence.

    First time I’ve seen those photos, and wow. I’ve gotten banged up worse than that in my weekly soccer game — and it’s a recreational co-ed league.

  26. Matt Bernius says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    It is…if you’ve never been in or seen a fight. But a broken nose and a few cuts don’t at all rise to the level of injuries serious enough to be life-threatening.

    And again, this gets to a difficult aspect of this case. I know enough about roll on the ground fights to know that Zimmerman probably thought his life was in danger. Having your head hit a mat can rattle you and make you *think* its getting bounced.

    And, to some degree, we cannot expect the *average person* to know what’s safe or unsafe. This is why, for example sport fighters and people who study martial arts are held to a higher standard.

    The problem Zimmerman faces — IMHO — is that the moment he (a) decided to arm himself and (b) decided to go out on Neighborhood Watch armed, he ceased being an “average person.” Whether or not he was qualified to be held to a higher standard, those two decisions require us to hold him to a higher standard.

    Regardless of what the jury decides, I believe that when held to that higher standard, Zimmerman was found sadly lacking and a young man (who made poor decisions as well) is dead as a result.

  27. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I’ve broken my nose twice playing flag football. It isn’t all that difficult to look beaten up when your injuries aren’t all that serious, let alone life-threatening.

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:
  29. Mr. Replica says:

    It seems there are people that do not understand that even small cuts on the head can cause a lot of bleeding.

    Frankly I am tired of this overblown story. The defense has blown this case from the start, but I guess when the story coming from the perp is so out of whack, you will try and spin the case any which way you can to make up for the extremely soft self-defense angle.

  30. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Again, as I keep saying, your belief that photo is proof of a “very bloody head” tells us more about your understanding of what “very bloody” is than the actual evidence itself.

  31. anjin-san says:

    tells us more about your understanding of what “very bloody” is

    Indeed. Since we have been assured by Zimmerman fanboys that Martin was raining “MMA style blows” down upon Zimmerman, let’s look at some actual fight damage in the gallery at the link:

    MMA Fight Damage

  32. Jenos Idanian says:

    I’ll not only cop to a certain level of innocence here, but I’ll wear it proudly. I find MMA and its ilk revolting, and the only times I’ve seen it was when I was just flipping channels — and I got past it as quick as my thumb could get me.

    But MMA rules don’t apply here. “Reasonable person” does. And if someone punches me in the face hard enough to break my nose and knock me down, then climbs on top of me and starts beating my head against the pavement, I’m going to feel like they’re trying to kill me.

    The question that remains after that is whether or not those blows were justified. If the other guy had legal grounds to do that, then I got the beating coming. If I didn’t do something that made the beating legal, then I have the right to defend myself. And if the only defense I have available to me is lethal, then so be it.

    The question, to me, isn’t “did Zimmerman do everything to avoid the confrontation?” It’s “who first broke the law and went too far in asserting their rights?”

    If Martin threw the first punch with no legal provocation to do so, then Zimmerman’s not guilty.

  33. anjin-san says:

    beating my head against the pavement

    Prove it.

    Keep in mind that our own OTB expert says this is not the case. Do you have a counter argument?

    Martin threw the first punch

    Prove it.

    I’ll not only cop to a certain level of innocence here, but I’ll wear it proudly.

    In other words, you don’t have any experience or expertise that would allow you to correctly evaluate Zimmerman’s injuries, you have simply chosen to interpet events in a way favorable to him.

  34. anjin-san says:

    if the only defense I have available to me is lethal

    How is a lethal defense “the only defense” he had available to him? Every day, myriad guys the world over defend themselves in fights without using a gun. This has been going on since, oh, before the dawn of recorded history.

    Is there some reason Zimmerman could not put up a fight?

    I’m twice Zimmerman’s age. I am also pretty confident that if I had a 17 year old that weighed 160 pounds on top of me, I could get him off.

    I will say one thing about you, you are consistent. You never stop spinning the BS.

  35. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The question, to me, isn’t “did Zimmerman do everything to avoid the confrontation?” It’s “who first broke the law and went too far in asserting their rights?”

    If Martin threw the first punch with no legal provocation to do so, then Zimmerman’s not guilty.

    And this is why I thank the lord you have responsibly decided not to bear arms.

  36. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And if someone punches me in the face hard enough to break my nose and knock me down, then climbs on top of me and starts beating my head against the pavement, I’m going to feel like they’re trying to kill me.

    Before they do that to you, are you (a) an adult man while they’re a teenage boy, do you (b) outweigh them by 40 pounds, are you (c) armed with a gun while they’re unarmed, and (d) have you been stalking them at night?

  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @anjin-san:

    I’m twice Zimmerman’s age. I am also pretty confident that if I had a 17 year old that weighed 160 pounds on top of me, I could get him off.

    Especially if he was a skinny 160 pounds and you, like Zimmerman, were a sturdy 200 pounds.

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    If the other guy had legal grounds to do that, then I got the beating coming.

    If, say, the other guy was a black teenager who was scared that you, the large adult white man with the gun who’d been stalking him in the dark, was maybe planning to kidnap, assault or rape him? Would that be legal grounds?

  39. anjin-san says:

    @ Rafer Janders

    Yea, it’s interesting – the concept that Zimmerman, the architect of this tragedy, was supposedly within his rights to use any force to defend himself, as long as he had a “reasonable fear.”

    Martin, on the other hand, a guy minding his own business, doing nothing wrong, apparently had no such right, despite the circumstances you mention above. I would say Martin had ample cause to be experiencing “reasonable fear.”

    Should we add “defending yourself while black” to “walking while black” as actions that black folks are advised to avoid for their own good?

  40. MarkedMan says:

    Two things:
    1) I have no idea why, but the Trayvon Martin Wiki page appears to be blocked in China. I tried twice, then switched to a VPN and got right in. Anyone have any idea why?
    2) If all the Zimmerman supporters were honest with themselves, they would accept the fact that according to Stand Your Ground, Martin would be alive today if he had been armed and immediately shot the crazy white dude stalking him through the dark. And again, according to stand your ground, he should have not even been arrested for doing so.

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The question, to me, isn’t “did Zimmerman do everything to avoid the confrontation?” It’s “who first broke the law and went too far in asserting their rights?”

    Here’s the problem with that: Florida is a Stand Your Ground state. As long as Martin feared for his safety, it doesn’t matter if he threw the first punch. That’s the whole point of Stand Your Ground – you don’t have to wait for anything to happen for attacking, just fear for your safety. It doesn’t even need to be a reasonable fear. Now – do you see why some of us think that Stand Your Ground is a bad idea?

  42. anjin-san says:

    This is interesting:

    Fla. mom gets 20 years for firing warning shots

    (CBS News) JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Florida woman who fired warning shots against her allegedly abusive husband has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57433184/fla-mom-gets-20-years-for-firing-warning-shots/

    Hmm. A black woman with no record fires warning shots, no one dies – 20 years.

  43. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And if someone punches me in the face hard enough to break my nose and knock me down, then climbs on top of me and starts beating my head against the pavement, I’m going to feel like they’re trying to kill me.

    And if someone armed with a gun stalks me on the streets while I’m just trying to walk home, then accosts me, I’m going to feel like they’re trying to kill me, and I’m going to defend myself.

  44. bfree2k says:

    I’ll give it to Jenos Idanian and other Zimmerman supporters, you are very persistent even in the face of contradictory evidence you just continue to trot out GZ version of events as if they are gospel. The photo you supplied in a previous link still doesn’t pass the smell test or in this case the visual test as nothing about this undoctured photo dipicts “very bloody” injuries. Further, GZ own doctor concluded that he suffered “minor” lacerations and more importantly, suffered “no head trauma”. That’s important because GZ has repeatedly stated that Trayvan was “slamming” (plural) his head against concrete to the point where felt his head was going explode. How do you come away with minor only cuts one measuring 2 cm in length, the other 1.5 cm in length and no head trauma if your head is being repeatedly punched and slammed against concrete. Additionally how does one (Trayvon) allegedly punch and grab another one’s (GZ) head yet have “no DNA foreign to Trayvon Bejamin Martin” ie none of GZ DNA “present on his hands nor cuffs of the sleaves” of the garments he wore that night?

  45. nemerinys says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Regardless of what the jury decides, I believe that when held to that higher standard, Zimmerman was found sadly lacking and a young man (who made poor decisions as well) is dead as a result.

    (Bold added)

    Matt, what poor decisions did Trayvon Martin make? I remember when Norm Wolfinger, the original state attorney, made the comment, as did O’Mara back in the early days, and I don’t understand what Martin did that in any way provoked Zimmerman’s actions.

  46. nemerinys says:

    For information only:

    State’s First Discovery (pdf): Medical Examiner Report on Trayvon Martin begins on page 125. Paramedic Incident Report, an assessment of Zimmerman’s injuries and physical stats, is on page 182.

    George Zimmerman Medical Report. Along with physical assessment, please note just how tiny those two scalp lacerations were – and why Zimmerman went to the doctor.

    An interesting post, Forensics Proves Zimmerman’s Account Was Fabricated

  47. Matt Bernius says:

    @nemerinys:

    Matt, what poor decisions did Trayvon Martin make? I remember when Norm Wolfinger, the original state attorney, made the comment, as did O’Mara back in the early days, and I don’t understand what Martin did that in any way provoked Zimmerman’s actions.

    I have little doubt that Zimmerman began to pursue Martin because (a) he looked out of place and (b) the color of his skin. I also have no doubt that Zimmerman initiated the situation by getting out of his car.

    How the two came to the face-to-face confrontation, I can’t be sure. But, my bet is that Martin did throw the first punch. And, as a general rule, young people (at Martins age) tend to make bad decisions in this situation (out of frustration, adrenaline dumping, fear, anger, you name it). The fact is that their entire body chemistry is, in many ways, working against them — especially if they are in a situation that pushes them over threshold.

    Did Martin deserve to be shot over his bad decision? No. Am I trying to put all the blame of Martin? No. Based on the facts as I know them do I think Martin bears most of the responsibility for what happened? No.

    But there’s also no contradiction in thinking that if Martin had made some better decisions (i.e. starting to run to his father’s house when he felt he was being stalked or verbally confronting Zimmerman from a distance versus in striking range) he would still be alive today.

  48. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But MMA rules don’t apply here. “Reasonable person” does. And if someone punches me in the face hard enough to break my nose and knock me down, then climbs on top of me and starts beating my head against the pavement, I’m going to feel like they’re trying to kill me.

    Once again, “reasonable person” should not apply here.

    Zimmerman stopped being judged by the “reasonable person” defense the moment he decided to act like a cop. It was his decision to (a) go out on neighborhood watch (b) armed. Do you get how that completely changes the situation?

    If this confrontation had happened when Zimmerman was walking down the street from point A to point B, then you would have a far stronger argument. But Zimmerman chose to take on a policing role — he decided to *patrol the street.* And he armed himself to do it.

    That means he also signed up for all the other responsibilities that come with it — including being judged more like a LEO than an “average person.”

  49. anjin-san says:

    But MMA rules don’t apply here. “Reasonable person” does.

    Of course. It’s perfectly reasonable for a guy who claims to run the local neighborhood watch program to say “I am going to ignore neighborhood watch’s cardinal rules”…

  50. matt says:

    @anjin-san: That’s one of many reasons why you don’t fire warning shots. Life isn’t like the movies most of the time.

  51. Racna says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Put race to the side though.

    Trayvon had every right to be where he was. Just as zimmerman….

    The problem with this case is, at what point did trayvon get his self defense rights? An unknown man stalking me at night is alarming. And i would defend myself too.

    So can i kill someone because i started a fight and was losing? Given Zimmermans size vs trayvons, is trayvon not fearing for his life since zimmerman is a total stranger coming at him?

    This would of been avoided had zimmerman listened to dispatch. Being nightwatch does not make you above the law.

    And while the defense tries to make trayvon look bad from his poor decisions in the past that “caused him to get shot” when in reality his past decisions have nothing to do with this killing. Can the same be said about zimmerman who made poor decisions that had a direct impact on this death?

  52. ann roberts says:

    Taryvon did what any teen boy would have done when a strange fat man approach you in the middle of the night george zimmerman is a homosexual pedophile and a proven liar under oath to a judge all ready THE PROSECUTION NEED TO EXPLORE THAT IN COURT HIS CREDIBILITY AND HIS SEXUALITY .