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The George Zimmerman Trial So Far: A Fiasco For the Prosecution?

If you are interested in the George Zimmerman trial, in which testimony is now under way, the place to go is Legal Insurrection, where Andrew Branca, a Massachusetts lawyer who authored The Law of Self Defense, is posting a thorough, witness-by-witness commentary on the evidence, with videos of the actual courtroom scene.

Branca thinks today’s testimony was “an utter debacle for the prosecution.” In Branca’s view, the witnesses called by the state did far more to bolster Zimmerman’s defense than to advance the prosecution. The portrait they painted of Zimmerman was positive, and in a dramatic moment that Branca describes and which you can also see on video, the one witness who purported to have any information about the actual events surrounding the shooting of Trayvon Martin–an “ear witness,” as Branca calls her–was shown to have signed a petition calling for the prosecution of Zimmerman as “the killer of our son Trayvon Martin.” Ouch!

I confess that I find much of the commentary on the Zimmerman case, and even a good bit of the evidence, mystifying. There is no question that Zimmerman shot Martin; he claims self-defense. That defense raises a straightforward question of fact. All of the nonsense about whether Zimmerman was a “wannabe cop,” and whether he “profiled” Martin, and whether he was or was not a “racist,” is utterly beside the point. If, as Zimmerman says (and I assume will testify), Martin initiated the fight, knocked Zimmerman to the ground, jumped on him, punched him repeatedly and smashed his head against the sidewalk, Zimmerman had an absolute right to defend himself. Whether his character is otherwise sterling is immaterial.

The physical facts appear consistent with Zimmerman’s story. I don’t know how he possibly could have sustained these wounds except by having his head pounded into the pavement, as he says:

And we know from the witness statements that have been made public that at least one witness told police he saw Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him, as Zimmerman shouted for help. So it would seem that Zimmerman’s defense is quite strong.

Of course, there is much evidence yet to come, and the prosecution may yet prove its case. In the meantime, to follow the proceedings, Legal Insurrection is the place to go.

PAUL ADDS: I agree with John’s overall assessment and his view that the photograph corroborates Zimmerman’s claim that Martin pounded his head against the pavement. But how will the “Free Country” label on Zimmerman’s shirt play with the jury (we know how it would play with the IRS)? I mean, is it still okay to express that thought, even if inadvertently?

UPDATE: More here.

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