There will be probably be a civil trial at some point, and expect Obama’s DOJ to do everything in their power to come down on Zimmerman any way they can, but for now, there is this.
Deep breaths, y’all:
George Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney urged jurors to let the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer “get back to his life” by finding him not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the 2012 confrontation that ended in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, saying the state prove Zimmerman did anything other than defend himself.
In a low-key and methodical presentation that began early Friday, defense attorney Mark O’Mara urged the all-female, six-member jury to not “fill in the gaps” or “connect the dots,” but to stick to facts. He ridiculed prosecutors for their forceful portrayal of Zimmerman as a wannabe cop who profiled an unarmed teen when he cut through the gated community where Zimmerman lived.
“That is not an unarmed teenager!” O’Mara said, hoisting a chunk of concrete to represent the pavement Martin allegedly bashed Zimmerman’s head against before the fatal shot.
For most of the three-hour presentation, O’Mara’s style was in sharp contrast to the fiery summation delivered by lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda a day earlier, in which he forcefully told jurors that Zimmerman’s inaccurate “assumptions” about Martin were responsible for the teen’s death on Feb. 26, 2012. But O’Mara became more emotional toward the end, reminding jurors that even a reasonable doubt in their minds that Zimmerman committed a crime can only mean acquittal.
“It is a tragedy, truly,” O’Mara said. “But you can’t allow sympathy.”
O’Mara’s summation was followed by the prosecution’s rebuttal, in which prosecutor John Guy told jurors that Zimmerman would have had to have faced deadly force to be justified in shooting Martin. Guy showed a picture of Zimmerman’s scalp and downplayed cuts on it.
“Did that man need to kill somebody? Kill a teenager?
“Did he really need to shoot, did he have to shoot, Trayvon Martin?” Guy asked the jury. “No he did not.”
For those who watched the last two days of closing arguments, what did you think?
Via Fox News:
A Florida prosecutor painted George Zimmerman as an angry vigilante who “tracked” Trayvon Martin through a gated community and provoked the confrontation that claimed the teenager’s life in a scorching summation Thursday.
“A teenager is dead,” said prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda in his closing argument. “He’s dead not just because the man made those assumptions, but because he acted on those assumptions and unfortunately, because his assumptions were wrong, Trayvon Benjamin Martin no longer walks on this Earth.”
The closing prosecution arguments brought the case one step closer to the jury. On Friday morning, defense lawyers were scheduled to present their closing arguments, followed by a prosecution rebuttal. Then the case will move to the all-female, six-member jury.
De la Rionda told the jury Thursday that Zimmerman wanted to be a police officer and that’s why he followed Martin through his neighborhood even though the teen wasn’t doing anything wrong.
“He assumed Trayvon Martin was a criminal. That is why we are here,” de la Rionda said.
Zimmerman showed ill will and hatred when he whispered profanities to a police dispatcher over his cell phone while following Martin, said de la Rionda as he urged jurors to hold Zimmerman accountable for his actions. In order to get a second-degree conviction, prosecutors must show Zimmerman showed ill will, hatred or spite.
“The law doesn’t allow people to take the law into their own hands,” de la Rionda said.
I have kept up with this trial since jury selection was over with and I can tell you right now that in the first week, before the defense ever called their first witness, reasonable doubt was flying all over the place regarding the allegations against George Zimmerman. Nearly every single STATE witness, on cross, provided testimony that substantiated the crux of his account, which is that Trayvon Martin confronted HIM and started the fight, that Zimmerman didn’t display any “ill will” or “hatred” towards Martin. Disgustingly enough, the state even argued at one point that POINTING A GUN IN AND OF ITSELF at another person constituted ill will and hatred towards someone else. I kid you not. Their star witness, Rachel Jeantal – the young woman on the phone with Martin prior to the incident – is an admitted liar. And another key witnesses’ testimony was so helpful to the defense that the state turned around and tried to discredit her w/ claims of bias!
Like I said early on, if the all-women jury of 6 didn’t gain a sense of reasonable doubt somewhere within the first couple of days – especially after EYEwitness John Good testified, God help George Zimmerman.
The defense gets to make their closing argument next, followed by a rebuttal from the state. Expect more fireworks tomorrow – and, as Florida pastors are urging, please continue to pray for a peaceful outcome, no matter the verdict ultimately reached by the jury.
George Zimmerman’s attorneys have just started the first full day of the case they will present to the jury, and the witnesses who have testified so far are friends of Zimmerman. The defense has said they think they’ll be able to wrap up their case by Wednesday, which means there is a strong possibility the jury will get to start deliberations before the week is out.
After the state rested this past Friday, defense attorney Mark O’Mara made a plea to the judge to dismiss the case under the grounds that the state’s case did not meet the criteria for the 2nd degree murder charge that Zimmerman faces. After about an hour making his case, and a half an hour rebuttal by the state, Judge Nelson quickly denied O’Mara’s request and told the defense to call their first witness. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, as she’s been no help to the defense at all since Day 1 of this trial.
All you really need to know about the state’s case can be summed up in their Friday rebuttal to O’Mara. It was filled with lies and gross exaggerations, which I found particularly disgusting considering a man’s life is on the line here. One lie they told, arguably the biggest, was that a reasonable conclusion to draw from witness testimony is that George Zimmerman started the confrontation. If you’ve been paying close attention to the trial as I have, you’ll know that’s not even remotely true – unless you believe in admitted liar and “friend” of Trayvon Martin Rachel Jeantal. *NO ONE* saw who started the confrontation, and Jeantal was the last person to talk to Martin before everything happened. She has admitted to lies on several issues while on the stand and is not credible, and some have speculated she has been greatly coached by Martin family attorney Ben Crump.
In any event, if you can’t get to a TV, you can follow my Twitter list below of journalists and others who are live-tweeting the trial. A live feed video link is below that.
Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton has already testified this morning that she believes the screams heard on the 911 call were that of her son, while Trayvon’s older brother Jahvaris Fulton on cross-examination by the defense confirmed that he told a journalist a few weeks after the death of his brother that he was not sure if it was his brother screaming. It should be noted that Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, initially stated to investigators that the screams on the 911 call were NOT his son, but later changed his mind. The state is likely not to call him to testify, but you can expect the defense to.
The medical examiner is now testifying for the state. You can watch a Twitter feed of journalists live-tweeting the trial and other key players commentating on it below. A Fox35 Orlando live feed video is below that.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that opening statements are scheduled to start today in the trial of George Zimmerman, who is accused of second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin:
SANFORD – Jurors will hear opening statements at the George Zimmerman murder trial today, as attorneys for both sides begin telling their version of what happened the night Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a homicide that set of weeks of civil rights rallies.
The six jurors and four alternates seated last week will be presented with starkly contrasting depictions of Zimmerman, 29: The state alleges that he profiled the unarmed teenager, then followed, confronted and killed Trayvon Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.
Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, says he fired the fatal shot in self-defense after Trayvon punched him to the ground and began beating him.
When the trial resumes about 9 a.m. today, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda is expected to present the state’s opening, followed by defense attorney Don West.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled late last week that the state can use several phrases in opening that Zimmerman’s defense team had argued were too inflammatory: Prosecutors can say Zimmerman was a “wannabe cop,” or a “vigilante,” the judge ruled. They can also say Zimmerman “confronted” Trayvon.
The judge also ruled the state can say Trayvon, a black teen from Miami Gardens, was profiled by Zimmerman, though she instructed prosecutors to avoid the phrase “racially profiled.”
Opening statements come on the heels of a major victory for Zimmerman’s defense: Nelson ruled Saturday that forensic audio analysts the state hoped to call as expert witnesses will not be allowed to testify at trial.
I’ve wrote extensively about the George Zimmerman case last year, but admittedly have not kept up with the legal wranglings that have taken place this year betweeen the prosecution and defense teams. That being said, I believe this post where I detailed facts not widely known about the case, and deconstructed myths concocted by the mainstream media about the case is one you should probably read before the trial gets underway. In particular, what I feel are the two most important facts about this case is that there were two EYEwitnesses, one a young teenage boy and the other a male resident of the apartment complex who both initially told reporters and/or law enforcement that they saw a man in a red jacket getting beat up on the ground underneath another man, and yelling for help. The last I read, the state had managed to get to these two EYEwitnesses by making them think they “couldn’t be sure” of what they saw and heard, but it will be interesting to see if the defense either calls to the stand or brings up these two during the trial.
You can watch the trial online here.
As they say, stay tuned … and pray that – no matter the outcome – there will be no violent demonstrations as a result.
Stars and Stripes reports on an interesting ruling coming out of a Hawaii military court this week involving two defendants in separate sexual assault cases:
Two defendants in military sexual assault cases cannot be punitively discharged, if found guilty, because of “unlawful command influence” derived from comments made by President Barack Obama, a judge ruled in a Hawaii military court this week.
Navy Judge Cmdr. Marcus Fulton ruled during pretrial hearings in two sexual assault cases — U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes — that comments made by Obama as commander in chief would unduly influence any potential sentencing, according to a court documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Fulton approved the pretrial defense motions, which used as evidence comments that Obama made about sexual assault at a May 7 news conference.
“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to an NBC News story submitted as evidence by defense attorneys in the sexual assault cases.
‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
The judge’s pretrial ruling means that if either defendant is found guilty, whether by a jury or a military judge, they cannot receive a bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable discharge. Sailors found guilty under the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Article 120, which covers several sexual crimes including assault and rape, generally receive punitive discharges.
“A member of the public would not hear the President’s statement to be a simple admonition to hold members accountable,” Fulton stated. “A member of the public would draw the connection between the ‘dishonorable discharge’ required by the President and a punitive discharge approved by the convening authority.
“The strain on the system created by asking a convening authority to disregard [Obama’s] statement in this environment would be too much to sustain public confidence.”
The ruling sets the stage for defense attorneys to use the same arguments in sexual assault cases throughout the military.
Should other judges accept the same line of reasoning, commands would have to consider issuing lesser administrative discharges to servicemembers found guilty of sexual assault. In some cases, this could allow servicemembers found guilty of sex crimes to retain veterans benefits, according to Defense Department regulations.
Wow. This is a big deal, especially when you consider the context of today’s raging debate regarding the alleged high number of sexual assaults in the military and an unwritten system of reporting that supposedly punishes the accusers. I’m sure this was not the intent of President Obama when he made his comments back in May, but nevertheless this is the result. One would think that someone as well-versed in law as our “Constitutional scholar President” supposedly is would understand that he needs to be very cautious as Commander in Chief in making comments about the punishment defendants in military trials should receive, but apparently not:
As soon as Obama made his off-the-cuff comment, military lawyers began to voice concern that his comments might be detrimental. “I thought of the unlawful command influence issue as soon as he spoke,” said James Mackler, a private attorney and Army reserve lawyer who was involved in sexual assault cases while on active duty.
“The principle behind it is a sound principle, which is that in the military there is a lot of pressure to follow the directives of your commanders, including the president,” he said. “It’s a legitimate problem.”
As a lawyer, Obama knows to be cautious in speaking about specific cases — as he has been for the past week in not speaking out on Edward Snowden — but may not be as familiar with the military justice system, Mackler said, where unlawful command influence creates problems, as it has in these cases and likely many more to come.
PJ Tatler’s Rick Moran chided the President for putting attempts to solidify his appeal to “women’s groups” over the rule of military law:
The president used the press conference to try and score political points with women’s groups who have been agitating for harsher treatment of sexual assault cases. The disposition of sexual assault cases is not at issue here. This is a question of knowledge and competence. In Obama’s eagerness to show women’s groups how tough he is going to be on military personnel convicted of sexual assault crimes, he stupidly handed defense lawyers a gift — and tied the hands of military judges.
Those convicted of serious sexual assault charges will still go to prison. But being unable to dishonorably discharge the felons means it’s possible one could be convicted of sexual assault and still be eligible for veterans’ benefits.
A president more respectful of military traditions would not have made such a stupid gaffe.
Let’s take a moment and think about how “feminists” and other left wing activists would react to this judge’s ruling if it’s something that happened during the Bush administration … as it stands, their reaction in this case will be quite muted, I assure you. Why? Because Obama is the pro-abortion President they’ve always dreamed of, even more so than Bubba Clinton, and really – when all is said and done with this administration when it comes to left wing women, that is -sadly – all that matters.
Why? Because one type of terrorism was supposedly the ‘good, patriotic’ kind. Via Fox News:
Bill Ayers, the 1960s radical who went on to become a college professor and associate of President Obama, said Saturday the bombings he helped the Weather Underground carry out to protest the Vietnam War bear no resemblance to the deadly Boston Marathon attack – and glossed over the fact that his group’s bombs killed three fellow terrorists and have been linked to the murder of a San Francisco police officer.
“How different is the shooting in Connecticut from shooting at a hunting range?” Ayers told a reporter who asked him to compare the incidents after Ayers spoke at a commemoration of the 1970 incident at Kent State University, where Ohio National Guard members killed four students during a protest. “Just because they use the same thing, there’s no relationship at all.”
Ayers went on to accuse Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who spent five years in a POW camp, of murdering civilians in the war, lament the deaths of two fellow Weather Underground members – skipping over the fact that they blew themselves up while trying to make bombs – and painted his actions as a heroic bid to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Ayers was the keynote speaker at the event, which drew an estimated 350 people on the university’s Commons, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. But it was after Ayers made his prepared remarks that he bristled over a possible comparison of terrorist acts separated by more than four decades.
“To conflate a group of fundamentalist people [in Boston] who are nihilistic in some way with a group of people who spent their lives trying to oppose the murder of 6,000 people a week … and still the killing went on. And still the killing went on. What would you have done?” Ayers said. “There’s no equivalence [with Boston]. Property damage. That’s what we did.”
Because being an admitted domestic terrorist means never having to say you’re sorry.
I weep – literally – at seeing this picture:
The story, via The Smoking Gun:
In a chilling image obtained by the FBI, one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects can be seen standing behind the young boy who was killed by one of Monday’s terror blasts, The Smoking Gun has learned.
The photo, reproduced below, shows suspect #2 lurking several feet away from the metal barricade (and behind a trio of young women). Immediately to the left of the women is Martin Richard, the eight-year-old Dorchester boy who was killed by the explosion. To the child’s right is his seven-year-old sister Jane, who lost a leg in the blast.
The children were at the race cheering on their father, who ran in the marathon. According to the Boston Globe, the Richard family had watched most of the race from a spot several blocks away from the Copley Square finish line. However, after an ice cream break, they moved closer to the end of the course, ending up against the barrier in front of the apartment building at 775 Boylston Street.
There are other images, too – of the man being wheeled away from the scene in a wheelchair, legs horribly mangled by the blast to the point he lost both of them below the knee. His name is Jeff Bauman, and though badly injured he turned out to be a huge help to investigators in trying to crack this case by being able to describe “Suspect 2″, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19 – the one of the two brothers still “at large.” Suspect 1 – the older brother Tamerlan – was killed overnight in a gun battle with police. Sean Collier, 26 and an MIT police officer, was also killed. Incidentally, his brother Andrew Collier works as a machinist with Hendrick Motorsports here in Charlotte. Please pray for his family, and that of MBTA Officer Richard Donohue, 33, who was seriously wounded from the overnight violence.
But the picture of little Martin standing there with his little sister, anxiously and excitedly waiting for his dad to cross the finish line, while his killer lurks in the background and the instrument of the young boy’s murder sits just a few feet away will haunt me and many others for years to come. It’s a agonizingly heartbreaking reminder of how life can change literally in a split second. This innocent young boy, enjoying a beautiful Boston day with his family – including having most children’s favorite snack ice cream – one second he’s alive, the next he’s gone. No chance at a full life of happiness and contentment and excitement. The pain his family must be going through as a result of not just of the loss of little Martin, but the devastating injuries to his mother and sister has to be unbearable. I know I can’t even write about it without choking up. What must they be going through?
Pray for his family, for all the victims and their families, and for the law enforcement at all levels of government putting their lives on the line to bring the other suspect in this vicious terror attack to justice. And hug your family members and friends VERY tight, let them know you love them. Because life is too fragile, too precious to take for granted.
Update – 11:30 PM: “Suspect 2″ is now in custody — in a Jewish hospital.
Have you seen these men?
(Click link above for bigger image)
Here is surveillance video from the Boston marathon:
More photos here. The site is crashing now due to the volume of visitors, but keep checking.
Please contact the Boston police or the FBI if you’ve seen them!
Do you know these individuals? Contact email@example.com or 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3 twitter.com/Boston_Police/…
— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) April 18, 2013