Isn’t it slightly odd that while hundreds of young black men have been killed in Chicago this year with barely a headline, America has been transfixed by the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot in a Sanford, Florida townhouse complex by 29-year old neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, acting in self-defence, according to a jury of his peers.
A race narrative was quickly ensconced, in no small way as a result of President Barack Obama’s gratuitous, race-baiting comment that if he had a son, he would probably look like Trayvon. Yes, I recall the photo of an innocent looking young black boy: only later was it revealed that the picture splashed across the media was of Trayvon when he was years younger, looking nothing like the sullen, troubled 6’ lad that he had become.
Trayvon was visiting his father on the night he died, having been suspended from his high school for ten days for being caught with a plastic bag lined with marijuana residue. Hardly a reason to brand him as a ne’er-do-well, but toxicology tests done after his death showed his system contained marijuana of sufficient quantity to affect his behavior.
Initially Mr. Zimmerman faced no criminal charges, but 44 days after the tragic events of February 26, 2012, a special prosecutor was appointed, undoubtedly in reaction to street protests and Change.org’s Petition, signed by 2.2 million persons urging the arrest of Mr. Zimmerman. Not unexpectedly, the usual black celebrities joined in, including Russell Simmons and the Reverends: Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
In an illustration of amazingly swift justice, the Zimmerman trial began and concluded in a mere five weeks, and within 18 months of that terrible night, an example that ought to be studied by Canadian prosecutors and justice officials.
For those outraged by George Zimmerman’s acquittal, consider how the prosecution botched their case.
Their “star” witness was Trayvon Martin’s female friend, Rachel Jeantel, who testified that she was on the telephone with Trayvon just before he was killed. She tearfully recounted how the last words she heard Trayvon speak were “Get off, get off ”. Damning? Hardly, because it was the first time she mentioned these words, despite numerous previous interviews and a letter that she wrote at the request of Trayvon’ s parents, describing her last conversation with him.
When she was asked by Zimmerman’s defence counsel to read the letter, she could not, she was illiterate and in fact, a friend had written the letter for her. She was also proven to be a liar, even though her lies were inconsequential to the legal issues before the court.
But the testimony that really sewered the State’s case was from their witness, John Good. He was the only neighbor who heard noise and came outside. A better witness for the defence you could not have found…yes, the defence. He was clean-cut, well-dressed, articulate and calm as he described seeing Trayvon Martin on top of George Zimmerman “pounding” him with mixed martial arts moves.
The prosecution tried to show that Zimmerman was himself trained in the violent sport. Adam Pollock the owner of the gym where Zimmerman worked out said that out of 10, Zimmerman was a one as far as physicality and a 1.5 in his ability to fight. He testified that Zimmerman had a lot of weight to lose when he began attending the gym.
In a commercially crass sidebar, Mr. Pollock’s gym is now offering the “Zimmerman Program”.
There was considerable evidence on whether it was Martin or Zimmerman who cried out for help, with Trayvon’ s parents saying they recognized their son’s voice, while Zimmerman’s family said it was George’s voice.
The prosecutors sought to have the evidence of a voice recognition expert testify that it was Trayvon Martin’s voice; however, the evidence was ruled inadmissible, as the so-called expert was actually the inventor of the software program that he, of course, believed was valid and reliable.
Judge Debra Nelson ruled the science was speculative and the fact that the State’s expert was actively marketing the program and had a significant financial interest was its death knell.
Judge Nelson also disallowed evidence sought to be admitted by the defence team. She ruled that Martin’s profane twitter messages, cell phone photos of him with drugs and holding a gun, his school suspension and his propensity for fighting were either irrelevant or prejudicial.
The jury did their job, a disappointment for the prosecution, who at the last-minute asked the judge to give the jury instructions on manslaughter. They clearly realized their fantasy of a second-degree murder conviction was a bust, but that’s what happens when crowd mentality is the basis for a criminal charge.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang