Zimmerman lawyer, prosecutors talk trial with USA TODAY

USA TODAY, July 15, 2013

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By Yamiche Alcindor

SANFORD, Fla — The prosecutors who tried to get George Zimmerman convicted believe he got away with murdering Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s lawyer says everyone — including President Obama — should know that Zimmerman was wrongly charged and should recognize the unjust trauma brought upon him.

Two days after Zimmerman’s acquittal, lawyers from both sides, in interviews with USA TODAY, talked about the aftermath of a verdict that continues to reverberate across the nation.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled, tracked down, and murdered an innocent 17 year old — and then lied his way out of a conviction. Zimmerman’s lawyer says he will seek immunity from any further legal action against his client and thinks Obama should publicly recognize the suffering endured by Zimmerman and his family.

“He (Zimmerman) called the police and then he decided to become the police,” said State Attorney Angela Corey, adding that Zimmerman deserved to be charged with murder. “George Zimmerman used excessive and deadly force and that’s what made it a violation of Florida law.” (more…)

George Zimmerman found not guilty

USA TODAY, July 14, 2013

By Yamiche Alcindor

SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter Saturday night.

The verdict is the culmination of a case that captured the nation’s attention and will undoubtedly be imprinted in America’s history. For Zimmerman, it means trying to recapture his life after he was at the center of a national maelstrom over racial profiling, state gun laws and what constitutes self-defense.

The not guilty verdict means the jury of six women, after deliberating for more than 15 hours over two days, found that Zimmerman justifiably used deadly force. They determined that he reasonably believed that such force was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself — Florida’s definition of self-defense.

Zimmerman showed no emotion as the verdict was read. After the verdict was read, he smiled slightly and shook hands with one of his lawyers. (more…)

Five key issues for Zimmerman jury

USA TODAY, July 13, 2013

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By Yamiche Alcindor

George Zimmerman could spend the rest of his life in prison or walk away a free man after more than a year of being reviled as a murderer.

During three weeks of testimony, state prosecutors called 38 people to the stand to paint Zimmerman as a spiteful, frustrated man who profiled and killed an unarmed teenager. Defense attorneys countered by calling 18 witnesses — but not Zimmerman — to explain that Zimmerman feared for his life and was being pummeled by Trayvon Martin.

When the fatal gunshot was fired in the dark, nobody was close enough to see what happened — other than Zimmerman and Trayvon. Throughout the trial, prosecutors tried to shine some light on that night and show jurors what they believe happened, but most experts think there were few concrete answers in the testimony.

“They are making it a guessing game, and guessing games favor the defense,” Jose Baez, a Florida criminal defense attorney, said of both sides. Baez successfully defended Casey Anthony, a Florida mother accused of killing her daughter in a high-profile murder case. (more…)

Trayvon Martin’s dad says he heard son’s screams

USA TODAY, July 8, 2013

By Yamiche Alcindor

SANFORD, Fla. — The father of Trayvon Martin told a jury Monday that he believes a 911 tape contains “my son’s last cry for help” on the night he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman.

Defense attorneys called Tracy Martin to testify about the 911 call and his exchange with Sanford police officers. Martin said he never told officers he didn’t recognize Trayvon’s voice, despite an investigator’s previous testimony that Tracy Martin told him he didn’t think he could hear his son on the tape.

Tracy Martin claimed to the jury on Monday that he was simply unsure and told officials, “I can’t tell.”

The testimony by Tracy Martin and other witnesses who heard the 911 call could be crucial as Zimmerman’s lawyers try to show that Trayvon was the aggressor and that Zimmerman shot him in self-defense. (more…)

Prosecution rests case in Zimmerman trial

USA TODAY, July 5, 2013

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By Yamiche Alcindor

SANFORD, Fla. — Prosecutors wrapped their case against George Zimmerman on Friday afternoon after the mother and brother of teenager Trayvon Martin testified Friday that they believed the screams on a 911 call seconds before his death were his, not those of Zimmerman.

“I heard my son screaming,” said Sybrina Fulton, who listened to the 911 tape of the final moments of his life on Feb. 26, 2012. Fulton said she had to listen to the tape only once to know it was her 17-year-old son. She also testified that she didn’t think Trayvon was responsible for his own death.

The defense began with Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys Zimmerman, briefly testifying that it was her son screaming for help on the phone. “That’s George’s voice,” she said. (more…)

Who are the six jurors in Zimmerman’s trial?

USA TODAY, June 21, 2013

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By Yamiche Alcindor

SANFORD, Fla. — Now that a jury for the trial of George Zimmerman has been picked, lawyers for both sides will do their best to convince a group of everyday people that Zimmerman either murdered Trayvon Martin or killed him in self-defense.

How the jurors — six women — and alternates — two women and two men — will weigh lawyers’ arguments, evidence and witnesses’ testimonies may be impacted by their life experiences, legal experts say. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson made it very clear that jurors must use only evidence presented in court to reach a decision on Zimmerman’s actions.

Still, lawyers from both sides and legal experts indicated that jurors’ backgrounds matter. (more…)

Fla. town on edge as Trayvon Martin case goes to court

USA TODAY, June 10, 2013

By Yamiche Alcindor

SANFORD, Fla. — For more than a year, the Trayvon Martin murder case has ignited protests, death ttravhreats, online campaigns, and become the center of national discussion about race, gun laws and self-defense.

Monday the trial finally starts.

Supporters of George Zimmerman and Martin have waged emotionally charged arguments about the deadly encounter Feb. 26, 2012, in this small southern city. The Internet has buzzed with debates about whether Zimmerman was defending himself against an aggressive teen who had begun pummeling him or whether he had profiled and murdered a black, unarmed 17-year-old.

“This is the second trial of the century as far as central Florida goes,” said Dave Sirak, chairman of the Central Florida Media Committee, referring to Case Anthony’s as the first. “This trial feels larger than the Casey Anthony trial though because we are seeing international interest right off the top.”