On Friday, the State rested its case in the murder trial of George Zimmerman. The lead defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, immediately moved for the judge to acquit Zimmerman as a matter of law. O’Mara concluded his lengthy argument by starkly asserting that “Trayvon Martin did, in fact, cause his own death.” Watch it:
Although many legal analysts believe the trial has gone exceptionally well for the defense thus far, Judge Deborah Nelson rejected O’Mara’s motion. She found that the state had met their burden and there are factual issues that only a jury can decide.
Specifically, the case appears to boil down to who the jury finds credible. Zimmerman, through recorded testimony, claims that Trayvon “sucker punched” him while he was returning to his car, vowed to kill him and was repeatedly bashing his head against the concrete when he fired his gun to save his life. If the jury finds this account credible, Zimmerman would have to be acquitted.
Prosecution witnesses have offered testimony contradicting Zimmerman’s account. A friend of Trayvon’s who was speaking to him on the phone in the moments before the incident, Rachel Jeantel, testified that he was scared of Zimmerman and trying to get away from him. Futher, she suggested that Zimmerman started the altercation and Trayvon said “Get off!” Trayvon’s mother and other witnesses have testified that they can hear Trayvon Martin screaming for help prior to the gun being fired on 911 recordings. If the jury finds these accounts credible, Zimmerman would likely be convicted — if not of 2nd degree murder, than of the lesser included charge of manslaughter.
Both Zimmerman and key witnesses for the defense have credibility problems. Rachel Jeantel has admitted to lying about some tangential matters — falsely claiming, for example, that she missed Trayvon’s funeral because she was in the hospital. (Actually, she now says, she didn’t want to see his body.) O’Mara has admitted that various aspects of Zimmerman’s story have changed, although he discribes the descrepencies as minor. The prosecutor was less charitble stating, “There are two people involved here: one of them is dead, one of them is a liar.”
The defense is expected to conclude their case next week. O’Mara said he has not decided whether to call Zimmerman to testify in his own defense.