Trayvon Martin Case: The Defense Opens

George Zimmerman's attorney claims the defendant was fighting for his life during the deadly encounter on February 26, 2012

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Defense attorney Don West makes opening statements to the jury in George Zimmerman's trial on June 24, 2013.

In a much more deliberate and plodding approach compared to the fiery tone of the prosecution, the defense team for George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch captain on trial for the second-degree murder of teenager Trayvon Martin, took more than three hours to deliver its opening remarks. “There are no monsters here,” said attorney Don West. Here are five key points that West presented to the jury during his lengthy opening statement in the Sanford, Florida courtroom:

1. Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman first. West, a criminal defense expert who joined the defense team last June, said: “Little did George Zimmerman know at the time in less than 10 minutes from him first seeing Travyon Martin that he, George Zimmerman, would be suckered punched in the face, have his head pounded on concrete and wind up shooting and tragically killing Trayvon Martin.”

2. Zimmerman was intimidated by the teenager. The defense attorney read part of a transcript of the call between Zimmerman and a police dispatcher from the night Martin, 17, died back to back this claim. In the call, Zimmerman: “…Now he’s coming towards me. He’s got his hands in his waistband…something’s wrong with him…he’s coming to check me out…there’s something in his hands.”

3. Martin chose to confront Zimmerman. West argues to jurors that Martin had several chances to go home and avoid conflict. “Choosing not to do that, he hid in the darkness to see about this guy who was following him,” West said. “And turned to George Zimmerman and asked him ‘why are you following me?’ ” West contended that the teenage girl Martin was on his cellphone with heard these final words before the call cuts off.

4. Zimmerman, once engaged in conflict with Martin, was in a potentially lethal fight. The defense’s entire case hinges on the premise that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. West says that the audio evidence of the 911 call shows that Zimmerman was screaming for help until a clear single shot rang out, resulting in Martin’s death. “I hope that you listen 1, 5, 10, 50 times if you need to,” the defense attorney told the jury. “What we know obviously, and everyone agrees to this … all of the witnesses agree those are the screams of someone in a life-threatening situation.”

5. At least one witness says Martin was beating Zimmerman up. A witness who lives only a few yards from where the fight happened says he clearly saw Martin, wearing a charcoal-colored hooded sweatshirt, on top of Zimmerman, wearing a red jacket, beating him in a mixed martial arts “ground and pound” style position. “He heard Zimmerman say ‘help me, help me.’ Trayvon Martin kept on hitting,” said defense attorney West. “You could hear the cries for help until the moment of the shot and there’s not more cries for help. Why would there be?”

MORE: Trayvon Martin Case: The Prosecution Opens

MORE: Trayvon Martin Trial: What to Expect as Jury Selection Begins

14 comments
ColinWiencek
ColinWiencek like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

What I do not understand in this case, and have not read anyone else asking, is why Trayvon isn't being afforded Stand Your Ground rights.  A stranger was following Trayvon, a law abiding teenager who was walking through a community he was living in.  Should he not also have the right to confront and use all force necessary if he felt he was in life threatening danger from this gun toting stranger stalking him?

MichaelMunsey
MichaelMunsey like.author.displayName 1 Like

@ColinWiencek Both had a right to be there.  Neither had the right to initiate physical contact with the other.  It is unclear who did that first.

driownu2
driownu2

Trymaine Lee. (30 March 2012).Trayvon Martin Case: George Zimmerman Was 'Jekyll And Hyde,' Former Co-Worker Says. Huffington Post.

Countusin. (12 May 2012). George Zimmerman Used “N Word” In Text Message And E-Mail when referring who to look out for when on patrol in Sanford.countusin

Ann Reid. (16 July 2012). Zimmerman relative, 'witness 9' accused Zimmerman of Racial bias. The Grio.

Madison Gray.(23May2012). Four witnesses change their story. News Feed.

“I know after seeing the TV of what’s happening, comparing their sizes, I think Zimmerman was definitely on top because of his size,” the witness said.

MichaelMunsey
MichaelMunsey like.author.displayName 1 Like

@driownu2 On cross examine, Manalo said she made the size comparison based on pictures of 12 year old Trayvon she saw on TV.  She was surprised to find that Trayvon was actually several inches taller than Zimmerman.

driownu2
driownu2

The short of it West is a LIAR, Omara is a LIAR and GZ is a LIAR

2013yourwelcome
2013yourwelcome like.author.displayName 1 Like

Advice for Zimmerman, your caught and your going to jail for a long time. Don't listen to your pals on snaking your way out of this one, the truth will set you free and if you believe in god or a higher being then I advise you to make your amends here and now. If not then choose the road of guilt and bitch don't cry.

Politicomom
Politicomom like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Point #1 - there is no evidence proving Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman first. However, there is evidence that George Zimmerman left his car against the recommendation of the police dispatch to pursue Trayvon Martin, the victim.

Point #2 - there is no evidence that Zimmerman was intimidated by Trayvon Martin. However, there is evidence that he left his car to pursue Trayvon  Martin. If you are afraid of something you don't run towards it. There is also witness testimony that Trayvon Martin was afraid of George Zimmerman.

Point #3 - there is no evidence that Trayvon Martin confronted George Zimmerman. That account comes from the defendant who shot and killed an unarmed teenaged boy, not committing a crime.

Point #4 - there is no evidence Zimmerman was engaged in a lethal fight. There is no blood or DNA from Zimmerman on the victim. No DNA on the gun Zimmerman claims Trayvon Martin attempted to grab. There is also no evidence that the injures sustained by George Zimmerman were inflicted by Trayvon Martin.

Point #5 - a witness saw 2 people engaged in a fight. To assume Trayvon Martin was the aggressor or beating George Zimmerman is, again, a stretch. Perhaps the victim, Trayvon Martin was defending himself.

"In a much more deliberate and plodding approach compared to the fiery tone of the prosecution"
I'm absolutely shocked and dismayed by Time's very slanted view in reporting the events and evidence presented in this case. Certainly not unbiased.

FareedAnsari
FareedAnsari like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

The prosecution could close their case after opening arguments.  Tough guy wanna be cop let his Alligator Mouth overload his Canary ass, for the whole world to hear in the court room.

riccismiles
riccismiles like.author.displayName 1 Like

I hope after this case is done, that all of the "Zimm supporters" are followed, in the dark, by people they do not know who are armed. I'd like to see how many "big men" who enjoy spouting derogatory remarks about Trayvon will respond to such needless harassment. I can only hope they dont get shot and killed by their "follower". We all know that Zimm had ample time to call the police and report on the suspect. ALL "rent-a-cops" should use the exact same protocol. Why? THEY ARE NOT POLICE! and have no business pretending beyond the point of calling 911 like the rest of us.

AdamSmith
AdamSmith

"“Little did George Zimmerman know at the time in less than 10 minutes from him first seeing Travyon Martin that he, George Zimmerman, would be suckered punched in the face, have his head pounded on concrete and wind up shooting and tragically killing Trayvon Martin.”

 Little did Treyvon Martin know when he went out for some candy, that on his return he would be stalked by an unknown adult for reasons unknown to him, or that he would end up fighting for his life, a battle which he lost.

Zimmerman knew why he was following Martin, Martin had no idea why he was being stalked. Zimmerman was told by the authorities "STOP FOLLOWING HIM, WE DON'T NEED YOU TO DO THAT."

If anyone had a legitimate claim to self-defense, it was Martin.

UGOTBRETSWEBCO
UGOTBRETSWEBCO

@AdamSmith "STOP FOLLOWING HIM, WE DON'T NEED YOU TO DO THAT." Zimmerman replied, "OK." as he (Zimmerman) walked back to his truck, then was confronted by Martin. You need to look up the 911 call and read the entire transcript. Word for word.

AdamSmith
AdamSmith

@UGOTBRETSWEBCO@AdamSmith 

I DID read the trasncript.

http://phoebe53.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/zimmerman-911-call-transcript-trayvon-martin/

2:28 Zimmeran says "OK" in response to being told "We don't need you to follow" MArtin.

911 dispatcher:

Are you following him? [2:24]

Zimmerman:

Yeah. [2:25]

911 dispatcher:

OK.

We don’t need you to do that. [2:26]

Zimmerman:

OK. [2:28]

  3:43 Zimmerman is safe in his car, agrees to meet the police at a safe location. Instead, he decides to get OUT of the car, and PERSONALLY deal with Martin. I'd say this was PREMEDITATED murder.

 911 dispatcher:

OK, do you just want to meet with them at the mailboxes then? [3:42]

Zimmerman:

Yeah, that’s fine. [3:43]

justice219
justice219

@AdamSmith @UGOTBRETSWEBCO No, Zimmerman said "ok" that he would go back to the truck, but he didn't.   He was in his truck when he made the calls. He followed TreyVon behind the neighbor's houses, got out of the truck and followed him by foot with a loaded gun.   He couldn't tell the police exactly where he was because he didn't know where he would be because he continued to followed Martin.  I'm watching the trial on TV, not just reading an isolated 911 call.