‘The world is watching’ the Zimmerman trial
Two attorneys monitoring trial predict different verdicts
By James Harper
Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier
SANFORD, Fla. — One of the attorneys for the parents of Trayvon Martin predicts that George Zimmerman will be found guilty of murdering the unarmed 17-year-old youth.
Daryl Parks, who shares a law firm in Tallahassee with Benjamin Crump, has been at the Zimmerman trial in Sanford, Fla., since jury selection began two weeks ago.
“He (Zimmerman) was following Trayvon. Was the amount of force justified? Prosecutors are proving it wasn’t justified,” Parks said in an interview with the Florida Courier.
On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman is claiming self-defense in the shooting.
Parks said he was not upset that the judge ruled out letting experts testify during the trial over whether the voice on a 911 call was Martin yelling for help.
“The layperson can identify the voice better,” he remarked.
Response to lack of protests
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, was scheduled to take the stand on Friday to validate that it was her son’s voice asking for help on the 911 call.
“The world is watching this case. They are listening,” Parks said when he was asked if he was upset that Sanford residents and others have not been protesting outside the courthouse since the beginning of the trial.
“We live in a different age,” Parks added, noting that the TV ratings for the trial have been phenomenal with millions of people watching it every day.
Seminole County NAACP President Turner Clayton Jr. was quoted last week, saying that the “so-called demonstration area that has been designated, you will not see us protesting in that particular area because no one tells us where to go, how long to stay, what to do and what to say.”
‘We are crusaders’
Regardless of what happens during the criminal trial, Parks said they will be going after Zimmerman in civil court for monetary damages.
They are waiting for the results of the Department of Justice investigation into whether Martin’s rights were violated.
Parks said the Martin case is just one of the many incidents where Blacks have been killed unjustly, and he said their work for the voiceless will continue.
“We are crusaders. There are all kinds of battles going on,” he stated.
Parks also said in the interview: “Zimmerman said this guy threw the first punch. Zimmerman has admitted he was on top. Was Zimmerman in fear of Trayvon? He was following him in the dark.” Parks added that he believes Zimmerman may have been overzealous and attempted to hold Martin until the police arrived.
Another point of view
Attorney Ted Williams, who is based in Washington, D.C., and is a legal analyst for Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” was in Sanford this week to monitor the trial. Unlike Parks, he is not confident Zimmerman will be found guilty.
“Every witness the prosecutor has put on and evidence presented helps the defense,” Williams said. “I’m very concerned the defense is not going to put on a case.”
Williams said what must be proven is that Zimmerman was the aggressor.
“If there was any physical contact by Zimmerman, he could be seen as the aggressor, and self-defense cannot be used,” he explained. “I do believe there could be a powder keg going off (if there is a not guilty verdict).”
Zimmerman’s profane words
Inside the courtroom this week, jurors got to hear Zimmerman tell his side — through phone calls and video.
In a phone call with a police dispatcher minutes before he shot Martin, Zimmerman said offhandedly “those (expletive) punks.”
On Tuesday, that phrase became one of the most important of the trial so far.
Chris Serino, the Sanford police detective who led the homicide investigation, told jurors that when Zimmerman said it, that showed the neighborhood watch volunteer had “ill will” toward Trayvon.
Up to that point — although they had put on more than six days of testimony — prosecutors had failed to show one of the key elements they must prove to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder: That the defendant acted with a depraved mind, hatred, malice, evil intent or ill will toward the high school junior from Miami Gardens.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda suggested that when Zimmerman called Trayvon a “punk,” he was profiling the teen as a criminal.
Zimmerman didn’t say a word in court Monday, but jurors spent much of the day hearing from him as prosecutors set about trying to catch him in what Assistant State Attorney John Guy called a “tangled web of lies.”
Guy had told jurors in his opening statement, “The truth about George Zimmerman is going to come directly from his mouth and from the lies that he told.”
On Monday, prosecutors played four statements Zimmerman gave to police — one a video-recorded walk-through the day after the shooting.
In each, Zimmerman gave the same general story, but some details changed, especially about what Martin said and what happened as they struggled on the ground.
In each, Zimmerman consistently maintained that he found Trayvon suspicious because, although it was raining that night, Feb. 26, 2012, the Miami Gardens teen was standing in the yard of a Zimmerman friend whose home had been burglarized.
Zimmerman called police, and then followed Martin on foot, he said. He lost him so Zimmerman turned back toward his truck and was leaving. Then the two came face to face.
There was a short exchange of words, Zimmerman said, and then Trayvon punched him in the nose, knocking him to the ground. The teen then got on top of Zimmerman and began hitting him and slamming his head against the sidewalk, he said.
In a statement he wrote for police that night, Zimmerman added, “My head felt like it was going to explode.”
But he offered conflicting accounts. He originally told police he was not following Martin — that he got out of his truck because he was trying to find a street sign to pass along better location information. But in an interview three days later, Zimmerman said something different and was challenged: “I wasn’t following. I was just going in the same direction.”