Legal Analysts: Prosecutors Failed to Prove Case Against Zimmerman

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 01:13 PM

By Audrey Hudson

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Legal analysts tell the Miami Herald that prosecutors did not come close to proving their case against neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The self-defense argument resonated with the jury, "because people can associate with being afraid," said Jude M. Faccidomo, the former president of Miami's Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Changing the jury to include more minorities would not have bolstered the state's case, said Larry Handfield, a prominent African American criminal defense lawyer from Miami.

"After seeing the quality of the evidence presented by the state, the diversity of the jury really didn’t matter in the end," Handfield said. "But it would have helped the community in giving more credibility to the decision to acquit Zimmerman."

Prosecutors charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting, but the jury also rejected a lesser verdict of manslaughter, determining that he acted reasonably to protect his life.

Lawyers outlined numerous blunders by the prosecution, including the decision to call Zimmerman's and Martin's family members to the stand.

"A battle of family members, of whom you believe more, that’s a big prosecution loser," said Jean-Michel D’Escoubet, a former Miami-Dade prosecutor. "The evidence was so conflicted that the jury can't make heads or tails of it. It just muddied up the water and created reasonable doubt."

A USA Today editorial said the jury's verdict was not surprising.

"Zimmerman's attorneys managed to undermine the prosecution's narrative that their client was the aggressor who followed Trayvon Martin and killed him with no justification. And the prosecution — which had the burden of proof — was unable to effectively refute Zimmerman's story of self-defense," the editorial said.

Likewise, an opinion piece in Bloomberg by Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard, suggests that Justice Department lawyers will take into account their chances of losing the case a second time before pursuing further charges against Zimmerman.



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