Last week a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Despite the collective freak-out of the media and the liberal establishment, no one who followed the trial would find the verdict at all surprising.
George Zimmerman told a consistent story from day one: He spotted an individual (Martin) whom he did not recognize and thought was behaving suspiciously. He called the police. He then got out of his car and walked in the same direction as Martin. (Zimmerman says he wasn’t following Martin, but was looking for an address to report to the police. Many people, even defenders of Zimmerman, find that part odd, but it doesn’t really matter.) He lost sight of Martin and subsequently tried to return to his car. Then Martin, who had doubled back, accosted Zimmerman. Martin attacked Zimmerman, pinning him to the ground, and repeatedly smashed his head against the pavement. Martin then saw Zimmerman’s gun, threatened to kill him with it, and tried to take it. Zimmerman then drew the gun and shot Martin once.
If Zimmerman’s story is true, the shooting was clearly justified self-defense. At the trial, the prosecution never presented any plausible evidence that contradicted his story.
Most of the state’s witnesses either were irrelevant to the self-defense claim, and many actually supported it. This was a very strange aspect of the case that I assume is atypical: witness after witness called by the prosecution but whose testimony actually supported the defense. Particularly damaging to the prosecution was the testimony of the lead investigator who said that he believed Zimmerman, and the eyewitness who corroborated a key part of Zimmerman’s story.
Only a few witnesses contradicted Zimmerman’s story at all. One was an excitable woman whose testimony contradicted the physical evidence in multiple ways. Some of Martin’s family members identified the person screaming for help (captured in a 911 call) as Martin. The defense rebutted their testimony with other witnesses who identified the screamer as Zimmerman, and by getting an expert witness for the prosecution to testify that the procedure used with the Martin family prevented a reliable identification.
That left only the prosecution’s star witness, one Rachel Jeantel who testified that she was on the phone with Martin as the fight began. Her testimony was damaging to the prosecution, as she testified that Martin used a racial slur to describe Zimmerman. (This was the only role that race played in the trial.) But she also contradicted Zimmerman’s story, testifying that Zimmerman started the fight and she heard Martin yelling “get off!”
The problem for the prosecution was that Jeantel wasn’t believable. Her behavior on the stand was erratic. During the investigation she told many lies, some of them under oath. But the most astonishing moment was when she admitted that she was unable to read the letter that she supposedly wrote to Martin’s family telling her story.
In short, the prosecution never dented Zimmerman’s story. For their part, the defense presented various witnesses supporting his story, and also got admitted into evidence the fact that Martin was under the influence of drugs at the time. (On the other hand, the judge did not allow the defense to present Martin’s text messages that showed he liked to get into fights.) Zimmerman himself never needed to testify, because — bizarrely — the prosecution played videos of Zimmerman telling his story, essentially giving Zimmerman the opportunity to testify without facing cross examination.
No one who followed the trial is surprised about the verdict. (Even Jimmy Carter!) But the media’s campaign against Zimmerman has never been about the facts. Big Journalism has conveniently collected a rundown of media lies about the Zimmerman.
With all the lies the legacy media tells against Zimmerman, you might expect to find public opinion overwhelmingly against him. But the truth seems to have gotten out, nonetheless. But a Rasmussen poll finds that Americans agree with the verdict by a 48-34 margin. Disintermediation of information is working.
POSTSCRIPT: Not all the lies told about the Zimmerman case are attacking Zimmerman. There’s also a consistent effort to lie about Florida’s (and 33 other states’) “Stand Your Ground” law. From the very beginning, Stand Your Ground has been legally irrelevant. It says that persons facing an attacker are not required to retreat from that attacker, even if they can do so safely. But even states that do require you to retreat, require it only when you can do so safely.
Zimmerman could not retreat safely (according to his story, at least). Indeed, being pinned to the ground, he could not retreat at all. Thus, Stand Your Ground never came into play. This hasn’t stopped the media from trying to implicate Stand Your Ground in this case. For example, the New York Times, always eager to get things wrong, editorialized that Stand Your Ground played a role in the case, despite its own reporting to the contrary. (In a very narrow sense it did: since Stand Your Ground is the law, it appears in the standard jury instructions, but it wasn’t relevant.)