Prosecutors and defense attorneys have delivered opening statements in the case against George Zimmerman. Neither statement went well.
The prosecuting attorney charged with delivering the opening statement, John Guy, began with the following: “Good morning. ‘F***ing punks. These a******s all get away.’”
If this was disconcerting for you, imagine how bizarre it must have seemed for the six jurors in the Trayvon Martin murder case. Guy went on to explain that the expletive-laced statement was something Zimmerman said moments before his fatal confrontation with Martin: “These were the words in this grown man’s mouth as he followed this boy that he didn’t know. Those were his words, not mine.” Even so, Guy's eagerness to get his audience’s attention has been viewed as crass.
While the prosecution had a punchy, if awkward, opening, defense attorney Don West had it worse—he started off with a knock-knock joke.
“Knock knock,” he began. “Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? Good, you’re on the jury.” This apparent reference to the difficulty of seating jurors unfamiliar with the case didn’t fly, and West went on to apologize, promising “no more bad jokes” and claiming he felt that his “delivery” had failed him.
This was an inauspicious beginning to what will surely continue to be a high profile trial.
George Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder in relation to the February 26, 2012 death of high school student Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, called 911 after deeming Martin “suspicious.” Going against the instructions of the 911 operator, Zimmerman confronted Martin, and, after a struggle, shot the 17 year old.
The case has aroused racial tensions nationwide, as Martin was African-American and Zimmerman’s willingness to pursue Martin has been suggested to have been racially motivated. The Martin incident was the fifth time in seven months that Zimmerman had called 911 to report a suspicious person in his community. In all five instances, the person Zimmerman identified as suspcious was an African-American male.
If convicted, Zimmerman could face 25 years to life in prison.