“There are no monsters here,” said attorney Don West during his opening statement.

At the start of trial, there was a mini-hearing on who could be in the courtroom and who could not under Florida’s witness sequestration rules.  The members of the Zimmerman family who are on the State’s witness list, including his mother, father, and wife were asked to leave the courtroom until they are called or the State rests.  The Martin family, even though they are also listed as witnesses, is allowed to remain as an exception to the rule.  The rule says that witnesses cannot attend trial pre-testimony because it can affect the truthfulness of their testimony.  The defense brought up a valid point about why the State actually has them on the witness list and whether or not they are trying to be underhanded.  Judge Nelson didn’t want to take up the issue.  She just stuck to the exact letter of the law.  She probably wants to save herself any grief by not using her judicial discretion.  Unlike the Casey Anthony case, it is not normal procedure to tell both sides everything that is going to happen beyond the usual, witness list, deposition, etc.  So, Judge Nelson wants to stick to that.  Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Martin family, was also asked to leave because he is on a witness list as well and the rule says next of kin “or” a representative for the victim’s family, not “and”. 

Another issue that was addressed was a second request for res gestae statements or spontaneous statements.  She had previously not allowed certain statements, but this time, she allowed the statements made to a witness and police officers to be mentioned in opening statements.

I’d first like to say that all those “experts” out there including self-described on the Internet, so-called defense attorneys on TV, and anyone else who is saying that George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin after being told not to must be psychic.  That is something the prosecution has to prove and is not a fact of the case.  Listening to the non-emergency call you can’t tell whether Zimmerman was walking back to his car or not.  It’s absolutely against common sense to make such an assumption that is so pivotal to the ultimate question of this case. 

The prosecution had an extremely good first day and the defense didn’t seem prepared at all.  Though this should not be surprising, the defense previously told the judge at least 3 times that they were not ready due to issues with discovery.  Judge Nelson decided to postpone handling any accused discovery violations by the State until after the trial, which certainly doesn’t help at all now.  So, the defense was forced, as seemed obvious today, to go forward with trial anyway.  Prosecutors pulled out John Guy to be their point man on opening statements.  Many experts think its because he is good looking and the jury is all women.  It’s like clockwork; HLN can’t go one case without saying something irrelevantly vain.  I believe they chose him because he is a good public speaker and is able to evoke emotion and passion to the jury.

OPENING STATEMENTS

The prosecution summarized their case well; they are saying that George Zimmerman was a frustrated, wannabe cop, with a loaded gun who was sick and tired of the “punks” getting away.  They also contend that Zimmerman has inconsistent statements that he made to the police.  The prosecution’s interpretation of the ballistics evidence is that Zimmerman pressed the gun to Martin’s chest because it is a “contact shot.”  The prosecution downplayed George Zimmerman’s injuries, but didn’t explain how he could have gotten them if he attacked Trayvon Martin.  Especially since their defense of Martin not attacking Zimmerman was that there was no blood on his hands, so he couldn’t have punched him.  Then, how did Zimmerman get his injuries?     

The most successful thing the defense did today was explaining the ballistics.  Their argument on the “contact” evidence being only on the outside of the clothing and not on the skin and how that is curious was very compelling.  Don West did an excellent job acting out how leaning can affect your clothing.  He tied it together nicely with the other evidence of dirt on Travyon Martin’s knees.  He also explained well that just because you physically don’t have a weapon doesn’t mean you aren’t “armed”.  The defense did well turning the prosecutor’s argument back on them.  The prosecution argued that Trayvon Martin died clutching his heart, but there isn’t any blood on his hands. 

The defense, however, bumbled extremely badly with not objecting to the admission of those previous tapes of Zimmerman calling in about suspicious people in his neighborhood.  Instead, the defense allowed their admission and then part way through testimony objected and said it was a misunderstanding.  Now, I don’t think their admission, if that is what the judge decides, will actually hurt the defense.  But, having such a snafu this early looks bad.  It would be a disaster if all that testimony had to be struck about the previous incident and of course, they say you can’t un-ring a bell with a jury.  I do think it is extremely important to understanding George Zimmerman’s state of mind (a requirement for a second-degree murder conviction) that there were break-ins in the neighborhood recently and that the person was described by the victims and/or witnesses as an African American male.  I also think that West’s opening statement wasn’t concise enough and was too all over the place.

Another tidbit that came out of the opening statement’s was when Don West explained what the mayor did with having a meeting and playing the recordings.  It’s completely inappropriate to use a case to further a political career, though it isn’t uncommon.  And it is inappropriate and should not be allowed for a person to just take evidence out of an investigation and spread it out in the public.

Don’t forget that much like what the media says isn’t evidence, neither is what attorneys say because they also have a vested interest in their view of the evidence, they’re an advocate for their position.  They are merely telling you their position and why you should agree with them.   

THE “KNOCK-KNOCK” JOKE HYPOCRISY         

The media thinks the big headline is Don West’s joke, which wasn’t offensive and it’s obvious why the media can’t comprehend it.  It’s about them.  Here’s the joke:

“Knock, knock, ‘whose there?’ ‘George Zimmerman.’ ‘George Zimmerman who?’ ‘Alright, good you are on the jury.'” 

Right before this, he said that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry sometimes in bad situations.  He was trying to loosen up the jury to be receptive to him, classic public speaking tactic used by anyone who speaks in front of groups.  I find it fishy that social media is ripping Don West for his joke, but they thought Jeff Ashton, from the Casey Anthony case, was the best and Juan Martinez, from the Jodi Arias case, could do not wrong.  I think that in a nutshell proves that people don’t care what is said; they are just looking for things that agree with their pre-conceived notion.  It’s selective truth mixed with demonizing the “enemy”.  People make such big deals out of stuff that doesn’t prove anything and wouldn’t seem odd if weren’t phrased a certain way.  How does Don West’s joke explain to us what happened that night?  How does how good looking the prosecutor is to the commentators tell us what happened that night?  So, much for insightful opinions from “experts”. 

No witness that will be presented saw the entire occurrence and it is a well-known fact that eyewitness testimony is extremely unreliable.  But, it is rare and really fortunate that so many people saw different snippets of what occurred.  Their statements can be compared to one another to get a clearer picture of what might have happened that night. 

Don West was right when he said that this is a sad case, a case about a young man who has lost his life and another man who is fighting for his.  It is a case where there are no monsters and people need to quit the witch-hunt for Frankenstein.  Trials streamed on TV and online are about real people; they aren’t like Hollywood shows or movies.  You aren’t given the roadmap to tell you who the bad guy and good guy are.  Real life isn’t cut and dry.  People aren’t all good or all bad.  It’s a farce to believe that is reality.

PROSECUTION WITNESSES

The witnesses today were just “foundation” witnesses.  First witness was Chad Joseph, Tracy Martin’s girlfriend’s son.  He was home with Trayvon Martin the day Martin was shot.  He testified as to what occurred that day.  He didn’t seem very knowledgeable as to what happened outside of his answers to the prosecution’s questions. 

The second witness was Andrew Gaugh, the clerk at 7/11 that day.  He said that he didn’t really recall anything that happened that day.  It didn’t stand out at all to him and he wasn’t consciously remembering, he was just conferring with the attorneys questions and assuming their accuracy.  I think the surveillance videos are important.  It’s odd that Trayvon Martin doesn’t just leave after purchasing, but seemingly picks something up off the ground.  It might not be relevant, just curiosity.  I also think that the video portrays Trayvon Martin’s height and how he would appear to someone that night.       

The third witness was Sean Noffke who was the non-emergency operator that night that took Zimmerman’s call.  He went back and forth on some of his answers on direct and cross.  He mostly seemed just to be concerned with liability as he explained during his testimony.  As an example, he answered that Zimmerman saying, “f—- punks always get away” is similar to other people’s language, it isn’t uncommon, and usually people have hostile feelings towards the person they are speaking about.  But, he went back and forth on that saying twice in two different questions by Mark O’Mara, lead defense attorney, that he didn’t feel or hear that Zimmerman was hostile or angry and that he never would have hung up if he thought someone was in danger.

The last witness was Ramona Rumph, the person who maintains the records for the 911 and non-emergency calls.  Her entire testimony may be stricken because it all has to do with a non-emergency call made by Zimmerman in August of 2011, 8 months before the incident with Trayvon Martin.      

The trial starts up again tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. EST with the rest of the hearing on the admissibility of the previous non-emergency calls and then testimony resumes.

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