Why Florida Persists in the Zimmerman Prosecution
Prodded by a president with a weakness for racial agitation and enabled by a politically complicit media, the State of Florida persists in a prosecution that can come to no good end.
The defendant is neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. The charge is the second-degree murder. The potential outcomes range from major injustice, if Zimmerman is convicted, to mayhem in the streets, if he's acquitted. And the state plods on as though the angels were on its side. They are not.
The witnesses to the February 2012 shooting of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin are proving even more troublesome than the angels. The state's case took a hit last week when Witness #8, Martin's alleged 16-year-old sweetheart "Dee Dee," was caught in falsehoods so flagrant that even the Trayvon-friendly Orlando Sentinel noticed them. Conceded the headline, "Lawyer: State's main witness in George Zimmerman murder case lied."
When Dee Dee was first introduced to the world last March, the state and the media presumed her testimony would nail Zimmerman's coffin shut. She had been on the phone with Martin during the incident. "Trayvon Martin told her that someone was following him," said CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin on March 20. "He was nervous. He was concerned. She explained to him that he should run."
According to Hostin, Dee Dee heard Martin say to Zimmerman, "Why are you following me?" Right after this exchange, "She felt that someone had pushed or tackled Trayvon and, at that point, the phone call dropped." Hostin summarized that this "was the last conversation that Trayvon Martin had with anyone, and it also, in my view, dispels the notion of self-defense."
CNN then cut to a press conference featuring Benjamin Crump, attorney for the Martin family. "She couldn't even go to his wake she was so sick," Crump said of Dee Dee."Her mother had to take her to the hospital." Given the trauma and the fact Dee Dee was a "minor," Crump asked the media to respect her privacy. The media did not need to be asked. Dee Dee, as filtered through Crump, provided the confirmation they needed to establish the narrative they wanted: racist thug kills innocent Skittles-bearing black boy.
As it turns out Dee Dee was neither hospitalized nor a minor. This did not surprise the blogging collective at theconservativetreehouse.com. The "Treepers" had begun deconstructing "Dee Dee" within days of her debut and were predicting months ago that she would never appear in court. The major media, as is their custom with contrary facts, chose not to look in places they might find them.
The State of Florida had no interest in looking either. On April 11, 2012, Angela Corey, the special prosecutor in the case, filed an affidavit of probable cause against Zimmerman for second-degree murder. Corey took Dee Dee's word that Martin "attempted to run home" but that Zimmerman stalked and "confronted" him. As to the screams, Corey relied solely on the insights of Martin's mother, "who reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin's."
To come to these conclusions, Corey had to ignore Zimmerman's account and all the corroborating, on-the-scene testimony from eyewitnesses. "The dispatcher told me not to follow the suspect & that an officer was on the way," Zimmerman wrote on the night of the shooting. "As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, 'You got a problem?'"
When Zimmerman answered "No," the suspect said, "You do now." Zimmerman tried to grab his phone to dial 911, but Martin punched him in the face."I fell backwards onto my back," Zimmerman continued. "The suspect got on top of me. I yelled 'Help' several times. The suspect told me, 'Shut the f*** up.' As I tried to sit upright, the suspect grabbed my head and slammed it into the concrete sidewalk several times. I continued to yell 'Help.'"
Witness #11 heard the ruckus and called 911. When the call starts, the desperate cries of "help" are clearly audible on the recording. They continue for 42 seconds until they promptly stop with a gunshot.
Zimmerman provided the detail. "As I slid the suspect covered my mouth and nose and stopped my breathing. At this point I felt the suspect reach for my now exposed firearm and say, 'Your (sic) gonna die tonight Mother F***er.' I unholstered my firearm in fear for my life as he had assured me he was going to kill me and I fired one shot into his torso."
An hour after the shooting, Witness #6 told the Sanford Police Department (SPD) that he saw a "black man in a black hoodie on top of either a white guy. . . or an Hispanic guy in a red sweater on the ground yelling out help." According to #6, the black man on top was "throwing down blows on the guy MMA [mixed martial arts] style."
"The person calling for help would be the person underneath, you think?" asked the SPD officer.
"Yes, that was the one getting beat up," said Witness #6. "He was the one with the red sweater on."
As a side note, soon after the shooting, bloggers uncovered ample evidence in Martin's social media accounts of his keen interest in MMA style fighting. The media have ignored that too.
According to autopsy reports, Martin was 5' 11" tall and weighed 160 pounds at the time of his death. Zimmerman was about 5' 8" and 185 pounds. The facts notwithstanding, Eyewitness News 9 in Orlando described Martin as "an unarmed teenager half [Zimmerman's] size." On his MSNBC show Al Sharpton talked about a "hundred pound" disparity in their respective weights. The reporting was that reckless.
Witness #13 waited until the fighting ended, went outside, and saw Zimmerman walking towards him. "Am I bleeding?" Zimmerman asked. Witness #13 answered affirmatively. He also noticed "blood on the back of his head" and took a picture of it.
Not surprisingly, the only witness to appear on TV was the one who supported the State's story, Witness #5, Mary Cutcher. She first appeared ten days after the shooting on local Eyewitness News 9. Its host introduced her as the witness who "heard a Sanford vigilante gun down a teenager on February 26." As this perversely loaded language suggests, the media had already established its narrative.
According to Cutcher, who would later appear on Anderson Cooper's CNN show as well, the SPD initially "blew me off." If they did, it was likely because she saw and heard so little. On her 9-11 call, for instance, she insisted that there was "a black guy standing up over [the shooting victim]" and offered no other useful information.
In an interview with the SPD four days after the shooting, Cutcher claimed, "I didn't pay much attention to [the altercation]. I didn't hear any words. It sounded like someone was struggling or hurt or something." She clarified that to say, "I heard nothing but a little kid scared to death or crying." She added on her TV interview, "The cries stopped when the gun went off so I knew it was a little boy." She had likely seen the omnipresent photos of Martin as a 12 year-old and made this errant connection.
Martin, of course, was not a little boy. He was a fully mature seventeen year-old. He could easily have outrun Zimmerman but chose to attack instead. He was obviously the one applying the beating. He had no reason to cry. Other than bruises to his fists and the bullet wound, he was unmarked -- at least physically.
Spiritually, however, Martin was a mess. As his social media accounts make clear, his life had collapsed into a morass of drugs, violence, theft, vandalism, truancy, parental abandonment, and borderline homelessness. No longer a little boy and not yet a gangster, he was a statistic waiting to happen.
Martin, however, defied the statistics in one crucial way. Of the roughly 9,000 blacks murdered each, thirteen of every fourteen are murdered by other blacks. Martin was the one of fourteen who was not. More usefully still, he was murdered by what Tom Wolfe memorably called the "Great White Defendant."
"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," President Barack Obama said on March 23 of that year. In so saying, Obama gave the White House imprimatur to a politically irresistible campaign, one that both stoked the grievances of his racially sensitive base and energized his party's gun control advocates. That the shooting took place in Florida, the most highly contested state in that year's presidential election, made its politicization all the more inevitable.
It would take the media nearly two weeks to learn that their great white defendant was Hispanic and a registered Democrat at that, but by that time the train had long since left the station, and the railroading had irreversibly begun. Zimmerman would have to do.
Jack Cashill is working on his latest book, If I Had A Son: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman.