And so the circus has finally come to town. After the unnecessary delays, excuses and endless motions, the George Zimmerman trial is finally here... to some degree. It's only jury selection but it's the first period of play in this highly anticipated sporting event for all the nation to see.
Yes, I said "sporting event." Far too long, far too many of us have perpetuated the lie that the criminal justice system is that, a system for the administering for justice. It is more akin to the board game Clue, with the two sides only acting as advocates for their respective clients, not working in tandem to uncover the objective truth as to what happened the night Martin was killed.
As you read this, you likely have already made up your mind as to what happened that night. I know I have. I'm neither a news reporter nor a potential juror and am completely comfortable with having already formed my opinion. I have no responsibility to be unbiased or impartial. We can lie to one-another and misrepresent the level of uncertainty in our stances, but why?
Yet at the same time, I can assure you, my opinion was formed relative to pretty solid forensic and medical evidence relative to the night in question, not what might have happened at Martin's high school weeks before or during Zimmerman's run-ins with the law years before.
It doesn't take 1.5 years for George Zimmerman to "prepare" to tell us his account of what happened that night across the span of 15 minutes (if he even takes the stand) and then juxtapose his account with the forensic evidence. It really takes all of 40 minutes. This delay has been about legal gamesmanship, not exacting the truth. Do not delude yourselves. Our memories of events get hazier the further we move from a moment, not clearer; especially witnesses. Not coincidentally, our emotional attachment to the case also likely subsides. Testimonies and statements of those indirectly related are easier to impugn. News coverage doesn't burn as hotly in nature. I get it, so should you.
Zimmerman has been in no rush to tell his version of the truth and if you've paid attention you know why.
Instead, we got 16 months of Martin character assassination, trying to taint potential jurors and sway public opinion.
Either Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in cold blood or he didn't.
I'm here to tell you, Trayvon Martin smoking marijuana and/or having been suspended from school is not in any way connected to why George Zimmerman killed him. It's not connected to "gold teeth" or any text message that Zimmerman never previously read.
Either Zimmerman killed him in cold blood or he didn't.
And to be fair, I am unmoved and uninterested in the supposed criminal behavior of Zimmerman prior to the night in question. Either Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in cold blood, or he didn't.
Zimmerman's actions that singular night have put him on trial this week and he will have to defend them. That's why he is "the defendant." The burden of proof may be on the prosecution, but the victim is not on trial. Martin's high school suspension or principal is not what/who killed him, George Zimmerman is. Whether you like Trayvon as a person or his supposed image is not relevant to determining whether he deserved to die.
Now, here's what matters, what is relevant and what George needs to explain.
Zimmerman's medical report which was taken the day after the shooting, states clearly that he did not have "head trauma" and that absolutely is relevant. For some reason, people keep perpetuating the Zimmerman contention that Martin had repeatedly bashed Zimmerman's head into the pavement.
As of yet there is no forensic or medical evidence to support this contention.
I want to hear how this "bashing" happened multiple times with Zimmerman neither losing consciousness nor suffering head trauma. That is some magic trick indeed. The prosecution has a medical report and forensic evidence to the contrary. What do you have George? I'll wait...
The fact that there was no Martin DNA on the Zimmerman gun is definitely relevant and does not support Zimmerman's contention that Martin grabbed for Zimmerman's gun. There is also an issue of proximity.
I want to hear George explain how and why he shot Martin at "intermediate range" and whether it matches the ballistics. I want to hear that the ballistics and autopsy reports are consistent with Zimmerman shooting upward at Martin on top of him. Because according to Zimmerman, he shot Martin (at intermediate range) as he struggled for his life. Again, there is an issue of proximity. I want to hear how Martin died on the grass but there was no nearby concrete for him to bash Zimmerman's head. Again, the issue of proximity.
I want to hear all of that. I want George to nicely tie it all together, yet without further contradicting medical, forensic and autopsy reports. Science is pretty cool.
The fact there was no Zimmerman or "foreign" DNA under Martin's fingernails or lower sleeves of his clothing (see exhibit ME2-A) is relevant. I look forward to hearing Zimmerman's explanation as to how his nose was broken and head slammed into the pavement (contradicted by medical report) and no DNA under Martin's fingernails although Zimmerman's injury report includes "scratches" and "lacerations."
Do you know how hard it would be for Martin to mount and pin Zimmerman (who weighed 207lb [police report] to Martin's 158lb [autopsy report]), break Zimmerman's nose and bash his head without aid of his hands? I want to hear how that is possible. I really do.
Either Zimmerman killed Martin in cold blood or he didn't.
This trial in truth should be all of 40 minutes. All of this media misdirection of Martin being some sort of "thug" or wayward youth do not in any way controvert or explain these facts. George has some 'splainin' to do.
I am eager to hear how Zimmerman found Martin to be "suspicious" or "up to no good" yet witnessed no criminal activity. Was it the iced tea, the Skittles, the hoodie... or something else? In none of the recorded police transmissions are there any allegations of criminal behavior but there is the admission that Martin at one point began "running away."
I am interested to see the defense explain how the guy running away while Zimmerman was in his vehicle all of a sudden becomes the guy who attacks Zimmerman unprovoked. I want to hear the defense make the case that although Zimmerman decided to give chase on foot against the admonition of the police dispatcher, he was not the aggressor.
Absolutely, I want to know how following someone (with a gun) who is running away from you by your own admission did not either escalate or impact subsequent events. I also want clarity on how Martin was running away then instantaneously brave enough to beat Zimmerman within an inch of his life through no provocation of Zimmerman. Then after hearing it, I want to hear how that also squares with all the science.
As a lifelong martial artist and fourth degree black belt in the Korean art of Hapkido I am clear on what is and is not self-defense, legal definitions aside. Most people assume there are only two options, fight or flight. That's not exactly true, there is a third..."fight to enable flight." According to Zimmerman and dispatch tapes, Martin first chose flight and did so without incident. Then according to Zimmerman (not verified by any known evidence) Martin changed course and chose to fight without provocation from Zimmerman (assuming you believe getting out of your car and following someone at night is not provocation).
I understand this third option quite well. Sometimes, you will find yourself in a situation where flight is not possible because an aggressor is blocking your path to safety. Your choice is not necessarily to "fight" in the sense of making a stand or "standing your ground" but to momentarily wound or distract, opening a path to safety. You are still choosing "flight" but will have to fight to some degree to do so.
The reasonable person does not first choose "flight" and then later opt for unprovoked "fight." Fight only happens secondarily when the "flight" option is no longer available.
In all my years of training and real-life incidents, I can assure you people don't flee first and then attack second without provocation. It does not matter if you are "a fan of MMA" as Martin detractors have alleged, in the way that watching the NBA does not make you an effective basketball player. I can't wait for George Zimmerman or his defense team to explain exactly how Martin went from afraid to "gangster thug" instantaneously... all subliminal races cues intended.
In the end, the verdict will still not be a proxy for truth. It will be the final score of a game as to whether the prosecution was able to convince six jurors that Zimmerman is guilty of 2nd degree murder specifically (although manslaughter can also be considered by jurors).
That's why the verdict is phrased as "not guilty" (as opposed to be "innocent"). OJ was found "not guilty" once upon a time, as were Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell. Do not confuse the verdict of this trial as being some validation of what you believe... one way or the other. Like I said, this is a game. High-stakes poker, but a game nonetheless.
In any event, I predict that Zimmerman will walk, as 2nd degree murder might be too difficult to prove. As detective Alonzo Harris of Training Day reminds us, "it's not what you know, it's what you can prove." But in no way would that make Zimmerman "less guilty" or "innocent" in my eyes... only "not guilty" in the eyes of the court.
And then after the verdict is rendered, I look forward to the post-trial coverage, reading the comment sections on news sites and hearing more amusing tales of us living in a post-racial nation.
Morris W. O'Kelly (Mo'Kelly) is host of "The Mo'Kelly Show" on KFI AM640/XM Satellite and "Mo'Kelly in the Morning" on KTLK AM1150. The Mo'Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and all commentary is welcome.