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On Monday (7/8) the defense attorneys in the George Zimmerman trial brought forth testimony from a parade of witnesses who vouched that the screams for help on the 911 tapes were those of Zimmerman and not Trayvon Martin. Legal analysts called it a victory for the defense, claiming the testimony of Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin was weak and contradictory. However, the father did raise one simple question that seems to be largely overlooked – why did Zimmerman leave his car in the first place to go after his son?
It would seem the prosecution’s best strategy would have been to camp on the 911 call where the dispatchers clearly instructed Zimmerman not to pursue Trayvon stating “We don’t need you to do that.” What was the timeline from that directive to the fatal shot? Zimmerman’s claim that he was looking for the name of the street location is weak. For someone who has lived on that complex for three years – to be as diligent and concerned a watchman as he portrays – and not know the location he was patrolling is incredible. Reportedly, there are only three street names throughout the entire complex. To claim that he could not gather his thoughts through all the excitement and adrenaline flowing doesn’t add up as police and other witnesses reported that they found him to be too calm and collected for someone who had just shot another human being.
So it appears the prosecution should have focused on Zimmerman’s neglecting to follow the instruction of law enforcement professionals – that’s the cut bank where the defense would erode.
The Florida Supreme Court defines negligence as follows:
"Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care. Reasonable care is that degree of care which a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances. Negligence may consist either in doing something that a reasonably careful person would not do under like circumstances or in failing to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under like circumstances." (Florida Standard Jury Instructions, 4.1).
Zimmerman’s case should be likened to a drunk driver who rear-ended another vehicle resulting in loss of life. Zimmerman was intoxicated with his own agenda and ambition, plain and simple. The trial should be focused on the initial impact – that is how Trayvon was impacted once he realized he was being followed by someone who did not identify himself as he should have.
By the way, in identifying who in fact is screaming “help” on the 911 tape, I’m reminded of a story I once heard where upon viewing her dead husband’s body a woman thought it did not resemble him and complained to the funeral director, “That’s not my husband” to which the director replied “How do you know…you’ve never seen him dead before!” So I ask, how can anyone be sure of who is in fact screaming on the tape when they’ve never heard what the person in desperation may sound like in the face of death?
Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of ‘Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Amazon) www.larrybuford.com