This column was originally published April 29, 2012:
By George Parry
To paraphrase President Obama, if I had a son who had been flat on the ground in a vicious fight, the back of his head would look like that of accused murderer George Zimmerman.
Thanks to a photograph broadcast by ABC News showing Zimmerman's bloody head wounds, those trying to use Trayvon Martin's death to challenge "stand your ground" self-defense laws had better start exploiting some other tragedy. For the picture demonstrates that Zimmerman was unable to retreat, since he was pinned to the ground taking a beating when he shot Martin. And note that one of the depicted wounds is long and straight, consistent with Zimmerman's claim that Martin was pounding his head against an edged curbstone at the time of the fatal shot.
We don't have all the facts, but there are things we do know.
For instance, the police radio tape proves that Zimmerman was describing his actions to the police as he allegedly stalked his victim. Doesn't that undercut the murder charges? What kind of criminal calls 911 to tell the police he is hunting down his intended prey?
On the tape, Zimmerman not only advises he is following Martin, but he also asks for confirmation that a police officer is being dispatched to investigate. The dispatcher replies that Zimmerman doesn't need to follow Martin, to which Zimmerman promptly responds "OK" and agrees, instead, to rendezvous with the en-route police officer.
Again, what kind of murderer, preparing for the kill, invites the police to interrupt his scheme? Moreover, doesn't this conversation support Zimmerman's claim that he had ceased his pursuit prior to the confrontation with Martin?
We also know that, after shooting Martin, Zimmerman waited for the police to arrive and cooperated fully with their investigation, even as emergency medical personnel treated his head wounds. Wouldn't someone who had just committed a heinous hate crime potentially punishable by death or life imprisonment have fled the scene or, at least, requested legal counsel and refused to answer questions?
Zimmerman and Martin fought on the ground, and the fight ended when Zimmerman pulled the trigger. But at Zimmerman's bail hearing, a prosecution detective, who had sworn out the arrest warrant, testified that he couldn't say who had started the fight.
If this case goes to trial, the prosecution will need a better answer than that if it hopes to prove Zimmerman was the aggressor. And shouldn't that key issue have been resolved before bringing murder charges against an obviously injured person claiming that he acted in self-defense?
While much evidence remains to be disclosed, what we have learned so far raises serious questions about the strength, rationale, and integrity of the prosecution's case. These questions are all the more troubling given the tsunami of manufactured racist hysteria that clearly influenced the decision to arrest "white Hispanic" George Zimmerman.
E-mail George Parry at LGParry@dpt-law.