Justice is delivered only when a defendant and his or her accusers receive an equal opportunity to state their respective cases and present their evidence. This concept gave birth to the legal requirement that prosecutors and defenders have the same access to evidence. The rule has been broken by prosecutors in Florida, as they prepare for the George Zimmerman trail, which has been hampered by media bias and prosecution misconduct from the very beginning.
The latest revelation from the pretrial proceedings in the Zimmerman case is that the prosecution failed to turn over to Zimmerman’s defense team certain photos from Trayvon Martin’s cellphone. The photos are relevant because they reveal more about the real Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed by Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida on the night of February 26th, 2012. One of the photos in question shows a hand holding a semi-automatic handgun and the other is being described as “drug-related”, according to an Associated Press report. Text messages were also deleted from Martin’s phone. The content of those messages has not been specified, although other text messages on the phone indicated that Martin was involved in competitive fighting, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.
A court employee who retrieved the photos and text messages has since been placed on administrative leave. Former prosecutor Wesley White testified that the photos and messages had been retrieved from the phone and not turned over to the defense.
From the beginning, the trial of George Zimmerman was clouded by Media bias; the photograph of Trayvon Martin first shown on national television and in newspapers showed him as a cheerful, innocent looking child with a slight build. Indeed, he looked like he might have been President Obama’s son, should he have had one, according to the President himself; a wholly inappropriate remark that did nothing to maintain the sense of objectivity required in a legal case.
Photos and video later released of Trayvon Martin proved that the original photo put on display to the public was almost certainly taken at least a couple of years before Martin was killed. In the later pictures, Martin was clearly older, more muscular and no longer smiling angelically for the camera. Any judgement of Trayvon Martin’s, or, indeed, of George Zimmerman’s character would be unfair and irrelevant without supporting evidence.
What is known about Martin is that he was in Sanford, Florida at that particular time because he had been suspended from school for being in possession of what a Martin family spokesman told ABC was an “empty baggy that had contained pot.”
Zimmerman will go on trial in June for second-degree murder. Florida Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson denied a request by Zimmerman’s defense team that they be given more time to prepare. In addition, Nelson has forbidden the defense from introducing information about Trayvon Martin that might damage his reputation. Although, if the defense can convince her that it’s relevant, she may allow them to present evidence that, at the time of his death, Martin had marijuana in his system, that he was having discipline issues at school and also that he had a history of fighting. Defense attorney Mark O’Mara indicated that he was satisfied with these requirements, saying “I’m hopeful I’ll be able to lay a foundation to get it in.” Since the prosecution case rests almost entirely on proving that George Zimmerman was unstable, untrustworthy, aggressive and – possibly – racist, the bulk of their presentation will be information intended to damage Zimmerman’s reputation.
The media bias and prosecution misconduct didn’t begin with the deleting of photos from Martin’s phone, however. When NBC’s Today show aired a recording of George Zimmerman’s 911 call to police shortly before the shooting, they had edited it to make it appear that Zimmerman had immediately displayed prejudice against Martin, who was black: In the version of the recording that NBC played, Zimmerman could be heard saying “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” The unedited recording, however, revealed that Zimmerman had said “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” The dispatcher then asks Zimmerman if Martin is white, black or Hispanic, at which point, Zimmerman replies “He looks black.”
Additionally, the media initially classed Zimmerman as white. There was no mention of the fact that he was Hispanic and, even when it became clear to everyone that Zimmerman was, indeed, Hispanic, many in the mainstream media referred to him as a “white Hispanic”. Each year in this country, a tragically large number of black people are shot and killed by other black people. The mainstream media – along with other race-baiters, like Al Sharpton – have no interest in this fact, whatsoever. When a black teenager is shot by a white person, however, it becomes headline news. The media, therefore, classified Zimmerman as “white” in order to fit their narrative.
The indictment of George Zimmerman was also flawed. Special Prosecutor Angela Corey – well known for her political ambitions – did not go before a grand jury to get an indictment; undoubtedly indicating that she feared not getting one, on the grounds of lack of evidence. Of Corey’s affidavit of probable cause, Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz – speaking on MSNBC – said “Most affidavits of probable cause are very thin. This is so thin that it won’t make it past a judge on a second degree murder charge…There’s simply nothing in there that would justify second degree murder.” He went on to describe the affidavit as “irresponsible.” Dershowitz went on to point out that the affidavit suggested the shooting of Trayvon Martin was entirely unprovoked; omitting any reference to the struggle that occurred beforehand. He added “I think what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation and overcharged. This case will not – if the evidence is no stronger than what appears in the probable cause affidavit – this case will result in an acquittal.”
The prosecutorial misconduct and media bias that has hampered the George Zimmerman trail from the start makes it unlikely that justice can, or will, be done. There will likely be no closure for Martin’s family or for Zimmerman. The lesson is that there is no place for politics, fabricated racism or for media deception in the legal system.
Written by Graham J Noble