Joe Burbank, Orlando Sentinel
March 5, 2013
Bernie de la Rionda, the fiery lead prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case, says his humble beginnings guide his work as a lawyer. De la Rionda came to America from Cuba when he was 4 years old. His parents sent him to Miami to stay with relatives, but they weren't able to leave Cuba themselves. De la Rionda never saw his parents again. "I feel this country gives everyone an opportunity to succeed," de la Rionda said in an interview with the Sentinel last year. "I have always felt a responsibility to pay this country back. I feel as a prosecutor I can best do that." That interview was one of the few times since he took on the Zimmerman case that the veteran prosecutor has spoken publicly outside of a courtroom. While the defense team has taken an active role in public relations, de la Rionda has largely avoided talking about the case in the media, something he says is inappropriate. Admitted to the Florida Bar in 1983, de la Rionda is one of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey's top lieutenants. He and co-counsel John Guy have prosecuted more than 100 murder cases combined. During the Zimmerman case, his emotions have sometimes seemed to boil over in court. He has also been accused by the defense of using personal attacks in court filings and failing to promptly turn over evidence.