George Zimmerman: State bombs drama test

Staff writer

No matter the outcome in the George Zimmerman trial, one verdict has been repeatedly handed down by TV analysts: The state has put on a lousy case.

Judge Alex Ferrer on Wednesday's "Hannity" said that the state's case had "imploded."

On Anderson Cooper's CNN show "360," Mark Geragos said the Zimmerman trial "has completely inverted the burden of proof and what normally happens in a case." Geragos blasted prosecutor John Guy's performance with a foam dummy for contradicting the state's opening statement and providing reasonable doubt.

"The prosecutor just sat there and demonstrated for the jury well, you can believe what I just did or you can believe what the defense did, both are reasonable interpretations," Geragos said. "If there is two reasonable interpretations, guess what, you must find for the defendant and find him not guilty."

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The state has had some disastrous moments. The prosecution didn't adequately prepare Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon's friend, to take the witness stand. Medical examiner Shiping Bao's changing, bizarre testimony was a gift to the defense. On Wednesday, Guy was shown up by Dennis Root, a jack-of-all-trades expert who was a first-time witness.

Guy seemed to be delivering the drama by mounting that foam dummy, but then defense attorney Mark O'Mara took the doll and gave a more memorable performance.

Let's face it: Court cases are dramatic games. Viewers know that all too well after "Perry Mason," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Practice," "A Few Good Men" and dozens of other well-remembered stories. The point is to engage and impress the jury.

Zimmerman's team has repeatedly won the dramatic contest. Yes, defense attorney Don West's opening statement was awful, but he apologized for it. The defense also put on the single most valuable witness: Dr. Vincent Di Maio, the forensic pathologist who said the evidence was consistent with Zimmerman's account. 

The state's opening, delivered by Guy, was the prosecution's peak. Nothing since has approached Guy's blistering performance.

And that opening may be most memorable for Guy's repeated use of expletives uttered by Zimmerman. Guy said them in a way that Zimmerman never did, analysts noted, and so the opening was misleading.

The state has kept thundering those words through the trial, confounding TV's censors. How do you like the irony of the state being responsible for the most vulgarities going out over the air in years?

Perhaps prosecutors have to keep saying the cuss words because their case for second-degree murder is so weak.

How is it that almost every state witness helped the defense? That's how weak the state's case is.

The problem is the state overcharged Zimmerman, a situation reminiscent of the Casey Anthony trial.

Maybe if we were somewhere else, the issue would be different. But it's not.

A variation on a line from my favorite movie keeps ringing in my ears: Forget it, Jake, it's Florida.


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