Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Trayvon Martin family, listens on June 24 when he was told that he couldn't sit through the trial. He was on the defense witness list. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel / July 13, 2013)
How crucial was Benjamin Crump in the George Zimmerman case?
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. The jury was deliberating Zimmerman's fate Saturday.
Crump may have gotten involved initially for good reasons, O'Mara told CNN's Martin Savidge, but that involvement turned into something else.
"I think that it was a made-up story for purposes that had nothing to do with George Zimmerman and that they victimized him," O'Mara said. "They complain about Trayvon Martin being victimized. George Zimmerman was victimized by a publicity campaign to smear him and call him a racist when he wasn't and to call him a murderer when he wasn't."
O'Mara complained that the prosecution team should have taken the case to a grand jury. Instead, prosecutors held a news conference, prayed with the Martin family, then announced the second-degree murder charge, O’Mara said.
In a separate interview Saturday, Crump said he would "respectfully" answer O'Mara. "I don't know if George Zimmerman is a racist or not, but he profiled Trayvon Martin for something, whether the way he looked or his ethnicity," Crump said. "He made the decision to pursue Trayvon Martin. We have objective evidence."
Crump added: "This is very personal to many people. And that's why the whole world is watching this case. You cannot have people kill unarmed teen-agers walking home legally."
Crump said Trayvon’s family was determined to pursue the issue after Sanford police said they wouldn't arrest Zimmerman. Crump said he became involved at that point.
To anyone who considers him a race-baiter, Crump said, "I do a lot of civil rights cases. We have too far many cases where little black and brown boys are killed dead on the street and nobody says a word. Trayvon Martin got a lot of attention. … For every Trayvon Martin, we have a hundred little black boys who get killed. Nobody says a word."
In the CNN interview with Don Lemon, Crump praised the summations of prosecutors Bernie de la Rionda and John Guy. Crump said that Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, had comforted him and told him she feels confident about the case. But Crump said that Trayvon's parents will be "heartbroken" if Zimmerman is acquitted.
Crump, who was on the defense witness list, could not sit through the trial. The defense ultimately did not call him.