SANFORD, Fla. – On the first day of George Zimmerman’s trial, his older brother Robert held an impromptu news conference.
In it, Robert openly challenged the media spin that has controlled the case since the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at George Zimmerman’s hand in February 2012.
Among the first questions Robert received was whether he would continue to send tweets that the media consider provocative or worse. He defended the practice vigorously.
“It’s important to a lot of people who support the family that they have a front row seat,” said Zimmerman. “They don’t trust the media and, I think, rightfully so.”
Zimmerman has a point.
In the first month after the shooting, ABC was caught doctoring a police surveillance video. NBC was caught doctoring the audio of George Zimmerman’s initial call to the police.
And CNN tried to convince the public that an indecipherable word on that call was the unlikely and archaic “coons.”
This was too much even for prosecutors. In their probable cause affidavit, issued soon after the CNN scoop, investigators settled on “punks” for the garbled word.
Zimmerman challenged the state of Florida as well as the media. He said that the family remains “very confident in the outcome of the case and very confident that the state will not be able to meets its burden.”
As Zimmerman explained, prosecutors must prove not just that his brother murdered Martin but that he did not do so in self-defense.
“It’s my suggestion,” said Zimmerman, “that the state does not have a case.”
When questioned, Zimmerman explained that the decision to prosecute did not emerge out of the facts of the case. As hard as they looked, the Sanford police and the local prosecutor could not find probable cause to arrest George.
When the locals failed, the state took over.
“A political calculation was made centered around the politics of race,” said Zimmerman, “and the law was defiled.”
“You don’t charge in this country simply to assuage the concerns of masses,” added Zimmerman. “You charge when there is probable cause.”
On the question of whether George Zimmerman would take the stand in his own defense, Robert refused to commit. He observed that George has already made his own case on numerous different occasions.
George endured five hours of police questioning on the night of the shooting and provided a written version of events that same evening. The following day he did a videotaped walk-through of the crime scene and submitted to more questioning over the following days, all without an attorney.
“As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, ‘You got a problem?'” a rattled and bloody George Zimmerman wrote in longhand that first night. When Zimmerman answered “No,” Martin said, “You do now.”
“As I looked and tried to find my phone to dial 911,” George continued, “the suspect punched me in the face. I fell backwards onto my back. The suspect got on top of me. I yelled ‘Help’ several times.”
When George wrote this he had no idea that a 911 call from a neighbor would record someone desperately yelling “help” or “help me” 14 times in 40 seconds before the screams ended with a gunshot.
As part of its “burden,” the state must prove that Martin was the one yelling for help. The impossibility of that task is just one reason why Robert Zimmerman remains confident.
George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, is facing trial on allegations he murdered Martin while on patrol.
The trial got under way Monday, with Circuit Judge Debra Nelson rejecting a request for a delay.
Lead defense attorney Mark O’Mara told the judge the problem was that prosecutors delayed in turning over evidence in the case.
The shooting happened Feb. 12, 2012, and sparked a national debate about constitutional gun rights, the desire to suppress that right, justice and race.
Zimmerman has stated the teen attacked him, punching him in the face and slamming the back of his head into the sidewalk.
Local authorities investigated and found no basis for charges, which weren’t filed until after a prominent civil rights attorney got involved and attracted the attention of personalities, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who have lobbied on behalf of the black teen who was shot.
Jack Cashill, who has authored “Deconstructing Obama,” “First Strike,” “Hoodwinked,” “Officer’s Oath” and others, currently is writing a book on the Zimmerman case, called “If I Had A Son,” to be released after the trial.