The testimony of eyewitness John Good on Friday should have put to rest any doubts about George Zimmerman’s innocence on the charge of second-degree murder for the February 2012 shooting in Sanford, Fla., of Trayvon Martin.
Several other eyewitnesses have already testified, as artfully steered by the defense attorneys, that Good was the only eyewitness to step outside. The confrontation ended right at his door. His was the only light on.
At the climax of his testimony, defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked Good: “Just to clarify what was actually talked about with Chris Serino, Investigator Serino, during this, we’re going to call it for the moment the Ground-and-Pound conversation. We have a rule called completeness, so what I want to do is put it in context for you, ask you if this is what you said to Chris Serino. OK?”
O’Mara then read from Good’s statement given an hour after the incident: “So I open my door. It was a black man with a black hoodie on top of the other, either a white guy or now I found out I think it was a Hispanic guy with a red sweatshirt on the ground yelling out help! And I tried to tell them, get out of here, you know, stop or whatever, and then one guy on top in the black hoodie was pretty much just throwing down blows on the guy kind of MMA-style.”
“MMA-style” means mixed martial arts. Although Good was a prosecution witness – if they didn’t call him, the defense surely would have – he confirmed that the report O’Mara read was accurate. So doing, he all but validated Zimmerman’s version of the event and established beyond any doubt that it was Zimmerman who was yelling out for help.
The State had hoped to have “expert” witnesses testify that it was Martin calling for help, but they have known from day one about Good’s immediate testimony and have persisted just the same.
The media had no excuse for not anticipating Good’s testimony. Good had talked to an Orlando TV station the day after the shooting. “The guy on bottom who I believe had a red sweater on was yelling to me, ‘help, help,’” Good told the reporter. “I told them to stop and I was calling 911.”
ABC’s Matt Gutman took the lead in misinforming America. On March 13, Gutman, two weeks after the shooting, violated just about all canons of good journalism, tweeting that Zimmerman “shot 17yr old teen bc he was black, wore hoodie walking slowly.”
Late on March 16, Gutman posted a piece on the ABC News website that helped set the tone of the coverage to come.
Gutman based its inflammatory headline, “Trayvon Martin Neighborhood Watch Shooting: 911 Tapes Send Mom Crying From Room,” fully on the word of the family’s PR hack, Ryan Julison, and admitted as much.
The article implied, although it did not say so specifically, that Sybrina Fulton left the room in tears because she heard her son scream for help on the 911 calls.
Attorney Natalie Jackson was busy making this point. “You hear a shot, a clear shot, then you hear a 17-year-old boy begging for his life,” she was widely quoted as saying. “Then you hear a second shot.” This remains accepted wisdom in some of America’s more volatile quarters.
In the accompanying video piece for “Good Morning America” Gutman reinforced this insinuation. In the process, he may have set a new national record for most mistakes of consequence in a two-minute news bite:
GUTMAN: It was February 25TH.
TRUTH: It was February 26th.
GUTMAN: Trayvon was staying at his stepmother’s.
TRUTH: Martin was a staying with Brandy Green, a girlfriend of his father’s. His mother and stepmother lived in greater Miami.
GUTMAN: He left for the store at half-time of the NBA All-Star Game.
TRUTH: He left hours earlier. He was dead before the game started.
GUTMAN: The “gunshots” are triggering outrage.
TRUTH: There was only one gunshot, and it was the media coverage that was triggering outrage.
GUTMAN: Trayvon was “100 pounds lighter.”
TRUTH: He was less than 50 pounds lighter. The autopsy recorded Trayvon as weighing 158 pounds. Zimmerman weighed in at the police station at 207, fully clothed.
GUTMAN: “You can hear him stalk Martin.”
TRUTH: He did not stalk Martin. When the dispatcher said to Zimmerman, who was following Martin, “OK. We don’t need you to do that,” Zimmerman said “OK” and stopped. Gutman edited out Zimmerman’s “OK” and followed immediately with his own comment, “But then came the gunshots.”
GUTMAN: Zimmerman had a record – “battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.”
TRUTH: The charges had been dropped. Gutman did not mention that fact.
GUTMAN: Police have been accused of “correcting one eyewitness, while ignoring another.”
TRUTH: Yes, but the Sanford PD did so for good reason. They knew that John Good was the only fully reliable witness. The others had seen only shadows.
Whether Gutman and pals can walk back this inflammatory disinformation campaign when Zimmerman is acquitted remains to be seen. If not, they will have a whole lot of exciting news to cover.
Jack Cashill’s book on this case, “If I Had A Son,” will be available soon after the trial is over. His investigative-reporting skills shine in his many books – see them now in WND’s Superstore