George Zimmerman, who has been recently focused on his bail hearings, raising money through his web sites and his parents web sites, will now presumably move to seek a Stand Your Ground hearing. The hearing would preceed any trial which is not expected until sometime in 2013. A trial date of 2013 is not unusual for a high profile case such as that of Trayon Martin. However, if George Zimmerman is successful on his Stand Your Ground defense, there will be no trial.
A Stand Your Ground defense is a complete bar to a trial and amounts to a complete self –defense of the killing. The hearing is heard before the trial judge. And this is where all of George Zimmerman’s lies, interviews and admissions will come back to haunt him. The hearing will be heard before Judge Lester.
Judge Lester is the same judge to whom the Zimmermans lied about their income—with wife, Shellie stating they had no income. Zimmerman’s web site had collected over $130,000 and they were well aware of that fact. As Zimmerman’s bail was revoked due to his lies, a new bail hearing was held. He was ultimately released on a bail almost 10 times higher at $1 million.
Judge Kenneth Lester’s written order on Zimmerman’s new bail set forth clearly that Zimmerman was a liar. So, the defense asked the judge to recuse himself or step down from the case because their client could not get a fair trial—due to the judge’s statement about Zimmerman’s lies. Of course, that motion in legal circles was going nowhere. And Judge Lester denied the motion and will be hearing any future Stand Your Ground motion or trial.
So where does all this leave Zimmerman and his defense? There is good and bad for the defense in a Stand Your Ground motion. Zimmerman will be the key witness. There are no eyewitnesses. And Trayvon Martin was killed. George Zimmerman has already shot any chance of credibility. The judge already knows that he is a liar. And so, the defense must build a case on other evidence corroborating what Zimmerman says. But the Stand Your Ground defense rests on what the defendant believes. In essence, if the defendant believes that he is in fear of his life which resulted in his killing of the victim, his defense is usually granted. And most Stand Your Ground defenses do prevail and even overwhelmingly so, when the victim is black.
The judge must believe George Zimmerman is sincere and telling the truth. And that is more than an uphill climb for the defense. Zimmerman shot his own credibility with Judge Kenneth Lester and his wife is now facing perjury charges for alleged lying under oath.
Looking at the facts of the case also presents other obstacles to a Stand Your Ground defense. Zimmerman was told to refrain from following Trayvon Martin by the 911 operator but he chose to follow him and ultimately kill him. Looking at the state’s discovery, Zimmerman had applied for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Academy in 2008. In 2005, he was arrested for assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest but the case was dismissed. And in 2012, he was on citizen patrol which function is to see and report. It is not to follow and kill. If a person is in fear, they do not follow the suspect and then whip out a gun and kill him. But a wanna be police officer may follow a suspect.
What transpired in the seconds before George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin is crucial to his defense. But it cannot be viewed in a vacuum. The judge should look at how the circumstances evolved. And they evolved because George Zimmerman set them in motion. Just like Zimmerman set in motion the grounds for his bail being revoked and then re-instated at $1 million.
Zimmerman wants to be the victim in this case. And the real victim is Trayvon Martin who had a bag of Skittles, a can of Arizona ice tea, ear plugs, a phone and $41 at the time he lost his life. It is not necessary that Trayvon Martin have a weapon to create the defense. It rests solely in what the defendant viewed was fear.
The prosecutor will be able to cross examine Zimmerman. And almost anything is game on cross examination of his testimony on Stand Your Ground. They should have no problem in showing that George Zimmerman is a lying, unbelievable and a trigger happy defendant. Credibility is everything if the defendant takes the stand.
George Zimmerman has zero credibility. His Stand Your Ground defense should be denied.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She also writes for the Huffington Post.