Trayvon Martin Tragedy In Real Time: Zimmerman Apologizes; Bail Set at $150K
The latest act of our most recent high profile American tragedy played out in real time courtroom theatrics on Friday. George Zimmerman, the reviled Trayvon Martin shooter, now charged with second-degree murder, was granted $150, 000 bond. But the real drama, igniting audible gasps in the packed courtroom, came when Zimmerman took the stand and briefly testified.
“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman, 28, said in a soft voice as he took the stand with shackles at his feet and waist. “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not.” His lawyer, Mark O’Mara, later explained in a presser that his client was directly answering the Martin family’s public questions regarding Trayvon’s age and whether he had been carrying a gun.
Trayvon’s parents sat silently through the comments; his father Tracy Martin visibly shaken and weeping. They scurried out of the crowded courtroom after Judge Lester set bail. Their attorney, Benjamin Crump, labeled Zimmerman’s apology “self-serving” and described the family’s reaction to bond as “devastated.” It’s unclear if they were expecting a higher bail ( the prosecution had asked for a minimum of $ 1 million) or for a denial of bond altogether. In either event, it seems the prosecutor’s office hadn’t prepared them for the inevitable, Bail is a part of our system; granted frequently even in first degree murder cases.
Buckle up, folks. We’re in for another high-profile controversial case, and the full tilt media circus that surrounds it. In the bond hearing, alone, we gained insights into Zimmerman, O’Mara’s courtroom prowess and the strengths and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Zimmerman’s past criminal record came under some scrutiny, including a violent altercation with police, described by O’Mara as his client “coming to defense of a friend.”
At the press conference, O’Mara, who is the anti-Jose Baez, exuding, in equal measure, both the savvy and humility of a truly seasoned defense attorney, made one possible slip-up. While discussing the incident with cops, he said Zimmerman acted because “in his head” they were doing something to his friend. If this comes before a jury, it may be evidence of Zimmerman’s propensity toward a paranoid mindset.
On the other hand, Zimmerman’s appearance and demeanor–both far more fragile than earlier photos–belie his media portrait as a quick-trigger racist vigilante. He may well be his own best witness.
Photographs just released showing bloody gashes on his head and what appears, at this point, anyway, to be a rather flimsy prosecution case may also serve to set him free.
Of course, we don’t know what will come; how all the evidence will play out in court (or exactly what that evidence is). “The special prosecutors don’t want to show their full hand,” Crump told reporters, indicating there is enough to warrant the second degree murder charge.
Let’s hope that’s true. Otherwise, if this prosecutor has over-charged what seems like a manslaughter case, the country, and most importantly the Martin family, may face another round of reckless Florida injustice deja vu. Such an outcome will surely bring them another brutal brush with devastation.
For now, at least the legal process, however imperfect it may prove to be, has finally started in earnest. That’s all the Martins had asked for. Now that they’ve gotten it, hopefully they’ll find some measure of justice in that.
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