Sunday, June 23, 2013
Trayon Watch 4: The Tapes
The judge in the Zimmerman murder trial has decided that expert witnesses for either side cannot testify as to who they think was on the 9-11 recording screaming for help. I'll admit that when I first heard that tape, I was in my office crying like a baby. Due to my bias I had already made up my mind who the person on the tape was. Putting on my jurist hat I realized that I had no rational reason to believe it was Trayvon. Nor did I have any rational reason to believe it was Zimmerman. There was nothing in the actual words screamed by the party to indicate who it was. Had the voice said "Help! Rhis man was following me!" or "Help! He's beating me up!" then I could make a deductive argument that the voice belonged to one or the other party. So unless the prosecution has other recordings with something other than "help!" then no rational jurist can decide who the voice is. I was actually hoping that the 9-11 tape would not be admissible. That was a long shot as it is evidence that the crime occurred and so would need to be admitted. This brings us back to my short vs. long story prosecution. Lets assume that Zimmerman is the one calling out for help on that tape. Remember that Zimmerman does not have to prove anything in this trial. It is for the prosecution to convince a jury that Zimmerman is guilty of the charges. In my mind the prosecution should lay out all the steps leading up to the voice on the tape. That Zimmerman misjudged an unarmed, non-threatening Trayvon as some kind of criminal and stalked him while in his vehicle. That Zimmerman, contrary to the requests of the emergency situation public safety personnel, stepped out of the safety of his vehicle with a loaded gun and attempted to track down an unarmed, innocent Trayvon, who had correctly seen Zimmerman as a threat to his person. That Zimmerman, in the eyes of the now deceased, innocent Trayvon, was a stalking stranger who admittedly flashed his loaded gun. That it was Trayvon who was fighting to protect his life and even IF it was Zimmerman who was shouting for help, that it was Zimmerman who was the person posing a threat to an innocent and unarmed Trayvon. The prosecution must make it clear that Zimmerman lost his "self-defense" argument once he purposefully left the safety of his vehicle with a loaded gun to stalk and confront Trayvon. Once they do that, they do not need to concern themselves with who the jury thinks is on the tape because Zimmerman would have been shown to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt (of criminally negligent homicide at least) by his own actions. So this tape ruling is not the biggest deal so long as it is played correctly. I do not think that the prosecution will be able to convince every juror that the voice is Trayvon. It only takes one juror to allow Zimmerman to walk. The prosecution would be negligent to make the tape a central part of it's case given all the other evidence in play.