Opening statements began shortly after 9 a.m. yesterday in state of Florida v. Zimmerman trial in Seminole County Florida Criminal Justice Courthouse/Center, Sanford Florida, with the State of Florida Prosecution team and the Zimmerman defense attorneys laying the foundations for their theories of the case, and then explaining just what each theory would show by way of admitted evidence to the sequestered jury panel of six women seated.
Prosecutor John Guy alleged that the defendant, as a neighborhood watch volunteer, stalked and confronted Trayvon Martin and then killed him with one bullet from a Kel-Tec semi-automatic 9 millimeter pistol (that Zimmerman legally had the right to possess) on that fateful Sunday, February 26, 2012. The prosecutor portrayed the watch captain as a vigilante, saying, "Zimmerman thought it was his right to rid his neighborhood of anyone who did not belong."
Zimmerman Defense counsel Donald R. West opened for the defense and told jurors a different story: Martin sucker-punched Zimmerman and then pounded the neighborhood watch volunteer's head against the concrete sidewalk, and that's when Zimmerman opened fire.
"He had just taken tremendous blows to his face, tremendous blows to his head," said West, after showing jurors photos taken by Zimmerman's neighbors of a bloodied and bruised neighborhood watch volunteer.
But the “bombshell moment” of the trial happened when Zimmerman Defense counsel Donald R. West defense began his opening with a “knock-knock joke” about the difficulty of picking a jury for a case that stirred nationwide debate over racial profiling, vigilantism and Florida's expansive laws on the use of deadly force:
"Knock. Knock," said defense attorney Donald R. West.
"Who is there?"
"George Zimmerman who?"
"Ah, good. You're on the jury."
I have been practicing criminal law, among other areas of law since 2001 here in Central Florida in and around the Orlando metropolitan area and throughout the state. I practice in both Orange County Florida, where my office is located and also in Seminole County, where the trial is taking place and have appeared in front of Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson on a couple of occasions. After the opening moments of this trial, folks have called me and have even asked me on the street, and have asked me on the radio programs where I appear now as a legal analyst across the nation for this trial, “What in the world was [West] thinking when he made a joke like that in a trial like this?” My only answer has been “I don’t know, but I’m sure that isn’t the last ‘interesting’ moment we’ll see.”
A licensed attorney in Orlando, Florida, Joseph Haynes Davis is also a broadcaster with over 30 years of broadcast media experience. He is also the legal analyst for the State of Florida v. Zimmerman trial for the “Doug Banks Show,” the Andre Michael Eggelletion Show and several other national radio programs. Follow him on Twitter: @sivadmedia and @con_speaking and check out his website and political blog.