Turns out that the gzlegalcase.com site, which George Zimmerman's attorney set up for him back in April, is for more than just fundraising and media spin for their client. It appears that they intend to use it to try the case in public. Whether or not this is intended to win a media cycle, taint the jury pool, or simply keep Zimmerman's supporters informed, it's worth taking a look at the evidence.
Released late yesterday through that website were audio recordings of Zimmerman's interviews with the police in the days after he shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL. The video above, also made available through the website, features Zimmerman on February 27, less than 24 hours after, describing the confrontation that led to the tragic conclusion. (An even longer video, worth watching for full context, is available here.) In it, he makes the case that Trayvon not only assaulted him, but sought him out to do so, allegedly asking "Yo, you got a problem?" When Zimmerman allegedly said he didn't have a problem, Trayvon allegedly said, "You got a problem now!"
Yes, that's a lot of "allegedly" in that sentence. The account that Zimmerman relates in both the re-enactment and the interviews is, as the New York Times notes, fairly consistent. "You got a problem now!" turns into "You do now," and so forth. That given, the story strains credibility, to put it mildly.
For a moment, let's forget the 911 tapes (yes, even Zimmerman's) and witness accounts, including that of Trayvon's girlfriend, which all describe an entirely different encounter. Real talk for a second: Trayvon Martin looked as though he had some scrap in him. Skinny, yes, but tall and athletic. I didn't know him, but if I were sizing him up, I'd venture that he could probably throw a punch or two.
But if Zimmerman is to be believed here, his mere presence so offended a 17-year-old kid walking home from the store, minding his own business, that that same kid transformed into a murderous psychopath, brutalizing him to the point that Zimmerman felt in fear of his life. Keep in mind, popping off and getting violent sounds like something Zimmerman would do, if anyone.
And that's not all: Zimmerman alleges that the reason he shot Trayvon was because Trayvon wanted to shoot him first.
"He said, 'You're going to die, mother-*****," Zimmerman said. "I grabbed it, I grabbed my firearm and shot it."
Zimmerman says the teenager sat up after the shot and said "you got me" or something similar. He either fell off or Zimmerman pushed him off, Zimmerman said.
I don't have any experience seeing people shot and killed, but "you got me" is a movie line, and one a kid isn't likely to say after he's been shot at "intermediate range" in the lung and heart. I find it difficult to disagree with the commenter on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog at The Atlantic:
The new evidence emerging of Zimmerman's implausible narratives is very damaging to his defense. If his relatives want to go around telling the media ridiculous stories of the type seen only in bad action flicks (like "after I shot him, he said 'you got me'"), that doesn't actually hurt him at trial, because Zimmerman isn't responsible for what his family members may claim. But now that we know he himself was telling these unbelievable stories to the police, that makes it pretty likely the jury will hear about them, and view his newer, more plausible story with a jaundiced eye.
It would have been swell to hear Trayvon's side of the story, or even that of the neighbor who Zimmerman alleges saw the assault, but wouldn't help him. But considering that any legal team would keep this out of the public eye if they felt it could in any way injure their client's chances of acquittal, it is interesting to know that the Zimmerman team allowed us to hear the voice of a police investigator giving him hell. Per the Times:
Chris Serino, the Sanford Police Department's lead investigator on the case, is heard in one of the recordings repeatedly warning Mr. Zimmerman that public opinion, already tilting against the crime watch volunteer, would pillory him unless he could explain exactly why he felt justified in pulling the trigger at a “kid with a future.”
Mr. Martin was no thug, Mr. Serino told Mr. Zimmerman: He was an athlete. His parents cared about him. He had no violent history, and he was armed with only a pack of candy and a bottle of iced tea.
“This 17-year-old boy was one of those kids who would have been a success story,” Mr. Serino said. “Everybody wants to know what sets him off. He’s not on PCP. He’s not on anything. He’s on Skittles.”
Perhaps the gzlegalcase.com folks don't think that sounds really bad for their client. Still, if a trial happens, I wouldn't be shocked to see prosecutor Angela Corey repeating the words "kid with a future" and "he's on Skittles," ad nauseum.