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General News    H2'ed 7/30/13

Was The Fix in For Zimmerman?

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If We're Not Careful, We Run The Risk of Persuading the Jury


But de la Rionda says nothing this forceful and direct. He waffles slowly through the general narrative, sort of trying to seem like he's building some sympathy for Trayvon. But it's late in the trial and the prosecution has done little to bring Trayvon alive for the jury, much less than it did to humanize Zimmerman.  In the closing, de la Rionda doesn't even know how old Trayvon is.  If the prosecutor doesn't care enough about a dead child to know his age, why should a jury care more? 


When de la Rionda talks about Zimmerman's words for his wife on the phone shortly after the killing -- "Tell her I killed him" -- the prosecutor has a chance to nail Zimmerman's almost sociopathic lack of feeling.  Instead, de la Rionda says only, "That's kind of matter of fact."  No, it's chilling and possibly incriminating. 


And then he spends minutes on an irrelevant diversion, talking about how Zimmerman had decided to start a neighborhood watch because of all the alleged crime that had gone on, and he compliments Zimmerman for that.  The prosecutor says that wasn't an act of ill will (he didn't say how he knew that).  He says this was a "good thing" and that Zimmerman arming himself was a "good thing," and so on, none of which helps the prosecution, of which de la Riondi is nominally the lead. 


His presentation had no discernible organization, no flow, numerous diversions, enough meandering to allow one to wonder if it could be deliberately unconvincing.  He spent ten minutes reviewing Zimmerman's recorded statements to no compelling point, while punctuation the recitation with the comment, "That's good," about one Zimmerman action or another. 


Why Wouldn't the State Support The Players on its Team? 


At another point he spent close to ten more minutes denigrating state's witness Rachel Jeantel, who was 18 and on the phone with Trayvon Martin at the moment he was shot. The denigration was in the form of a defense of or an apology for her being Haitian, unable to read cursive, and "not that well educated." He did not explain how well educated a high school student should be. And he did not explain why the prosecution failed to prepare this important witness properly. (In a TV interview after the trial he said by way off excusing the verdict, "We don't get to pick our witnesses.") 


Again and again de la Riondi cycled through blocks of evidence like the multiple, inconsistent, and inconclusive 911 phone calls without coming to any coherent conclusion.  Instead, again and again and again, he'd finish a topic by telling the jury, "You decide." This was a virtual refrain -- "you decide" -- a refrain that, when added to the fuzzy presentation of evidence, just reinforced doubt, whether reasonable or unreasonable. 

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
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