Thursday, April 12, 2012
Trial by lynch mob? Fears George Zimmerman is 'already convicted' in Trayvon Martin's death as his family says America is 'out for blood'
Can George Zimmerman now get a fair trial after the media hate campaign waged against him?
George Zimmerman faces one of the most high-profile legal battles in recent history after being charged with second-degree murder in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin - and he may have already been convicted in the court of public opinion.
Zimmerman turned himself in to police on Wednesday and is being held at the Seminole County Correctional Facility, in Florida.
He is due to be arraigned on Thursday morning, but it is already being asked how he can receive a fair trial in a case that has gripped the country and provoked national hysteria since the unarmed black teenager was shot dead on February 26.
Fox News host Sean Hannity said on Wednesday night that State Attorney Angela Corey may have acted under intense pressure for an arrest. Hannity said: ‘This has been my complaint from the very beginning here. We have members of Congress that said he was hunted down - meaning Trayvon Martin - like a rabid dog, you have people that say he was profiled - no evidence suggests that.'
He added: 'People say he was killed because he was black, you have activists, you have a bounty on someone’s head. You’ve got so much surrounding this case'.
It was Hannity who was recently contacted by Zimmerman, against the advice of his legal counsel, who later dropped Zimmerman as a client. The two had an off-the-record chat, though Hannity will not discuss the details.
Zimmerman's brother Robert, appearing on CNN hours after the charges were announced, said he was proud of his brother for 'doing the right thing'.
Robert Zimmerman told Piers Morgan: 'There was no winner in this. Our brother could have been dead. He had to save his life by taking a life, and that’s no situation that anybody wants to be in ever'.
When grilled by Morgan about the police surveillance video that appears to show Zimmerman uninjured despite what he claimed was a brutal beating from Martin, Robert Zimmerman said:
'People want to see blood, and they wanted to see blood'. 'The reality is George nor any other neighbourhood watchperson goes out and becomes a neighbourhood watchperson because they are going to be… surprise attacked, punched so hard in the nose that their nose is broken, sat on their chest using their last available breaths to call and scream for help.
In a message to Trayvon’s parents, Robert Zimmerman said: 'We're confident that the truth will come out, and George has been telling the truth the whole time'. He added: 'In the name of peace, let the system do its job'.
Like last year’s blockbuster Casey Anthony trial, which was a daily media circus, Florida could be in store for more of the same with the Zimmerman case.
Zimmerman voluntarily turned himself in police on Wednesday - before it was announced that he would be charged with second-degree murder. He was escorted under tight security to the Seminole County Correctional facility in Sanford on Wednesday night. Television cameras showed black SUVs pulling into a loading area at the facility, but Zimmerman himself wasn't visible.
Many legal experts had expected the prosecutor to opt for the lesser charge of manslaughter, which usually carries 15 years behind bars and covers reckless or negligent killings, rather than second-degree murder, which involves a killing that results from a 'depraved' disregard for human life.
Even some legal experts were stunned by the murder charge. 'I predicted manslaughter, so I'm a little surprised,' said Michael Seigel, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at the University of Florida. 'But she has more facts than I do'.
Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, said Zimmerman will plead not guilty and will invoke Florida's powerful 'stand your ground' law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger. The lawyer asked that people not jump to conclusions about his client's guilt and said he is 'hoping that the community will calm down' now that charges have been filed.