Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Lawyers: Prosecutor must have Zimmerman, Martin evidence not yet revealed

Angela Corey and her team of prosecutors must know something that the rest of us don't.

In order to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder, local defense attorneys say, there must be something showing that Zimmerman acted with a "depraved mind" when he shot Trayvon Martin. And, to negate a defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law, there must be evidence that Zimmerman attacked Martin first.

"I don't think she can prove that he acted with a depraved mind or an evil intent," said Denis de Vlaming, a Clearwater defense attorney. "That's a tremendously high burden for the facts as I know them."

Nevertheless, de Vlaming said he wasn't surprised Corey went for a murder charge.

In a highly scrutinized case complete with racial overtones and a public outcry for justice, the prosecutor went for the most serious charge she could, de Vlaming said. Even if a jury does not buy murder, they might settle on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

"It gives the jury some options," said Pinellas defense attorney Jay Hebert. "Typically it is difficult to prove a second-degree murder case where the person doesn't know the other person."

While second-degree murder requires prosecutors prove the "depraved mind" standard, manslaughter only requires they prove recklessness — that a defendant must have known the risks associated with his actions and done them anyway.

Was George Zimmerman simply acting in a reckless manner that led to his gun being fired? Or were his intentions more sinister, the result of a lack of regard for human life? Those are the questions a jury must answer.

But no matter the charge, ultimately only one question matters.

"The most critical issue in this case is 'who struck who first?' " said Stephen Romine, an attorney for de Vlaming's firm. "That part, so far, we haven't really heard anything about."

If Corey presents evidence showing that Zimmerman initiated a physical attack against Martin, "stand your ground" can't apply, Romine said. But if Martin attacked Zimmerman first, the shooting could easily be ruled justified.

It doesn't matter that Zimmerman followed Martin. It doesn't matter what words were exchanged. All that matters is which person began the physical confrontation.

"As long as he (Zimmerman) wasn't doing anything illegal, 'stand your ground' applies," Romine said. "He still has a right not to be attacked."

From a defense perspective, combating the charge against Zimmerman is a matter of proving that he was protecting his own life when he shot Martin, de Vlaming said.

"In my opinion, it's going to be won or lost on forensics," de Vlaming said. "I would align as much forensic experience as I could possibly find on the issues."

That means finding witnesses — audio experts who can analyze the 911 calls, forensic pathologists who can examine Martin's wounds, and any witnesses who may have seen the attack.

But all the evidence presented publicly thus far has not provided a definitive answer of how the scuffle between Martin and Zimmerman transpired.

"It will be interesting to see what they have," Romine said. "Whatever evidence the prosecutor arrested him on, at some point the rest of the public will see it. What we all have to hope for is that the decisions being made are being made on the evidence and not on the uproar."

Reach Dan Sullivan at (727) 893-8321 or [email protected]

Comments
Lighting-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

Lighting-Devils: How the NHL’s top offense went on the defensive

TAMPA — It was a couple of days after the Lightning beat the Bruins at home late in the regular season when associate coach Rick Bowness talked about how the defensive effort used in that shutout victory was the one the Lightning would need in ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

Lightning stays patient, even through 0-for-5 power-play drought

TAMPA — The Lightning so dominated the second period Saturday that the Devils had more penalties (five) than shots on goal (four), and yet Tampa Bay was unable to build on a 1-0 lead as they sought to clinch the opening-round series.Nowhere was...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Nikita Kucherov’s goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

Nikita Kucherov’s goal sets Lightning playoff series scoring record

TAMPA — After clinging to a 1-0 lead for more than two periods Saturday, the Lightning got a long-awaited cushion — and ultimately the winning goal — when Nikita Kucherov scored with 7:33 left in the final period of a 3-1 victo...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

New Port Richey Woman dies in single-car crash on SR 580

A 49-year-old woman died early Saturday in a single-car crash on State Road 580.Kristin Carlin, of New Port Richey, was driving in the eastbound lanes of SR 580 when she failed to round a curve and veered off the road near Charles Avenue, a Clearwate...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 3

Lightning-Devils: Grading Tampa Bay’s clinching 3-1 victory in Game 3

TAMPA — Closers.That's what the Lightning looked like as it closed out the New Jersey Devils in five games with a 3-1 win Saturday.Nikita Kucherov's star power blazed again, the defense controlled the game and not even Jersey goaltend...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning wins 3-1, advances to the semifinals

Lightning wins 3-1, advances to the semifinals

TAMPA — The Lightning closed out its quarterfinal series against the Devils with a suffocating defensive effort.The Devils finally solved Andrei Vasilevskiy in the waning moments with goalie Cory Schneider on the bench and the Devils skati...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

Man with multiple gun arrests now accused of fatally shooting Durant High football player

The first time deputies arrested Samuel Morrissey Jr., he faced charges of possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed firearm. He plead no contest in September, and the judge gave him a break by withholding adjudication. Ten days later, the 20-...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Actor Verne Troyer, Mini-Me from ‘Austin Powers’ films, dead at 49

Actor Verne Troyer, Mini-Me from ‘Austin Powers’ films, dead at 49

LOS ANGELES — Actor Verne Troyer from the Austin Powers movie franchise has died. A statement provided by Troyer’s spokesperson that was also posted to his Instagram and Facebook accounts says the 49-year-old actor died Saturday. No cause or place of...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Updated: 4 hours ago