Jury selection is slated to begin in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, accused of killing Trayvon Martin last year in Sanford, FL. The Defense appears set to argue not that he didn’t do it, rather that he was justified in killing Mr. Martin. Zimmerman claims that Martin attacked him, and that he shot in self-defense as Martin was slamming his head against the ground, and Zimmerman suffered a broken nose in the incident. Prosecutors allege that Zimmerman followed Martin and initiated the incident, and killed him without justification. The case is being followed not only due to the racial undertones of a caucasian man killing an unarmed black teenager in historically racially divided Sanford, but also because it is the most prominent case to date to deal with Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.
Yesterday was the hearing on the final pretrial motion by defense, to allow some witnesses to testify confidentially, which was opposed by both the state and media outlets. The judge predictably denied the motion: trials happen in open court, and Florida has very broad public record laws. The only time I have seen such a motion granted was on a child victim case. The witnesses are understandably concerned, as Zimmerman has received numerous threats during the course of the case. Now, it will be up to a jury to decide if the State proves the charges, and overcomes the defense, beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.