If accurate, the medical report obtained by ABC “is a game-changer,” says Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, who suggests prosecutors acted inappropriately by not referencing the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries in their sworn affidavit to the court.
“A jury that’s not afraid of causing a riot, an objective jury, is not going to convict somebody of second degree murder after his nose was broken, eyes blackened, and his head banged against the ground,” he says.
“The prosecution’s best case is that Zimmerman provoked Martin, absolutely improperly followed him, and confronted him,” Professor Dershowitz adds. “But as a result of that, a battle ensues and Martin’s on top, banging his head against the ground, and [Zimmerman] reasonably believes that his life is at stake and pulls out the gun. It’s classic self-defense, and if it’s not self defense, it’s at worst involuntary manslaughter.”
The new details of the aftermath of the fight, however, are part of shifting perceptions around the case, which led to a national debate on how race plays into increasingly liberalized US gun and self-defense laws.
Initial reports of the fight, accompanied by pictures of Martin as a baby-faced 14-year-old, created the perception of an unbalanced fight between a gun-carrier adult and a young teen. But at the time of the fight, Martin stood at 6 feet 3 inches and 150 pounds, towering over, but not outweighing, Zimmerman, who is 5-foot-8, and 185 pounds. Zimmerman told the court on April 27 that he thought Martin was an adult and said he didn’t know if he was armed or not.
The medical report “doesn’t prove that George Zimmerman acted lawfully, but it breaks the narrative that Zimmerman was not injured,” writes William Jacobson, a Cornell University law professor, on his Legal Insurrection blog.