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George Zimmerman's bloody nose in high-def: What does it reveal?

The defense team for George Zimmerman is ratcheting up an aggressive pretrial PR campaign, and the new picture of him with a bloody nose is an attempt to sow doubt in prosecutors' claims.

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This color photo taken of George Zimmerman on the night he fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., was posted online by Zimmerman's defense team Monday.

Sanford Police Department/AP/File

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Lawyers for George Zimmerman on Monday released a high-resolution, color photograph from the night of Trayvon Martin's killing, showing Mr. Zimmerman in the back of a police cruiser with a flattened and bloody nose.

While a black-and-white version of the image had been released earlier in the trial process, the release of the color image is part of the defense's effort to sway opinions about what happened on Feb. 27, when the community-watch volunteer fatally shot Trayvon.

The prosecution will likely say the picture is a mere distraction in a straightforward case, legal experts say. They will say an armed older man confronted then killed an innocent kid without any legal justification.

But the graphic photo may help support Zimmerman's contention that, no matter what happened before the altercation between the two, he had a legitimate self-defense claim, experts add.

"If you believe that your victim was unlawfully killed without any legal justification, this photo is something you wish didn't exist," says Eugene O'Donnell, a criminal justice professor at John Jay College in New York. "The photo certainly seems to show that [Zimmerman's] claim of injury is not completely contrived … and, remember, the law says you don't necessarily need to be afraid of dying [before defending yourself with deadly force], that fear of great bodily harm will do the trick."

On one hand, taking Zimmerman's case in full color to the public could yield dividends for a defense that has to infuse only reasonable doubt about whether Trayvon's death was murder or self-defense. Yet the strategy could also fuel divisiveness in a hyper-emotional case, which could turn jurors off, legal analysts suggest.

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