The stakes as the case winds down are high. Now on Day 21, the trial has clarified, but not solidified, the last two minutes of Trayvon’s life, when he got into an altercation with Zimmerman. The defendant had gotten out of his car to follow Trayvon after calling him “suspicious” and “on drugs or something.”
The case inspired widespread rallies and “Million Hoodie Marches” in early 2012, after Sanford, Fla., police refused to charge Zimmerman with a crime, saying they couldn’t counter his self-defense claim. A special state prosecutor indicted him 44 days later. The trial began June 10.
The sequence of events Wednesday did give some clues as to the defense’s thinking as it closed its case. Firstly, Zimmerman testifying on his own behalf may have caused more harm than good, opening himself up to cross-examination about a series of alleged inconsistencies in his version of events.
Zimmerman, through his lawyers, has claimed self-defense, saying Trayvon attacked him, punched him to the ground, and beat his head against a concrete sidewalk. Dennis Root, a private eye and “use of force” expert, testified Wednesday that Zimmerman was a hapless fighter who had few options in the heat of the battle but to use his weapon in self-defense.
Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a criminal, trailed him, confronted him, and then killed him when the situation turned against him. They assert Trayvon is the one who had the right to defend himself under the law after being followed for two minutes by an armed adult stranger.
According to Doug Keene, an Austin-based jury consultant who has followed the case, the defense ultimately may not have made much headway by bringing up a toxicology report that showed Trayvon had a trace of THC in his system on the night he was killed. A medical examiner had said the amount may have affected his behavior, but scientific studies have failed to show that marijuana has any ties to violent behavior – unless the person is already violent.