The plot thickens surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, as the biggest media circus since the Duke Lacrosse rape case continues. And while a string of revelations in recent weeks has put defendant George Zimmerman on a seemingly implacable path to a not guilty verdict, holes are emerging in Zimmerman's case, too, now - holes that could breathe new life into the controversy.
Long-time followers of the case will recall that recently, revelations surfaced suggesting that Zimmerman had shot Trayvon Martin at close range, that Zimmerman had been badly injured (and psychologically traumatized) by the confrontation, and that several witnesses had come forward claiming that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor. Today, a poll from Rasmussen Reports shows that these facts have definitely swayed public opinion:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 24% of American Adults still believe the man who shot Martin should be found guilty of murder. But that’s down from 33% in late March when the case first began to draw national headlines and 30% in early April.
Forty percent (40%) now think George Zimmerman, who has been charged with second degree murder in the Martin shooting, acted in self-defense. That’s up 25 points from 15% in March and up 16 points from 24% last month. Thirty-six percent (36%) remain undecided, compared to 55% two months ago
So in other words, if the trial were held today, Zimmerman would probably walk out completely unscathed. Numbers like this scream "reasonable doubt."
However, that might not last, as new interviews with witnesses who had previously been key to Zimmerman's side of the story have revealed that those witnesses' accounts aren't nearly as strong as the defense in the case might like. The Orlando Sentinel reports:
A young mother, who is also a neighbor in the townhome community, never gave a recorded interview to Sanford police, according to prosecution records released last week. She first sat down for an audio-recorded interview with an FDLE agent March 20, more than three weeks after the shooting.
During that session, she said she saw two people on the ground immediately after the shooting and was not sure who was on top, Zimmerman or Trayvon.[...]
Six days later, however, she was sure: It was Zimmerman on top, she told trial prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda during a 2 1/2-minute recorded session.[...]
witness lived a few feet from where Trayvon and Zimmerman had their fight. On the night of the shooting, he told Serino he saw a black man on top of a lighter-skinned man "just throwing down blows on the guy, MMA-style," a reference to mixed martial arts.
He also said the one calling for help was "the one being beat up," a reference to Zimmerman.
But three weeks later, when he was interviewed by an FDLE agent, the man said he was no longer sure which one called for help.
Some other problems present themselves in the report. For instance, one witness who had claimed she saw the two men, has instead said she only was really aware of one person, and heard that person more than saw them. Another witness has changed his story to suggest Zimmerman's reaction after the shooting was almost nonchalant, suggesting that it wasn't quite as psychologically traumatizing as all that.
There are areas where Zimmerman can take encouragement, though. For instance, even with a changed story, one of the witnesses involved is still quite sure that Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman in the fight. These are also unlikely to be the last interviews the witnesses give, as the defense will also have a chance to question them.
Even so, this trial is unlikely to be completely open and shut any time soon. Readers are advised to proceed with caution, as the evidence still isn't conclusive about what happened.