In Zimmerman Trial, Varying Opinions From Legal Experts

Lawyers weigh in on which side is faring better in the case.

Posted: 07/01/2013 03:51 PM EDT
George Zimmerman in Court

With the trial of George Zimmerman now in its fourth week, legal experts have a wide range of views as to how well the two sides are faring. But they seem to agree on one point: The trial is a complex and highly nuanced event.

“It has turned out to be a lot more complicated than anyone thought and a case that’s harder to prove than anyone anticipated,” said Jami Floyd, a lawyer and legal analyst who has worked at Court TV as a correspondent and anchor.

“It’s clear that George Zimmerman pursued Trayvon Martin and that he shot him,” Floyd said, in an interview with BET.com. “But it boils down to the question of who threw the first punch. And there are only two people who could answer that question and one of them is dead.”

On Monday, there was a full day of courtroom activity, prosecutors continuing to call witnesses to build their case against Zimmerman in the shooting of the unarmed, 17-year-old Miami student who was visiting his father in Sanford, Florida.

The jurors heard testimony from Christopher Serino, the lead investigator of the case for the Sanford Police Department, and Doris Singleton, a police investigator who conducted the first interview of Zimmerman after the shooting. They also heard from Zimmerman himself, through videotapes of the defendant giving his version of the details to police officials at the scene of the incident, in the gated community in Sanford.

Meanwhile, Floyd cautioned against drawing conclusions too early about how the case is going so far for the prosecution or the defense.

“People should remember that it is still early,” she said. "The prosecution is not even halfway through presenting its case. And the defense will come next. As with all cases, it’s very difficult to talk about it until all the evidence is in. We never see the case the way the jury does.”

However, Royce Russell, an attorney who has represented a number of high-profile cases, said that the case so far seems to have placed the defense in the stronger position.

“At this point, it appears that the trial is going in favor of the defendant,” said Russell, who represents the family of Ramarley Graham, a teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in New York City last year.

“There have been a number of facts that align with the story that Zimmerman presented, including his injuries and the testimony that he was on the bottom during the altercation,” Russell said, in an interview with BET.com.

“With all of this, you would lead a jury to believe Zimmerman’s account, particularly with this jury.”

The six-member jury consists of five white women and one woman who has been identified as Latina.

Both lawyers spoke about the impact of the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, the young woman who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot and killed and whose testimony sparked a torrent of reaction on the Internet.

“In my view, she was fresh and real,” Floyd said. “I think she helped the prosecution. But the question is whether these jurors can set aside any biases they might have. The question is whether these five white women and one mixed race woman find this woman credible.”

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 (Photo: Jacob Langston-Pool/Getty Images)

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