Local attorney: Zimmerman case relies on self-defense

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by Sarah Blais

Video report by Fields Moseley

Posted on July 12, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 12 at 3:40 PM

PHOENIX -- The closing arguments were given Friday from the prosecution and defense in the trial over Trayvon Martin's fatal shooting.

Local defense attorney Jason Lamm has given his insight on what the trial could mean for George Zimmerman's future.

Zimmerman is currently charged with second-degree murder, meaning he could get at least 25 years in prison if found guilty. However, the jury also has the options to convict him of manslaughter, which is at least nine years in prison, or acquit him.

"Second-degree murder requires evil intent, malice, some sort of ill will," Lamm said. "What they had to use in their case to get that is racism. But there's been none of that that has come out. The consensus among lawyers and commentators is, 'What are you doing, state of Florida?'"

Lamm also noted that Martin's girlfriend or friend, Rachel Jeantel, who is also the state's key witness, was not a credible source.

"She said she was on the phone in minutes leading up to the incident," Lamm said. "She had to admit lying at multiple times. She lied about her name, age and where she was."

One of the most controversial pieces of evidence is the 911 call a witness made. A scream and gunshot can be heard in the background, but no one can say for sure who it was.

Lamm said because this is a self-defense case, the tape is vital. He added that "if the state cannot disprove self-defense, Zimmerman will be found not guilty."

However, he also said that the tape will likely be overshadowed by physical evidence since the jury "can't make heads or tails of the call."

Witnesses from both sides were brought in to identify whose scream it was, which Lamm said helped Zimmerman.

"It has allowed the defense to backdoor good character evidence," Lamm said. "It's not to say Trayvon's family was bad in any way, but Zimmerman had veterans and politically active people who brought up who he was."

Another controversy was why Zimmerman's attorney didn't have him testify. Lamm said it was a smart move, considering the evidence.

Lamm said one witness described the clothing of the person on top during the struggle as what Martin was wearing, making him the aggressor. Zimmerman also had lacerations on the back of his head that were consistent with his story that Martin was smashing him on the concrete.

"You want to be so careful about putting a client on the stand," Lamm said. "The defense did not need to put on Zimmerman, and from a strategic point of view, it was a brilliant move."

Lamm emphasized how much this case rests on self-defense.

"If they [the jury] believe it's self-defense, it isn't about a lesser charge of man slaughter," Lamm said. "It's about a not guilty."

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