This week, the George Zimmerman murder trial will begin. Here is an overview to help you stay abreast of the case.
The trial against George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin will begin with jury selection. This is the most-important phase of the case. In jury selection, the prosecution and the defense attempt to reveal any biases of potential jurors. If they do not remove jurors with biases, the case may be compromised by that juror causing a hung jury or bringing in their biases in their decision of a verdict. These biases may include any history of being a victim of violent crime, if potential jurors have their minds made up about the case, or if they were involved in any organizations that may have racial biases. The potential jurors will be questioned about media exposure and what they know about the case. With the large amount of media coverage and the defense releasing potential evidence to the media, jurors will be heavily questioned about this exposure.
In opening statements, the prosecution and defense get to tell the jury what testimony they expect to come from the witness stand during the trial. The prosecution goes first and the defense goes second. It is very important for each side to establish trust with the jurors and say things that they can definitely show throughout trial. The jurors will be expecting each side to uphold what they say the evidence will be, which is very important for each side to only say what they definitely can prove. Opening statements are not considered evidence in a trial. Only testimony from the witness stand can be considered evidence.
The prosecution will call their witnesses first. They may call witnesses, including forensic and expert witnesses. They will call witnesses who have a firsthand account of what happened because they were there. These witnesses may include the neighbors, anyone who saw the shooting, and those who called 911. Forensic witnesses may include any testimony in reference to DNA, fingerprints, bullets, and any other physical evidence. Forensic witnesses are typically experts in their field and each side will have the opportunity to challenge the expert testimony of the opposing side. It would not shock me if both side had experts stating differences of opinions. We commonly call this “battle of the experts,” with each side trying to show that their expert is more knowledgeable than the other so they can help their case. This has already been displayed in regards to the 911 calls, where expert testimony is being used to determine whose voice is heard screaming on the call. The prosecution intends to call an expert to state the screaming voice may have been Trayvon’s and the defense may call a witness who may dispute that testimony.
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