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George Zimmerman trial

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Defense opens Zimmerman trial with ‘knock-knock’ joke

Attorney Mark O’ Mara, far left, represented George Zimmerman in his trial.

(CNN)Mark O’Mara, the attorney who successfully defended George Zimmerman in his second-degree murder trial this year, will no longer represent his notorious client.

“I am not representing George Zimmerman in his recent domestic altercation case or his impending divorce case,” O’Mara told CNN.

Although Zimmerman’s murder trial is over, his legal battles are far from over.

On Monday, Zimmerman was briefly detained after a dispute involving his estranged wife, Shellie, and her father, David Bryant Dean.

The two declined to press charges, and George Zimmerman was not charged or arrested in the dispute.

Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce last week.

The run-in was just one in a number of incidents in a summer rife with ups and downs for the former neighborhood watchman.

After his acquittal on July 13, George Zimmerman reportedly helped a family escape from an overturned SUV, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

Zimmerman has also been pulled over in traffic twice. The first time, he was given a verbal warning for a traffic violation in Texas. The second time was in Florida last week, when he was issued a $256 ticket for speeding.

O’Mara, now a legal analyst for CNN, continues to be the attorney of record in the impending defamation lawsuit against NBC; Pennsylvania attorney Jim Beasley will be the lead attorney on the case.

He will also still be involved with outstanding sanction motions and recovery of costs from the state of Florida for expenses related to Zimmerman’s murder trial.

Zimmerman Not Guilty

(CNN) — George Zimmerman — who was acquitted earlier this month on murder charges tied to Trayvon Martin’s death — was stopped this weekend for a traffic violation in northern Texas, according to the Forney, Texas, police department.

Dashcam video released by police shows Zimmerman and the officer talking briefly before the officer tells him to shut his glove compartment and “don’t play with your firearm, OK?”

Then, after returning to his patrol car, the officer returns to tell Zimmerman to “slow down” and sends him on off with a verbal warning.

In a tweet, Zimmerman’s defense team said Wednesday that they wouldn’t make any comments on their client’s whereabouts and would protect his privacy “for his safety.”

His brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., explained what happened with a brief tweet of his own: “A heavy foot … Nothing more.”

The episode began shortly after noon on a partly cloudy Sunday, when the officer turns on his sirens and says, “Get ‘em,” as Zimmerman’s 2008 gray Honda pulls away.

Moments later, the officer pulls up behind Zimmerman’s car, which is by then parked in the breakdown lane with its hazard lights on, as seen in the dashcam video.

The officer asks for a driver’s license, and after a short exchange with Zimmerman and recognizing the name, he says, “What a coincidence.”

“The reason you were stopped is for your speed,” the officer adds later. “And as long as you don’t have any warrants, you’ll be served a warning.”

The entire thing — from when Zimmerman was stopped to when he was cleared — took all of four minutes, according to the police report.

Forney City Manager Brian Brooks said he couldn’t answer several questions about the incident, including about the type of gun that Zimmerman had, in part because the incident was short and no citation was issued.

A spokesman for Zimmerman’s legal defense team said he had not confirmed directly with Zimmerman that he’d been pulled over in Texas but, after looking at the dashcam photo, said he believes “it’s probably George.”

Zimmerman last communicated with his defense team last Friday, when he was still in Florida, said the spokesman, Shawn Vincent.

A Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder on July 13 for fatally shooting the 17-year-old Martin in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood. The case stirred fervent emotions on both sides — from the 29-year-old’s supporters who argued that he had a right to protect himself, to others who argued he profiled the black teenager, then willfully ignored a police dispatcher’s advice by pursuing him.

The passions contributed to an “enormous amount of death threats” against Zimmerman and his family, his parents told ABC News earlier this month.

On Wednesday, the Zimmerman family reiterated that they remain under pressure.

“Our family receives many death threats,” the family said in a statement. “We all continue to take our security seriously and to ensure our safety in accordance with the law.”

This week’s traffic stop marks the second time George Zimmerman has made headlines since his acquittal.

George Zimmerman was mentioned in news stories for helping, with another man, a family of four get out of an overturned vehicle in Sanford, said Seminole County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Heather Smith.

Zimmerman did not witness the July 17 crash, and he left after making contact with a sheriff’s deputy, Smith said. No injuries were reported.

 

George Zimmerman juror says he's "guilty of murder"

(CNN) — A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin “got away with murder.”

“George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” Juror B29 told ABC, according to an article posted on the network’s website Thursday. “(But) the law couldn’t prove it.”

The juror, who used only her first name of Maddy out of concerns for her safety, told ABC that she and others on the panel felt Zimmerman was guilty, but that wasn’t enough.

“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”

Maddy is the second juror to speak about the high-profile case since the six-person, all-female jury acquitted Zimmerman earlier this month.

She and other jurors also have identified themselves by their numbers from the jury pool.

Last week the woman known as Juror B37 told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ that Zimmerman “didn’t do anything unlawful” and was “justified” in shooting 17-year-old Martin last year.

Zimmerman has been out of the public eye since the jury found him not guilty of second degree murder on July 13. His parents told ABC News last week that their family has received an “enormous amount of death threats.”

WATCH THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW HERE

He fatally shot Martin in the Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where Zimmerman and Martin’s father lived in February 2012. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, had a confrontation with the unarmed African-American teen after calling police to report a suspicious person, and he said he shot Martin in self-defense.

The case became a flash point in debates over racial profiling, and thousands attended vigils across the country over the weekend, decrying the verdict.

Maddy, 36, is Puerto Rican and a mother of eight children, ABC said. She was the only minority to deliberate in the case. She told ABC that the case was never about race to her.

At the beginning of deliberations, she told ABC, she wanted to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. But she realized on the second day of deliberations that there wasn’t enough proof to convict him of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

“I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury. I fought to the end,” she said, according to ABC.

Juror B37 told CNN that the jury was initially split — three and three along the line of guilt. Juror B37 was among those who believed Zimmerman was not guilty from the start.

She stressed that she and the other jurors took their responsibility seriously.

“I don’t want people to think that we didn’t think about this, and we didn’t care about Trayvon Martin, because we did. We’re very sad that it happened to him,” she said.

Juror B29 told ABC that the decision is still weighing heavily on her, and she thinks she owes Martin’s parents an apology.

“It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death,” she told ABC. “And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much (as) Trayvon Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain.”

George Zimmerman juror says he's "guilty of murder"

(CNN) — A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin “got away with murder.”

“George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” Juror B29 told ABC, according to an article posted on the network’s website Thursday. “(But) the law couldn’t prove it.”

The juror, who used only her first name of Maddy out of concerns for her safety, told ABC that she and others on the panel felt Zimmerman was guilty, but that wasn’t enough.

“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” she said. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”

Maddy is the second juror to speak about the high-profile case since the six-person, all-female jury acquitted Zimmerman earlier this month.

She and other jurors also have identified themselves by their numbers from the jury pool.

Last week the woman known as Juror B37 told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360″ that Zimmerman “didn’t do anything unlawful” and was “justified” in shooting 17-year-old Martin last year.

Zimmerman has been out of the public eye since the jury found him not guilty of second degree murder on July 13. His parents told ABC News last week that their family has received an “enormous amount of death threats.”

WATCH THE EXCLUSIVE ABC INTERVIEW HERE

He fatally shot Martin in the Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where Zimmerman and Martin’s father lived in February 2012. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, had a confrontation with the unarmed African-American teen after calling police to report a suspicious person, and he said he shot Martin in self-defense.

The case became a flash point in debates over racial profiling, and thousands attended vigils across the country over the weekend, decrying the verdict.

Maddy, 36, is Puerto Rican and a mother of eight children, ABC said. She was the only minority to deliberate in the case. She told ABC that the case was never about race to her.

At the beginning of deliberations, she told ABC, she wanted to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. But she realized on the second day of deliberations that there wasn’t enough proof to convict him of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

“I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury. I fought to the end,” she said, according to ABC.

Juror B37 told CNN that the jury was initially split — three and three along the line of guilt. Juror B37 was among those who believed Zimmerman was not guilty from the start.

She stressed that she and the other jurors took their responsibility seriously.

“I don’t want people to think that we didn’t think about this, and we didn’t care about Trayvon Martin, because we did. We’re very sad that it happened to him,” she said.

Juror B29 told ABC that the decision is still weighing heavily on her, and she thinks she owes Martin’s parents an apology.

“It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death,” she told ABC. “And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much (as) Trayvon Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain.”

(PIX11) – The announcement of a presidential news conference Friday jostled the White House Press Corps and immediately seized the attention of a nation.

President Barack Obama had something to say about the Trayvon Martin case and it was more than just sound bite.

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” the President said from the podium.

With vigils and protests popping up here in the city and across the country and ahead of several more planned for this weekend, President Obama didn’t give specifics on exactly why he decided to share his thoughts — in vivid detail — on the Trayvon Martin verdict.

But he clearly understands the power of his position and the common bond he shares with thousands of people outraged by the jury’s decision to acquit George Zimmerman.

“When you think about why, in the African American community at least – there’s a lot of pain around what happened here – I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences, and a history that doesn’t go way,” said the President.

The President’s 17-minute impromptu speech included his most extensive comments on the issue of race since he was elected to the White House.

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for research in black culture says he did not hear the President delivering an ordinary speech.

“What’s interesting about that is, this is really why the presidency is so powerful. He said something interesting in the speech. He said, I’ve got some convening power. And that was his way of saying I have a bully pulpit. I’m the president of the united states of America,” Muhammad told PIX11.

It was an incredibly personal speech, filled with blunt historical references on hurtful stereotypes.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are probably very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That’s happens to me — at least before I was a senator,” Obama said.

“So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated I think if they think there’s no context for it – and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario – that from top to bottom…both the outcome – and the aftermath might have been different,” the President continued.

But not everyone is applauding the President’s remarks.

“Like he did today, bending over backwards to put this trial into a racial context in spite of the mountain of evidence that it does not exist here,” said conservative talk show host Sean Hannity.

Muhammad says ultimately, the speech stimulates the ongoing debate on race.

“It is a generational moment, particularly for those young people coming face to face with what the criminal justice system thinks of young black men,” said Muhammad.

(CNN) — President Barack Obama said Friday that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago” in his first live comments since a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman last weekend in the teenager’s shooting death.

He also said protests over the verdict should remain nonviolent.

The president said Americans are aware of the “history of racial disparity in our criminal laws” and said the government should review some state and local legislation, such as Florida’s “stand your ground” law, saying they may promote rather than discourage violent confrontations.

obamaA jury acquitted Zimmerman last Saturday in Martin’s February 26, 2012, shooting death, inciting anger among many who considered the incident racially motivated murder.

Obama issued a written statement on Sunday noting that the jury had spoken and urging calm and reflection.

On Friday, he also said successive generations of Americans have gotten better at changing attitudes on race, but “we have to be vigilant and work on these issues.”

To demonstrators calling for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Obama said they must “have some clear expectations here.”

He stressed that law enforcement and the criminal code “is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal level.”

(PIX11) — In what appears to be a classic case of old news served as new, a video that purportedly shows the New Black Panther party offering $10,000 for the capture of George Zimmerman – dead or alive – was filmed in 2012.

A video obtained by CNN shows several members of the NBPP including spokesperson Mikhail Muhammad,  offering the large sum for Zimmerman’s capture.

Several reports this week claimed the group targeted Zimmerman in wake of his acquittal in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. However, the video was in fact from March 2012 when the case garnered national attention after authorities did not arrest or charge Zimmerman for the shooting.

“We’re going to force our government to do their job properly, and if they don’t, we will,” Muhammad said, expressing outrage toward the Sanford Police Department’s decision to not arrest Zimmerman.

“So white America, we have given you 400 years to get it right and you still have failed black people. We’re not even citizens in this country. We’re still third class citizens.”

“Today as black men, we must stand up. We must say to white America, ‘Your time is up.’”

The dated story calling for a bounty on Zimmerman has caused national outcry — prompting many to call it outrageous and racist.

YouTube comments on CNN’s video include ones like user AAnt’s — “Most blacks, 90%, are killed BY OTHER BLACKS; funny how so-called “Black Panthers” aren’t offering a reward for all blacks killed by other blacks. I guess that’s OK as far as Black Panthers are concerned …”

Many media outlets have since retracted the story, citing confusion with the date of the video’s original release.

Web produced by Allison Yang

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, New York (PIX11) - Another day, another round of protests. A predominantly Latino crowd in Washington Heights gathered for a Trayvon Martin vigil.

While there continues to be anger over the verdict that found George Zimmerman not guilty, the anger has developed into a frustration over a system many say does not serve their best interest.

“We face gentrification, we face police brutality, we face poverty. Regardless of how much we work, we live check by check.” Said Claudia De La Cruz, one of the organizers of the vigil.

Following the initial rally, hundreds of protesters marched from Mitchell Square up St. Nicholas avenue towards Inwood. One woman telling PIX11, “they’re pushing us out of the homes we were born in and that’s not right.”

While accompanied by an NYPD presence, the police department has clearly made an effort not to insert itself into the protests that have taken place. And unlike in a select few demonstrations in other cities – the protests in NYC have been peaceful, while passionate.

NEW YORK (PIX11) – A George Zimmerman juror is about to write a tell-all about what it was like to serve on the jury who’s not-guilty verdict has sparked protests and scrutiny, according to reports.

The woman, identified only as juror B37, has agreed to write a book about the experience, according to literary agent Sharlene Martin.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the juror — her identity concealed– said about the defendant:

“I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods and wanting to catch these people so badly that he went above and beyond what he really should have done. But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.”
Martin told CNN the book will explore Florida’s gun control and self-defense laws — two controversial systems that ultimately led to Zimmerman being declared innocent.

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 9.33.03 PM
“It could open a whole new dialogue about laws that may need to be revised and revamped to suit a 21st Century way of life,” Martin said.

It’s not rare for a book to come out from anyone involved in the trial whether it be a juror, an attorney or the once-accused.
After another famous murder trial — the O.J. Simpson murder trial — the former NFL running back authored a book titled “If I did it,” almost hit the bookshelves.

“Anyone who is acquitted is entitled to write a book. It’s incumbent on that person, or that publisher
or whoever’s involved in marketing it, to do it with some sensitivity,” said marketing expert Rachel Honig.

The Jodi Arias murder trial has already inspired a book and a movie.

When dealing with real-life story telling, marketing expert Rachel Honig said if they do it, the writers can’t make mistakes.

“The most important thing is to keep it to their experience..and not try to overlay their judgment
nation with variety of opinions,” said Honig.

NEW YORK (PIX11) – It wasn’t surprising to hear the U.S. Department of Justice was going to review the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case in Florida, after the “not guilty” verdict this past weekend.

The feds have taken this road many times before, here in New York, when a high-profile state case failed to get a conviction.

In 1988, after a Queens jury acquitted Genovese crime family associate, Carmine Gualtiere, of fatally shooting undercover NYPD Detective Anthony Venditti, federal prosecutors decided to take a crack at the case.  The first state trial against three, accused men had ended with a “hung” jury.  In the second trial, Gualtiere was found not guilty — and the new jury was deadlocked on the other two.  That’s when the feds crafted a racketeering indictment against all three men: Gualtiere, Federico Giovanelli, and Steven Maltese.  All three were convicted in 1989 on some criminal charges, but after more legal challenges, the government continued to fail to nail them for the murder.

In October 1992, when a largely-minority jury found Brooklyn teen, Lemrick Nelson not guilty of fatally stabbing Yankel Rosebaum, an Orthodox Jewish doctoral student, during the Crown Heights riots, federal prosecutors started their own review.  Nelson was convicted in a 1997 Eastern District trial — with the government arguing that Nelson violated Rosenbaum’s civil rights. But the first conviction was vacated, because an appeals court ruled the jury selection process was unfair.  The U.S. Attorney tried again and won a conviction in 2003.  Nelson served a total of ten years in prison.

After four, white Bronx police officers were found not guilty in 2000 in the fatal shooting of Amadou Diallo — an immigrant vendor shot 41 times at his apartment door — Diallo’s family and influential New Yorkers asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case. More than a year later,  the federal government declined to prosecute, saying it “….could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers willfully deprived Mr. Diallo of his constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force.”

There was one, extremely high-profile case that went straight to federal court.  That was the 1997 police brutality incident involving Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima. Police Officer Justin Volpe of Brooklyn’s 71st Precinct initially pleaded “not guilty” to using a plunger to sodomize Louima in a station house bathroom. Louima suffered horrific injuries to his colon and rectum. Volpe changed his plea to “guilty” in the middle of the trial and was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison, where he remains today. Louima received an $8.75 million settlement from the City of New York, the highest pay-out in a police brutality case ever.

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