George Zimmerman Murder Trial: Media Playing Central Role in Trayvon Martin Shooting Case?
Nov 26, 2012 03:21 PM EST
Ever since George Zimmerman was taking into custody for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February during a confrontation between the two, the media has played a central role in making the case a point of national debate, with both defense and prosecutors taking advantage of the attention the media has offered.
When Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder of the unarmed teenager, almost immediately questions of Zimmerman's racial bias arose. Upon weeks of investigation and interrogation, police department announced the absence of any conclusive evidence suggesting the volunteer Florida watch-guard had an racial proclivities. Never the less, the media has often flirted with the issue.
On a Dr.Phil Show on CBS, Mark and Sondra Osterman, close friends of Zimmerman were asked about his attitude towards various minorities. At one point in the show, the TV show host cum doctor is seen asking two guests who claim to be Zimmerman's best friends "Is he racist?," as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, to which the guest answer "absolutely not!"
Both members from the Zimmerman family (including the accused) and the Martin family have made multiple appearances in various interviews with major television networks such as CNN, NBC and Fox News.
In an interview with Sean Hannity, Zimmerman and his attorney Mark O'Mara opened up to host "about what happened the night of Trayvon Martin's death and his experience in the aftermath of the fatal shooting." In addition, Zimmerman even offered his apologies to the Martin family for shooting their son. Zimmerman's brother Robert has also been very vocal in the media in defense of his brother.
The Martin family has also made multiple appearances of talk shows, including Pierce Morgan's CNN talk show.
Such has been the extent of media involvement in the case that prosecutors requested a court ordered gag order, which was denied by the judge. Never the less, The gag-order was brought about by prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, who argues the defense's excessive interaction with the main stream media as well as social media was interfering with the progress of the case. " Neither party should be commenting about the evidence...That's my concern. Are we going to be able to pick a jury in Seminole County or for that matter the state of Florida?" said Rionda to the LA Times.
However, in recent news, Prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda leaked the names of the witness, only further instigating media attention. Whether this was an intentional move or accident remains unclear.
Earlier this month, Mark O'Mara, defense attorney to Zimmerman, said that his witness would be given numbers as identities. O'Mara will submitted a list of witness to Judge Debra Nelson, while keeping their names unknown.
In addition, defense has also threatened to file suit against NBC News for character defamation. O'Mara is suing the broadcast network for airing an edited version of the 911-call Zimmerman made after shooting the 17-year-old. O'mara claims that the phone call was edited deliberately to make his client look bad.
"NBC intentionally edited George Zimmerman's non-emergency call to make it appear he is a racist, then they repeatedly broadcast that edited tape to the nation...What NBC did is outrageous. Due in large part to NBC's actions, George has had to live in hiding, in fear for his life," as reported by Fox News.
Zimmerman was arrested in February for the killing of the 17-year-old, Zimmerman who was armed shot Martin after claiming that he was attacked by the teenager and fired in an act of self-defense. The 28-year-old Zimmerman has maintained the claim to self-defense from the beginning of the case.
In July, the Florida judge set Zimmerman's bail for $1 million, after previously revoking a $150,000 bond, for misleading the court about his finances.
Judge Debra Nelson has set the trial date for June 10, 2013.