George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman claims after Martin confronted him, he was forced to shoot the teenager in self-defense.
HLN's Nancy Grace said she would not advise Zimmerman to testify if she were representing him, because when a defendant takes the stand, he or she may be exposed to a very dangerous cross-examination.
"Look at what happened to Jodi Arias and her 18 days on the stand. It turned the jury against her," said Grace. "Casey Anthony didn't take the stand, and we saw what happened there, an acquittal."
But what if there are a lot of unanswered questions left looming inside the courtroom that only Zimmerman himself can clear up for the jury? The thing is, when it comes to the defense’s case, it may not matter. Zimmerman has already told his version of the story several times and witnesses have testified to the same basic narrative.
The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, therefore the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman didn’t kill Martin in self-defense, but that he murdered Martin. So if the prosecution hasn’t done that yet, should Zimmerman take the stand and risk creating any, or more, doubt about the validity of his story?
Vinnie Politan, former prosecutor and host of HLN’s Now in America and HLN After Dark, argues the details of that night are important, because they reveal what led to the altercation between Zimmerman and Martin. Politan says the details are what make Zimmerman’s story believable – or not. The problem in this case is that the jury may never know these details, making them irrelevant to the jury’s decision.
Politan says that since police failed to ask Zimmerman several critical questions immediately after he shot an unarmed teenager, there are too many details about that night that we will most likely never know – details Zimmerman won’t be held accountable for.
He also says Sanford police should have demanded more details from Zimmerman regarding exactly what happened that night, because unfortunately, Zimmerman is the only living person who knows the whole story. Without having one clear and fully detailed explanation from Zimmerman immediately following the incident, Zimmerman may not be held accountable for any inconsistencies or gaps in his story.
Here’s what Politan thinks police should have asked Zimmerman immediately after Martin’s death:
1. Where did you go for two minutes after hanging up with police?
2. Why did you need to get out of the car to find a street address?
3. Why did you say in court that you thought Trayvon Martin was your age, when you described him as a teenager and a "kid" in the call to police?
4. Why did you think Martin was breaking into neighbor Frank Taaffe's house when the person responsible for all of the burglaries in the community was arrested three weeks prior?
5. Which one of Martin’s hands grabbed the gun? And how could he grab it if he was straddling you? And how could his hand slide across your chest to the gun if he was straddling you?
6. How was he smashing your head into the concrete? Did he grab your hair or your ears?
7. Where are the bushes Martin jumped out of?
8. Do you always forget you are carrying your gun?
9. Why were you carrying your gun to Target? Didn’t you get it to protect yourself from the neighborhood stray dog?
10. How close to Martin were you when you were following him in your car?
To know the moment a verdict is reached in the George Zimmerman trial, follow Vinnie Politan on Twitter @VinniePolitan.