Reporter's Notebook: Legal expert on 'most powerful testimony'

Day 13 of the George Zimmerman trial

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter
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David S. Weinstein is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.  He held that position from 1998 to 2009.

David Weinstein has 25 years of practice in criminal law and his courtroom experience includes more than 100 jury trials ranging from burglaries and homicides through international money laundering and drug trafficking cases.

Former federal prosecutor David Weinstein discusses the highlights of day 13 of the George Zimmerman trial.

Analysis: State's Key Witness Rachel Jeantel 

"She clearly presented some of the most powerful testimony thus far in the trial.
But what did her testimony prove?

From the prosecutions perspective, George Zimmerman was aggressively pursuing Trayvon Martin and the two of them became involved in an altercation that arguably was instigated by George Zimmerman. Couple this with the 911 tapes and they are building their case towards ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent.

From the defense perspective, while compelling and heart wrenching, her testimony shows that Trayvon was trying to get away from someone who was following him, a man who Trayvon described to her in derogatory terms and someone who an earlier witness had described as a "professional" as well as someone who appeared to really want to make "changes to his community, make it better." This helps develop their defense that George Zimmerman was out doing his job as part of the neighborhood watch and simply trying to investigate something that he perceived as suspicious.
Why and how the confrontation developed is something that only two people know for certain, Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

Verdicts are determined by jurors analyzing all of the evidence. As observers of the process we can't make the mistake of reaching our verdict early based on one snippet of the evidence. You have to wait until all of the evidence is in before you reach a conclusion. That's why the jurors are told at the end of each day by the judge not to discuss the case until they have been directed to begin deliberations."

Analysis: Zimmerman's past calls to 911 allowed in:

"Victory for the state on the admissibility of the tapes. However [Mark] O'Mara and the defense will still be able to argue what weight the jury should place on them and re-argue all of the points that they made it to the judge in an effort to keep the tapes out. It becomes a subjective question for the jury to consider what these tapes show about Zimmerman's state of mind." 

Analysis: Alternate juror B72 dismissed:

"As for the alternate juror, this just means that the state has to keep up the pace that they are moving. They need to present their case methodically and in a fashion that will allow them to move through this as quickly as possible while still presenting all the evidence.
It's not a who done it. It is what was Zimmerman's state of mind before he did it and did he act in justifiable self-defense." 

Juror E6 asked two questions today.

Q: Can jurors ask witnesses a question?

A: "Yes. In Florida, jurors are permitted to ask question," explained former felony prosecutor David Weinstein, "Caveat, jurors can't just blurt out questions. After the witness is done testifying, jurors can submit written questions and if the judge decides that they are permitted under the rules of evidence, then they will be asked. Florida Standard Jury Instruction 2.13 allows the Court to decide if jurors can ask questions and if so, sets out the procedures. However, bottom line, nothing wrong with anybody, except for the audience, assaying I didn't hear that question or answer."

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