Whatever the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, it will be viewed less as a determination of the shooter’s guilt or innocence and more as a victory or loss for civil rights, George Zimmerman’s lawyer fears. Mark O’Mara said he has been busy trying to dispel the racial overtones in the case by getting out more evidence about his client. His hope, he said, is that people will divorce a verdict from the real civil rights questions.
“The more people that consider an acquittal of George Zimmerman to be a loss for civil rights, the worse for civil rights,” he told CNN’s Piers Morgan. A year ago, Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, shot Martin, an African-American teenager returning home after walking to a convenience store for a drink and a snack.
Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors say he ignored a police dispatcher’s advice and was guilty of racial profiling. The case drew national attention because police did not bring charges against Zimmerman for more than a month after the shooting, saying the circumstances required further investigation. O’Mara said the evidence will show that Zimmerman wasn’t profiling. He said the FBI investigated the shooting and found “absolutely no racism.”
“As a matter of fact, they found a lot of events and instances where George was what you might call an absolute nonracist,” O’Mara said.
On February 26, 2012, Martin was walking back to the Sanford, Florida, apartment of his father’s fiancee after picking up some Skittles and an iced tea at 7-Eleven. That’s when Zimmerman, then a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him walking through the complex.
What happened between then and when Zimmerman fatally shot the teen is subject to dispute, one that could be settled by a jury starting June 10, when Zimmerman is set to go on trial on a second-degree murder charge.