Prosecution, defense use different styles to deliver opening statements
by Rachel Delinski, Herald Editor
June 24 2013 at 1445 | 4134 views | 0 0 comments | 812 812 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don West, a defense attorney for George Zimmerman, displays a photo of his client, from the night of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, to the jury during opening arguments in Seminole circuit court, on the 11th day of Zimmerman's trial, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, June 24, 2013. Zimmerman is accused in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)
Don West, a defense attorney for George Zimmerman, displays a photo of his client, from the night of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, to the jury during opening arguments in Seminole circuit court, on the 11th day of Zimmerman's trial, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, June 24, 2013. Zimmerman is accused in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)
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Some like it short and sweet. Some would say the devil is in the details.

These two styles showed up today in the courtroom as Assistant State Attorney John Guy and Defense Attorney Don West delivered very different opening statements in the George Zimmerman case.

Zimmerman is charged with the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who he shot and killed Feb. 26, 2012 in The Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood in Sanford. Zimmerman has maintained he shot Martin in self-defense after he was attacked.

Guy delivered a passionate opening statement this morning where he said Zimmerman "profiled," "followed," and "murdered" Martin that rainy evening.

Focusing on the timeline of events that evening Guy described "two worlds colliding" where a young boy was walking home from the store and Zimmerman, "a wannabe cop," felt the need to protect his neighborhood. He instructed jurors to listen to Zimmerman's account as well as the timeline of phone calls.

"It's physically impossible the way he described it," Guy told jurors.

West, who took a longer, more detailed approach to his opening statement played the non-emergency phone call Zimmerman made the night before the shooting for jurors. He broke down minute-by-minute when the call ended and when the incident occurred.

He admitted Zimmerman was following Martin, but only at a distance, he said, and only to keep reporting to the dispatcher where Martin was.

West also played the 911 call made by a neighbor where screams, as well as the fatal gunshot can be heard in the background.

"We all agree those are the screams of someone in a life-threatening situation'" said West.

He explained to jurors that voice identification was not possible on the call, so they will instead hear testimony from family members -on both sides- who believe it is either the voice of Zimmerman or Martin.

Guy, however, alluded to the idea that it was Martin's voice on the call.

"You will have a bone chilling 911 call where in the background you will hear the gunshot go off," said Guy. "Trayvon Martin was silenced immediately."

Guy described Zimmerman as someone who had studied mixed martial arts fighting for more than a year and aimed to be a police officer - even completing ride-alongs and law study classes.

He ended his statement with a gripping thought for jurors.

Guy said: "He didn't shoot him because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons - because he wanted to."

But West related different story, speaking of someone who was in great fear for their lives and who was forced to shoot his attacker.

"Trayvon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk and used it to bash in George Zimmerman's head. That is a deadly weapon," said West.

While the two focused on similar parts of the evidence: the timeline, forensic evidence, and witness statements they delivered their messages in very different fashions, with Guy bringing a quick, passionate and emotional speech. West focused on details, sometimes jumping between them during his statement.

While Guy spent 30 minutes, West took a little under three hours speaking to the jurors.