The state would have argued that marijuana doesnt make someone hostile, and the defense probably didnt want to look like they were disparaging Trayvon Martin, said John Priovolos, a Miami criminal-defense attorney.
Their approach was evident at closing arguments. While prosecutor Bernardo de la Rionda was mocking and at times shrill, OMara was calm and conversational, opening with a long, professorial discussion on the history of trial law, then dissecting the states case.
Zimmermans neighborhood watch history? Tell me one witness who said George Zimmerman patrolled that neighborhood ... not one, he told jurors.
The sound of the wind on Zimmermans call to police, suggesting he was chasing Trayvon? The weather report shows the wind was up, OMara said.
The belief Zimmerman was the aggressor? One piece of evidence that my client attacked Trayvon Martin? OMara asked jurors. Landed one blow even?
Miami defense attorney David O. Markus said that the closings arguments offered something of a role reversal for prosecutors and the defense.
The initial summation by the prosecution was what you see many times from defense lawyers passionate and trying to poke holes or raise doubts in Zimmermans version of events, he said. On the other hand, the defense accepted the burden of proof and methodically and dispassionately went through the evidence and the elements, much like a prosecutor would normally proceed.
The acquittal vindicated OMaras strategy. He not only maintained that the state hadnt proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, but riskily admitted he wanted to take on the burden of proving his clients absolute innocence. He even wished, half-playfully, that the verdict form has a check box for completely innocent.
Under the law, the defense has no burden to prove anything. Only prosecutors must prove a case, beyond a reasonable doubt.
I really like the strategy, Markus said. Many times, cases come down to whether you can show the jury that you really believe in your client. What better way to do that than to tell the jury that you arent relying on burdens of proof but instead that you believe he is innocent?
Miami Herald Staff writers Audra D.S. Burch and Evan S. Benn contributed to this report.