I cannot imagine the pain associated with losing my son at age 17 because someone saw him as a thug and decided to shoot him rather than wait for police. I will leave the motive to the jury to decide, but no one disputes that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin after following him against the advice of the 911 dispatcher.
Now Trayvon is on trial right alongside George Zimmerman, and today his mother was called to testify. During her testimony, this happened:
The defense attorney then tried to throw cold water on Fulton’s assertion that it was her son’s voice screaming on a 911 call the night he was shot and killed by Zimmerman.
“If it was your son, in fact, screaming as you testified, that would suggest that it was Mr. Zimmerman’s fault that led to his death,” O’Mara observed. “And if it was not your son screaming, if it was, in fact, George Zimmerman then you would have to accept the probability that it was Trayvon Martin that caused his own death, correct?”
“I don’t understand your question,” Fulton said. “I heard my son screaming.”
“You certainly had to hope that was your son screaming even before you heard it, correct?” O’Mara continued.
“I didn’t hope for anything,” Fulton insisted. “I just simply listened to the tape.”
“I don’t meant to put you through this any more than necessary, but you certainly would hope your son, Trayvon Martin, did nothing that could have led to his own death, correct?” O’Mara tried again.
“What I hope for is that this wouldn’t have ever happened and he would still be here,” Fulton shot back. “That’s my hope.”
Brava to Sybrina Fulton for standing her ground as a defense attorney tried to get her to blame her own son for his death. She stood her ground.
I realize Zimmerman is entitled to a vigorous defense. I want him to have a vigorous defense. That’s how our system works best, when defendant and prosecutors are skilled attorneys who advocate fiercely for their own side. But the legal system is a dispassionate thing, and it is utterly heartbreaking to hear Sybrina Fulton grilled as to who she thought was screaming on the recording.
Mothers know the voices of their children, even when those voices are raised in times of severe stress and threat. Mothers also hope against all hope their children aren’t being threatened or under that kind of stress. The line of questioning undertaken by the defense attorney attempted to get Trayvon Martin’s mother to admit her son provoked George Zimmerman into shooting him. She stood her ground.
Ultimately, I believe this case will be decided on the forensics. As I write, the coroner is on the stand and has testified to certain facts, including the fact that fingernail scrapings turned up nothing, there was no Zimmerman DNA on Martin’s clothing, that there were no injuries to Martin’s hands or anything else on his body other than a single gunshot wound fired from between .4 and 4 feet.
I cannot recall a case which has so polarized people along racial lines since the OJ and Rodney King cases. In the context of the “stand your ground” laws which are still the underpinning of the case even if Zimmerman is not relying on that as a defense, Melissa Harris-Perry framed the conflict perfectly:
Talking with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, Harris-Perry said: “It does seem like part of what hinges here is whether or not Trayvon Martin hit George Zimmerman and whether or not he did so first…but why is it that if this person hit someone who was prepared to use lethal force against him…why wouldn’t he have a right to stand his ground? Is that not racialized?” Do black boys get to defend themselves?
Indeed, and goes right to the heart of the question the defense used to try and trap Sybrina Fulton. To many, George Zimmerman was entitled to stand his ground, but Trayvon Martin was not.