Reuters/Joe BurbankThe famed criminal defense lawyer who defended notorious "subway vigilante" Bernhard Goetz says George Zimmerman never should have been indicted for the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Prosecutors caved to public pressure when they indicted Zimmerman for second-degree murder, attorney Barry Slotnick tells Business Insider, referring to the public outcry after police failed to arrest the neighborhood watchman in February 2012.
"The trial damaged the system," Slotnick told BI after the verdict came down. "Do we indict people and try them ... to satisfy a population? ... I understand the positions taken by people who believe Zimmerman was a racist. There are other ways to deal with it."
There's no doubt the state had a challenging case ahead of it. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and had a bloody (and possibly broken) nose to support his story that Martin was beating him up when he killed him.
"Ultimately they determined at one point not to prosecute him," Slotnick said, "and that all changed when the community got very angry."
But the prosecution had plenty of evidence to at least show Zimmerman was being reckless and at least guilty of manslaughter, Florida-based law professor Kenneth Nunn told BI. After all, a 911 operator told Zimmerman he didn't need to follow Martin after he spotted the teen in his gated community.
Zimmerman followed the black teenager anyway, and he did so with a weapon that was loaded and ready to shoot, Nunn points out.
"When you have defense attorneys who don't represent young black males, they forget how limited the evidence needs to be to establish a homicide case," Nunn said. "I have clients who have been charged with second-degree murder on less evidence."
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