George Zimmerman Case: Should Charges Be Dropped?

PHOTO: Trayvon Martin, 17, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman.
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Two prominent U.S. lawyers are among the skeptics questioning whether evidence in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin supports the second-degree murder charge against George Zimmerman, given the confessed shooter's apparent injuries and freshly released eyewitness accounts.

"There is no second-degree murder evidence in this case," Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said. "It's a very close case."

Details released in the past week add to the picture of what might have transpired on that rainy Feb. 26 before Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in the Sanford, Fla., community where Martin, 17, was staying with his father's fiancée, shot the teen dead.

Previously unknown particulars, including the scrape on Martin's knuckle and photos of Zimmerman's battered and swollen face -- which were taken moments after he shot and killed Martin in what he says was self defense -- coupled with eyewitness accounts that back up Zimmerman's story, suggest for some that the prosecutor overreached.

"I'd rather play the defense than the prosecutor, because there's no way you get a murder-two conviction," journalist-attorney Geraldo Rivera said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" last week.

Zimmerman, 28, whose father is white and mother Hispanic, had volunteered for the neighborhood watch committee. He has said that he shot Martin, an African-American, in self-defense after the teen knocked him to the ground, banged his head against the ground and went for Zimmerman's gun.

The release of evidence by the prosecution Thursday also included potentially damning eyewitness accounts of the tussle between the two. One man at the scene told police he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, pummeling him mixed martial arts-style.

With more of the prosecution's evidence now public, legal experts like Dershowitz are blaming what they're already calling "the failure" of this racially charged case on Special Prosecutor Angela Corey.

"If there are demonstrations, the finger of responsibility will point directly at the prosecutor," Dershowitz said.

Corey, the state attorney in Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, was assigned to the case by Florida Gov. Rick Scott nearly a month after the shooting. Corey said this weekend that evidence released so far is not the sum total of her case.

"What the general public has to remember and the media has to remember is that there is a lot we cannot release by law," Corey said.

Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara apparently agrees with Corey.

"[It is] way too early to tell," he said. "That's me not only commenting on evidence, but the weight of all the evidence. And I don't even have all the evidence."

One key to the case is which of the two men instigated the clash that left Martin dead. The prosecution says Zimmerman initiated the altercation when he "profiled" Martin that night, and then got out of his car to follow him. In the newly released documents, lead homicide officer on the case, Chris Serino of the Sanford Police Department, called the shooting "avoidable" had Zimmerman remained in his vehicle.

What has yet to be seen are two main pieces of evidence: Zimmerman's statement on the night of the incident, and his reenactment of the events of that night, which could prove vital when and if the case is heard in court.

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