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US Trial to Focus on Race, Guns, Self-Defense

US Trial to Focus on Race, Guns, Self-Defense
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Opening arguments in a U.S. trial revolving around race and self-defense will begin Monday in Florida. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, is charged with killing Trayvon Martin in February of last year.

The shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin sparked protests last year when his killer - an Hispanic man - was not charged.

In a legal reversal 44 days later, George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.

Martin was visiting his father’s fiancée - he was wearing a grey hoodie - prompting some to say Zimmerman profiled Martin as a dangerous black man, only on his looks. Zimmerman says Martin attacked him and he fired the gun in self-defense.

Five of the six Zimmerman jurors are white. All are female. Attorney Mark Eiglarsh said, “Women can generally be more emotional, more sympathetic, and that generally would favor the prosecution.”

Jennifer Page has been a prosecutor, and now is a criminal defense attorney. She said the advantage is with Zimmerman’s defense.

“The fact that he is the only witness is favorable. His position will be, this is what happened, and tragically the person also involved is dead and won’t be able to rebut that. The state on the other hand has had a few problems. Two of their witnesses have been found to be untruthful about things, including Trayvon’s girlfriend,” she said.

Page said the trial won’t set a precedent, but it’s noteworthy because it opens more dialogue on two controversial issues in the U.S. - race and guns. The trial is expected to last up to one month.
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    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy, Silver World Medal, AP Broadcaster’s Best of Show, and Clarion award-winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous TV, Radio, Multimedia, and Digital awards for her TV/Web coverage of Muslim Portraits, The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.  Presutti was VOA’s Nathanson Scholar to the Aspen Institute and VOA’s delegate to the U.S. government’s Executive Leadership Program (ELP).

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