Zimmerman Prosecutor Delivers Passionate Rebuttal

The state's final plea still may not be strong enough to deliver a second-degree-murder conviction.

Prosecutor John Guy delivers the final rebuttal on Friday in the George Zimmerman trial. (Joe Burbank/Getty Images)
Prosecutor John Guy delivers the final rebuttal on Friday in the George Zimmerman trial. (Joe Burbank/Getty Images)

(The Root) — At last, the prosecution on Friday delivered for those demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Before six women began to deliberate the fate of Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, the state’s attorney, took them to church.

“The human heart,” prosecutor John Guy began, “moves us … motivates us.” To figure out what led Zimmerman to fatally shoot the 17-year-old, he told the jurors, “Should we not look into the heart of that grown man and the heart of that child?”

Accusing Zimmerman of having “hate in his heart,” “hate in his mouth” and “hate in his actions,” Guy preached a rebuttal to the defense’s summation that was as dramatic and forceful as his opening argument a few weeks ago. Guy hardly took his eyes off the jurors as he leaned over the jury box, trying to emotionally connect with them. It’s not clear if he succeeded, but he breathed new life in the waning hopes that Zimmerman would be convicted of second-degree murder.

Delivering memorable line after line, Guy seemed to ease growing concerns that the state had fumbled the case:

“Trayvon Martin may not have had the blood of George Zimmerman on his hands, but George Zimmerman will forever have Trayvon Martin’s blood on his hands. Forever.” 

“If that defendant had done what he was supposed to do, none of us would be here.”

“In the end, this case is not about standing your ground. It is about staying in your car.”

Guy countered the defense’s claim that Trayvon started the altercation by sucker-punching Zimmerman (who claims Trayvon straddled and viciously beat him, forcing him to shoot Trayvon in self-defense), saying the problem began when Zimmerman profiled and followed the teen. He then gave one of his most powerful statements, obviously calibrated to resonate with a jury that includes five mothers: “Isn’t that every child’s worst fear, to be followed on the way home in the dark by a stranger? That was Trayvon Martin’s last emotion.”

Guy, who is part of the state attorney’s team from Jacksonville, Fla., appointed by the governor to prosecute the case, lived up to his reputation as a closer. Some reporters and legal analysts in the courtroom nicknamed him “McDreamy.”

But for all its passion, Guy’s argument couldn’t fill the gaping hole in the state’s case: a clear account of how the fight between Trayvon and Zimmerman started up to the moments before Zimmerman fired his gun.

Guy reinforced the argument that Zimmerman profiled Trayvon as a likely criminal and followed him. The defense was forced to more or less concede those points. In their closing, the state went as far as saying Zimmerman “trapped” Trayvon.

Guy also reminded jurors that Zimmerman’s reference to Trayvon as one of the “[expletive] punks” and “assholes” who always “get away” showed ill will, an element required for a second-degree-murder conviction.

But the state’s narrative pauses there. When it resumes, Trayvon is dying from a bullet hole through his heart. For the jurors, what occurred in between is everything.