George Zimmerman: Was calling Trayvon's dad a mistake?

Staff writer

George Zimmerman's defense team came in for a range of reviews for calling Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's dad, to the stand.

Just consider the commentary Monday night on Anderson Cooper's "360" series on CNN.

Sunny Hostin called it "a huge mistake" and said that the jury seemed more riveted by Tracy Martin's testimony than either Trayvon's mother or Zimmerman's mother.

"I think the defense had a great day today by using all of his friends to say that they recognized his [Zimmerman's] voice, but it was a misfire calling Tracy Martin," Hostin said.

But Mark Geragos said the defense's approach was very successful. "At first blush you'd probably say, 'Why would you ever call him?' But I think that what they're going to argue in closing is, Look, when he was with the police, he told them one thing," Geragos said. "When he got into court, he wanted to tell them something else. The mind makes you do things, understandably, when you're talking about your son."

Geragos predicted the Zimmerman defense team would return to the issue in the closing argument.

But Marcia Clark considered calling Tracy Martin "a wash."

"I'm not denying the fact that it is an effective tactic by the defense to use the victim's father in the way that they did, as painful as it was to watch," Clark told Cooper. "I think ultimately this jury's going to make up their own minds because each side says what ... you expect them to say."

Later on Cooper's show devoted to the trial, "Self-Defense or Murder?," Geragos and Hostin were going at it.

"I have to tell you I was watching that jury so closely and they were with Tracy Martin," Hostin said.

But Geragos was having none of that.

"He's lost his son. Anybody who has a son can't even -- it's unimaginable. So I get that," Geragos said. "But I don't know that that means they're with him."

After more bickering, Geragos added: "I'm saying the idea that somehow you're going to predict the jury by how they're reacting to a grieving father, I just don't buy that."

Jeffrey Toobin said he didn't believe the jury will be able to decide whose voice -- George Zimmerman's or Trayvon Martin's -- is on an oft-played 911 call.

"That helps the defense, because unless they can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that it's Trayvon Martin's voice, it really doesn't help the prosecution," Toobin said. "So here's an example where I think the burden of proof really does favor the defense."

On Tuesday's edition of ABC's "Good Morning America," Dan Abrams said calling Tracy Martin was risky for the defense. The defense also got "the very emotional, powerful side of Tracy Martin, the dad, testifying in effect on behalf of Trayvon."

But Abrams said it's a difficult case for the prosecution and added that it would be hard to imagine the jury convicting Zimmerman on second-degree murder or manslaughter.

"But juries are impossible to predict," Abrams said. "They sometimes choose to go their own way, even if it involves ignoring the law."

There was more thoughtful talk on Piers Morgan's CNN show Monday night.

Alan Dershowitz said the prosecution hadn't proved its case. "They created a terrible problem for themselves by overcharging second-degree murder," he told Morgan. "If they had instead charged what would have been appropriate in this case, at most, manslaughter, they would have had a reasonable chance of prevailing."

Dershowitz predicted the prosecution will seek a compromised verdict and ask the judge to charge on both second-degree murder and manslaughter.

"That will be objected to, and it will create incredible complications," Dershowitz said. "That's what happens when you overcharge for political reasons, and that's what happened here."

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