Zimmerman Trial Juror B29 (“Maddy”) Steps Forward: "He got away with murder"
By Dennis Loo (7/26/13)
Another juror has come forward from the Zimmerman case, Maddy, on ABC’s Good Morning America. Unlike Juror B37, the other juror to be interviewed so far, Maddy is not sitting in the shadows and she allowed her face to be shown. Also unlike Juror B37, who clearly identifies with Zimmerman and sees the events from his perspective, Maddy is in turmoil over her role in the verdict. She is a mother of eight children and Puerto Rican and says that she is having trouble sleeping and eating because she feels that she let Trayvon and his parents down: “In our hearts we felt he was guilty.” As she and the other jurors understood their instructions and Florida’s laws, however, she felt they had no choice but to find him innocent of a murder that she is certain he committed.
Four major factors led to this conundrum for the jurors.
First, the judge, Debra Nelson, ruled in pre-trial hearings that no one could refer to this incident in the trial as racially motivated. Maddy says in her ABC interview that she still holds that this case was not racial in nature. For tens of millions of people in this country, and hundreds of millions if they were being honest with themselves, however, this case is obviously about race: Zimmerman would not have been stalking Trayvon and he would not have killed Trayvon otherwise.
Racism does not mainly express itself in contemporary America in blatant ways (even when racists slay black people they don’t usually declare to the world that they’ve killed out of racial animus); racists don’t generally use racial epithets unless they feel that they are in company where they can safely vent their true feelings (cue Paula Deen for both expressions of this). When Zimmerman cursed to the 9/11 operator - “Those fucking punks. Those assholes, they always get away” – most of America knows what Zimmerman meant by “they.” (This was further confirmed by the defense putting on the stand a former resident of the Sanford, Florida gated community where Trayvon was slain who complained about being burglarized by two blacks. What did her experience have to do with Trayvon in this case and why was she allowed on the stand except to imply that Zimmerman was justified in racially profiling Trayvon?)
By ruling race off the table, the judge effectively ruled out the basis on which to find Zimmerman guilty since race is the only reason why he stalked and killed Trayvon. The judge’s ruling excluded from consideration not only the real reason for Trayvon’s lynching by gun, but Zimmerman’s motive as well. Given this it would have been hard for people who are not schooled in the law and in racial dynamics – i.e., these particular jurors – to arrive at the verdict that at least three of them wanted to based on their initial vote – Zimmerman’s guilty.
Maddy’s comment in her interview that she thought that there was no reason to have the trial in the first place now becomes understandable rather than inexplicable: there are not grounds to find Zimmerman guilty if you have taken the racial motive out of the picture.
When asked by [host Robin] Roberts whether the case should have gone to trial, Maddy said, "I don't think so."
"I felt like this was a publicity stunt. This whole court service thing to me was publicity," she said.
The only possible reason otherwise for Zimmerman to shoot an unarmed 17-year old boy who was trying to get home and not out to cause trouble is if Zimmerman shot in “self-defense.” In other words, the jury’s verdict that so many people including myself consider outrageous, becomes understandable albeit shocking given the jurors being who they are, what they know and don’t know, and what the judge and prosecutors gave them to work with.
To make sure that the jurors were in a position to essentially rubber-stamp a not-guilty verdict, the judge’s ruling that prosecutors could not dismiss potential jurors on the basis that they were biased against blacks – a perverse reversal of the Batson rule that was intended to prevent jurors from being barred for racial animus, produced a jury of five white women and one Hispanic, Maddy. As Revolution Newspaper put it:
Zimmerman’s lawyers invoked the Batson rule—which was originally designed to prevent prosecutors from engaging in a strategy dismissing almost all Black jurors without cause and was a rule that people had to fight tooth and nail for. The judge ruled in the defense’s favor—and ruled against the prosecution’s dismissing WHITE people who they felt were prejudiced in favor of Zimmerman. So a rule designed to prevent all-white juries was used to justify... an almost all-white jury! Then the judge said that the prosecution could use the word “profiling” but not RACIAL profiling. In other words you could say Zimmerman was profiling—but you could NOT say that it was because of race. These rulings meant two things: that the jury would be mainly white; and that they would not be challenged in their assumptions and thinking about race. This meant that even if some of the jurors said, “hey, this is clearly a case of murder”—which apparently some did—the other jurors would be sitting there with all the power of hundreds of years of white supremacist, racist thinking that every white person is taught, and they would use that and hammer down those who somehow saw the truth of the matter.
Third, the prosecutors took a dive, most especially when they allowed the police, whose sympathies in this case for Zimmerman are obvious, to make excuses for, accept Zimmerman’s story as legitimate, and slide over the contradictions in Zimmerman’s story. The prosecutors also failed, as I have previously written, to invoke self-defense on Trayvon’s behalf: if Zimmerman could use deadly force to “defend himself” against Trayvon, then Trayvon had even more of a right to defend himself. This would have altered the case’s entire dynamics. Rather than being the Achilles Heel of the prosecutors’ case, as others have argued, the state could have even argued that even if you accept Zimmerman’s version of events, despite its contradictions, Trayvon had more of a right to self-defense than Zimmerman did. The prosecutors, however, probably never even considered approaching the case in this way.
Did the prosecutors deliberately sabotage their case? I doubt it. Their taken-for-granted assumptions about race - specifically, it likely never occurred to them to give Trayvon the right of self-defense as a black person - and their deference to and in general reliance on authorities such as the police would have been more than sufficient for them to fail to mount an effective case.
Fourth, the judge’s excluding expert testimony on the audio tapes of the phone calls kept out of the court the proof that would have made it clear how this incident unfolded: how Zimmerman was motivated to get Trayvon and how Trayvon pleaded for his life before Zimmerman silenced him with his gun fired point-blank against Trayvon’s chest directly into his heart. I am linking to the audio expert Alan Reich’s report on his review of the extant recordings.
In short, the judge decided this case before the jurors even got a chance to hear it and deliberate upon it. This copy of Reich’s findings was published by WESHTV Channel 2 in Orlando. You will want to read this relatively short report in its entirety. Reading it is chilling and confirms in graphic detail what many of us imagined had to have happened. The meaning of the cries on the audio, and the identity of who made them were, the second-most important elements in the case.