Nearly everyone in Montgomery County knows who George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin are. Since Martin’s death in February, there has been considerable media attention thrust upon Zimmerman, leading to speculation and opinions about whether Zimmerman should be tried for and convicted of murder. Though he was not originally criminally charged, prosecutors ultimately decided to charge him in the death of Martin. Now, Zimmerman has gone on a national television show to explain his side of the story.
When certain violent criminal cases become the focus of public attention, such as the Martin case, the public quickly comes to its own conclusions about what happened and whether a suspect is guilty. As such, very few suspects will give interviews, thinking that an interview will only fuel the fire. In some instances, however, it may work out in the suspect’s favor.
Martin’s attorney may have planned for this interview to be Zimmerman’s one and only, meaning that anything that was said in the interview with Sean Hannity cannot be contradicted by other public statements. And, if Zimmerman chooses not to take the stand, the prosecution can only use what was said in the interview as evidence or testimony.
This is still a risky move, however, because prosecutors may be able to twist the language of an interview or take a statement out of context in an attempt to prove guilt. Additionally, if a suspect misspeaks in an interview, it could have disastrous effects on his or her defense. That is why a suspect should only agree to an interview or public statement after consulting with his or her criminal defense attorney.
Source: Christian Science Monitor, “George Zimmerman’s Fox News interview: Risky step for Trayvon Martin’s killer,” Mark Guarino, July 19, 2012