Attorneys in Trayvon Martin case address media

By Suzette Laboy

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, April 27 2013 8:34 p.m. MDT

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara, right, for George Zimmerman, addresses broadcasters during the Florida Associated Press event, Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Orlando, Fla., as Trayvon Martin's family attorney Benjamin Crump, seated left, along with other attendees listen. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Martin.

Suzette Laboy, Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Social media has set a precedence in the way the country will engage with high profile cases, the attorneys in the Trayvon Martin shooting case said Saturday at an Associated Press event in Orlando.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's parents, and George Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, spoke at the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Banquet.

O'Mara said social media will impact how a jury will be picked in the case.

"I think that if I could do away with all media, including all social media, that I would not have it involved in a criminal case," O'Mara said. "But that's a fantasy that is 40 years ago."

Crump agreed, adding that social media has given "people who normally would not have a voice in matters like this" to engage in the case.

Social media "caused a firestorm that wasn't a full picture," O'Mara said of how misinformation was tweeted soon after the shooting.

It was the first time the men, seated at opposite ends of the same table, have been together not in a courtroom.

Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in February 2012 during a confrontation in Sanford, about 30 miles north of Orlando.

Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder and says he was attacked and acted in self-defense. Martin's family says Zimmerman targeted the unarmed 17-year-old mainly because Martin was black. Zimmerman's parents are white and Hispanic.

O'Mara said that if it were not for the intense coverage on the shooting, Zimmerman "may never have been charged." Now since he is, the case "probably would have been addressed as a matter at a self-immunity hearing and it would have gone away that way."

Zimmerman's trial is in June.

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