Friends and Neighbors Attempt to Defend George Zimmerman

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Zimmerman
Zimmerman Photo: (AP Photo/Orange County Jail via Miami Herald)

Following his formal introduction to the media yesterday, George Zimmerman's lawyer, Craig Sonner, continued his very difficult project of convincing the world that his client is not a racist. The attorney appeared on Sunday's episode of Good Morning America alongside Joe Oliver, a longtime friend of Zimmerman's who said Zimmerman "couldn't stop crying for days" after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Oliver went on to say that, having listened to the now infamous 911 calls made during the incident, he believed it was Zimmerman, not Martin, crying for help: "I've heard George's voice pretty much every day for the past couple years and that sounded like someone who was in dire need of help. And it sounded like George." He also denied that Zimmerman can be heard using a racial slur on the tapes, which observers say could be a major factor in the Justice Department's decision over whether or not to charge him with a hate crime. And finally, Oliver, who is black, said, "All that I know is that George has never given me any reason whatsoever to believe he has anything against people of color." 

Neighbor (and "fellow crime-watcher") Frank Taafe also came forward to defend Zimmerman on ABC, saying, "George didn't just jump out of a car and start running after Trayvon, pull out a gun and shoot him just for his Skittles and his iced tea." And a former neighbor (who spoke to the Miami Herald anonymously) cited Zimmerman's willingness to talk to her in Spanish (he is half Peruvian) and the fact that he "once warned her husband that his car could get towed from a no parking zone" as evidence that he's not "a bad person." 

The statements present a stark contrast to those made by Mary Cutcher, who witnessed the shooting. In an interview with Dateline, she said that, upon hearing the gunshot, she and her roommate went outside to find Zimmerman, "Straddling the body, basically, a foot on both sides of Trayvon’s body and his hands pressed on his back." Zimmerman instructed the women to call the police but, Cutcher said, "He never turned him over or tried to help him or CPR or anything."