Trial and Error


Watching all of the coverage about the George Zimmerman trial has made me a little nostalgic for my days as a newspaper reporter.

One of my favorite things to cover is a good ole’ murder trial. The autopsy reports, the witnesses, victim impact statements. There’s a lot of drama and a lot of heavy emotion that’s canned into a small room with 12 strangers among its audience.

I think what I liked most is that it was prepped and ready to go every day, like a stage production. It was a nice, traumatic pulp show between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No late night calls to a car wreck or a house fire. It was visceral stuff at a regular interval.

I don’t know what it was about the courtroom but I liked it. The medical examiner evidence was my favorite. During college I watched a LOT of shows involving forensic science including Cold Case Files. Listening to someone waxing epic on scorched bone injuries, bullet entry and exits, torn tissue and organ failure was a turn on.

The pictures also were interesting to take in. Red, purple and bluish tints of human remains can hit the ocular senses hard and overwhelm most people. But I liked looking at it in a scientific way. I had a lot of respect for the folks who sifted through a person’s dead leftovers to help put their killer away.

All of this makes me a ghoul no doubt. I’ve made peace with that.

The best part of the whole trial experience was that it was something people loved to read about. Going to the courthouse every morning knowing that the court audience, the attorneys and the judge read your story was a rush.

It made you feel like you were a part of the proceedings. While you didn’t have a direct impact on the trial, you nonetheless had a role.

When it comes to Zimmerman, the news aspect is magnified exponentially. Like the O.J. Simpson trial, the courtroom has become a spectacle with daily analysis with opinions about “who won the day.”

What effect does this have on the trial? That’s always hard to grasp. Some want to think that no matter what the jury decides, there will be rioting or some form of a backlash. Who knows. Supporters on both side of the issue seem pretty militant about the guilt/innocence of George Zimmerman.

We’ll have to wait and see how it goes down. No doubt whatever happens, the media will be there to feed us the incendiary details. We’ll be waiting with our mouths open.

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