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Zimmerman's lawyer works to dispel racial overtones in Trayvon Martin case

By Steve Almasy, CNN
February 27, 2013 -- Updated 1515 GMT (2315 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark O'Mara represents George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin
  • He says the FBI found no evidence of racism
  • An acquittal wouldn't be a loss for civil rights, he says
  • Zimmerman's trial is scheduled to start June 10

(CNN) -- Whatever the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, it will be viewed less as a determination of the shooter's guilt or innocence and more as a victory or loss for civil rights, George Zimmerman's lawyer fears.

Mark O'Mara said he has been busy trying to dispel the racial overtones in the case by getting out more evidence about his client.

His hope, he said, is that people will divorce a verdict from the real civil rights questions.

The civil rights issue

A photo posted online Monday, December 3, shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, 28, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Other evidence photos were released earlier this year: A photo posted online Monday, December 3, shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, 28, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Other evidence photos were released earlier this year:
Trayvon Martin evidence
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As outrage grew over the death of an unarmed Florida teenager last year, some donned hoodies as a nod to the apparel Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was killed. Church members, protesters, politicians, celebrities and athletes wore it in support of Martin. In this widely shared photo, LeBron James and members of the Miami Heat basketball team wear hooded sweatshirts. As outrage grew over the death of an unarmed Florida teenager last year, some donned hoodies as a nod to the apparel Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was killed. Church members, protesters, politicians, celebrities and athletes wore it in support of Martin. In this widely shared photo, LeBron James and members of the Miami Heat basketball team wear hooded sweatshirts.
Celebs wear hoodies for Trayvon Martin
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O'Mara: Evidence shows Trayvon attacked
Where is George Zimmerman?
One year since Trayvon Martin's death
Martin's dad: Death seems like yesterday

"The more people that consider an acquittal of George Zimmerman to be a loss for civil rights, the worse for civil rights," he told CNN's Piers Morgan.

A year ago, Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, shot Martin, an African-American teenager returning home after walking to a convenience store for a drink and a snack.

Public documents pertaining to the case

Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors say he ignored a police dispatcher's advice and was guilty of racial profiling.

The case drew national attention because police did not bring charges against Zimmerman for more than a month after the shooting, saying the circumstances required further investigation.

'Absolutely no racism'

O'Mara said the evidence will show that Zimmerman wasn't profiling. He said the FBI investigated the shooting and found "absolutely no racism."

"As a matter of fact, they found a lot of events and instances where George was what you might call an absolute nonracist," O'Mara said.

On February 26, 2012, Martin was walking back to the Sanford, Florida, apartment of his father's fiancee after picking up some Skittles and an iced tea at 7-Eleven.

That's when Zimmerman, then a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him walking through the complex.

What happened between then and when Zimmerman fatally shot the teen is subject to dispute, one that could be settled by a jury starting June 10, when Zimmerman is set to go on trial on a second-degree murder charge.

One night, two stories

The jury will have to decide between two starkly different versions of what happened that night.

Zimmerman told police that the two exchanged words and Martin went after him. According to his account, the teen -- who was unarmed -- punched him, forced him to the ground, and slammed his head on a sidewalk.

Letters to Zimmerman show split opinions

Zimmerman then shot Martin in self-defense, he claims.

Martin's family and supporters, though, have long had a different story.

One of the first to tell it was his father, Tracy Martin, who initially addressed reporters last March 8, trying to raise the case's profile and hike pressure on authorities. He and, soon, others suggested Zimmerman had targeted his son, an African-American youth wearing a hooded sweatshirt, because of his race.

A year later

During a vigil in New York City on Tuesday night to mark the first anniversary of his son's death, Tracy Martin pledged to continue the fight for justice.

"This is the one year anniversary of his death. It's a somber day for us, but its also a day of peace for us, because we know as parents we've done all that we can do to make our children's lives right," he said.

"The wounds have not been healed, but we're working on healing the wounds."

Parents ready to let jury decide fate of son's killer

Up to the jury

O'Mara indicated at trial he will dissect the recording of Zimmerman's 911 call and point to evidence of the wounds Zimmerman said he suffered that night.

"I believe, you know, again, the evidence is what it is and that's for a jury to determine," O'Mara said. "But a close reading or looking at that tape and all the evidence that followed, particularly George's injuries and Trayvon's lack of injuries but for the fatal gunshot, suggest that George did not begin the fight, did not continue the fight and actually was the victim of the attack rather than the other way around."

But a lawyer for the Martins said the fight against "senseless gun violence" will continue.

"He went home and slept in his bed the night he killed Trayvon," attorney Benjamin Crump said. "And that wasn't equal justice."

Crump then led a chant of "Hoodies up! Hoodies up!" at the vigil.

Martin family Website: Justice for Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman web sites: Legal case | The Real Geroge Zimmerman

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