Local attorney, professor weigh in on Zimmerman case

George Zimmerman acquitted late Saturday in Florida

Victoria Sanchez, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Anchor/Reporter, victoriasanchez@keyt.com
POSTED: 06:28 PM PDT Jul 15, 2013    UPDATED: 06:41 PM PDT Jul 15, 2013 
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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

A local criminal defense attorney and a UC Santa Barbara professor are weighing in about why the jury acquitted the former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

From coast to coast, people are protesting the not-guilty verdict in the trial.

Robert Sanger has been a criminal defense attorney for 40 years. He was at an NAACP conference in Virginia when the verdict came down.

He said he and other defense lawyers had a feeling that Zimmerman wouldn't be convicted, because the prosecution was overreaching with the murder charge.

"So in a sense, the system worked, it stood up to a conviction of somebody who should not have been convicted for those charges, and yet the criminal justice system doesn't answer all the social problems," said Sanger.

Those social issues are what's causing public unrest and protests.

"Clearly there were racial undertones as to what happened," said Sanger.

UCSB Department of Black Studies chair Dr. Jeffrey Stewart also wasn't surprised when he heard Zimmerman was a free man.

"I would have like to see a better prosecution, but I doubt given the law, and given the fact that there were no witnesses to contradict what was essentially Zimmerman's fanciful story, I don't know how there could have been another outcome," said Stewart.

Steward said the case is causing people to stand up and speak out about racial discrimination, which he says, when not violent, is a good thing.

But in the end, Stewart said, Zimmerman's acquittal wasn't up to him or the public, but the court.

"I'm just not at all convinced with Zimmerman's side of the story, but certainly the jury was, and that's all you can say in the American justice system," he said.

This might not be the end of court hearings for Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin's parents are considering a wrongful death civil lawsuit against him.