Defense attorneys for George Zimmerman, the suspect charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, have started a blog and Facebook and Twitter accounts to reach out to the public.
"This is a brilliant move on his part," Amy Singer, a Gainesville-based trial consultant told the Orlando Sentinel. By engaging the public online, "you get a lot of comments, a lot of perspectives, a lot of discussion."
Singer said that all the comments can give the defense team insight into how their client is viewed by the public. Lawyer Mark O'Mara started the blog, GZLegalCase.com, which stated:
Using social media in a high-profile lawsuit is new, and relatively unprecedented, but that is only because social media itself is relatively new. We repeat our contention that social media in this day and age cannot be ignored, and it would be, in fact, irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation.
O'Mara did have some caveats on the blog, including that the team nor Zimmerman would be commenting on evidence in the case or Trayvon Martin, including his family and supporters.
It shouldn't really be surprising that a defense team is making a proactive step to clean up the name of its client, an accused killer. Social media offers a quick and easy way to do that by humanizing Zimmerman to a public which has only seen him as a suspect in the death of a 17-year-old.
"What you can now do, even if you are a person on the street, is try to own the facts," Hemu Nigam, an Internet-safety expert and former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, told the Sentinel.
Zimmerman garnered more than $200,000 in donations
from a website (although it was ordered shut down by a judge last week) so there could also be another ulterior motive to the public outreach -- a more private way to make donations.
Published at 7:56 AM PDT on May 1, 2012