Local 6 legal expert prepares to defend Zimmerman

Mark O'Mara gave analysis of Trayvon Martin case

Published On: Apr 11 2012 11:50:51 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 12 2012 01:16:34 PM EDT
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Calm is a good word to describe the entire tone of Mark O'Mara's first public appearance since becoming the attorney for George Zimmerman, the man who Sanford police said fatally shot Martin. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday.

O'Mara's demeanor was a stark contrast from that of Hal Uhrig, the former attorney for Zimmerman, who exploded on reporters in a press conference late Tuesday afternoon when he announced he would no longer be representing the 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain.

Just hours later, O'Mara provided analysis of the news conference on Local 6. It was a role O’Mara had grown quite comfortable in after providing analysis throughout the Casey Anthony trial. O'Mara was the yin to attorney and fellow legal analyst Mark NeJame's yang. O'Mara provided a less-opinionated, legally-sound perspective of the developments in the biggest trial of the decade.

Now, O'Mara is at the center of another high profile "case."

Zimmerman told police he was acting in self-defense when he shot Martin. It's now up to O'Mara to analyze the facts and determine whether or not he will use that claim to exonerate his client.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey, who was assigned to the case on March 22 by Gov. Rick Scott, announced the charge against Zimmerman on Wednesday, and Zimmerman was booked into the Seminole County jail Wednesday night.

At a news conference prior to his client's booking, O'Mara said the media probably knew more facts about the case than he did.

Just 24 hours prior, O'Mara practically foreshadowed his future role in an interview with Local 6 anchor Lauren Rowe.

"If George Zimmerman came to me tomorrow and said, 'I want you to represent me,' I would look at (the press conference with Hal Uhrig) and say Mr. Uhrig identified a potential defense and he cemented what George Zimmerman can now say," said O'Mara, who over the past month spoke candidly about the case.

At Wednesday's news conference, O'Mara did not say much about his new client but seemed sympathetic to what Zimmerman has experienced over the past 44 days.

"Truly, it must be frightening to not be able to go in a 7-Eleven and literally to be, in effect, a prisoner in wherever he was," said O'Mara.

As the Martin story unfolded, O'Mara mentioned several times that he was waiting for more facts in the case to come out.  He echoed those same sentiments in his news conference.

"The prosecutor knows the evidence much better than I do at this point," said O'Mara.

The evidence he has seen is the same evidence most of the country has seen.  Local 6 showed O'Mara the video of George Zimmerman walking in the Sanford Police Department that was released on March 29.

"It doesn't show significant injuries in any way, so that's significant," said O'Mara, " But on the other hand, my understanding is the paramedics dealt with whatever injuries he had."

He also claimed the video did not seem to be good evidence one way or another.

O'Mara also provided clarity on Florida's "stand your ground" law, which has been highly publicized since the Martin story garnered national attention.

"Other people call it the license to murder statute because it doesn't require action to avoid confrontation," said O'Mara.

He has not said yet whether or not he will use the law in Zimmerman's defense, but in the past, he spoke about how it could be used in a criminal trial.

"If you present evidence, or at least your own testimony, that, 'I felt in fear that he was going to commit great bodily injury or death,' that is what kicks in the statutory protection that you're allowed to respond with deadly force," said O'Mara, who has defended on the principals of the law in the past.

O'Mara is the only attorney in Florida presently certified as both a criminal trial specialist and a family law specialist.  He received the family law certification while working as an analyst on the Casey Anthony trial.

He has practiced law in Central Florida for 28 years, during which time he served as a felony prosecutor and handled death penalty cases as a defense attorney.

When questioned about the implications of taking on such a high-profile case, O'Mara humbly responded that he has handled these types of cases before and he was prepared to give Zimmerman good counsel.

"Mr. Zimmerman needs a very good and focused defense, and we're going to build him one," said O'Mara. 

O'Mara is expected to ask for bond for Zimmerman when he appears in court Thursday afternoon.