Zimmerman’s shaken baby syndrome defense

Trayvon Martin (File/The Martin Family); George Zimmerman (File/Orange County Jail via Miami Herald)
Trayvon Martin (File/The Martin Family); George Zimmerman (File/Orange County Jail via Miami Herald)

It’s been 40 days since George Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. On Tuesday, a grand jury will begin meeting to decide whether Zimmerman should be indicted and face a trial.

This week, Zimmerman bolstered his defense team by adding a new attorney: Hal Uhrig, a veteran criminal defense lawyer. If you’re from the Orlando-area, you may recognize Uhrig. He worked as an analyst for a local news station during the Casey Anthony trial. A former Gainesville, Florida police officer and former Florida assistant attorney, his breadth of experience contrasts that of his co-counsel, Craig Sonner, who has never represented a client facing a homicide charge. Sonner will forever live in Last Word infamy after skipping out on our interview, leaving Lawrence O’Donnell to question an empty chair.  

This week, Zimmerman’s new defense team made the media rounds to explain what George Zimmerman says happened the night of February 26. This morning, they appeared on CBS’ This Morning, where both Uhrig and Sonner maintained that their client acted in self-defense, citing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows a person to use deadly force if he/she feels in danger of great physical harm or fears for his/her life. 

Then Uhrig said this: “We’re familiar with the shaken baby syndrome: you shake a baby. The brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die.”

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious form of child abuse that according to the National Institutes of Health usually affects infants and children up to age five. 

Uhrig went on to say, “When someone’s pounding your head into the ground, and you’ve already had your nose broken, you can be in reasonable fear for great bodily harm, which is what the Florida statute calls for. And if you think you’re about to lose your life or to be seriously injured like that, you’re absolutely entitled to take the necessary action to stop it.”

Host Charlie Rose followed up by asking, “Are you saying that’s what Mr. Zimmerman said — he thought he was in fear of losing his life and so he shot Trayvon Martin?”

Uhrig responded, “I can confirm that without telling you any specific words, that’s exactly what he thought.”


George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin and Defense

Zimmerman's shaken baby syndrome defense