A month ago, this moment seemed about as far off as the next
Zimmerman took the stand at his bond hearing last week and quietly apologized to
At the same hearing, an investigator for the prosecution admitted he didn't know the answer to one of the most crucial questions in the second-degree murder case: Who started the fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon?
It was a good day for George Zimmerman. And unlike Central Florida's other high-profile criminal suspect, Casey Anthony, he can thank his defense attorney for this win in the court of public opinion.
Mark O'Marais the anti-Jose Baez.
O'Mara's quiet confidence is doing for Zimmerman what Baez's smugness never did for Anthony, and that's to help him look more human than monster.
But O'Mara is now controlling Zimmerman's message, something he desperately needed.
O'Mara answers questions in a reserved but deliberate manner. His experience shows as he patiently wades through press conferences.
Baez was cocky, inexperienced and hapless at handling Anthony's PR strategy.
At one particularly inept moment he hired a public relations firm that later admitted spokesman "Todd Black" was an alias for a man who had been convicted of attempting to extort a television journalist. Before that, Baez' 21-year-old daughter handled media for the case.
Comparing Baez and O'Mara is like comparing The Simpson's attorney Lionel Hutz to
In the end, you could argue that Baez's faults didn't matter because Anthony was acquitted of murder.
Perhaps Baez's instincts outsmarted prosecutors in the courtroom. Maybe prosecutors just didn't have the evidence they needed for a first-degree murder charge they never should have filed. Possibly, the jury found Jeff Ashton even more annoying that Baez.
Whatever the case, Anthony went free, though not before her public persona was downgraded to just a step above Satan.
Unlike Anthony, who said she didn't cause her daughter's death, Zimmerman is undoubtedly the killer of Trayvon Martin.
But right now, he has a better chance of making it through his trial — whether he's convicted or not — with something resembling a public image.
When Zimmerman took the stand on Friday and spoke for the first time since he became the target of thousands of marchers, he became something more than an accused racist who gunned down an unarmed black teenager in a hoodie.
He became human.
"I am sorry for the loss of your son," Zimmerman, 28, said to Trayvon's parents. "I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not."
Make no mistake. This wasn't a spontaneous moment. Every word was likely carefully considered by O'Mara and rehearsed by Zimmerman.
O'Mara had to know it was a no-win situation. Attorneys for Trayvon's parents called the apology self-serving and disingenuous. And on Monday, O'Mara even apologized for the apology, saying he wouldn't have done it at the bond hearing if he had known it would upset the teen's parents.
Baez never let the public hear directly from Casey Anthony. That mystery helped fuel the hysteria surrounding her case.
O'Mara helped deflate that with Zimmerman's appearance on the stand, however brief.