I offer this example of the proper way to give an opening statement. This is an excerpt from the meaty section of the statement that I would give following the introduction and brief reference to the presumption of innocence, burden of proof, and the proof beyond a reasonable doubt standard.
Consider this a snapshot out of a longer and more detailed opening statement that I would give, if I were the prosecutor. Note how I seem to disappear in plain view by allowing the evidence to speak for itself, instead of me pontificating about the evidence. I do this out of respect for Trayvon Martin. This is his story and I will let him tell it through the evidence. This case is not about me. It’s about justice for Trayvon Martin.
The Medical Examiner will testify about the autopsy he conducted and he will tell you that the fatal shot entered Trayvon’s chest 1 inch left of the midline and 3/4 of an inch below the nipple. The muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches away from his chest and the hollow point bullet that ended his life went directly from front to back without varying up or down, left or right, and entered the right ventricle of his heart destroying it.
He will tell you that the bullet fragmented after it entered the body collapsing both lungs. There was no exit wound.
The path of that bullet did not happen by chance as two people grappled and twisted in the night.
No, an analyst from the Florida State Crime Lab will tell you that she examined young Traynon’s clothing, his outer sweatshirt and his inner sweatshirt. She will tell you that the muzzle of the gun was in contact with the outer sweatshirt when this defendant pulled the trigger sending the exploding hollow point bullet into young Trayvon’s heart.
She will tell you that the bullet holes in the inner and outer sweatshirts align perfectly, but they do not align with the entry wound.
She will tell you the sweatshirts had to be gripped together and pulled down to align with the wound.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the evidence will establish beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant held young Trayvon still at gunpoint under threat of death with his gun in his right hand while gripping young Trayvon’s sweatshirts with his left hand.
This defendant admitted to police how he fired the fatal shot. He told them that he extended his right hand beyond his left hand so that he would not accidentally shoot it. He aimed and he fired.
The Medical Examiner will tell you that, despite that catastrophic wound, young Trayvon likely remained conscious for a minute or two in extreme agony aware that he was dying as he slowly suffocated to death in his own blood.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the evidence will show that young Trayvon Martin died that night in the dark and in the cold rain because this defendant shot him to death.
The evidence will also show that young Trayvon died without knowing who this man was and why this man stalked, hunted him down, and executed him.
The evidence will establish that beyond a reasonable doubt because this defendant told the police that he never told young Trayvon who he was or why he was following him.
Finally, you will hear young Trayvon’s last words before he died. It is shriek that you will never forget.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a difficult and solemn task ahead of us. We have come from near and far. We come from all walks of life. We are here to do justice and together we will do it.
If I were the prosecutor, I probably would not mention the evidence that GZ sat on Trayvon’s back and asphyxiated him instead of calling 911 and attempting CPR. I would bring that out at trial, of course, and hit it hard during the rebuttal part of my closing argument.
The point I am trying to make here is that the unvarnished facts of this case are far more horrifying than any descriptive words.
No one has to call George Zimmerman a demon.
We know him by what he did.
He is what he is and there are no words to describe it.
This is how to deliver an opening statement that no one will ever forget.
That’s what you need to do when you are a prosecutor. You have to win your case with your opening statement.
And you have to do it without notes establishing eye contact with each juror one-at-a-time as as you move through each point.
You must not speak too long, too fast or too slow.
You must vary the pace of your speech.
And you must also vary the volume and pitch.
The human voice is a powerful musical instrument that all good trial lawyers learn to master.
We all know the art of story telling and we know that the courtroom is our stage.