Attorney Mark O'Mara (L) looks on George Zimmerman (R) makes his first appearance on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in courtroom J2 at the Seminole County Correctional Facility in Sanford, April 12, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Gary W. Green/Pool
Now that George Zimmerman faces second-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Martin, Florida funeral director Richard Kurtz wants rhetoric put aside and for justice to take over.
"I don't want to prejudge the system," says the Florida mortician, who checked Martin's body for signs of a physical fight with Zimmerman, but found only the deadly bullet wound.
Kurtz says he's never been drawn so closely into a death under his watch as he has with Martin. A father of three, he believes no parent could look at the young man's body without drawing a line to their own child.
But he hopes America will step back from raw emotion: "And keep a watchful eye, step by step, on the ongoing case ... That comments are only made on the facts."
It'll be difficult to do that, with hysterical wails still deafening.
For more than 40 days America has heard calls -- including, strangely, from Mike Tyson -- that Zimmerman be dragged out into the streets.
There have also been those, including Zimmerman's family, which loudly maintain he's a heroic figure who regrettably took a life trying to defend himself.
But now that Zimmerman, son of a white father and Hispanic mother, has been charged with the murder of the young black man, those who've waited quietly for all the facts will soon judge for themselves.
"You're always gong to have polarizing opinions, and are never going to keep those two groups satisfied," says Jack McDevitt, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University.
An expert on race issues in justice cases, he adds: "The people who will be reached now are in the middle -- the majority."
There is no verdict that will galvanize a country fractured along racial fault lines.
The death of the teen, walking with candy, has become an opportunity to rage about race -- especially as the days that dragged on afterwards made it appear that Zimmerman would not be charged.
Soon after he made a brief court appearance Thursday, his new attorney, Mark O'Mara, was asked what his defence would be.
He answered: "Very difficult to say, and the reason why I say that is because I haven't seen the first shred of evidence."
Many others should have said the same thing.
The new storyline -- the same one I saw while covering the O.J. Simpson murder trial from L.A. in 1995 -- is there's no way Zimmerman can get a fair trail.
While Simpson's verdict wasn't the justice many of us expected or even wanted, his trial was fair. The prosecution just blew it.
Frankie Bailey is a crime historian, and believes this is the biggest race-tied case since the Simpson trial.
The University of Albany professor believes the jury should be drawn from the quiet majority in the middle.
But Bailey adds, even their makeup will be watched closely, and the next discussion will likely be about those who will truly judge George Zimmerman.