George Zimmerman’s lawyer Don West gave opening statements in the Trayvon Martin trial in Florida today, choosing to open with a joke about his client and stunning jury members.
Don West came out swinging in his defense of George Zimmerman, who has admitted to shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin on a Sanford street in 2012.
The Trayvon Martin case has been both highly polarized and heavily covered, prompting West to address the jury with a knock knock joke during opening statements in the courtroom today.
George Zimmerman’s attorney starts:
“Let me say, I would like to tell you a little joke. I know how that may sound a bit weird in this context under these circumstances. But I think you’re the perfect audience for it. As long as you don’t — if you don’t like it or don’t think it’s funny or inappropriate that you don’t hold it against Mr. Zimmerman. Hold it against me if you want, but not Mr. Zimmerman. I have your assurance you won’t.”
Don West then jokes:
Here’s how it goes: Knock knock. Who’s there? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? All right. Good. You’re on the Jury … Nothing? That’s funny. After what you folks have been through the last two or three weeks.
Proceedings recessed for lunch at 1:30 PM local time (EST), and when Don West returned to court he said to the jury that he would not make any more jokes about the death of an unarmed teenager, but also stated that he believed the joke was funny:
“No more bad jokes … I really think it was the delivery, I think the joke was funny.”
Don West’s joke was roundly critiqued on Twitter, where users seemed in agreement that the humor was out of place considering the death of Trayvon Martin:
Who in the Ham Fat is Don West? How do you open a Murder Trial with a Knock-knock joke! Was this young man’s death a joke? #beyondbelief
— TIMOTHY JOHNSON (@tdjsing) June 24, 2013
Don West has some real problems. To think it would be okay to make a knock knock joke at a murder trial is absolutely insane!!
— Kira Alexander (@klamodelscout) June 24, 2013
One user seemed to catch the reaction in a single tweet:
A “knock-knock” joke in the opening statement? Don West, have several seats…
— Imani Jamila (@Jevisalamour) June 24, 2013
Did you find Don West’s joke in opening statements at the George Zimmerman trial to be offensive?