Who's Who In The George Zimmerman Trial

By Caroline Rowland | Reporter
Posted June 3, 2013

SANFORD -- The attorneys on both sides of the George Zimmerman trial and the judge handling the case will soon be the focus of media coverage on screens across the nation.

The trial for the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer starts on Monday, June 10.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami who was in Sanford visiting friends and family.

The shooting happened in the gated community of Retreat at Twin Lakes on Feb. 26, 2012.

Zimmerman has been in hiding since posting bail, but will be in court for the trial. The lead defense attorney is Mark O'Mara.

O'Mara is no stranger to high-profile cases. He was a TV commentator during the Casey Anthony trial.

He's been practicing criminal and family law in Central Florida for almost 30 years.

"He's really a smart lawyer. He knows the law, he's well respected," said analyst Mark NeJame.

Also on the defendant's side is Don West, who has handled criminal cases for Lou Perlman, the man known for creating popular boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and 'NSYNC, but was accused of running a Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda will represent the state of Florida. De la Rionda, the assistant state attorney out of the 4th Judicial Circuit, has been a prosecutor for 30 years.

"He's a lot more fiery than the average prosecutor. Most fiery rhetoric comes from defense lawyers," said NeJame.

Judge Debra Nelson, who has served on the bench since 1999, is the third judge to preside over the case.

The Zimmerman case will be the most high-profile case she's handled.

She's known for being a no-non-sense judge.

NeJame said it will be hard to keep control over a courtroom on a case of this status, but believes Nelson will be able to do that.

"I think what you see is what you get. Some people are saying she's tough. I'd rather just say she's well prepared," said NeJame.

As far as witnesses go, one whose identity has been kept confidential could provide key testimony.

Witness No. 8 was Martin's girlfriend and was said to be on the phone with him in the moments leading up to the shooting.

Not trying the case, but representing Martin's family, are attorneys Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson.

Both will speak on behalf of them during the trial.

Another key player is Robert Zimmerman Jr., the older brother of George Zimmerman, who has been a spokesman for the family.