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Casey Anthony's attorney: "You can't show the jury half the story and expect them to convict" in Zimmerman case

Jose Baez CBS

Jose Baez, the lead attorney on the Casey Anthony case.
CBS
(CBS) SANFORD, Florida - The jury in the George Zimmerman trial was only presented "half the story" by prosecutors, said Jose Baez, a Florida criminal defense attorney who was the lead attorney on the Casey Anthony case.

READ: Trayvon Martin Shooting: A timeline of events

PICTURES: George Zimmerman on trial in death of Fla. teen

Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted of second-degree murder charges by the panel of six women Saturday evening. The former neighborhood watch volunteer was charged in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin during an altercation last year in the gated Sanford, Fla. community where Zimmerman lived. The racially-charged case drew the national spotlight.

"There's one huge gap missing and that's, how did this all start?" Baez, who defended the Florida mother who was acquitted in 2011 of killing her young daughter, told CBS News' Crimesider. "And we will never know. You can't show the jury half of the story an expect them to convict."

At the trial, which spanned three weeks of testimony, prosecutors aimed to prove Zimmerman profiled the teen as a criminal, confronted him and shot him "because he wanted to." The defense argued that Zimmerman, who had called non-emergency dispatchers to report Martin as a suspicious person, was "viciously attacked" by the teen and shot in self-defense.

Who started the fatal struggle was a key point of controversy throughout the trial. But according to Baez, the case "should never have been brought to trial" because of what he described as a lack of evidence about the events of Feb. 26, 2012.

"This case had the least amount of evidence against a defendant I've ever seen in a high profile case," Baez said. "That's not to say Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of any criminal wrongdoing, there simply wasn't the evidence to implicate it."

In his closing statements, Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara urged jurors not to "fill in the gaps" in the state's case. 

(Watch O'Mara's closing statement at left)

He asked he panel what evidence the state had presented them to suggest that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin through the community after the non-emergency dispatcher told him not to.

"If it's there, I missed it. Presumption? Assumption? Connecting the dots? Sure. But you've agreed not to do that," said O'Mara.

Providing key testimony during the case was John Good, Baez said -- a neighbor who witnessed the altercation moments before the gunshot.

Though Good testified for prosecutors, Baez said his story - that he saw Zimmerman below Martin during the altercation - was crucial for the defense.

Good testified he saw two men in a "tussle" outside his home the night of Feb. 26, 2012, and said he now believes the person on top in the altercation - which would moments later turn fatal - was Trayvon Martin. Good testified he saw a man in dark clothing on top of a man who was wearing red or light-colored clothing with lighter skin, and said the man on the bottom yelled for help. Zimmerman, 29, was wearing a red jacket the night of the altercation, and Martin was wearing a dark hoodie.

Good said the person in dark clothing straddled the other man in "mixed martial arts position" he later described to police as a "ground and pound." He said he saw "arm movements going downward," though he couldn't be certain the person on top was striking the person on the bottom.

"John Good was probably the most important witness in the trial," Baez said. "He was the one who saw the events closest to the shooting and he sealed the deal as to who was on the bottom, who was on the top, and who was the one screaming for help."

(Watch John Good's testimony at left)

His testimony, Baez said, likely weighed on jurors' minds as they deliberated Zimmerman's fate.

Speaking at a press conference, prosecutor Bernie de a Rionda said he was "disappointed" following the verdict. "Who was following who? Isn't that what this case boils down to?" de la Rionda asked.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey maintained the state believed they had the evidence for a second-degree murder conviction. "We truly believe the mindset of George Zimmerman and the words he used and the reason he was out doing what he was doing fit the bill for second-degree murder," Corey said.

Complete coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial-Trayvon Martin case on Crimesider

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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