Lonesome George

A six member, all female jury found George Zimmerman innocent of second degree and third degree murder charges yesterday.  For someone who did not follow the trials developments day by day, I was a surprise that “man slaughter” was not an appropriate charge and a guilty verdict for that specification not found.  Hmmm.

The most basic facts were not in dispute.  Zimmerman was a volunteer neighborhood watch person.  He spotted a stranger in the community and began following.  At some point he called “911”, reported the stranger, and was told to back off and await the police.  Instead, Zimmerman got out of his car and intercepted the victim on foot.  What happens next is somewhat in dispute but Zimmerman did confirm he shot the victim with his personal weapon.  The victim died at the scene.

It seems the case focused on what happened in the confrontation.  Were there grounds for Zimmerman to “fear for his life”?  While that might have been germane to first or second degree murder, it seemed to miss the point for manslaughter.

Had Zimmerman followed police instructions and stayed in his car, the victim would still be alive.  Seems pretty straight forward to me.

The question of why Sanford prosecutors chose to go for murder 2, and then include manslaughter at the last minute is a mystery.  Maybe they wanted to appear tough or maybe they just mounted an inadequate prosecution.  In the days and weeks ahead, pundits will share their thought.

There will be most likely civil suits against Zimmerman and most probably he will lose them.  This may be enough for the Martin family.

The greatest tragedy that may come out of this is the idea that it is ok to carry a handgun, act irresponsibly, and use it in the manner Zimmerman did.  He may have been losing the fight while on the ground, and he may have truly thought his life was in danger.  Proper behavior well before the fight, however, (and what other gun carriers should learn) does not entitle anyone carrying a gun to take aggressive and provocative actions against others.  That type of behavior should limit ones right to self defense to that used by his/her assailant.

Today George Zimmerman is a free man.  He owes this to a fair and just judicial system and the opinions of 6 peers.

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