Posted tagged ‘george zimmerman’

Trayvon Martin Re-Do, Only Different

March 4, 2014

You remember Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed while returning to his father’s home?  George Zimmerman, who claimed to be on a “community watch” approached Trayvon and when a fight ensued, shot Martin “in self defense”.  Under Florida law, allegedly anyone has the right to use deadly force if they feel their life is threatened.  Zimmerman was found not guilty.

Fast forward to the case of Marissa Alexander.  She fired three warning shots at her estranged husband while fleeing her house.  Arrested and convicted, she received a sentence of three 20 year terms to run concurrently.  No stand your ground here.

Her lawyers appealed successfully the judgement on the grounds of incorrect instructions to the jurors.  Now prosecutors say they will seek conviction but this time demand the three counts be served consecutively.  Hmmm.

In the Zimmerman case, stand your ground was made a joke.  Zimmerman went looking for trouble and found it.  Calls to 911 had already dispatched police and Zimmerman’s confrontation was totally unnecessary.  With Alexander, she was in her home and (according to her testimony) was being threatened by a previously abusive husband.

The message appears to be, if you are threatened, shot to kill.  Otherwise a jury might not believe your story when the other person is questioned.


Lonesome George

July 14, 2013

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.

Motive, Means, and Opportunity

March 27, 2012

The tragic murder investigation playing out in Florida seems to be once again emphasizing the value of due process.  Due process often does not satisfy the public’s emotional thirst but in the end it usually reminds us of the weakness of a rush to judgement.  The case of Trayvon Martin, while not closed, is following this path.

Initially public opinion was incensed with an apparent case of police playing judge and jury.  The alleged suspect was George Zimmerman, a white man, and the victim was Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old black youth.  George was armed, Traymore had a bag of Skittles and a bottle of ice tea.  Zimmerman said he feared for his life and shot Trayvon in self defense.

The public questioned the lack of a thorough police investigation and no arrest as proof that the police were biased.  African American leaders claimed this same situation has been played out too many times before.  Not this time, they said.

With the pressure of public opinion swelling, demanding an arrest, the Sanford, Florida police leaked some information they had collected.  This information revealed a fight where Trayvon was the aggressor and Zimmerman was the recipient of head and nose injuries before the actual shooting.  This could put the incident in a quite different light.

The police inaction does not seem so irresponsible in this light.  The African American community reaction, however, could seem excessive is this were all there was too the story.

At first, attention was focused on the Florida “stand your ground” law and everyone blamed that law.  Next this became a racial hate crime.  But all along the necessary causes has not been discussed.

A crime conviction normally needs evidence that the accused possessed motive, means and opportunity to have committed a crime..

Zimmerman called 911 and reported seeing a suspicious person.  The 911 dispatcher told him police were on the way and to “back off”.  Zimmerman did not.  This episode could have ended with nothing more has he followed instructions.  At the worst, Zimmerman might have gotten a bloody nose had he not also possessed the “means”.

Zimmerman was packing.

It is one thing to be in your own home and an intruder enters with intent to rob or do bodily harm.  Using a weapon might be justified under certain circumstances.  Driving around a sub-division, then following someone on foot even after being told not to, is over the line.  The elements of motive and opportunity seem evident.

Zimmerman was carrying a gun and that provided the means.  He may, in the quietness of his home never thought about shooting someone.  In the heat of the moment, who knows?

Zimmerman could have held deep resentment for blacks, this is not a crime.  Community watches are not crimes either, especially  if Zimmerman had backed off.   No tragedy had to have taken place except if the means were present.

At the root of this tragedy is senseless packing of a weapon.