Posted tagged ‘stand your ground’

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.