After the Zimmerman Verdict

One of the many troubling aspects of the killing of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman was how quickly the popular debate that emerged after the deadly encounter descended into the dark, partisan corners of American life. The many “sides” which materialized to defend the gun-toting neighborhood watch volunteer and the memory of a young man taken senselessly from his family were able to review the same facts and witness accounts--such as they were--and come to startlingly different conclusions about what transpired that rainy night in Sanford, Florida.

The case stirred the thoroughly American toxic stew of race, gun rights, white paranoia, the fairness of the American criminal justice system, even the nuances of street demeanor and style. Soon after Zimmerman’s defense began it was the memory of Trayvon Martin that seemed to be on trial, not the man eager to stamp out crime in his neighborhood who neglected to see Trayvon Martin as his neighbor too. Trayvon was instantly suspect because of his youth and appearance. It is the kind of street profiling that happens all the time in “stop and frisk” America, and this time it was a presupposition that proved deadly.

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Whatever one thinks of the jury verdict, the case highlights some areas where greater public scrutiny and legislative intervention seem warranted. Because of a injudiciously rapid expansion of right-to-carry policies, too many are carrying lethal force wherever they go with as little reserve as throwing a cellphone into a backpack. That carelessness combined with Florida’s stand your ground laws create the perfect foundation for more such pointlessly fatal encounters. Had Zimmerman been unarmed, Trayvon Martin would undoubtedly have made it home safely that night with his Skittles and iced tea. And if “stand your ground” were not legally endorsed as a reasonable defense for the use of lethal force, then the jury which acquitted George Zimmerman would have had to do more than accept the meagre explanation of the last man left standing that night in Sanford.

Update/Correx: I appear to have been guilty of contributing to a media conflation of the problems associated with "stand your ground" laws with George Zimmerman's defense strategy. Zimmerman's attorneys never invoked "stand your ground," although it was mentioned by the prosecution which was trying to demonstrate inconsistencies in Zimmerman's statements to investigators (whether or not he was familiar with this doctrine). The defense relied on standard self-defense arguments since, according to Zimmerman's account of the incident, he was not in a position to retreat from Martin. I think the overarching danger of loose gun laws and stand your ground policies still pertains, however.

See The American Prospect's Scott Lemieux on this:

[I]t is important not to lose sight of something else: the inadequacy of the law in most states to deal with America's gun culture. Carrying a deadly weapon in public should carry unique responsibilities. In most cases someone with a gun should not be able to escape culpability if he initiates a conflict with someone unarmed and the other party ends up getting shot and killed. Under the current law in many states, people threatened by armed people have few good options, because fighting back might create a license to kill. As the New Yorker's Amy Davidson puts it, "I still don't understand what Trayvon was supposed to do." Unless the law is changed to deal with the large number of people carrying concealed guns, there will be more tragic and unnecessary deaths of innocent people like Trayvon Martin for which nobody is legally culpable. And to make claims of self-defense easier to bring, as Florida and more than 20 other states have done, is moving in precisely the wrong direction. 

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Michael Barberi
5 years 3 months ago
This was a tragedy that could have been avoided. One issue of great concern is the right of a neighborhood watch volunteer to carry a concealed weapon with a bullet in the chamber. Despite the law that allow individuals to carry concealed weapons there does not seem to be any requirement of rigorous training, certification or strict laws governing the behavior of neighborhood watch volunteers. One can reasonably argue that profiling was used by both Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Martin. However, those who assert that Mr. Zimmerman used "racial profiling" is not supported by the evidence or his past behavior. The fact that the majority of crimes in this neighborhood were committed by black teenagers and young adults, making suspect some black strangers is not "racial" per se. This does not mean that racial profiling is not real and a problem in the U.S. Had Mr. Zimmerman been unarmed, Trayvon Martin would likely have made it safely home that night. However, what the above article does not mention is the possibility that Mr. Zimmerman may have been killed or may have sustained very serious injuries by the hands of Trayvon Martin. We can speculate until the cows come home, but the jury found no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because he wanted to, because he had malice in his heart, because he was a racist or because he was gravely negligent. The jury found sufficient evidence that Mr. Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in self defense. The tragedy is that if Trayvon Martin and Mr. Zimmerman had the love of God and neighbor in their hearts, this incident would not have happened. In the aftermath of this jury judgment, the startling different conclusions of those on both sides means there are issues that must be addressed such as gun laws, race, white and black paranoia, neighborhood watch behavior and legal boundaries, among others. It will be surprising if the Federal Government found sufficient evidence to bring to court Mr. Zimmerman because he violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights. Let's pray that politics does not become the overriding factor in such deliberations.
ed gleason
5 years 3 months ago
The innocent verdict depended on witnesses who differed on who screamed at a high pitch for 'help' .. Why would anyone with a gun in his belt scream at a high pitch for 'help'??? Fox News continually before the verdict, predicted an innocent verdict would produce riots....... which was both incendiary and wrong .
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
...and if Zimmerman was so overpowered, how was he able to get to his gun and fire it? Maybe the guy isn't a racist, per se, but he did have a bias against black teenagers. Imagine if Martin had been white-ish and Zimmerman had been black. Would we still have an innocent verdict? I think what we saw in the jury's (white-ish, middle-class women's) decision was a belief that a black teenager is a lot scarier than an older armed middle class Hispanic man.
Joshua DeCuir
5 years 3 months ago
"I think what we saw in the jury's (white-ish, middle-class women's) decision was a belief that a black teenager is a lot scarier than an older armed middle class Hispanic man." With all due respect, how can you possible make this assertion? Even the above quoted Ta-Nehisi Coates said in a blog post (probably the best one that I've read in the veritable deluge of commentary flooding out) that "the jury got it right" - the state failed to prove second degree murder. But I think the most troubling thing about your comment is that embodies the very same social isolation & suspicion that you seek to condemn in George Zimmerman: that because the jury found the evidence wanting for a specific charge, they must be, can only be, motivated by racial concerns. This social distrust among various groups is the saddest part of this entire tragedy.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
I can't believe that the jury's job is to evaluate the quality of the lawyering rather than judging the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The innocent verdict rather than a manslaughter verdict is absurd. Failing to prove second-degree murder does not absolve Zimmerman of guilt. As to the sensibility of the jurors with regard to Mr. Zimmerman versus the deceased young man, I base that on what I know of the thinking of white middle class women. They might also have gone so far as to say among themselves that convicting Zimmerman of something won't bring Trayvon back and Zimmerman is a good person and shouldn't have his life ruined by this lapse in good judgment. The law, which many are saying was not in question, but which caused the police not to arrest Zimmerman at the scene of the crime, is a prime example of social distrust. It's one of the stupidest laws ever written.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
Self-defense, stupid? The Florida law establishes "no duty to retreat" and immunity from prosecution in criminal and civil cases where that is a defense. Otherwise, the law is the same as nearly all states. Zimmerman's lawyers didn't use the new law to immunize Z because they would have exposed their case strategy to the state, and they had some reasonable fear that the state wasn't going to honor the law by immunizing Zimmerman. They were right, and bold to endure a trial.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
You cannot logically initiate a confrontation and then claim self-defense except under this stupid law.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
Not so. Happens every day. What you can not do is assert self defense while you are committing a felony or some other crime, including resisting arrest.
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
You are making legal misstatements. The exceptions to the abrogation of the duty to retreat are far broader than you describe. Can't mask lack of direct knowledge with bold certainty in delivery.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
So more laws than this stupid one allow the aggressor to claim himself a victim? Can't help thinking the tone of Zimmerman's call to the police presaged that his encounter with Martin would be confrontational instead of neighborly...
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
He got to his gun because it was on his hip and his hands were free. Florida stupidly tried to claim that since TM was on top with his knees in Z's armpits he couldn't reach the gun. Well, that is just stupid. Fights are dynamic and Z was not still. The prosecution's poor reenactment served notice to the jury that TM was on top. In the attempt to impeach Z, the state impeached its own case. There was no bias proved, and the FBI confirmed that, too.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
I would like to be able to compare Martin's height and weight with Zimmerman's.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
Martin was about 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds; Zimmerman around 5' 8 or 9, 190 pounds (then) Zimmerman has gained weight since the incident.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
Others have said Martin was 140 pounds. The weight you give for Zimmerman must be some kind of typo.
Kevin Clarke
5 years 3 months ago

The whole discussion of Trayvon Martin's height and weight is distasteful to me. This only encourages the "black teen menace" virus that is part of the culural pathology on display in this tragedy. But if it is to come up at all, let's use actual facts and not "facts" distilled from e-mail chain letters or one of those screeching partisan websites.

According to the coroner's report, the deceased weighed 158 pounds and was 71 inches tall; that's 5'11. The picture of Trayvon used by the media that many bloggers insisted was taken when he was 12 was actually taken 11 months prior to his death when he was 16. That picture seemed to depict a sweet, wide-eyed youth instead of a scary, hoodie-wearing thug wannabe that would make Zimmerman's homicide more palatable to some, but perhaps it reflected the young man that Trayvon Martin actually was or was growing up to be. It's terrible that he is not around to defend himself against all the insinuations of hoodlumism that have circulated since his killing, during the trial and now during its unquiet aftermath.

Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
I brought this up because I suspect that the difference in size between the two would not be sufficient to claim that Zimmerman had no alternative but to shoot Martin. Even I could have gotten away from a 5' 11" 158 lb. guy without having to shoot him. I have a real problem believing any of Zimmerman's version of events.
Michael Barberi
5 years 3 months ago
Ed -- a good point, but not persuasive. The facts and evidence had Trayvon Martin on top of George Zimmerman in a ground and bound scenario. There was no evidence that Zimmerman was on top. In this scenario, and the fact (undisputed) that Martin slammed Zimmerman's head into the concrete, is reasonable evidence to suggest that Zimmerman was screaming 'help'. The truth is that experts could not identify the voice. This was a real tragedy. Gun laws should be changed and a rigorous training and certification process required along with strict rules and procedures for neighborhood watch volunteers. As for the jury, keep in mind that "both sides" were in agreement on the jury selection process. Just about every commentator who viewed the jury during the trial, thought they did a great job, took copious notes, were highly attentive and seriously reviewed all the evidence before reaching a decision according to the law. There was no evidence, whatsoever, that this jury was bias. Marie -- If there was bias in this case, one could easily argue that the "media" had bias from the beginning, not to mention Al Sharpton and others who had a rush to judgment before the facts were known. Politics entered into this trial when the Governor would not permit the State's district attorney in this county to be the prosecutor, but assigned another State's attorney who then, by-passed a grand jury that was scheduled to hear the case, and withheld evidence from the defense. This fact of withholding evidence was only made public by a "whistle blower" who then was fired by the assigned State's attorney. We will hear more about that in the months ahead. I do agree that there continues to be racial bias in many court cases in this country. However, this is significantly less than 30-40 years ago. Any bias is evil and should be appropriately checked at the door. No one will know the degree of any bias that Mr. Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin might have had. We can only go by the facts presented in a court of law and trust that justice is served.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
Michael, are you saying that Trayvon had committed some offense that justified Zimmerman's approaching him? The death of that young man can be blamed 100% on Zimmerman's actions.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
No, Martin made a foolish, fatal mistake. He advanced on a man in the dark not knowing if he was armed, and he punched him. Trayvon, like so many young men, believed in his own strength and lashed out at Zimmerman because that's what kids do. George Z--set upon and surprised--killed him. Both fellows erred, but one mistake was fatal.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
If you were a young man walking home in your neighborhood and someone confronted you, what would you do? It all depends, I think, on the tone of that confrontation. How did Zimmerman approach Martin? What did he say? Could he have appeared threatening? Was it possible to see that he was armed? In Trayvon's place, I would be friendly toward a friendly approach from a neighbor, but if I knew that neighbor had a gun and was confronting me in a threatening manner, I would be inclined to fight back rather than run away if I had any sense that I could overpower the person. Kids don't lash out at people without reason. Zimmerman erred by not obeying the police.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
Zimmerman didn't disobey the police--there is no evidence that he wasn't returning to his car when he was visited by Martin. According to the trial, the gun was not brandished or visible (that's in Z's favor) and neither party was doing anything illegal until Trayvon Martin punched Zimmerman. One juror already announced that was her finding, and the evidence supports this claim. Remember, the state, in an effort to discredit Zimmerman, used his cooperation and statements against him and this backfired. In his remarks the state could not refute Z's claim that M punched him knocking him down, etc. Again, that is why an honest prosecution should have realized this and not brought the case. Once a case is brought, uncertainty rules. Heavens, the police believed Zimmerman and they said so. End of story.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
All we have is Zimmerman's word that the gun was not noticeable. All we have is Zimmerman's account, period. All the other evidence could have supported a different account, had Martin been around to give it. What it comes down to is that young black men have a right to walk down the street and even look at the houses they are passing. They should not be made to account for themselves by anyone, but least of all by some gated community's self-appointed gate-keeper. If the neighborhood suffered from strangers committing crimes there, all that needed to happen was for the gates to be kept closed. Zimmerman's assumption in his gated community should have been that if someone was inside, he was probably residing there or the guest of a resident. If there was a problem with some residents robbing the homes of other residents, it should have been addressed at the homeowner's association meeting and with the police. Zimmerman does a good job making himself look non-threatening, but his comments to the police and his behavior show him to be something else.
Michael Barberi
5 years 3 months ago
Marie, The issue is now is not about "what ifs" or "that gates should have been closed" etc. 1. No one truly knows what exchange of words were used between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman when they first encountered each other. All the jury had was Mr. Zimmerman's account and the fact that Trayvon Martin punched Zimmerman and almost broke his nose. It was clear that Trayvon Martin started the fight. 2. There is nothing illegally bias about suspecting someone who was a stranger in this gated community and fit the profile of those who committed robberies in this community. Neither was it illegal for Trayvon Martin to be walking home through this community. Something triggered Trayvon Martin to punch Mr. Zimmerman, then to get on top of him and slam his head into the concrete causing his head to bleed in several places. If anyone was going to scream for help at that time, reason would dictate that it would have been Mr. Zimmerman. We have an eye witness who testified that Trayvon Martin was on top of Mr. Zimmerman in a ground and pound MNA style fighting action. 3. We also have evidence, not given in Court, of pictures on Trayvon Martin's cell phone of someone holding a hand gun (presumable Trayvon), jewelry laid out on a bed (presumably stolen), young nude teenager women, etc. We also have autopsy evidence of marijuana in Trayvon Martin's blood stream. This evidence was not used by the defense. However, could marijuana have made Trayvon Martin paranoid? 4. All evidence and arguments were presented by the prosecution and defense. The jury return a not guilty verdict because the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin because he wanted to, because he was a racist, or because he used excessive lethal force and was irresponsibly negligent. He was found not guilty because of self-defense. No one was a winner in this case. This country needs to address stand your ground laws, the right to carry a concealed hand gun by neighborhood watch volunteers, rigorous training and certification, and very strict rules concerning how to approach strangers, respectful non-provoking questioning, how to identify yourself, etc. This incident should have never occurred. Now we must learn from it and do something to prevent its re-occurrence. Unfortunately, politics and emotion are polarizing our nation. I seriously doubt that the Federal Government will find probable cause to bring a civil rights action against Mr. Zimmerman. The FBI investigation uncovered a substantial amount of evidence that Mr. Zimmerman was not racist by a long shot. He did not commit a hate crime.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
On the scene of the shooting that night GZ told police he screamed for help and no one answered. That was before he knew the screams were recorded over a cell phone. He screamed because he was getting his head smashed. And hasn't it occurred to you that he didn't at that point have his gun drawn? Proves he didn't brandish it, or shoot on sight, etc. Somehow he wriggled his hand to his holster and brought the gun up to fatal effect. I think the photos of his injured head proved the fight, the fight satisfies his assertion of self-defense, and the gun stopped his assailant. Hard, messy, sad, but lawful, and even morally defensible. If George were Georgiana, who would question a woman's right to self defense? Gender shouldn't matter, but it changes your perception.
Beth Cioffoletti
5 years 3 months ago
According to a Miami Herald legal analysis: "Zimmerman’s prosecution was made tougher under Florida’s 2005 Stand Your Ground law, which eliminated a citizen’s “duty to retreat” before using lethal force in the face of a deadly threat — an instruction given to jurors on Friday." Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/13/3499114_p2/state-never-proved-its-case-legal.html#storylink=cpy
Beth Cioffoletti
5 years 3 months ago
From Ta-Nehisi Coates this morning: "There has been a lot of complaint that "stand your ground" has nothing to do with this case. That contention is contravened by the fact that it is cited in the instructions to the jury. Taken together, it is important to understand that it is not enough for the state to prove that George Zimmerman acted unwisely in following Martin. Under Florida law, George Zimmerman had no responsibility to--at any point--retreat. The state must prove that Zimmerman had no reasonable fear for his life. Moreover, it is not enough for the jury to find Zimmerman's story fishy." The instructions that were given to the jury are at Ta-Nehisi's site: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/trayvon-martin-and-the-irony-of-american-justice/277782/ He had the right to STAND HIS GROUND, according to these instructions. The jury basically had no choice but to acquit.
Joshua DeCuir
5 years 3 months ago
I have resisted saying anything about this case because of it's various layers. I do have to say, however, that I find Mr. Clarke's comments (in particular the "white paranoia" invocation) grotesquely simplifies many of the wrinkles, particularly in the current context of immigration reform debate. As more low-skilled workers move into low-income neighbors, there are tensions mounting. While I do not support a "stand your ground" position, I cannot say I blame people for wanting to defend the neighborhoods where their children live & sleep from the daily onslaught of crime that surrounds them. As I appreciate it, the police & DA's offices have been slow to respond many of these crimes because many go unreported. This is not to say the solution is simple, but rather that there are complexities that I found wanting in the above comments.
Vince Killoran
5 years 3 months ago
I don't usually write this but I agree with Joshua DeCuir ! All of these overheated rhetoric and thin factual assertions do not help the cause of justice. The "reasonable cause" bar is high and legal analyst warned everyone that Mr. Zimmerman would most likely be found "not guilty." The real focus should be on gun control and addressing the protocols allowed to neighborhood patrols.
Kevin Clarke
5 years 3 months ago

I wrote about 300 words on this complicated matter, so, yeah, the above is "grotesquely simple." But if you want to pick it apart a little to tease out greater complexity, let's start with your objection to my use of "white paranoia" as a nod to the general suspicion of black teens on the street. You're unhappy with it, but just a few lines later note as if it is uncontroversial the "daily onsaught of crime" which apparently "surrounds" people. What people are we referring to? In New York, crime is at historic per capita lows and that's true around the country. Crime has been going down, down, down, even in troubled economic times. But you would never know that from the many who apparently feel that the only way to go out in public these days is carrying a concealed weapon. Yes, there are urban neighborhoods where street crime is a huge problem, but the way some middle-class, caucasions carry on, you would think it was Mad Max out there. It ain't. The unfounded fear of crime out of all context to the demographic reality of crime is partly what I am thinking of as "white paranoia." 

Joshua DeCuir
5 years 3 months ago
I think if you took a deep breath, & re-read my comments, the context of the comment you strip out is abundantly clear: yes, in most middle class white neighborhoods, crime is down. But there is increasing social tension, and crime, in low income neighborhoods between African Americans & hispanic & other low-skilled workers. THAT is what I am referring to in the comment. So you may lump me in as just another paranoid middle class caucasian (although I do not have a concealed weapon permit), but you seem to have missed the point.
Kevin Clarke
5 years 3 months ago

Yes, I see that, was trying to amplify my meaning on "white paranoia." Please do not get a gun permit!

In my experiences in heavy crime neighbohoods, most street crime was associated with drug trade and gangs protecting same. The ease with which these guys could get their hands on guns (straw man purchases in collar counties around Chicago) made it all the more violent and lethal to us residents.

Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
In the 513 days since the shooting incident there have been 11,106 African Americans killed by other African Americans. There is something terrible going on when the nation focuses on this garden variety self-defense case instead of the Black Holocaust of urban crime. The race-baiters got their diversion. Don't dare look at what happens daily in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Oakland, Atlanta, Miami, East St Louis, etc. Sure, wear a hoodie with pride. That looks like it's working.
Kevin Clarke
5 years 3 months ago

What is this even supposed to mean? "Race-baiters" are trying to use Zimmerman case to distract the rest of America from black on black crime? To what possible end? I keep seeing this argument in play as if the public could not hold two complex problems, street profiling and hypervigilance of minority young people and black on black vioence, in mind at the same time. It's just not true. There has been plenty of coverage of black on black crime as a major social problem.

And this was hardly a "garden variety" self-defense case.

Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
Oh, yes it was a garden variety case. It should not have been brought. The local police, and state attorney didn't want the case brought. That's reasonable doubt there, the rest is propaganda and blather, and something sinister: State oppression. The state knew and withheld exculpatory evidence including delaying the photos of the injuries, withholding the data from phone evidence, etc. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton among others do not address black on black crime.
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
To say the case should not have been brought is to ignore the proceedings. Judge Nelson twice denied motions for judgment on aquittal, ruling that the evidence was sufficient for prosecution. The jury deliberated 15 hours, and asked for a manslaughter instruction. According to one unconfirmed account, the initial vote was even divide between acquittal and conviction, albeit 2 of the three to a lesser offense. That record completely undermines that statement. As to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton not addressing black on black crime, not on is it irelevant, its false, and shows the source of your worldview: http://www.bet.com/news/national/2012/06/15/rev-jesse-jackson-takes-on-black-on-black-violence.html Calling Rev. Jesse Jackson a veteran of the civil rights movement is an understatement. But at age 70 and more than 50 years after he began his crusade in and for the Black community, Jackson says he has one last battle to fight: curbing the cyclical trend of Black-on-Black violence. “Each year ... about 7,000 African-Americans are murdered, more than nine times out of 10 by other African-Americans," Jackson said in a statement ahead of a series of nationwide anti-gun violence marches planned for Saturday. "If a foreign foe took these lives, we would mobilize armies and armadas to stop them. But here, because much of this violence is contained in racially concentrated neighborhoods, there is too much resignation and too little outrage." The Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for a high-profile community summit to address black-on-black violence after Harlem was rocked by a wave of shootings over Memorial Day. "Last year alone, nearly one black child a day under the age of 17 was shot and killed in New York City. Shot mostly by other black city residents," Sharpton said. "Shootings and violence within our community by one of our own is an outrage and an issue that we must confront as diligently and as passionately as a sensational case of police misconduct or brutality." Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/rev-al-sharpton-talk-violence-black-neighborhoods-article-1.292142#ixzz2ZFdl8nVq
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
In all criminal trials the defense asks for acquittal at the end of the prosecution's case--that is routine. So is a judge's determination to proceed. The case arrived in court only after all the normal due process channels were detoured deliberately. The police wouldn't arrest, the Sanford prosecutor wouldn't prosecute. It took mob pressure and a special prosecutor to charge Z. Angela Corey didn't convene a grand jury either--a normal investigation would have--and an important step that lets the public weigh the evidence. No, she charged Z based on a crabbed investigation that denied any injury to Z occurred and she filed a possibly perjurious affidavit. She was obliged to admit any and all exculpatory evidence in her affidavit and she denied any existed--that was a lie. Now the state faces sanctions based on their violations of discovery (a violation of Z's civil right to a fair trial) for withholding evidence. This is a bad business procedurally. Unfair, unjust and it led to a trial that should not have occurred.
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
Motions for acquittal are SOP. But they are granted, not uncommonly, if the case were as you described. It wasn't. And I note you ignored the other issues. You are misled by right-wing sites that disseminate falsehoods to froth the faithful.
Frank Gibbons
5 years 3 months ago
That Sharpton quote is five years old. Can you cite anything else he's said on the subject?
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
Florida seems to be in a class by itself with high profile crimes that allow the perpetrators to walk away. Trayvon Martin was "standing his ground" against an armed man who had followed and confronted him. For this he was killed with the blessing of the Florida legal system.
Stanley Kopacz
5 years 3 months ago
You've isolated the double standard being applied here. Martin was expected to do things like run away and do everything possible to avoid conflict with his harasser because he was young and black. If he decided to stand his ground, it was with the only weapon he had, his physical strength. But apparently this expanded right of self defense is not extended to the classification of people to which he belonged. Of course, we only have the killer/survivor's narrative saying that he DID do this.
J Cosgrove
5 years 3 months ago
A couple comments: Why was there national attention on this case? From what I understand the concept of "Stand your ground" had nothing to do with this case. Here is a discussion of this: http://reason.com/blog/2013/07/14/sorry-the-zimmerman-case-still-has-nothi Apparently the mention of stand your ground in the jury instructions are boiler plate instructions in a case of self defense.
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
Pullum is either lying or has no idea what he is talking about. Standard Jury Instruction 3.6(f) was modified to reflect SYG. I will have to cut and paste because I am using a proprietary legal database. In re Standard Jury Instructions In Criminal Cases-Report No. 2009-01 27 So.3d 640 Fla.,2010. January 07, 2010 (Approx. 10 pages) Excerpt In addition, instruction 3.6(f) is also amended to include the statutory exceptions in section 776.013(2), Florida Statutes (2008), which may preclude giving the instruction on justifiable use of deadly force. West's F.S.A. § 776.013 Next Section 776.013. Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily Effective: October 1, 2005 Prior | Proposed Section d(3) of Statute: (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. That statutory revision was SYG, as shown below the statutory section Preamble (Laws 2005, c. 2005-27): “WHEREAS, the Legislature finds that it is proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution or civil action for acting in defense of themselves and others, and “WHEREAS, the castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine of ancient origins which declares that a person's home is his or her castle, and “WHEREAS, Section 8 of Article I of the State Constitution guarantees the right of the people to bear arms in defense of themselves, and “WHEREAS, the persons residing in or visiting this state have a right to expect to remain unmolested within their homes or vehicles, and “WHEREAS, no person or victim of crime should be required to surrender his or her personal safety to a criminal, nor should a person or victim be required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack, NOW, THEREFORE,
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
Not only was it in the jury instructions, Stand your Ground was cited by the juror as perhaps the primary jury consideration. Also, I have always been skeptical of the claim that GZ was repeatedly slammed against a sidewalk but did not require medical attention. He had injuries, but minor ones, no where close to what would have been incurred if events had occurred as claimed
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
And so what? No person in Florida or elsewhere is obliged to wait to be injured to defend himself/herself. Indeed, a woman can use deadly force to prevent rape--without being touched. Again, if George were female, no case would have been brought.
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
The fear of great bodily harm must be "reasonable". Hence the relevance of the extent of the injuries. And the use of attempted analagous reasoning regarding gender fails.
Vincent Gaitley
5 years 3 months ago
One's fears are reasonable instantly if you are injured, bleeding, and in pain.
Tom Wilson
5 years 3 months ago
There seems to be a misconception by many that this case was about causation, typically argued that had Zimmerman not exited his car, then Martin would never had died. Thus, Zimmerman should have been found guilty. But under the law, causation is but one element of guilt. And, in fact, there is no question of causation in this case: Zimmerman's acts caused Martin's death. The only question that needed to be answered in this case was whether Zimmerman was justified under the law to kill Martin. And the answer to that question comes from one element of this case: Zimmerman's state of mind when he pulled the trigger. All of the evidence in this case, then, must be considered relative to that state of mind. Thus, Zimmerman's exiting the car is relevant to his state of mind; Zimmerman's prejudice towards Blacks would be relevant to his state of mind; his following Martin, his words about "those punks," his(?) screaming for help, etc... But here's the kicker: the prosecution had to prove that fear for his life was NOT part of Zimmerman's state of mind or that his fear was unreasonable. Nothing harder to prove than a negative.
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
Easy to say that Zimmerman feared for his life. Easy to say that from his perspective this was reasonable. However, I find it easy to think that Martin had more fear for his life but no means to defend himself against a firearm. There really needs to be more culpability assigned to a person armed with a firearm, whether or not his stereotyping of young black men made him very, very scared.
Rick Fueyo
5 years 3 months ago
I agree with you. I just think it's a minority opinion. I don't think anyone perceives that Trayvon could have felt threatened by a stranger following him. In most minds he's understandably dangerous, and must understand that he presents a danger to strangers that observe
Marie Rehbein
5 years 3 months ago
I think you are right that most people consider any young black man understandably dangerous and obliged to make himself look harmless by dressing like a golfer or tennis player. It's really a ridiculous expectation.

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