Sunday, June 23, 2013

Why George Zimmerman Will Be Acquitted

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin the night of February 26, 2012. However, whether or not he will be punished for that killing on the charge of second degree murder is a totally different story.

I'm not an attorney so I will save the explicit legal reasoning of why I think Zimmerman will be acquitted to our resident attorneys if they have such an opinion. What I am is a legal resident in the state of Florida working in the media on this high profile case.

With six women, five White and one Black or Hispanic deciding the fate of one man who's already admitted to killing 17-year-old Martin the verdict can go either way.

There are nearly 20 million people in the state of Florida. More than one million of those people have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and the Stand Your Ground Law makes that permit a license to kill. As has been discussed in the 16 months leading up to this trial is that under the Stand Your Ground law there is no duty to retreat. If you feel fatally threatened or are witness to a crime you can use deadly force to protect yourself, thus standing your ground. The fact George Zimmerman was the initial aggressor matters not.




Furthermore, all six women picked for the jury may not have the desired effect the prosecution is hoping for. On learning only women were picked for the jury (two men were picked as alternates along with two other women) I thought the pick, even though agreed upon by the defense, was heavily biased because the prosecution will be able to appeal to the women's maternal instinct and play on that -- within the confines of the law -- and win a conviction.

But then I remembered those one million people with permits to carry a concealed weapon in the state, and I remembered women are among the fastest growing groups of gun owners nationwide even if the face of gun ownership is still overwhelmingly white.




The jury's predilection for guns aside I still feel that George Zimmerman will be acquitted because the argument is not did he kill Trayvon Martin. We all know he did it. He admitted it on more than one occasion and even apologized for it. 


But reasonable doubt is all over this case beyond the stink of the Stand Your Ground law. Trayvon Martin cannot testify about the events on the night in question because he is no longer here to give his side of the story. All the witnesses from that night admit to hearing a scream and then a gun shot but no one can say who the scream belonged to, and Judge Debra Nelson released a written ruling just yesterday saying forensic expert testimony will not be allowed at trial to determine whose voice was screaming on the 911 calls. 

Even though Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder I question if the prosecution has enough evidence to prove he acted with a "depraved mind" to meet the standards of the statute. 

If Stand Your Ground is allowed as a permissible defense the likelihood of Zimmerman getting off increases dramatically. He had no duty to retreat and we know Zimmerman and Martin fought before the fatal shot from the blown up glossy images of Zimmerman's injuries, and his 15 minute walk through of the crime with a bandage on the back of his head and his nose. 


Just because the killing of Trayvon Martin was wrong does not mean it wasn't legal. When the trial begins tomorrow with opening statements prosecutors and defense attorneys will do their best to paint the events of Februrary 26, 2012 in favor of their client. The prosecution will illustrate Zimmerman as an over zealous gun enthusiast with racist underpinings for the reason he targeted, stalked, and killed Trayvon Martin. The defense will try to paint Trayvon Martin as a baby thug who just couldn't stay out of trouble. What Martin and Zimmerman are or were is not on trial here. Zimmerman may be racist but racism is not a crime. Trayvon Martin might have grown up to be a two bit criminal with an extensive rap sheet always moving through the revolving door of the prison system but George Zimmerman robbed him of a future good or bad. 

What's on trial and what's at stake is not the rightness or the wrongness of the killing. What's on trial and what's at stake is not America's future relationship with race in the age of Obama and the loving memories of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. What's on trial and what's at stake is whether or not murder is okay as long as you say you were scared for your life. 

Looking at Florida's track record thou shalt not kill is not as much of a commandment as it is a suggestion, and the criminal courts with which that commandment is posted in stone outside of its doors blaspheme the laws of life from the mountaintop on a regular basis. 
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