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The Broader Lesson of the Zimmerman Verdict

As I predicted, George Zimmerman was found not guilty for killing Trayvon Martin. Since I am always reluctant to make bold assertions about such things if I wasn’t on the jury and didn’t see all the evidence, I’m not really going to comment much on the verdict itself. But what Michelle Alexander wrote on her Facebook page needs to be repeated far and wide:

If Trayvon Martin had been born white he would be alive today. That has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. If he had been white, he never would have been stalked by Zimmerman, there would have been no fight, no funeral, no trial, no verdict. It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty – far more than the man himself. It is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing. It is the Zimmerman mindset that has birthed a penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to a permanent undercaste.

If you haven’t read Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, I strongly suggest you do so. As I said when I reviewed it the first time and interviewed her on my old radio show, I think it may be the most important book written in many years. She documents in incredible detail the pervasively racist nature of America’s criminal justice system, created and enforced without much in the way of overt racism. It’s so pervasive that even black and Latino police officers tend to share the same stereotypes about their own racial groups that have driven the system to its present state.

It is the entire criminal justice system that should be the target of our anger and activism, not George Zimmerman himself.

Comments

  1. omnicrom says

    I think Jon Oliver nailed it on the Daily Show last night: The law worked exactly as it was intended to. By the statute of law and evidence George Zimmerman was let off. Of course while law was upheld no justice was done, and therefore the laws need to be changed so the next time a White man decides he has to kill a black “Fucking Asshole” so “He won’t get away”that White Man will be punished.

  2. slc1 says

    In addition to Turley’s commentary posted @ #1, there was an interview last night with one of the jurors which almost mirrors Turley’s assessment.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/zimmerman-juror-says-sanford-detective-made-big-impression-planning-to-write-a-book/2013/07/15/ce4afbb2-edb1-11e2-bb32-725c8351a69e_story.html

    As I have argued from the get go, this case was overcharged, both in response to political pressure and in the usual prosecutor strategy of overcharging to force a plea bargain to a lesser charge. In this case, the defense, seeing the weakness of the prosecution case didn’t fall for the gambit and insisted on going to trial.

    Note that the jurors very early on dismissed the 2nd degree murder charge and spent most of their deliberation time on the lesser included manslaughter charge. Eventually, based on the manslaughter jury instruction, they found the evidence insufficient to support the manslaughter charge. However, there was a sentiment to convict Zimmerman of something but they didn’t have that option.

    Now if the prosecution had followed the recommendation of the police officer who was in charge of the crime scene and who recommended to the DA that Zimmerman be arrested and charged with manslaughter, then the jury might have been amenable to convicting ona lesser included to the manslaughter charge (I don’t know what that would have been in Florida; it is my information that it would be 2nd degree manslaughter in California). This is one instance where overcharging backfired on the prosecution.

  3. says

    The “Zimmerman mindset,” as Alexander calls it, is composed of more parts than mere racism. Another part of it — equally dangerous, if not more so — is the paranoid, self-important vigilante mindset that drove Zimmerman to completely ignore the advice of authorities, forget the local cops even existed, and go off on his own tear and get himself into a lot of totally unnecessary trouble, just because everyone has told him, and he’s told himself, that a man has to “stand his ground” and “retreat” of any sort is bad, even when basic common sense demands it and there’s really nothing to gain by fighting.

    This wan’t just a triumph of racism, it was a triumph of juvenile libertarianism over sensible use of state power, brittle macho belligerence over prudent choice of where to make a stand and when to step back for safety’s sake. It was a triumph of childish, selfish emotion over any sort of adult reason or responsibility.

  4. Chiroptera says

    Funny how you don’t hear the Second Amendment fetishists saying that this tragedy could have been averted if only Martin had been armed and able to defend himself!

  5. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #5

    A little hard to retreat when the other guy is on top of you banging your head against the sidewalk.

    Of course, the real problem here is that, If Zimmerman had not had the gun, he wouldn’t have gotten out of his car and pursued Martin in the first place. His possession of the gun is the real takeaway lesson of this unhappy episode. The gun gave him false courage.

  6. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #5

    It is my recollection that the rules for neighborhood watches in Fairfax County specifically state that the watchers are not to be armed and are not to attempt to approach suspicious characters.

  7. Chiroptera says

    slc1, #8:

    I seem to recall (too lazy to try to look it up on my mobile device) that in fact Zimmerman was thrown out of the neighborhood watch group.

  8. steve84 says

    Given that one of the juror’s just showed that she is dumber than a box or rocks, this isn’t all that surprising. The jury selection process is designed to weed out anyone who is intelligent or had any thought and opinion of their own. You then end up with a couple of random idiots.

    There is also this:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57433184/fla-mom-gets-20-years-for-firing-warning-shots/

    Fired a warning shot in her house to get rid of her abusive husband. It went through the wall into a room with children, but no one was hurt. She got 20 years. Of course she was black and a woman.

  9. says

    This image has been making the rounds. It is the same side-by-side of Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman that has been around for a while, with the images differing from the originals only in a change of skin tone and hair color.

    If these two men had looked like this, does anyone really believe that the verdict would have been the same?

  10. slc1 says

    Re steve84 @ 310

    Gee then Jonathan Turley must also be dumber then a box of hammers as her commentary paralleled his USA Today article that I linked to @ #1.

  11. says

    Yesterday’s Salon had an article reminding us that the Zimmerman verdict was delivered on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the New York draft-riots of 1863. And no one else in the media mentioned it, even though they’re normally quick to dazzle us with such “on this day” reminders. Not sure why they’d fail to mention such a crazy coincidence…maybe they don’t want to remember that whites are historically more prone to rage-fueled rioting than blacks? Nah, I’m just being paranoid, right?

    If there’s any good news that might come out of this, it is that we can all stop pretending that the USA is a “post-racial” society and that racism doesn’t exist. Who knows, maybe even the libertarians will give up that tired old con-game.

  12. slc1 says

    Re Gregory in Seattle @ #11

    This doctored photo illustrates one of the complaints that many critics of Martin natter about, namely that all the published photos of him depict him at 14, not at the age of 17 which he was at the time of his demise.

  13. jws1 says

    Wonder how long that “stand your ground” stuff would stay on the books if a black or brown person uses it on a white person? Does anyone know if such a case has occurred?

  14. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #13

    You know, there is not a jot or a tittle of evidence that Zimmerman is a racist. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to come up with a single witness who ever heard him using racial epithets. In fact, the NBC tape that had him identifying Martin as black was doctored to eliminate the fact that he was responding to a question by the 911 operator who asked him if he could identify the race of the individual he was calling about. I think we should really be a little more careful about calling someone a racist in the absence of evidence.

  15. Who Knows? says

    SLC1, in your rush to justify killing young black men you somehow missed the subject of this post is about Michelle Alexander’s view. Which by the way, is well worth considering.

  16. slc1 says

    Re Who Knows @ #17

    Excuse me, in no way, shape, form, or regard am I excusing Zimmerman’s actions here. My commentary on all blogs on this network has been quite consistent, namely that the jury verdict was correct based on the evidence presented and the jury instructions. I entirely agree with Jonathan Turley, no conservative shill he. Apparently, the Who Knows and the Steve84s of the world weren’t interested in a fair trial for Zimmerman, they wanted a lynching. Sorry, that’s not the way it works here.

  17. says

    I didn’t watch the trial or pay huge attention to the issue, but plenty of legal minds that I respect, and who have no incentive to reflexively take Zimmerman’s side, say that the verdict was reasonable and that the prosecution’s case was weak. The “stand your ground” law apparently did not come into play. Zimmerman’s team simply argued self-defense. And FL’s self-defense laws are roughly the same as in nearly every other state; the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused wasn’t acting in self-defense. That’s extremely difficult to prove when the only other witness is dead.

    That said, even if Zimmerman was technically on the correct side of the law, he acted with incredibly poor judgement that resulted in the tragic and avoidable death of Martin. What gets me is how conservatives lack the decency to admit even this much. They seem to have internalized the lazy racist assumption that a black person wearing a hoodie is automatically an object of suspicion, and that of course Zimmerman was right to follow and confront him against the advice of the police. And Martin’s death is treated as irrelevant, if not righteous.

  18. says

    A little hard to retreat when the other guy is on top of you banging your head against the sidewalk.

    Zimmerman got there because he put himself there, when he could have just stayed in his fucking car like the 911 operator had told him to do.

    I hear the jury was denied evidence that Zimmerman was taking two prescription drugs at the time, which are known to occasionally cause mood swings or aggresive behavior. Funny how no one is trotting out any of the standard anti-drug rhetoric we used to hear nearly every damn day, innit?

    PS: Chiropetra @6 FTW. I was wondering what it would take for those gun nuts to shut up — and now we have our answer.

  19. Alverant says

    scs1 #18 Actually you ARE excusing Zimmerman’s actions. Here’s a quote from #7

    A little hard to retreat when the other guy is on top of you banging your head against the sidewalk.

    It’s hard to say you were standing your ground when you were the one who started the conflict in the first place. Zimmerman picked a fight, lost when Martin successfully defended himself, then Zimmerman murdered Martin because of that. I guess Martin should have allowed himself to get beaten up.

  20. Nick Gotts says

    Excuse me, in no way, shape, form, or regard am I excusing Zimmerman’s actions here. – slc1

    A bare-faced liar as well as a genocidal scumbag.

  21. says

    … the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused wasn’t acting in self-defense.

    The problem is that a defendant can claim “self-defense” even if he had gone out of his way to provoke the fight instead of staying away when he could have. The legal standards of “self-defense” have been radically rewritten in many states recently, by people who want to enable undisciplined vigilante justice and be free of the consequences thereof.

  22. slc1 says

    Re Area Man @ #19

    Agree completely. Maybe if the prosecution had charged Zimmerman with a supportable charge (e.g. the Florida equivalent of 2nd degree manslaughter in California), maybe they would have gotten a conviction. I agree with the juror, Zimmerman should have been convicted of something. He’s no hero. However, the real story is that Zimmerman was, apparently legally, armed. And he ain’t out of the legal woods yet. If he tries to capitalize on the episode by writing a book, the Martins might well do a Brown/Goldman and sue him for wrongful death.

  23. slc1 says

    Re Nick Gotts @ #22

    Ah gee, the limey is yet another clown who substitutes name calling for reasoned commentary.

  24. kantalope says

    Hey SLC1 – we get it. You’re a big Zimmerman fanboi.

    Sure Zimmerman was following Martin because of the Hoodie – not because he was black. That Turley dude you keep flogging probably believes that too. And look, Turns out Zimmerman was right – that hoodie wearin kid was violent and looking for trouble…he attacked Zimmerman for no reason didn’t he?

    It’s the South – the laws need to be set up so that white folks can keep black folks from gettin uppity – that’s the point.

  25. says

    …even if Zimmerman was technically on the correct side of the law…

    A law twisted and rewritten by racists, applied and interpreted by institutions hopelessly compromised by racial bias, to the “benefit” of whites and the consistent detriment of blacks.

  26. Michael Heath says

    omnicrom writes:

    . . . the laws need to be changed so the next time a White man decides he has to kill a black “Fucking Asshole” so “He won’t get away”that White Man will be punished.

    This is as flawed thinking as conservatives who are certain Zimmerman was innocent even of manslaughter (I think the evidence he was guilty of manslaughter is not merely compelling, but approaches convincing). If what omnicrom claims is true, then the evidence for 2nd degree murder would have at least been compelling. But it wasn’t, not even close.

    Instead we know this sort of racism motivated Zimmerman to stalk and confront Treyvon Martin, but not kill him. Instead the evidence points to the cowardly bully Zimmerman using a gun to stop his ass from getting kicked. An ass-kicking that Mr. Martin had both the right to exercise and in a just world, should have been both protected by the government and lauded by all of society. But instead the jury, a group of numbskulls whose collective idiocy approaches that of the O.J. Simpson’s jury, was led down a path wholly dependent upon red herrings. The same logical fallacy successfully deployed to get Mr. Simpson off in his criminal trial.

  27. tomh says

    @ #1

    i don’t know what you think is so compelling about Turley’s column, a lot of people have said the same thing. For Turley it’s all about who started the fight. Nothing new there. As the interview with the juror shows, the prosecution never had a chance. Statements like, “I think his heart was in the right place,” and “It pretty much happened the way George said it happened,” show where her sympathies were. Although the evidence was unclear she decided it was Zimmerman calling for help on the 911 call and that “Trayvon got mad and attacked him.” She didn’t take much convincing. But then, nothing in Florida surprises me.

  28. Abby Normal says

    I’m reminded of this Tom the Dancing Bug comic. It’s fascinating to see which boxes people are putting these events into. So far we have gun control, libertarianism, and systemic racism just in this thread. Elsewhere I’ve seen media sensationalism, sexism toward the jury, and famously – hoodies. My own box has been the presumption of innocence. The laws that protected Zimmerman also protect innocent people from being railroaded and the fact some people escape justice is just the price we pay. The line between rational analysis and rationalizing is rarely fuzzier than when the senseless killing of another person is involved.

  29. Michael Heath says

    Raging Bee writes:

    This wan’t just a triumph of racism, it was a triumph of juvenile libertarianism over sensible use of state power, brittle macho belligerence over prudent choice of where to make a stand and when to step back for safety’s sake. It was a triumph of childish, selfish emotion over any sort of adult reason or responsibility.

    True enough and cogently stated. However it was the existence of racism within white conservatives that had Zimmerman successfully leveraging the power of Sean Hannity and Fox News to make his case after he murdered Treyvon Martin. Which of course doesn’t negate your point about Zimmerman’s initial motivation and the societal infection that promotes such wrong-headed thinking.

  30. says

    You know, there is not a jot or a tittle of evidence that Zimmerman is a racist.

    As any sensible gangster can tell you, “not provable in a criminal court” is nowhere near the same as “not a jot or a tittle of evidence.” Thre’s plenty of evidence that Zimmerman acted in a racist manner here, but of course that would not be convincing to a judge, jury, police force, and media who are all tainted with the same racial bias.

    Excuse me, in no way, shape, form, or regard am I excusing Zimmerman’s actions here.

    Excuse me, but yes, you kind of are. If that’s not your intent, then maybe you should pause for a bit and choose your words more carefully. There are other commentators who can explain why the verdict made legal sense without sounding like they’re trying to excuse Zimmerman’s actions.

  31. gingerbaker says

    the Zimmerman mindset…views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing.

    Hyperbole? Zimmerman is no angel but is he a pure fire-breathing racist? If you have to resort to this sort of rhetoric, how secure is your case?

  32. says

    @slc1 #17 – The only right verdict would have been guilty because the law allowed Zimmerman to violate Martin’s fundamental civil rights. Jury nullification remains a very important part of the US legal system, and we do ill to forget that.

  33. Steve Sirhan says

    Yes, Zimmerman was overcharged. In fact, Alan Dershowitz says the prosecutor, Corley, should have charges of professional misconduct brought against her.

    Even manslaughter was problematic, and contra Raging Bee and others, SYG was not invoked during the trial.

    Why is everybody so in arms about this? In large part because CNN and other mass media saw something that played as a great story.

    That said, Sanford’s police chief should have been fired long before he was pushed out. It’s inexcusable the way the crime scene was handled. At the same time, the evidence that was lost might have favored Zimmerman, not Martin.

    Finally, SYG’s been on the books for 8 years. Besides having apparent racial bias, it has a host of other problems. People who are outraged now (including to some degree, myself) … where were we years back?

    http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2013/07/some-not-so-black-and-white-thoughts-on.html

  34. says

    The laws that protected Zimmerman also protect innocent people from being railroaded…

    Bullshit. The laws that protected Zimmerman were a dangerous radical rewrite of the basic legal concept of self-defense. They have nothing to do with protecting innocent people, and besides, they’re not even consistently applied — white people are more likely to get a pass than blacks, as other, less-publicised miscarriages of justice prove.

  35. Steve Sirhan says

    Oh, and Ed … have you asked Greta Christina to read this, after her Facebook rant? Geez, the public face of the Plusers hit yet another new low with that.

  36. says

    “The problem is that a defendant can claim “self-defense” even if he had gone out of his way to provoke the fight instead of staying away when he could have.”

    Yeah, I agree. It’s perfectly possible to commit outright murder, claim self-defense, and get away with it if there is no evidence to the contrary. I believe this has always been true. I’m not sure what to do about it other than to toss out the presumption of innocence, and that would do more harm than good.

    Zimmerman’s argument was that it was Martin who attacked him, and that he was returning to his truck at the time of the altercation. I don’t buy that. But the prosecution couldn’t show otherwise, they apparently didn’t have any coherent story about what happened, and Zimmerman had minor wounds to prove that he was getting beat-up. So with that evidence on hand, the jury had little choice but to acquit.

    And if you have evidence to suggest that FL’s laws are any different than elsewhere, or have recently been rewritten to lower the bar for self-defense, please share.

  37. says

    Sirhan: first you complain because the media played up the Zimmerman story; then you complain because they DIDN’T play up similar stories in the past. What’s your actual point?

  38. Alverant says

    #33
    If Zimmerman was not racist, then why did he say “those people always get away with it” to the police and decide to chase down Martin in the first place?

  39. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #20

    The jury was also prevented from hearing about the traces of marijuana in Martin’s blood.

    Re Alverant @ #21

    Zimmerman certainly contributed to the events that occurred by getting out of his car and following Martin. However, he claims that he had turned back and was returning to his car when he was confronted by Martin. I don’t know who threw the first punch and neither does anyone else. However, if Zimmerman threw the first punch, it was remarkably ineffective. Zimmerman is the one who has injuries in the back of his head and possibly to his nose, Martin has no injuries other then the gunshot wound.

    The question is, given that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the two men were engaged in a fight and Zimmerman was getting the worst of it, was he legitimately in danger of suffering serious injuries or even death if it continued. Note that Zimmerman also claimed that Martin was reaching for his, Zimmerman’s gun. Zimmerman’s statements in this regard are self serving and are probably exaggerated at the best. I don’t know the answer to that because the Florida law is rather kooky in that it’s a question of what Zimmerman believed at the time, not the extent of the injuries.

    By the way, one of the medical technicians who examined Zimmerman said that the injuries on his head didn’t seem serious. This is a very dangerous assumption as head injuries that appear superficial may not be indicative of possible internal injuries to the brain. In the event, it appears that the technician was probably right because Zimmerman declined to go to the hospital for observation and apparently suffered no ill effects from his injuries.

  40. Michael Heath says

    tomh writes:

    For Turley it’s all about who started the fight.

    That was red herring #1 and totally avoids the fact Mr. Martin had every right to defend himself from the demonstrated threat Mr. Zimmerman posed. Thanks tomh for illustrating why I’d be wasting my time reading Turley’s column.

    We repeatedly and rightly convict people of negligent behavior when they kill someone by not having their car under control, the same level of additional responsibility applies even more here when it comes to Mr. Zimmerman’s possession of a tool whose predominant utility is to kill another human being.

    I agree with Gregory in Seattle’s instagram pics’ points. In fact a popular conservative Christian email meme going around prior to and during the trial has a picture of a young black man who was falsely described as Treyvon Martin; this other person had darker skin than Mr. Martin. As if his being blacker better justified Zimmerman’s murder.

  41. slc1 says

    Re lyexreign @ #40

    I don’t see any racial epithets on the link. He refers to Mexicans. Since when is Mexican a racial epithet?

    Re Alverant @ #41

    I have seen the context of the “those people” comment and IMHO, it is a stretch to equate that with black persons. From the context, it appears to me that he was referring in general to people who were breaking into houses and cars in the neighborhood, apparently a problem there. The only instance of his referring to race was in response to a question from the 911 operator as to the race of the subject of Zimmerman’s call.

  42. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    A little hard to retreat when the other guy is on top of you banging your head against the sidewalk.

    Jesus fuck, is there ANY authoritarian kool-aid you won’t drink?

  43. says

    Having read the 911 transcript and looking at a reenactment of the scene, the catalyst for the incident appears to have been Zimmerman seeing Martin standing on a neighbor’s lawn. From Zimmerman’s perspective, Martin may have looked to be up to no good. It’s possible, though will never know, that Martin may have seen something that attracted his attention and as far as he was concerned he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

    Looking at an interactive map of the community, Trayvon was very close to the house he was staying at and it’s not clear why he felt he couldn’t run that extra distance, which shouldn’t have taken but a minute. Unfortunately, Zimmerman’s account is all we have, and often in these situations people tend to be self serving in their stories.

    One thing that annoys that I see repeated a lot is commenters stating that Zimmerman was given some kind of direct order to stand down and remain in his car and violated such an order, when a reading of the transcript shows that no such order was given. When asked if he was following Martin, Zimmerman replied in the affirmative, to which the dispatcher said “Ok, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman acknowledged with an ok. By Zimmerman’s account, he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him, though it may have looked to Martin that Zimmerman was still looking for him. Of course, there is the possibility that Zimmerman was lying and that he was still looking for Martin.

  44. says

    Whatever Zimmerman’s overt beliefs concerning race, it’s a little hard to believe that prejudice wasn’t involved in his fateful decision to start following Martin. One thing that is not in dispute is that Martin was walking down the street minding his own business. He wasn’t committing a crime or evincing behavior that would indicate he was about to. He was simply a black kid in a hoodie walking home.

    Now maybe it was Zimmerman’s M.O. to regard as suspicious anyone who was walking at night and to follow that person and call the cops. That would make him a real idiot, but I suppose it’s possible. However, it’s much more likely that Zimmerman did what he did because Martin was black and wearing a hoodie. And Zimmerman’s loudest defenders support this hypothesis when they claim that Martin was automatically an object of suspicion, and hence it’s all his fault. The disconnect occurs when they don’t realize that this attitude is based on lazy stereotypes; they loudly insist that race had nothing to do with it while also insisting that of course Martin was some kind of thug who had to be followed.

  45. beezlebubby says

    SLC, you’re a real dumbass. WTF difference does a trace of marijuana in the blood have to do with any goddamned aspect of this issue? Show me all those studies showing marijuana users to be more aggressive or violent than non-users. I won’t hold my breath waiting. That argument, like so many others you’ve presented on FTB, is irrelevant and smacks of acquiescence to authority worship.

  46. says

    Area Man, not to mention that it was also raining that night and even if it was Florida, it was probably chilly, so wearing a hoodie would be practical to keep one’s head dry and warm.

  47. Who Knows? says

    Excuse me, in no way, shape, form, or regard am I excusing Zimmerman’s actions here

    Bullshit.

  48. says

    The problem is that a defendant can claim “self-defense” even if he had gone out of his way to provoke the fight instead of staying away when he could have.

    And there is no evidence that Zimmerman was trying to provoke a fight. He’s the guy who called 911. It’s clear that he was initially following Martin while talking to the 911, which can in no way be assumed to mean that he was deliberately trying to provoke a fight. What’s unclear is what he and Martin each did over the next four minutes. What we do know is that they met, Zimmerman was most likely being beaten up, and that they were much nearer to Zimmerman’s truck than they were to the unit where Martin was staying.

    In the quoted passage, nice use of the charged word “stalking” when, in fact, we don’t know if Zimmerman continued to actually follow Martin or if he was trying to keep an eye on him at a distance or if Martin is the one who actually approached the creepy ass cracker. What I do know is that in common parlance, people we call stalkers don’t usually call the police while they’re in the act of stalking.

    To select one feature, that Martin was black, and say if this wasn’t true then Martin would be alive is a cute rhetorical device, but it isn’t worthy of a skeptic. We really don’t know what Zimmerman would have done if he spotted a white, Asian or Hispanic teen in a hoodie, in the dark, walking between buildings.

    Another selective fact to build a different narrative: we do know that Martin would almost surely be alive if concealed carry wasn’t legal in Florida, but there are probably a few people in Florida who would be dead now if concealed carry was illegal. But why isn’t the latter, the salient causative feature of the discussion?

    We also know that if Martin hadn’t been suspended from school, he’d probably be alive now.
    If his parents weren’t divorced, he’d probably be alive now.
    If he’d been a black teen from mostly white and wealthy Scarsdale, NY, he’d probably be alive because he’d have probably run straight home and called the police to report that a creepy man in the neighborhood was watching him.
    If Zimmerman had met Martin with his Dad at a neighborhood watch meeting, they’d probably have been friendly and Zimmerman would probably have been happy to know him.
    If there hadn’t been a series of burglaries in the neighborhood, there may have been no neighborhood watch or hypervigilant Zimmmerman, who was apparently already a depressed worry wort.
    If Zimmerman was on different meds, Martin might be alive.

    The social dynamics of race, crime, fear and aggression are far to complicated to represent with simplistic what-ifs.

    It’s also a shame that most white adults are fearful of black teens, but it isn’t without psychological cause. The cognitive error, the paranoid generalizations, run in the direction of protecting one’s own skin, so hypervigilance and paranoia, surely evolved tendencies, err on the side of broad suspicion.

    Recently I was talking with someone about Howard Street in Chicago, it’s the street that runs along the city’s northern border. He wanted to know if it was safe to walk around the el station area, which is a mostly black neighborhood. My advice was, keep your eyes wide open during the day and don’t set foot on the street there at night. The murder rate there is much lower these days than in the past, but the kids in that neighborhood aren’t known for their peacefulness or impulse control. One local sport is punching out middle aged white men, but in general, it isn’t the safest place for anyone.

    So Sunday afternoon, actually around the time of the Zimmerman verdict, we’re standing on the Howard El platform at about 4 and the police converge, close the street a couple blocks East and, well, Part I and Part II

    Then we have had a problem with mobs of black teenagers showing up by the hundreds downtown, with mobs beating up on white and Asian locals and tourists. Get off the underground downtown on a nice summer weekend and expect these days to be greeted by cops in fatigues with dogs. They’re the greeting reception for groups of black teens coming into town.

    When I’m walking around downtown Chicago and a group of black teens in baggy shorts and long white t-shirts is approaching from the other direction, you’d better believe I make it my business to cross the street. I feel bad that some perfectly nice teens might sense that the white guy is foolishly afraid of them, but I’ll take my chances with the group of Asian teenage boys from Hinsdale.

    If violence rates in typical black neighborhoods was similar to the rates of violence in typical white neighborhoods, if these incidents didn’t happen, white people wouldn’t be fearful of black teens. Just like if cops didn’t seem to have an inordinate rate of lying and violent beatdowns, I’m sure most of us and most black people, especially, wouldn’t be distrustful and fearful of cops. And hey, if you’re a woman in an elevator, why be frightened of a male who invites you to hang out in his room. Well, if he’d been a woman instead of a man…

    My point here isn’t to say violent black teens caused Martin’s death, or that it isn’t a terrible tragedy that should not have happened, but that you can enter the web of psychic causal chains and alter mindsets and outcomes at numerous points. To say the lesson learned boils down to “this one thing” is incredibly naive.

  49. says

    @Steve Sirhan #35 – “Finally, SYG’s been on the books for 8 years. Besides having apparent racial bias, it has a host of other problems. People who are outraged now (including to some degree, myself) … where were we years back?”

    I am fortunate enough to live in a relatively civilized state, one that does not have a stand your ground law; in Washington, murder is murder. I had never heard of such laws until this case made the national news.

  50. Steve Sirhan says

    Bee: My point isn’t about the media. It’s more about people in general falling for how the media played up this particular incident as a “story.”

    My note about SYG being around for eight years (although, again, it wasn’t invoked in this case) is simply that. Regardless of how some mainstream media played this particular story up, the law’s been around for 8 years. It’s been used by drug dealers in turf shootouts, at least one jealous spouse shooting his wife’s lover, and in cases of apparent anti-black bias. For people really concerned, where have you/we been? That is not all the fault of the “MSM.” It’s also liberal and civil liberties activitist organizations not warning us even more about this years ago.

    That said, it’s been on the law books 8 years. The Florida Lege has seen all the flaws in it. And still hasn’t changed it.

  51. francesc says

    “Show me all those studies showing marijuana users to be more aggressive or violent than non-users. I won’t hold my breath waiting.”
    Then you can show me how you can detect that someone has smoken pot by simply looking at him, from a distance, at noon, while he wears a hoodie. First step before argumenting that having marihuana in your blood is a good reason to kill you

  52. Steve Sirhan says

    Let me add (you all can Google the link) that Ta-Nehesi Coates, who’s as black as anybody on this thread and probably blacker than most, and as liberal as anybody on this thread, if not more liberal than most, says it was the right verdict.

    Now, like Ed, he also (as do I and others) sees this as an indictment of problems with our current criminal justice system. That’s different from this case.

    This is how the legal system operates, and Zimmerman simply was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, there’s enough doubt that even a civil suit by Martin’s parents isn’t a slam dunk.

  53. Alverant says

    #52
    “And there is no evidence that Zimmerman was trying to provoke a fight.”
    Except for when Z admitted to getting out of his car with a gun and approaching Martin because he was acting suspicious.

  54. slc1 says

    Re Gregory @ #34

    Yessir, why bother to have a trial and go by the law. Just take Zimmerman out and lynch him fro the nearest tree limb.

    Re Azkyroth @ #46

    Is Azkyroth disputing the testimony that, at the end, Martin was on top of Zimmerman banging his head against the pavement?

    Re Michael Heath @ #28

    If MH want’s to retry the Simpson case, I will be happy to accommodate him. However, I suspect it would be an exercise in futility as I have found that any attempt to engage in such activity is about as productive as engaging in a discussion of evolution with Ken Ham or a discussion of relativity with Schlafly fils.

    Just for the record, the prosecution in the Simpson case royally screwed up the case. Airhead Marsha and dimwit Darden were totally incompetent prosecutors who seemed more intent on getting on TV to impress their relatives then prosecuting Simpson (in fairness, the defense lawyers weren’t much better in regard to getting on TV). They deserved to lose. In football terminology, they lost on turnovers.

    Of course, the evidence collectors were also incompetent, failing to take into evidence a warmup suit in Simpson’s washing machine, which was probably what he was wearing on his trip to Bundy and evidence collector Dennis Fung telling the jury with a straight face that he only wore booties to protect his shoes from dirt.

    Now before I am accused of whitewashing Simpson, let me state that:

    1. I have no doubt that Simpson was present at the Bundy crime scene.

    2. I have no doubt that Simpson killed his ex-wife, although IMHO, it didn’t go down the way the prosecution claimed.

    3. I think that there is evidence ignored by the prosecution that there was a 4th party at the crime scene.

    4. I think there is at least an arguable case to be made that Simpson didn’t kill Ron Goldman and that, in fact, Goldman was dead before Simpson arrived at the Bundy crime scene.

    I am prepared to defend each of these assertions if called out.

  55. slc1 says

    Re Steve Sirhan @ #56

    In fact, there’s enough doubt that even a civil suit by Martin’s parents isn’t a slam dunk.

    I agree that it isn’t a slam dunk but I think they would have a considerably better then even chance of prevailing. The problem is getting an attorney to take the case on a contingency basis and collecting enough from Zimmerman to pay his fees in the case of a favorable verdict. Of course, if Zimmerman writes a book about his experience, suitably ghost written, and it sells well, that would be a pot of money to go after.

  56. Jordan Genso says

    And there is no evidence that Zimmerman was trying to provoke a fight. He’s the guy who called 911. It’s clear that he was initially following Martin while talking to the 911, which can in no way be assumed to mean that he was deliberately trying to provoke a fight.

    I had a different takeaway from him following Trayvon and calling 911, and it’s that he wanted someone to confront Trayvon. If the police weren’t going to do it, he would take it upon himself (may not be proven, but it’s pretty clear by the evidence).

    It used to be that we taught our kids to stand up to bullies. After this case, I wonder if we should rethink that advice?

  57. slc1 says

    Re Beezlebubby @ #49

    No disagreement there. I agree that the judge was absolutely correct to exclude such testimony, particularly because it was a very small amount. However, before jumping all over me and calling names, Beezlebubby should note that the comment was in response to a comment by Raging Bee @ #20 who complained about the judge excluding evidence of prescription drugs that Zimmerman was supposedly taking.

  58. Steve Sirhan says

    Slc, I’ll assume you’re being a poe about the OJ case, especially given that, in the last chapter of his book, he essentially confessed to the murder, without technically actually confessing to the murder.

    No, the Zimmerman case is nothing like the OJ case.

    It is, in some ways though, like the Duke lacrosse case.

    And, I’ve spent enough time here and I’m done for now.

  59. says

    By the way, one of the medical technicians who examined Zimmerman said that the injuries on his head didn’t seem serious. This is a very dangerous assumption as head injuries that appear superficial may not be indicative of possible internal injuries to the brain.

    You think a MEDICAL TECHNICIAN would be unaware of this?

    Jesus fuck, is there ANY authoritarian kool-aid [slc1] won’t drink?

    He hasn’t drunk any Islamist kool-aid, has he?

    I don’t see any racial epithets on the link…

    Yeah, “gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!” isn’t really a racist sentiment, as long as words like “spic” or “wetback” aren’t used.

    I have seen the context of the “those people” comment and IMHO, it is a stretch to equate that with black persons.

    It doesn’t matter who, specifically, it refers to, it’s still the same otherization and tribalism: I’m a good person, “those people” who are outside my circle are scary/inferior/untrustworthy/getting over on me/whatever.

    Yeah, I agree. It’s perfectly possible to commit outright murder, claim self-defense, and get away with it if there is no evidence to the contrary. I believe this has always been true.

    No, it hasn’t been, at least not to the same extent. it used to be that you couldn’t claim self-defense unless you did NOTHING to provoke the fight, and had no other way to get out fo it. Recent Florida law (and no, I’m not talking about SYG here) makes it easier to claim self-defense even in cases where the claimant started the fight or chose to fight when he could have retreated or escaped instead. These changes were made specifically to enable and encourage people like Zimmerman to stand and fight, even when running away is still an option. (And if Martin had survived to stand trial, he would have had exactly the same legal claim of self-defense as Zimmerman did, if not more of one. That’s just one more factor showing how stupid and unhinged Florida’s laws are.)

  60. slc1 says

    Re Who Knows @ #61

    I don’t think it is correct to state that I “defended” Zimmerman on that post. I think my position is quite clear, that Zimmerman was overcharged and that the jury was correct in finding the case no proven relative to 2nd degree murder and probably to manslaughter, based on the evidence and jury instructions. Had their been a lesser charge, such as the Florida equivalent of 2nd degree manslaughter in California, I would have a different opinion as clearly, Zimmerman was acting in a reckless manner by even having a gun with him on a neighborhood watch. I would note that the prosecutor, knowing that his chances were slim and none and that slim was probably on the bus headed out of town tried to get the judge to allow the jury to consider several less serious charges then manslaughter as lesser included and was turned down.

    I would suggest reading the comments of Ben P over there who, unlike myself and Michael Heath is an attorney.

  61. slc1 says

    Re Steve Sirhan @ #63

    No I am not being a Poe about the Simpson case. As I said, I am perfectly willing to defend everything I said in that comment.

  62. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #64

    For openers, I don’t know what training the ambulance technicians in that town have. However, apparently Zimmerman never went to the hospital to be examined by emergency room physicians. All the ambulance technicians can say is that the superficial injuries suffered by Zimmerman did not appear serious to them.

  63. thascius says

    @42-The judge actually agreed that the defense could introduce evidence of marijuana in Treyvon’s system, but the defense then chose not to. I don’t think they’ve said why, though some commentators suspected it was because marijuana usually makes people less aggressive, and if they’d introduced it the prosecution would have fought to introduce the fact that Zimmerman was taking Adderall, which can make people more aggressive. As for who was on top, some witnesses said it was Treyvon Martin, others said it was Zimmerman, it’s entirely plausible that the two were rolling around and each was on top at some point. And there is no way Treyvon could have been grabbed the gun had they been in the position that Zimmerman said they were in at the end, with Treyvon straddling Zimmerman and his knees at Zimmerman’s armpits, as the gun was (according to Zimmerman’s statement to the police) BEHIND his right hip. Treyvon would have had to twist around and reach behind himself and UNDERNEATH Zimmerman to reach it-without Zimmerman pushing him off. Just one of the points the prosecution made, but could have hammered a lot harder. Given FL’s laws the verdict may be technically right, but the laws are really screwed up if someone can provoke a fight, then when he’s getting his butt kicked in a fist fight pulls a gun and kills the other guy and gets off.
    @63-the only similarity I see to the Duke lacrosse case is that somebody made a lot of contradictory statements to the police that were contradicted by other evidence. Of course, in that case it was the accuser, not the defendants. Unless you believe, in the face of all the evidence, that the players really were guilty and got away with it.

  64. says

    And there is no evidence that Zimmerman was trying to provoke a fight.

    No, he was trying to provoke terror, capitulation, and passivity from his target. But not a fight, Heaven forefend.

    He’s the guy who called 911. It’s clear that he was initially following Martin while talking to the 911, which can in no way be assumed to mean that he was deliberately trying to provoke a fight.

    The fact that he got out of his car to PURSUE Martin, ignoring explicit advice from the 911 operator he called, when Martin was doing nothing dangerous or criminal that had to be stopped right away, does indeed mean he had chosen to start a fight.

    It used to be that we taught our kids to stand up to bullies. After this case, I wonder if we should rethink that advice?

    Such teaching generally included teaching kids to stand up to bullies only when forced or provoked. Or as the saying went in the movie, “Never start fights, always finish them.” And no, I see no reason to “rethink” such teachings.

  65. says

    Let me add (you all can Google the link) that Ta-Nehesi Coates, who’s as black as anybody on this thread and probably blacker than most, and as liberal as anybody on this thread, if not more liberal than most, says it was the right verdict.

    Sirhan, you are GROSSLY de-contextualizing what Coates said. And nothing Coates said refutes any of the arguments made here regarding the verdict.

  66. says

    #52
    “And there is no evidence that Zimmerman was trying to provoke a fight.”
    Except for when Z admitted to getting out of his car with a gun and approaching Martin because he was acting suspicious.

    Actually, he was asked if he was following Martin, not approaching him, and there’s a difference. A suspicious person might follow at a constant or cautious distance, which is definitely not the same thing as approaching, a word choice intended here, I think, to convey a supposition that it was Zimmerman who initiated a violent face-to-face with Martin.

    Still, approaching wouldn’t mean looking to provoke a fight. And while carrying the gun certainly may have emboldened Zimmerman to leave the safety of his truck, not necessarily to provoke a fight but because he would have believed that he could protect himself if the need arose. That is definitely not the same thing as wanting to provoke a fight. Zimmerman was also going to the store and he was going to get out of his truck at the store and buy something and approach the clerk with his gun. That wouldn’t mean that he was going to provoke a fight with the clerk. I’ve been approached by police officers with guns, and no intent to provoke a fight with me. In fact, I strongly doubt Zimmerman wanted to provoke an actual fight. I do suspect that he didn’t want to lose sight of Martin until the police arrived. And judging from the location where the physical encounter occurred, much closer to Zimmerman’s truck than the residence Martin was staying, and given the amount of time between the initial citing and the shooting, it would seem that Martin did more of the moving or approaching toward Zimmerman than the other way around, though, again, we can’t be sure because there is about 4 minutes there in which we really don’t know exactly what each person was doing.

  67. says

    AT Raging Bee:

    “The fact that he got out of his car to PURSUE Martin, ignoring explicit advice from the 911 operator he called

    Actually, that’s incorrect. He was out of his truck already, before he called 911, so he did not get out of his truck to pursue Martin against 911 advice.

    Now, the explicit advice was a question: are you following him? This came when Zimmerman was already out of his truck, wathcing and informing the 911 operator about Martin’s actions. She asked the question when Zimmerman said that Martin was running. Zimmerman answered, “yes,” indicating that he was following Martin at that point. The operator then said: “we don’t need you to do that.” Not, “don’t get out of your truck,” or “return to your truck.” Again, he was out of the truck already. After the operator told him not to follow Martin, Zimmerman said OK. I’m quoting here, exactly.

    Zimmerman says he stopped following at that point. There are then several minutes in which the movements of each person can’t be proven, except it is known that the fight and the shooting actually occurred much closer to Zimmerman’s truck then to the residence where Trayvon was staying. There was more than enough time, for Travyon to get home, if that’s where he was headed, and if Zimmerman was following him, the encounter should have, in that case, occurred outside the residence where Martin was staying, not near Zimmerman’s truck.

    In fact, Rachel Jeantel said that Martin was by the back door of the residence when she heard the confrontation begin, a claim that supported the Zimmerman following Martin narrative. Just one problem: the confrontation didn’t happen there.

  68. Jordan Genso says

    Raging Bee

    Such teaching generally included teaching kids to stand up to bullies only when forced or provoked. Or as the saying went in the movie, “Never start fights, always finish them.” And no, I see no reason to “rethink” such teachings.

    Really? You see no reason as to why, even if the bully started the fight, if you fight back, you could end up like Trayvon?

    It can’t be proven one way or the other as to who started the actual physical contact. It may have been Mr. Zimmerman, or it may have been Mr. Martin. But the result is the exact same- Mr. Martin is dead, and Mr. Zimmerman was found to be ‘not guilty’.

    Isn’t it entirely possible that Trayvon was following your “never start fights, always finish them” advice? Absolutely. That’s why I’m suggesting we may need to rethink that advice. The laws are set so that the bully can get away with it.

  69. says

    @SLC:

    Zimmerman was acting in a reckless manner by even having a gun with him on a neighborhood watch.

    Actually, Zimmerman wasn’t on a neighborhood watch, if you mean that in the sense of on some sort of neighborhood patrol. He was on his way to the store and he happened to see Martin. I agree with you insofar as whether he was on neighborhood watch or not, the idea of suburban civilians running around with guns tucked in their wastebands or holstered or whatever, strikes me as creepy and obviously likely to embolden a neighborhood worrywart who would probably have been more careful to avoid contact with Martin if he hadn’t had a gun. Which isn’t to say he wanted a fistfight to occur. I don’t imagine that people carrying guns actually want to end up wrestling with an opponent.

  70. kantalope says

    I think you are missing the narrative that Dr X and SLC1 are trying to sell.

    Treyvon Martin, for no reason, attacked Zimmerman who was innocently walking to his truck.

    That story totally tracks. Martin had gone to the store to get skittles and to look for a fat white guy to beat up.

    Dr X backs that up by pointing out that it was all Martin’s fault — for existing at all, I guess. (If his parents had not divorced…or ever met…or been white Europeans living in Berlin in the 1930′s? WTF)

    And Martin should have been charged with littering for bleeding all over the sidewalk. Anything else would be obvious overzealotry by the negrophile prosecutor.

    What a load of racist crap.

  71. says

    slc1, while the evidence certainly doesn’t support Zimmerman hitting Martin, trying to block his path or grabbing his arm would also be considered assault and give Martin a right to self defense. While it’s possible Martin just jumped him for no reason like he said, anyone who’s dealt with humans would find it more likely that Zimmerman confronted him and Martin was reacting to that. However, that’s very difficult to prove.

    @Raging Bee: I think the claim here is that Zimmerman should have been charged with manslaughter, not murder 2. The evidence on manslaughter was iffy, but it was pretty much non-existent on murder, which likely blew the case.

  72. daniellavine says

    One does not need to use racial epithets regularly to have been acculturated with strong racist assumptions. Even virulent racists frequently deny that they are racist at all.

    On the basis of the circumstantial evidence pertaining to Zimmerman’s racism and the fact that we’re all to some extent subject to a racist culture (but don’t necessarily see the racist assumptions at work because they don’t directly affect most of us) I’d say it’s a pretty safe assumption that Zimmerman was motivated by some degree of racism. Not “hang the boy from a tree” racism but “those types are always up to no good” racism. The type of racism that conservatives would call “street smarts” rather than “racism”.

  73. PatrickG says

    Many people on this thread keep saying SYG wasn’t invoked. This is partly true, but mostly false. Since I’m getting more than a little tired of watching people say this…

    Here’s the actual text of the bill as enrolled in 2005:

    ENROLLED

    2005 Legislature CS for CS for SB 436, 1st Engrossed (ntc)

    1

    2 An act relating to the protection of persons

    3 and property; creating s. 776.013, F.S.;

    4 authorizing a person to use force, including

    5 deadly force, against an intruder or attacker

    6 in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under

    7 specified circumstances; creating a presumption

    8 that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily

    9 harm exists under certain circumstances;

    10 creating a presumption that a person acts with

    11 the intent to use force or violence under

    12 specified circumstances; providing definitions;

    13 amending ss. 776.012 and 776.031, F.S.;

    14 providing that a person is justified in using

    15 deadly force under certain circumstances;

    16 declaring that a person has no duty to retreat

    17 and has the right to stand his or her ground

    18 and meet force with force if the person is in a

    19 place where he or she has a right to be and the

    20 force is necessary to prevent death, great

    21 bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible

    22 felony; creating s. 776.032, F.S.; providing

    23 immunity from criminal prosecution or civil

    24 action for using deadly force; defining the

    25 term “criminal prosecution”; authorizing a law

    26 enforcement agency to investigate the use of

    27 deadly force but prohibiting the agency from

    28 arresting the person unless the agency

    29 determines that there is probable cause that

    30 the force the person used was unlawful;

    31 providing for the award of attorney’s fees,

    Note there are two major sections to this bill. One amends §776.012 and §776.031 to add language removing the duty to retreat. This is Stand Your Ground. Right there, that’s it. That’s all that SYG laws mean: they remove the duty to retreat and add the right to, well, stand your ground.

    The other major component adds §776.032 to forbid arrest and provide immunity unless there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.

    When people keep bringing up that Zimmerman did not invoke SYG, they’re referring to §776.032, whether or not they realize it. Zimmerman could have requested a hearing to seek immunity from criminal and civil trial. He chose not to, instead opting for a jury trial with self-defense as legal strategy. Note that this section has nothing to do with the jury trial; instead, it would have prevented such a trial from taking place should the outcome be favorable to Zimmerman. On a side note, the defense publicly stated that they would consider seeking a §776.032 hearing after the prosecution presented their case, presumably if things were going poorly for Zimmerman.

    However, just because Zimmerman didn’t opt for a §776.032 hearing does not mean he’s not taking advantage of SYG, because the bill modified the definition of justifiable use of force in Florida statute.

    People keep saying he didn’t invoke SYG, and again, that’s partly true. He did not seek immunity from arrest and trial through a SYG pre-trial hearing, though I would predict that the moment he gets sued in civil court, he will do so.

    However, the claim is mostly false because SYG is now part of the criminal code, and the jury instructions specifically mentioned he had no duty to retreat. He didn’t have to stand up in court and declaim “I was standing my ground”, and people claiming that he didn’t use a SYG defense are either misguided or disingenuous in the extreme. SYG is now an inherent part of claiming self-defense in the first place, and that is where things have gotten truly fucked up.

    This may seem pedantic, but it’s an important distinction that people seem to either be unaware of or ignore.

    Also, if you want some links to the relevant code and some media reporting on this issue, go to my comment in Zingularity’s thread here, covering the same ground. I’m not in the mood to relink everything.

  74. slc1 says

    I think that this comment by Ben P on the Lousy Canuck’s blog, which Who Knows was kind enough to link to is highly relevant. AFAIK, all the commentary here has been from non-lawyers like myself who may be talking out of our nether orifices. Since MH rejects Jonathan Turley, I will repeat both the link and Ben P’s commentary. It should be noted that Ben P is an attorney.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2013/07/14/remember-zimmerman-on-fox-news-remember-marissa-thomas-remember-ralph-wald/#comment-115193

    The PROSECUTION should have used it, as Martin was standing HIS ground.

    The prosecution didn’t use this argument because it’s not a good argument.

    Martin was not on trial, Zimmerman was. Because of the subjective nature of the test for self defense, it is actually possible for both parties to a fight to successfully claim self defense and win. I’ve personally seen it in a simple assault case. (Both guys in a fight said they’d done what they’d done because they feared the other guy attacking them and were acquitted in separate trials).

    The prosecution had the burden to prove that it wasn’t self defense beyond a reasonable doubt. All zimmerman had to do was create “reasonable doubt” that it was self defense.

    The theory of the case that Zimmerman’s counsel presented was that Zimmerman got out of his car and followed martin (confronted him I guess?) and then was returning to his car when Martin attacked him, and was on top of him when Zimmerman pulled the gun out and shot him. The fact that the back of Zimmerman’s head and his nose were bloodied were at least consistent with this, as was expert testimony that the bullet wound was consistent with this theory.

    The prosecution had virtually no evidence contradicting this theory, primarily because Zimmerman is the only actual witness to the altercation.

    Remember the prosecution has the burden of proof and must prove it wasn’t self defense. There are basically two options at this point. (a) arguing that Zimmerman’s proof is faulty and should be disbelieved, or (b) admitting that even if you take Zimmerman’s scenario of what occurred (i.e. Martin physically attacked him) he still does not have a valid claim of self defense. Your argument appears to be the latter.

    At common law you could use lethal force if you reasonably fear for your life or great bodily harm. “you” Is subjective, as in the test is whether you actually believed you were in danger. However, your belief is compared against a hypothetical “reasonable person” who has your history and is in your situation..

    Again, if we’re constrained to admitting that Martin threw a punch first. The first big roadblock is that there is very little evidence as to what Martin was actually thinking. The closest thing is the girlfriend’s testimony that Martin said “there’s a creepy ass cracker following me.” Is that sufficient proof to show that Martin was in fear for his life?

    Second, typically at common law the “initial aggressor” is not allowed to claim self defense, however there’s an exception for when the “initial aggressor” retreats and is pursued.

    Again, Zimmerman’s theory, was that he got out of his car and followed martin, but was returning to his car when Martin attacked and landed the first physical blow. The prosecution had no real evidence to controvert this scenario. Who is the aggressor here?

    If a guy is following you on a public road, is that a valid reason to attack him? What if he’s following you and says “stay right there, I’ve called the police?” What if he’s just following you and says “hey you! Stop!”

    Then flip it back to Zimmerman’s perspective. if Zimmerman’s subjective belief is that Martin is a criminal (even if that belief is based solely in racist stereotypes), then Martin comes after him and lands the first punch. From Zimmerman’s subjective point of view, who’s the aggressor?

    This is where we come back to Zimmerman being on trial and not Martin. Hypothetically if Zimmerman was following Martin, and Martin assaulted Zimmerman, survived and was charged with Assault, Martin could have a self defense claim.

    But when the only real proof available establishes that Martin landed the first blow. It becomes very difficult to argue that any self defense claim by Zimmerman is invalid because by following Martin, Zimmerman invited Martin to come and attack him.

  75. says

    Which isn’t to say he wanted a fistfight to occur. I don’t imagine that people carrying guns actually want to end up wrestling with an opponent.

    And that points to how totally fucking stupid it is to carry a gun and think it will do you any good in situations where you don’t really have anything to fight for, like your house or your kids. Zimmerman probably just thought he could wave a gun and everyone would automatically cower and surrender, and when this one kid called his bluff, the gun was suddenly useless, at least temporarily. Even if Zimmermen isn’t a racist, he’s still a hot-headed idiot, whose gun only facilitated his idiocy.

  76. zmidponk says

    I want to ask – even supposing that it was Martin who initiated physical violence on Zimmerman in response to Zimmerman following him, would this not be Martin exercising his right to ‘stand his ground’? After all, we know, after the fact, that Zimmerman was merely an asshole who thought that a black teenager in a hoodie walking along the street was inherently suspicious, but the situation to Martin was that he was simply walking home when this weird white guy gets out of a car and starts following him. This could easily have meant that he thought he was about to get assaulted or mugged, possibly because he was existing whilst black.

    Now, to be honest, this still shows why ‘stand your ground’ laws are flawed, but it would mean that Martin was killed for simply exercising his legal rights – and yet his killer has been found ‘not guilty’.

  77. says

    When people keep bringing up that Zimmerman did not invoke SYG, they’re referring to §776.032, whether or not they realize it. Zimmerman could have requested a hearing to seek immunity from criminal and civil trial.

    I suspect that if Zimmerman had requested an immunity hearing, that whole section of the law would have been publicly exposed for the blatantly unconstitutional crap it is, and (hopefully) struck down on appeal for that very reason. Since when are people suspected or charged with crimes granted immunity from any trial?

  78. zmidponk says

    I see that SLC1 has posted something addressing my previous comment as I was typing it. However, it seems to me that Zimmerman actually created this whole situation by following Martin, and is therefore the ‘initial aggressor’, and I can only conclude that the jury found his claims that, despite being so concerned at the suspicious looking black teenager who is suspiciously walking along the street in a suspicious manner that he starts following him, he simply turns around and starts heading back to his car because the police dispatcher tells him that ‘we don’t need you to do that’ much more credible than I do.

  79. scienceavenger says

    I think a lot of people are starting off onthe wrong foot by speaking of racism as if its a binary attribute, instead of the gradiated feature of our psyche that it is. Is Zimmerman ready to be fitted for his white hood? Probably not. But does he see the world in a completely race-neutral way? Highly doubtful.

  80. says

    Raging Bee re 81

    I’m not a fan of carrying guns in public. Even if Zimmerman was carrying pepper spray that night instead of a gun, the two of them would have had, at worst, a very unpleasant experience and Martin would be alive. Again, I do wonder if without the gun, Zimmerman would have just stayed in the truck in the first place. He might have.

    I should add that pepper spray doesn’t just come up at random in my comment. I carry it. Never used it, but I am often enough in places where it could come in handy, and no one will die because I gave them a snootfull of pepper. It’s far from effective in every situation (just as a gun isn’t): you can’t responsibly use it in a crowd or a closed space, so I wouldn’t, but I think that maybe some people eschew it because it doesn’t supply one with the same courage as a handgun. But I think that’s a positive, not a negative, along with non-lethality.

  81. slc1 says

    Re Dr X @ #86

    I have not the slightest doubt that Zimmerman would have stayed in his truck if he hadn’t been carrying a gun. The gun gave him false courage.

  82. says

    “Now, like Ed, he also (as do I and others) sees this as an indictment of problems with our current criminal justice system. That’s different from this case.”

    The case was decided on the basis of fucked-up FL laws; that the decision is fucked-up should not be a surprise.

    Zimmerman’s a murdering piece of shit–convicted or not.

  83. aluchko says

    Dr X, glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed that about PZ’s blog. You don’t have to stray very far from the party line before the name calling starts.

    @zmidponk

    I think what gets Zimmerman off with regards to being the aggressor is the fact that all we can prove is that he followed Martin.

    Following someone around for any reason is weird, creepy, and somewhat threatening, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to turn around and beat them up. If there was something proving Zimmerman did more to provoke the fight then it’s manslaughter or murder.

    He’s still a wannabe cop with some degree of racial prejudice and he bears a ton of moral responsibility, but if all he did to provoke was follow Martin I don’t see how it’s murder.

  84. Michael Heath says

    aluchko writes:

    I think what gets Zimmerman off with regards to being the aggressor is the fact that all we can prove is that he followed Martin.

    Following someone around for any reason is weird, creepy, and somewhat threatening, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to turn around and beat them up.

    It’s far more than, “somewhat threatening” when someone is, “following” you. For example, in this very case, Zimmerman’s stalking resulted in his killing the young man he was, “following”.

    Black dads are now having a conversation with their sons about how to walk so you minimize the odds of being murdered.

    You’ve also created a scenario beyond the evidence. We don’t know that your narrow framing, Martin turned around and beat up Mr. Zimmerman, is sufficient to describe what happened. We do know that there was a confrontation, in which Mr. Zimmerman is responsible for this confrontation having occurred, and where in my not at all humble conclusion, Zimmerman negligently used his gun. “Negligently” since he was the person responsible for the confrontation, not Martin, and his getting his ass kicked given he was the perp did not justify his pulling his gun out and shooting Trayvon Martin in the chest.

    Mr. Martin is to be applauded for defending himself against his stalker, he did nothing deserving of being murdered by George Zimmerman.

  85. Jordan Genso says

    What bothers me most is that in order for George Zimmerman to be “innocent until proven guilty”, then that means by definition Trayvon Martin was “guilty until proven innocent”. When Zimmerman claimed self defense, the default is that Trayvon Martin deserved to die unless it can be proved otherwise. That’s seriously fucked up.

    I am a strong supporter of “innocent until proven guilty” in cases where it’s unclear if the person charged is the person who did the crime, but in a case where you know one person killed another, it’s unjust for the killer to get the presumption of innocence while the victim gets a presumption of guilt.

    The laws need to change so that the person who is killed is not “guilty until proven innocent”.

  86. says

    “The laws need to change so that the person who is killed is not “guilty until proven innocent”.”

    That will be happening in the same far distant future where GOP deficit reduction hypocrihawks leave their Congressional paychecks on the table.

  87. Michael Heath says

    Jordan Genso writes:

    What bothers me most is that in order for George Zimmerman to be “innocent until proven guilty”, then that means by definition Trayvon Martin was “guilty until proven innocent”. When Zimmerman claimed self defense, the default is that Trayvon Martin deserved to die unless it can be proved otherwise. That’s seriously fucked up.

    I think this is flawed logic; clearly Zimmerman committed a homicide where he was demonstrably negligent. That’s grounds for manslaughter. However and far more importantly, what Jordan describes is the exact thinking we observed from the juror interviewed by Anderson Cooper.

    That juror treated Zimmerman as the victim and Mr. Martin as the perp rather than what Martin actually was and always was, which was a victim of a racist stalker with a gun who used it on him. I think that juror conclusion and other rationalizations also clearly demonstrated her defective thinking comes from her being an oblivious self-denying racist, the most popular contemporaneous type in the U.S. She had the gall to argue it was Martin’s fault for getting killed because he didn’t walk way, as if Zimmerman wasn’t the stalker who should have walked.

  88. Jordan Genso says

    That juror treated Zimmerman as the victim and Mr. Martin as the perp…

    But isn’t that how the law tells the juror to approach the issue? That Mr. Zimmerman is innocent (aka the victim) until proven otherwise. Now in order for Mr. Zimmerman to be innocent, then Mr. Martin had to be guilty (aka the perp), until proven otherwise.

    That’s why I think the laws need to change. If I’m wrong about what the law is telling the juror to do though, please correct me.

  89. slc1 says

    Today’s column by Kathleen Parker, a relatively sane conservative, is worth reading, even though I’m sure that MH will be along to bad mouth her as he joins Al Sharpton’s lynch mob, and even though I usually disagree with her. Here’s the punch line:

    As soon as passions cool, assuming we let them, the discussion that needs to take place surrounds a question: What was George Zimmerman doing walking around his neighborhood armed and loaded? In what world is this normal behavior?

    The answer: Not a world most of us want to live in. Let’s start there.

    As I have stated on numerous occasions on this blog and others, sans gun, Zimmerman stays in his truck. The gun gave him false courage.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-unanswered-questions-in-trayvon-martin-case/2013/07/16/b154e1b0-ee44-11e2-a1f9-ea873b7e0424_story.html

    Re Michael Heath @ #95

    Although it is a total waste of time to discuss this event with MH, I really must take issue with the notion that Zimmerman is a racist. At no time did he use racial epithets during this encounter and, in fact, contrary to NBC’s doctored audio tape, the only time he even referred to Martin’s race occurred when we was queried by the 911 operator as to what Martin’s race was. In fact, an argument can be made that the only racial epithet that was used was by Martin who referred to Zimmerman as a cracker. I have a flash for MH, cracker is an alternate term for red neck, peckerwood, or white trash. It may not be as inflammatory as nigger or kike but it ain’t benign .

  90. Michael Heath says

    Jordan Genso writes:

    But isn’t that how the law tells the juror to approach the issue? That Mr. Zimmerman is innocent (aka the victim) until proven otherwise. Now in order for Mr. Zimmerman to be innocent, then Mr. Martin had to be guilty (aka the perp), until proven otherwise.

    What I bold is a non sequitur. That’s because you’re presenting a defectively narrow set of possible conditions. Both could have been innocent, and both could have been guilty, each to a continuum of possible crimes. To set the bar that Zimmerman is innocent unless proven guilty does not by default require us to concede that Martin is therefore guilty.

    In addition people illogically take the, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ truism too far. The fact is, and it’s true in this case, Zimmerman is suspected of a crime and was therefore charged, so Zimmerman’s state in relation to innocence is very different than someone, for example, who is unrelated to the case. That truism instead demands that we validate the charge with evidence which stands after we apply scrutiny. That standard also, in no way, requires us to make a conclusion of a guilt about the others involved. Again, both could have been innocent via self-defense laws.

  91. Jordan Genso says

    I do not agree.

    By definition, an innocent person can not intentionally kill another innocent person. If the victim is innocent, the killer is not. If the killer is innocent, the victim is not.

    The killer’s innocence relies on the victim’s guilt. Either the victim did something that justified them being killed, or they didn’t. If the victim was innocent, then the killer killed an innocent person, which has to be illegal. Otherwise we’ve legalized the intentional killing of innocent people. I see no other way around that conclusion.

    If a trial was held for Trayvon Martin, to determine whether or not he was guilty of any crime that would justify George Zimmerman killing him, he would have been found “not guilty”, because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that he initiated the physical confrontation. But if Trayvon Martin was not guilty of a crime, then George Zimmerman would’ve been guilty of killing an innocent person. The only way George Zimmerman is not guilty is if you presume that Trayvon Martin was guilty.

  92. Michael Heath says

    Jordan Genso writes:

    I do not agree.

    By definition, an innocent person can not intentionally kill another innocent person. If the victim is innocent, the killer is not. If the killer is innocent, the victim is not.

    Manslaughter provides varying degrees of negligence, some of which do not require proving intentionality.

  93. Jordan Genso says

    Manslaughter provides varying degrees of negligence, some of which do not require proving intentionality.

    Ok. But I’m not sure how that would dispute what I wrote?

    And from your previous comment, I agree that it is possible for both parties to be guilty. It’s them both being innocent which I think is by definition impossible.

    But if the killer’s claim is that it was “self defense”, then intention is admitted. If the killer’s claim was that it was unintentional, then it’s a whole different situation that doesn’t fall under what we’re discussing. The only way it would be both “self defense” and “unintentional” is if the killer was claiming that it was meant as a warning shot not aimed at the person.

    George Zimmerman was open about the fact that he killed Trayvon. He was open about the fact that he intentionally shot him. He said it was self defense. The only way it was justified is if Trayvon was guilty. To give Zimmerman the presumption of innocence requires that you give Trayvon a presumption of guilt.

  94. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #100

    The included lesser offense that Zimmerman was charged with is what is referred to in California as 1st degree manslaughter. There are lesser degrees, e.g. 2nd degree manslaughter. I don’t know what their counterparts are in Florida but the jury was not allowed to consider anything less serious then the Florida equivalent of 1st degree manslaughter. In fact, the prosecution tried to get the judge to include some of those lesser charges as lesser included but he gave them the thumbs down.

  95. says

    @MH:
    “We do know that there was a confrontation, in which Mr. Zimmerman is responsible for this confrontation having occurred”

    In a world where drawing a picture of Mohamed provokes some people to kill you, then people who draw Mohamed are responsible for the confrontations that ensue. In a world where people have choices about how to react to a sense of of insult or offense, we hold people respsonsible for initiating violence.

    In this case there is a lot we don’t know for sure, but as I’ve outlined the details, we are far from establishing criminal responsibity on Zimmerman’s part. I addressed the choice to use the word stalking in a previous comment. Michael, you’re usually better than that.

  96. slc1 says

    Re Dr X

    In this case there is a lot we don’t know for sure, but as I’ve outlined the details, we are far from establishing criminal responsibility on Zimmerman’s part.

    I can’t entirely agree with this. I would agree with the conclusion that there was a reasonable doubt as to whether Zimmerman’s actions amounted to 2nd degree murder or 1st degree manslaughter. However, I think a case could be made that his actions may have amounted to something like 2nd degree manslaughter. Clearly, Zimmerman behaved irresponsibly in following Martin after he had made a police report, not to mention carrying a gun while doing so. IMHO, the Martin family has a better then even chance in prevailing in a civil suit against Zimmerman for wrongful death provided they could find a competent attorney to take the case. Again, the problem is, does Zimmerman have any money or the prospect of getting some?

  97. aluchko says

    Michael Heath

    It’s far more than, “somewhat threatening” when someone is, “following” you. For example, in this very case, Zimmerman’s stalking resulted in his killing the young man he was, “following”.

    Black dads are now having a conversation with their sons about how to walk so you minimize the odds of being murdered.

    You’ve also created a scenario beyond the evidence. We don’t know that your narrow framing, Martin turned around and beat up Mr. Zimmerman, is sufficient to describe what happened. We do know that there was a confrontation, in which Mr. Zimmerman is responsible for this confrontation having occurred, and where in my not at all humble conclusion, Zimmerman negligently used his gun. “Negligently” since he was the person responsible for the confrontation, not Martin, and his getting his ass kicked given he was the perp did not justify his pulling his gun out and shooting Trayvon Martin in the chest.

    Mr. Martin is to be applauded for defending himself against his stalker, he did nothing deserving of being murdered by George Zimmerman.

    I’d say ‘stalking’ is creating a scenario beyond the evidence as it implies a more aggressive demeanour. We can prove following, and then we know there was a confrontation, but we don’t know how it started. We don’t have to know that the scenario of Martin turning around and beating up Zimmerman is true, I suspect it isn’t. But to convict Zimmerman we have to prove it’s false.

    As for the shooting itself be negligent. I severely doubt Zimmerman was in risk of death or serious injury, or that Martin was going for the gun (as Zimmerman said). That being said there’s multiple witnesses suggesting that Martin was on top punching and Zimmerman was calling for help. I can see a lot of people going into an irrational panic if a stranger they were already suspicious of is on top of them punching them in the head. I’ve heard paramedics dealing with people with concussions need to be careful since they’ll lash out for no reason. I’m not sure how to rule if we knew Zimmerman just panicked instead of had Martin go for the gun.

    Jordan Genso

    What bothers me most is that in order for George Zimmerman to be “innocent until proven guilty”, then that means by definition Trayvon Martin was “guilty until proven innocent”. When Zimmerman claimed self defense, the default is that Trayvon Martin deserved to die unless it can be proved otherwise. That’s seriously fucked up.

    I have no issue with the idea that Martin would also have been innocent if he had won. Self-defense means that Zimmerman had a rational reason to fear for his life, it doesn’t mean that fear was correct, or that Martin couldn’t have had the same rational fear.

    Note that we haven’t proven or assumed Martin guilty, and we haven’t proven Zimmerman innocent. We specifically found Zimmerman ‘not guilty’.

  98. Jordan Genso says

    Note that we haven’t proven or assumed Martin guilty, and we haven’t proven Zimmerman innocent. We specifically found Zimmerman ‘not guilty’.

    Right. But ‘not guilty’ can mean different things. Usually, ‘not guilty’ means that we can’t prove that the suspect did the crime. And I fully support “innocent until proven guilty” in those cases, every time.

    But this was ‘not guilty’ because it was determined that no crime was committed. That’s what the verdict means, that Trayvon Martin’s death was not a crime. And the only way Trayvon Martin’s death was not a crime in this situation is if Trayvon Martin was guilty of a crime himself and therefore his death was justified.

    If Trayvon Martin was ‘not guilty’ of anything, then George Zimmerman would have to be guilty. You can’t intentionally kill an innocent person and without it being a crime. I don’t see any way to get around that definition.

  99. sc_2d36966b15bcc3dd5f63e9f616ea7eaa says

    @106: That’s incorrect. The jury determined that it couldn’t be proven a crime had been committed. That’s not the same at all.

  100. aluchko says

    Jordan Genso,

    Imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk and see a man throw an old lady to the ground, savagely kick her, then pull out a gun and point it at her head.

    You run over, tackle the man to the ground breaking his arm in the process, then look around and notice they’re shooting a movie and the old lady is a stuntwoman.

    There’s no debate that you intentionally tackled him, and his arm broke as a result, but it’s hard to argue that you’re guilty of assault.

    Of course they could have marked off the set better, but the actor or the crew didn’t do anything illegal.

    This is obviously a contrived situation, but I wanted to make the point that it’s possible to have an intentional ‘crime’ that is still fundamentally an accident and nobody should be charged for.

    If we believe him Zimmerman didn’t intend to follow an innocent kid, nor did he mean to provoke the kid into a fight, or to have that fight go badly enough that he felt frightened enough to shoot. That doesn’t make Martin guilty of anything, it just makes it a tragic accident.

  101. says

    “That doesn’t make Martin guilty of anything, it just makes it a tragic accident.”

    If was no accident. It was the logical conclusion of a murderous scumbag with a gun acting out his vigilante fantasies.

  102. Jordan Genso says

    Now I am clearly not a lawyer, and so I’m enjoying the conversation for conversation sake, and I could very well be making incorrect statements.

    @107

    Fair enough. You are correct with that statement, although it still remains that the only way it wasn’t a crime (due to self defense) is if Trayvon was guilty. So if the verdict means we don’t know if it was a crime or not, but the default is that it wasn’t, that still means that the default is Trayvon was guilty.

    @108

    Let’s say I killed the actor. Someone would be responsible for his death, or it would be determined to be a situational accident. My defense would not be ‘self defense’. Let’s say that he pointed the gun at me rather than the stuntwoman, and it was a hidden camera show, and I had a gun, drew, and killed him. I would claim self defense. But I personally think that him pulling a gun and pointing it at an innocent person makes him guilty, regardless of whether he is just acting or not, just as the gun doesn’t have to be real. If you “pretend” to commit a crime, you have actually committed a crime (unless it is a controlled environment).

  103. aluchko says

    @109

    “It was the logical conclusion of a murderous scumbag with a gun acting out his vigilante fantasies.”

    But we don’t know if he was a murderous scumbag or someone caught up by circumstances.

    @110

    My point wasn’t to come up with a self-defense example, but something that was clearly a situational accident.

    There is an extent to which Martin’s death was a situational accident, Zimmerman wasn’t looking to kill Martin and Martin wasn’t going out to commit a crime. Just because it’s a situational accident doesn’t mean it’s not manslaughter, but it means that they’re both allowed to be non-guilty.

  104. Jordan Genso says

    If it was a situational accident, then it wasn’t self defense, as he claimed.

    It is possible to come up with a hypothetical scenario where what you’re saying could work, but the self defense argument that Zimmerman claimed would be something different.

    If it was shown that Zimmerman started the fight, it wouldn’t matter that he thought Martin would kill him, he would have been guilty of murder for killing Martin. If it was shown that Martin started the fight (committing assault), then Martin would be guilty. Now if it was somehow possible to show that both started the fight, I’m not sure, but I would think that Zimmerman would still be guilty, since he was a willing participant in the fight (just as Martin would have been guilty had he killed Zimmerman in that scenario). Now if it was a duel, where both participants agreed to fight to the death, then I have no idea, although I assume that dueling is illegal which would make them both guilty.

  105. says

    @ Jordan Jenso:

    Fair enough. You are correct with that statement, although it still remains that the only way it wasn’t a crime (due to self defense) is if Trayvon was guilty. So if the verdict means we don’t know if it was a crime or not, but the default is that it wasn’t, that still means that the default is Trayvon was guilty.”

    I don’t think that’s true because the burden of proof is with the prosecution, not the defendant. Zimmerman’s defense didn’t require him to prove beyond a reasonable that Trayvon was guilty of a criminal attack. You might say that rather than proving Trayvon guilty, Zimmerman only needed to convince the jury that the possibility that Trayvon was guilty was significant enough to raise reasonable doubt about Zimmerman’s guilt. Big difference between that and proving beyond reasonable doubt that Martin was guilty of something.

  106. says

    @Jordan Genso, that isn’t true. To win on self defense, you don’t need to be actually defending your life, just have a reasonable belief you are doing so. Otherwise, the law would require people to be psychic. Situational accidents where people act on the mistaken belief they are defending themselves are a result of self-defense law, not contrary to it.

  107. aluchko says

    If it was shown that Zimmerman started the fight, it wouldn’t matter that he thought Martin would kill him, he would have been guilty of murder for killing Martin. If it was shown that Martin started the fight (committing assault), then Martin would be guilty. Now if it was somehow possible to show that both started the fight, I’m not sure, but I would think that Zimmerman would still be guilty, since he was a willing participant in the fight (just as Martin would have been guilty had he killed Zimmerman in that scenario). Now if it was a duel, where both participants agreed to fight to the death, then I have no idea, although I assume that dueling is illegal which would make them both guilty.

    So I guess I’m in agreement with this, though if Martin started the fight I think the resulting assault offense would be a very mild one.

    That being said there’s still the burden of proof, finding Zimmerman not guilty doesn’t mean we find Martin guilty, it just means we don’t know.

    Say Alice, Bob, and Eve all enter a room. Ten minutes later Eve is dead and Alice and Bob both accuse each other of the crime. The only way for Alice to be innocent is for Bob to be the killer and vice versa. However, if no other evidence emerges Alice and Bob will both be found not guilty because neither can be proven to be the killer.

  108. Michael Heath says

    Dr. X writes:

    . I addressed the choice to use the word stalking in a previous comment. Michael, you’re usually better than that.

    Or, I don’t buy your rejection of the use of the term here; which is the case here. So, youre presenting a false restriction of alternatives.

    I find the evidence convincing that Zimmerman stalked Martin. I find the evidence convincing that Zimmerman was negligent in his actions. I find the evidence wholly unconvincing that Zimmerman committed 2nd degree murder, but convincing he should be guilty of manslaughter; even if Zimmerman thought his life was at risk when he pulled his gun out and shot to kill Mr. Martin – right in the chest. I hold the position we are responsible for our actions, where we have zero evidence Mr. Martin did anything wrong in justifying Zimmerman stalking and killing him.

    George Zimmerman’s negligence is directly responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death, justice would have him convicted of manslaughter.

  109. Jordan Genso says

    Zimmerman’s defense didn’t require him to prove beyond a reasonable that Trayvon was guilty of a criminal attack. You might say that rather than proving Trayvon guilty, Zimmerman only needed to convince the jury that the possibility that Trayvon was guilty was significant enough to raise reasonable doubt about Zimmerman’s guilt.

    That’s what I’ve been saying this whole time. Trayvon Martin, as the victim, is presumed guilty unless the state can prove he was innocent.

    That is way the system currently is, and that’s what I’m opposed to. The victim shouldn’t be guilty until proven innocent. If the victim was innocent until proven guilty, then Zimmerman would’ve been guilty until proven innocent (which I would not support). There needs to be a middle area where the jury can make a decision where the killer and the deceased are given the same legal protections.

  110. Jordan Genso says

    That being said there’s still the burden of proof, finding Zimmerman not guilty doesn’t mean we find Martin guilty, it just means we don’t know.

    Right, just as finding Zimmerman ‘not guilty’ doesn’t mean he is innocent, it just means we don’t know. But Martin isn’t afforded a trial of his own, where he only receives punishment if it is proven he was guilty. He already received his punishment, but we don’t go back and determine if he should have. It is presumed that he should have unless it can be proven otherwise.

  111. Jordan Genso says

    I recognize that I have a minority view on this issue, and having no legal education, it is based on nothing more than my opinion of what “should be”. I don’t like the idea that if someone kills me and claims it was self defense, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was innocent in order to prove that the killer was guilty. I understand that is the current system. I would prefer it wasn’t.

  112. Michael Heath says

    Jordan Genso writes:

    Trayvon Martin, as the victim, is presumed guilty unless the state can prove he was innocent.

    That is way the system currently is, and that’s what I’m opposed to.

    It’s not the way the system currently is. Again, you don’t necessarily have to start with a presumption of guilt by Martin to find Zimmerman not guilty. I get your logic and have from the first post where you raised it, but it’s a rabbit hole that has you denying the reality other alternatives do in fact exist.

    These jurors could have, and I argue should have, easily found Zimmerman guilty with the laws as they stand now; including the SYG law. That’s simply done by conceding the fact Zimmerman was demonstrably negligent on several counts, from his stalking Martin to shooting Martin in the chest.

    Criminal negligence by Zimmerman is beyond a reasonable doubt even if the evidence revealed that Martin defended himself from his stalker by attacking him first. However, the evidence did not reveal Martin preemptively and physically defending himself from his stalker first; I’m just pointing that alone is not a sufficient impediment to allay responsibility from Zimmerman stalking and ultimately shooting an unarmed young man / boy in the chest.

  113. Michael Heath says

    Jordan Genso writes:

    I recognize that I have a minority view on this issue, and having no legal education, it is based on nothing more than my opinion of what “should be”. I don’t like the idea that if someone kills me and claims it was self defense, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was innocent in order to prove that the killer was guilty.

    They don’t. You are correct this flawed thinking was used by some jurors.

  114. Jordan Genso says

    Yes, my entire argument has been based on wrong understandings of the law. According to this article:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/trayvon-martin-and-the-irony-of-american-justice/277782/

    It is entirely possible for the jury to believe that Zimmerman started the fight, but then found himself in a situation where he was in fear for his life, and so he killed Trayvon Martin in self defense. The article is saying that according to the law, the jury could believe that Martin was completely innocent, yet Zimmerman still had the right to legally kill him.

    That’s fucked up. And the laws need to change.

    Sorry I took us down this other discussion that was based on my ignorance.

    I do agree with you Michael that Zimmerman’s negligence should have been used against him.

  115. says

    I do agree with you Michael that Zimmerman’s negligence should have been used against him.

    A wrongful-death suit against Zimmerman might be the best way to accomplish this.

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