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George Zimmerman found …. Not Guilty

I’ll update it when the verdict comes in, reportedly any second now. I bet I won’t have to change this part though: people are going to go bananas over the verdict no matter what it is. They will spin implausible arguments involving unlikely conspiracies …

Update 9 PM Central: ********************************* Not Guilty ******************************

Comments

  1. grumpyoldfart says

    There’ll be a swagger in his walk tomorrow when he struts down main street with a big iron on his hip.

  2. poolboy says

    “Banana’s” eh? Are you trying to say “chimp out”?

    Man, racism and ineptness in parts of the US is amazing. He drove a kid down, then chased him with a gun – because he was black, after the police said not to – and murdered him. And he got away with it. USA.

  3. magistramarla says

    I’m angry, too. However, this is what I expected – it is Florida.
    I would have expected the same verdict here in Texas.

  4. cubist says

    Florida’s “Stand your ground” law says that it’s okay to use deadly force if you genuinely fear for your life.

    George Zimmerman killed a black man and got away with it.

    Is it just me, or does every black person in Florida now have a reason to genuinely fear for their life if they’re within firing distance of George Zimmerman?

  5. unbound says

    All the focus was on the final moment instead of the real issue…why was there any confrontation to begin with. Zimmerman started something that didn’t need to be started and got away with murder. I shudder to think how many other vindictive shits are going to pull the same thing…just taunt or harass someone until they take a swing at you, then shoot away….

  6. New England Bob says

    I believe the verdict is legally correct, the prosecution did not prove its case, but Zimmerman should have stayed in his car after calling the police. Morally, he is wrong.

  7. says

    Florida’s “Stand your ground” law says that it’s okay to use deadly force if you genuinely fear for your life.

    Makes you wanna try it on a District Attorney, eh?

    I have NOT been following the case carefully but I’m amazed that chasing someone down the street with a gun, then shooting them, is “self defense.” Self defense always seemed to me like you’re, you know, not seeking conflict and it’s forced on you – like it was on Trayvon.

  8. PatrickG says

    Well, speaking of conspiracy theories, this is suddenly going around on Facebook.

    @New England Bob: You hit the nail on the head there, in my opinion. Under Florida law, predictable outcome. Under any standard of common sense and decency, not so much. But then, I’m just a crazy liberal or some such.

  9. jufulu says

    Just got home from work and this was the second thing we talked about. As a thought experiment, say Trevon also had a gun and shot first after being followed by Zimmerman. I’m wondering (no, not really) if he would have gotten off?
    I am so f’n pissed off. Not surprised tho.

  10. brucegee1962 says

    Let’s assume a white teenager is walking through a black neighborhood when he notices a black middle-aged man is following him in a car. This creeps him out, so he waits for the guy to get out of the car, then tackles him. The older man then pulls out a gun and blows him away. Is this man also going to be acquitted, Florida? Because if he isn’t, then you’ve got a lot of explaining to do, Florida.

  11. gshelley says

    Florida’s “Stand your ground” law says that it’s okay to use deadly force if you genuinely fear for your life.

    Zimmerman did not use “Stand your ground”. He claimed self defence. Whether he stalked Martin is not relevant. Whether the police told him to stay away is not relevant. What matters is whether Zimmerman was being beaten by Martin and had reasonable fear of severe bodily harm. The defence argued that he was, the prosecution that he wasn’t. The jury either believed the defence or thought that the prosecution had failed to make their case and thus left reasonable doubt.

  12. slc1 says

    Before the lynch mob forms to hang George Zimmerman from a sour apple tree, consider the analysis of the entire affair by George Washington Un. law professor Jonathan Turley.

    I have said from day one that the case was overcharged. Recall that the police officer who was in charge of the crime scene, after interviewing the ambulance technicians and Zimmerman, wanted to charge him with manslaughter, which advice was rejected by the DA. That was the correct charge. The charge of 2nd degree murder was piffle and political. As Turley says, the prosecution put on a weak case with many of their witnesses helping the defense case. Don’t accuse the jury of jury nullification, as all too many “experts” charged the OJ Simpson jury with. Based on the law of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution didn’t come close to meeting that burden.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/07/14/jonathan-turley-on-zimmerman-case/2515397/

  13. yellowsubmarine says

    I don’t understand how a self defense argument would fly either. If someone assaults someone else and then fears for their life because their victim is fighting back and proceeds to kill them….they get off? That makes no sense what-so-ever. You could attack anyone you wanted, claim to fear for your life, then kill them. The only way that might backfire is if your victim curled up into the fetal position and didn’t defend themselves at all, which is an INSANELY unreasonable burden to put on the victim of assault. Shouldn’t self defense arguments only hold water if the defendant isn’t the one who frikken initiated the conflict?

    Add to that the fact that we’re never going to know who threw the first punch or when the gun came out. I can’t see how it’s possible that Zimmerman was successfully jumped by a high schooler that he was tailing. I mean he was STALKING the kid ffs. Unless he just did an incredibly awful job of it and gave Trayvon the opportunity to hide. And then blundered around in the dark looking for the person he was supposed to be tailing. Like an idiot.

  14. unbound says

    @slc1 – I personally do not dispute the legal findings. But I also understand that law is not perfect and should be continually improved.

    There was a time when you could, say, cut the rope that kept a boat tied to a dock. The boat (now floating down the river) smashes another dock and is itself destroyed. A long time ago, you could only be charged with the destruction you did to the rope, and you would only need to buy the owner a new rope. Those flaws in the legal system were fixed. We were smart enough to understand that charging the person only for the rope when everything else damaged was a predictable result was, well, stupid.

    This is another such time. Legally, Zimmerman probably could not be convicted of murder, despite the fact that he did murder, as a result of the limitations of the current laws. This should not be satisfactory to anyone. We are not this stupid. Zimmerman created the conditions by which he was able to commit murder. He followed the kid into a secluded place and initiated a confrontation while having superior arms (his gun). It’s time to not only eliminate the “stand your ground” law, but start upgrading the law to account for this type of condition.

  15. slc1 says

    Re unbound @ #19

    I don’t know why people keep bringing up the stand your ground law when Zimmerman didn’t invoke it in his defense.

    Furthermore, Zimmerman’s story is that he has stopped following Martin and had started back to his car when Martin confronted him. This may be a lie but the prosecution failed to prove otherwise. The problem here is that, if Zimmerman had not had the gun, he would, in al probability not have gotten out of his car and followed Martin. The gun gave him false courage.

    As I stated, the preponderance of the evidence is that Martin was on top of Zimmerman and giving him a good going over just prior to the fatal shot. This is supported by the fact that Zimmerman is the one with the injuries; the only injury Martin exhibited was the gunshot wound.

    I think that Jonathan’s OPED, which I linked to in #17, is on the money. The prosecutor had a weak case, particularly for 2nd degree murder, and the defense did a good job of driving a truck through the holes in that case. The rules of jurisprudence are quite clear, if there is a reasonable doubt, the jury must acquit and there was a lot more then a reasonable doubt in this case, at least for 2nd degree murder.

    IMHO, the 2nd degree murder charge was placed, both for political reasons and as a typical prosecutor overcharge to force a guilty plea on a plea bargain to a lesser charge. Unfortunately for the prosecution, the defense saw through it and forced a trial. Prosecutors do this all the time; if advice of the officer, who was in charge of the crime scene and who questioned the ambulance attendants and Zimmerman, which was to arrest Zimmerman and charge him with manslaughter had not been rejected by the
    DA, this whole affair probably would have been over a long time ago with possibly a guilty verdict or a plea bargain to a lesser charge then manslaughter and a lot less aggravation to all concerned.

  16. PatrickG says

    @slc1:

    I don’t know why people keep bringing up the stand your ground law when Zimmerman didn’t invoke it in his defense.

    Because, if you did a bit of research, you would find it played a role in the trial, even if the defense didn’t present it.

    If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony

    That’s from the jury instructions issued by the judge, under the section “Justifiable Use of Deadly Force”. Page 12, for your reference.

    Again, you’re correct that the defense didn’t choose to base their case on SYG laws. However, that doesn’t mean they were irrelevant or played no significant part in this case. There’s more to the Florida SYG law than just allowing it to be presented as an explicit defense in a jury trial.

  17. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    I don’t understand this whole “but he didn’t invoke this law” thing. Laws aren’t magic spells that you need to recite before they work, they’re laws. Rules. Always in effect.
    If what you mean to say is that he didn’t bring it up as part of his defense, then that’s true, but the point is he didn’t have to. It was brought up for him because the rules applied in somebody’s interpretation.

    If anyone says that you have to specifically call on a law to protect yourself from injustice then they’re either malicious or misinformed. Laws apply to everyone affected by them in the society that they service at all times.* Same with rights. Well… in theory anyway. We all know that with people involved, stuff gets messy, fast.

    *there may be exceptions to this, but I am not aware of any.

  18. slc1 says

    Re #22

    As I understand it, it is a requirement of the stand your ground law that, if a defendant want’s to invoke it, he/she must inform the judge prior to the trial. The defense specifically told the judge that they were not going to invoke it before the trial began.

  19. slc1 says

    Re patrick @ #21

    Pretty hard to retreat whn the othe rguy is on top of you and beating your head against the sidewalk.

  20. PatrickG says

    @ slc1: I’ll leave your rather twisted interpretation of events alone for the moment and just restate, once more:

    The Stand Your Ground law redefined the definition of Justifiable Use of Force in Florida. The judge is required to instruct the jury as to this definition when evaluating whether Zimmerman’s conduct was unlawful, and thus whether justifiable.

    Or, to put it another way, it’s completely dishonest to claim that the SYG law was not involved in this case, when I posted the jury instructions that clearly show that it is.

    Or, to put it yet another way:

    As I understand it

    Your understanding is wrong. Stop being disingenuous, and try actually reading. It’s not hard. I’ve even given you helpful links.

  21. slc1 says

    Re PatruckG

    Excuse me, as is required, the defense informed the judge before the trial began that they were not going to invoke the stand your ground law. Their defense was self defense, namely that Zimmerman was in fear of great bodily harm because, according to him, Martin was on top of him banging his head against the sidewalk. By the way, I’m not sure that this is the current understanding of the stand your ground law in Florida. According to Wikipedia, the stand your ground laws essentially say the following: Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from other locations. “Stand Your Ground”, “Line In The Sand” or “No Duty To Retreat” laws thus state that a person has no duty or other requirement to abandon a place in which he has a right to be, or to give up ground to an assailant. Under such laws, there is no duty to retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be.

    Note that the judge’;s instruction add the following caveat: If
    George Zimmerman
    was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any
    place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his
    ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was
    necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent
    the commission of a forcible felony.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-your-ground_law

    There has been much speculation as to who was on top as on witness thought that Martin was on top and others thought that Zimmerman was on top. The speculation assumes, incorrectly that this means that, ipso facto, one of these perceptions must be wrong. Let me posit another hypothesis, namely that at first, Zimmerman was on top and sometime later, Martin was able to throw him off and he ended up on top. Thus, all the witnesses may be correct in their perceptions. Of course, such an explanation never occurred to the “commentators” in the lame stream media.

  22. PatrickG says

    @ slc1:

    And we’re at argument from wiki. Ok, since you’re continuing to (deliberately?) not understand the actual laws involved here, let me break it down for you.

    It’s really quite simple, for those willing to look at primary sources (i.e. y’know, the freakin’ laws involved). The SYG law, as enacted, changed the definition of what constitutes justifiable defense, specifically by adding that particular coda. Instead of wiki, why don’t you follow the link I provided you, which is the actual text of the law, and the statute under which Zimmerman’s lawyers pled his defense.

    Since you’re so completely missing the point, let’s do a bit of a history lesson here. Here’s the so-called SYG bill itself in its entirety. You might want to read it.

    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,

    Again, for the willfully dense, this bill amends and adds to the existing statute for Justifiable Use of Force. To wit, sections 776.012 and 776.013. There is no “SYG defense” in the context of a jury trial. The SYG bill redefined the existing self-defense statutes. It has jackshit to do with Zimmerman’s legal defense in front of a jury.

    But wait! So what’s all this about Zimmerman choosing not to seek a SYG defense. What you are completely and miserably failing to understand is that the invocation of a SYG defense is actually a request to secure immunity from charges and trial. See section 776.032, or perhaps you can read this from CNN.

    George Zimmerman, set to stand trial in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, on Tuesday waived his right to a “stand your ground” pretrial immunity hearing. Zimmerman’s attorneys have decided they will try this as a self-defense case.

    In a pretrial immunity hearing, a judge would have ruled whether Zimmerman’s actions were protected under the “stand your ground” law; a ruling in favor of the defendant would have meant that no criminal or civil trial could proceed.

    That clear enough for you? The decision to not use the SYG defense meant there was no pre-trial hearing to determine whether or not to even have a trial. You keep insisting that the decision to not use SYG actually had bearing on the trial itself. It did not, and I hope that clears this up.

    While we’re at it:

    During Tuesday’s motions hearing, Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara told Judge Debra Nelson there was nothing in the law that required the immunity hearing to take place before Zimmerman’s trial. O’Mara said the hearing could be requested after the defense has presented its case, but “we’d much rather have the jury address the issue of criminal liability or lack thereof.”

    From the same article, the prosecution speculates that Zimmerman’s lawyers opted for this route specifically to obviate the need for Zimmerman to enter testimony, which I gather would have definitely been necessary at the pretrial hearing. Now, the defense wanted to hold their options open, and if the trial had gone worse for Zimmerman, they probably would have demanded an immunity hearing, which would not have happened in front of the jury. Let’s repeat that: the SYG hearing has fuck-all to do with the jury trial.

    In short: Zimmerman did not invoke a SYG defense in the jury trial, because that’s not how the fucking law works and there is no such defense. Your point is flat-out wrong.

    Now that we’ve gone through this, can you please stop spouting off completely misleading and false information? It’s kind of a shitty thing to do, don’t you think?

    Jebus on a cracker.

  23. slc1 says

    Re PatrickG @ #27

    I stand pat. We will just have to agree to disagree, hopefully not disagreeably on this matter.

  24. slc1 says

    Aside from the issue of the stand your ground law, there was an interview with one of the jurors last night, cited in the attached link. According to that juror, the 2nd degree murder charge was dismissed very early on and the rest of the discussion was over the lesser included manslaughter charge. Based on the manslaughter jury instruction, the jury concluded that the evidence did not support a manslaughter conviction either. Interestingly enough, there apparently was a sentiment for convicting Zimmerman of something, but the jurors didn’t have that option.

    This is the vice of overcharging in a weak case. There is a possibility that, had the top charge been manslaughter, as the police officer in charge of the crime scene had recommended to the DA, which recommendation was rejected by the latter, the jury might well have convicted on a lesser included charge of the manslaughter charge (I don’t know what that would be in Florida, it is my information that it would be 2nd degree manslaughter in California).

    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

  25. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    I cannot even begin to imagine how Trayvon Martin’s family and friends feel about this disgraceful verdict but they have my sympathies for whatever little that’s worth.

    I hope this leads to changing the rules and marks a turning point for the better.

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