Sunday, July 14, 2013

George Zimmerman Walks Free

A great many people will have an opinion on the George Zimmerman verdict.  The fact remains that a jury found him not guilty.  It does not sit well with me that Zimmerman is walking free, but I think the problem is that the jury had to decide whether second degree murder applied to this case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second degree murder is defined this way:

second degree murder n. a non-premeditated killing, resulting from an assault in which death of the victim was a distinct possibility. Second degree murder is different from First Degree Murder which is a premeditated, intentional killing, or results from a vicious crime such as arson, rape, or armed robbery. Exact distinctions on degree vary by state. (See: murderfirst degree murdermanslaughter)
Anyone who has heard the call from George Zimmerman to 911 knows that the dispatcher told him he did not need to follow Trayvon Martin.  He chose to get out of his car and follow the young man, knowing that police were already on the way.  What we don't know for sure is whether Zimmerman started the violent confrontation, and that's where the reasonable doubt enters into the minds of the jury.

It sucks.  It seems Zimmerman should be charged with something, because as I've written in the past, if I were seventeen again, and I knew some strange man was following me down the street, I'd either knock on the nearest door and get the person to call 911, or I'd turn and fight.  Being young and hot-headed, I probably would have confronted the guy to make him think I'm not worth following anymore.  So maybe Trayvon Martin did start the violent conflict, but what the hell was Zimmerman doing following him?  Who the hell is he to confront someone walking down the street?  If you're in a neighborhood watch, you are there to observe and report, not stop people who are walking down the street because you think they look suspicious to you.

I'm not sure the charges fit.  I want them to fit, as I'm sure many other people do--we do know that it is true--beyond a reasonable doubt--that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.  It does seem that he should be charged with something, though.  Manslaughter.  Stalking.  Vigilantism--he was trying to replace the police by following Martin himself.  Something.  I consider Zimmerman's behavior to be dangerous to society, and I don't think he should just walk free, knowing that he definitely killed someone.


Ben Arnold said...

I knew Z would not be charged with 1st degree murder, but certainly with 2nd or manslaughter. He was, in fact, stalking the boy, but that's not necessarily against the law unless one has a restraining order against the stalker. I can't say I'm clear on that point.

Manslaughter is hard to prove, but nevertheless applies because Z was in a violent confrontation, regardless of who started it, in which he killed T. It's an unnecessary death, a wrongful death, which likely will go against him in civil court because that, like OJ's civil suit, does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

I truly expected Z to be found guilty on the manslaughter charge, but I did not hear or read all of the allowed evidence, as did the jury. I do expect he will have a harder time of it in civil court, should the family pursue that course.

I further expect that Z has had some financial backing for a top-notch defense attorney and will continue to have donations come in from perhaps questionable sources, but one would hope he'll lose the civil case and never again be as financially secure as he once might have been.

If T's family and community keep level heads over this setback, keep from eroding public sympathy, and take Z to civil court on a wrongful death charge, they'll have a good chance of prevailing and at least ruin Z financially. Also, Z will forever be known as the bully who stupidly caused a young man's death.

As for the "Stand Your Ground" law, this should not apply although, again, there are no witnesses to say whether Z flashed or wielded his gun openly. The Stand your Ground law only means that one does not have to run, as was the case with the old law, try to escape until left with no choice but to draw one's weapon to be used as a counter-threat or actually discharged.

Should Z have threatened the boy with the firearm in any manner, as I expect he did, the boy had every right to try to defend himself by fighting the bigger man and/or taking the gun away from him.

A Concealed Weapons license stipulates that it remain concealed unless a dire need to draw it arises; and that includes telling a person one is armed, which is considered Assault in Florida. It's a deadly threat, either way, to flash, notify of or pull a weapon on someone without just cause. If T did try to take the weapon away from Z, then he had to know, one way or the other, that Z was carrying.

As in OJ's case, the aggrieved family should file unlawful death, civil charges against Z and, if necessary, ask the ACLU attorneys for assistance, should they not already have volunteered to represent them. Perhaps the family will gain some closure, even though Z won't go to prison for his crimes.

Catmommy said...

Greg: I am so furious about this joke of a verdict down in Crackerland that I had to publish something about it on my own blog;my anger had made me forget that I could do that. Thank you for giving me a healthy way to channel my rage. I always find your blogs enlighteing and interesting. You are a great writer.


Greg Reich said...

Ben, well said. I appreciate your thoughts.

Greg Reich said...

Catmommy, always good to hear from you, and it doesn't happen often enough anymore. Probably my fault, actually. Thanks for the compliment. I will have to check your blog article.