There are many who will say that this unexpected verdict is just another example of the racist justice system that exonerates Whites who perpetrate crimes against a persons of color, proving once again that there is “No Justice, J-U-S-T US [against Them].” The all-White female jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the murder of Black teenager Trayvon Martin. Was this a case of ‘racial profiling’ similar to Driving While Black (DWB), or rather in this particular situation, wearing a “hoodie” and seen walking in a neighborhood where Trayvon wasn’t expected to be and he stood out like a sore thumb? I found the last day of the trial quite interesting, especially when the Judge’s instructions and the Prosecutors closing arguments to the jury before their deliberation where they were told, “Although there might not be enough proof. . .”
Additionally, the judge instructed jurors to consider Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in their deliberations, but it was not an issue in the case because Zimmerman wasn’t on trial for violation of that criminal statute, but for Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter. To me this is a technical error that should be challenged legally on the grounds that such statements would or should have cast some doubt in the minds of jurors, causing bias and possibly influencing them to render a fair and impartial decision. The other aspect of the trial that was the most important concerns the charges of Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter. In order to prove this accusation or charge in Court the Prosecution had to raise the threshold from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to almost “absolute certainty” in the mind of jurors to get a guilty verdict.
I don’t think the evidence and witness testimony were sufficient to prove that George Zimmerman “murdered” Trayvon Martin intentionally, but rather that there is the likely possibly he unwittingly “caused the death” of this teenager. Using BUT/FOR and “IT IS REASONABLE THAT” analogy in Criminal law- BUT/FOR George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin he would not have died [on that day]. IT IS REASONABLE THAT in a struggle involving someone with a gun such a person could get killed. The issue for me is not so much the absence of any person of color on the jury panel, but that the elements were present according to FL Criminal Law Statutes, as in the following:
(1)(a) The unlawful killing of a human being:
2. When committed by a person engaged in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:
n. Aggravated stalking,
a) “Harasses” means to engage in a course of conduct, directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose. “Aggravated stalking” requires the stalker to willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follow or harass another person, and make a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.
Also, was there structural racism from the very beginning because the Sanford FL police initially arrested then quickly released Zimmerman at the beginning and the Police Chief refused to even charge George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin until public opinion and comments by President Obama put pressure on law officials to at the very least re-arrest Zimmerman? Although the State has the Burden of Proof and in this trial strategy Prosecution orchestrated the appearance of equal justice, and entertained trial-watchers like a Three-Ring Circus, the outcome had all but been decided, as the evidence submitted during Discovery was flimsy or inconclusive they more or less ensured Zimmerman’s acquittal on all charges?
I think one of the things that everyone seems to gloss over is what the one unnamed juror that has been speaking out about the case. She says that initially 3 of them (including her) found Zimmerman ‘not guilty’ but 2 jurors found Zimmerman ‘guilty’ of Second Degree Murder and the final juror found him ‘guilty’ of Manslaughter. My question is this: “How could 3 jurors after the 16 ½ hours of deliberation reverse their previous positions in such a radical shift of opinion where all of them completely change their minds and found Zimmerman innocent of all charges?” I can understand if one, maybe two of the jurors changed their minds, but all three; this is highly irregular and I think there should be an investigation into jury tampering because at the very least the verdict should have resulted in a hung jury (5 votes for acquittal and 1 vote for guilty). This would have meant a retrial at a later date and a more reasonable judicial outcome instead Zimmerman walking with no culpability for Trayvon’s death whatsoever.
I am also critical of the media’s role in ‘racializing’ the issue in such a way that everyone is so caught up in this incident that they are using Trayvon’s death, as well as his parents grief to further their own personal agendas. There has been a lot of talk about possibly revising “Stand Your Ground” laws in about 30 states, and even the NRA has weighed in on this by saying that this is a Second Amendment issue, and still for others it is another case of “racial profiling” (wearing a ‘hoodie’). While all these concerns are legitimate there might be an even bigger debate that needs to be enjoined besides the one race relations, namely-America’s wild, wild, west shoot-em’-up mentality; and walking around with a gun on your hip. All of the frenzy distracts us from the real deal here, and that is George Zimmerman made a stupid decision, a rush to judgment, and because of his careless and reckless abandon of common sense and responsible behavior, unwarranted and unprovoked actions, caused the death of a black teenager.
President Obama was mistaken when he said that if Trayvon Martin had been carrying a gun when Zimmerman came up on him then he would have been legally justified in shooting Zimmerman under the “Stand Your Ground” law. The problem with his example is that if Trayvon would have had a gun, and being a Black teenager, I am not so sure that the FL law and the Prosecutor would have seen it quite so simply. I think Trayvon would have been charged with felony Assault or attempted Murder, and if Zimmerman would have been killed, Trayvon would have been charged with Murder and convicted by an all-White jury. The reality is this-If Trayvon had been a White kid that Zimmerman shot and killed we wouldn’t even be talking about this because Zimmerman would have been charged and found guilty of Murder-case closed. The one good thing about our system of justice is that it has many layers and Zimmerman is not out of the woods yet because the attorney for the Martin family can appeal the decision to the Justice Department on Civil Rights violations or as a Hate Crime -so it’s not over by a long shot.
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Tacoma, WA 98402
July 22, 2013
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