Disclaimer: As usual, the views expressed in this article are my and my alone. They do not reflect the views of my employer, associates, advertisers or friends.
All of the naysayers are assuming that George Zimmerman will walk away free. Juries are unpredictable. So, I will not make any predictions. I will say this. I hope that the jury convicts Zimmerman of second degree murder or manslaughter. For me, this case is not complicated. If Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white, none of these pundits would be blabbering about reasonable doubt.
§ 782.04(2), Fla.Stat. states that:
To prove the crime of Second Degree Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt
1. (Victim) is dead.
2. The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).
3. There was an unlawful killing of (victim) by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.
An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.
An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” if it is an act or series of acts that:
1. a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
2. is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
3. is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.
In order to convict of Second Degree Murder, it is not necessary for the State to prove the defendant had an intent to cause death.
FL ST CR JURY INST 3.7 states that:
A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable.Trayvon Martin, a teenage boy, is dead. His death was caused by George Zimmerman's criminal act, shooting Trayvon Martin in the heart. Zimmerman acted with a deprived mind. A person of ordinary judgment would know that shooting someone in the chest is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily harm to another. Obviously, shooting someone in the heart shows an indifference to human life.
George Zimmerman acted with ill will hatred, spite and evil intent. Zimmerman racial profiled Trayvon Martin because he was a young black male. Zimmerman has a long history of calling the police on African Americans. That man views young African Americans as a menace plaguing his community. When he saw Trayvon Martin, he automatically assumed that Trayvon Martin was a criminal who was "up to no good." Trayvon Martin was not doing anything wrong. He was not committing any crime. He was just walking from the store after purchasing Skittles and iced tea. Buying candy and a beverage should not be a capital offense. He was unarmed.
Zimmerman did not know anything about Trayvon Martin. Yet, he assumed that Trayvon Martin was a criminal. Zimmerman's assumption was based primarily on the color of Trayvon Martin's skin. Despite not knowing Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman referred to Trayvon Martin as a "f***ing punk" and one of the "a**holes" who always get away. Zimmerman was determined to make sure that Trayvon Martin did not get away alive. Those words and his history are evidence of ill will and hatred of young African American men and boys. In his closing argument, defense counsel essentially acknowledged that Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin. Defefnse counsel Mark O'Mara said that all of people arrested for burglaries in the area were African Americans. Essentially, O'Mara is arguing that was reasonable for Zimmerman to profile Trayvon Martin since Martin was a young black man.
To justify his actions, Zimmerman claims that he acted in self defense. I do not buy it. I hope that jury does not either. Here is the legal standard for a self defense claim.
Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.012 (West) states that:
A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
George Zimmerman is the one who got out his car and starting following Trayvon Martin at night in the rain. Trayvon Martin was the one running from Zimmerman. Obviously, Trayvon was the one who was in fear. George Zimmerman is the one who ran after Trayvon Martin. On the 911 call, you can hear Zimmerman running. George Zimmerman is the one who continued to pursue Trayvon Martin even though the 911 operator specifically told him "we do not need you to that." Instead of listening to the 911 operator, wannabe cop Zimmerman decided to play the roles of judge, jury and executioner.
Rachel Jeantel's testimony supports this account. While talking to Trayvon Martin on the phone, Jeantel says that she heard a bump and the sound of wet grass. She heard Trayvon Martin say, "Get off." That indicates that George Zimmerman was the aggressor, not Trayvon Martin. At that point, Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, was the one who reasonably believed that he had to defend himself. You cannot claim self defense if you are the aggressor. If Zimmerman stayed in his car, Trayvon Martin would still be alive.
I reject George Zimmerman's account for several reasons. Zimmerman took 18 months of mixed marital arts training. Yet, he expects us to believe that he was helpless. He claims that Trayvon Martin punched him between 20 and 30 times, and banged his head into the concrete sidewalk over and over again. Yet, according to the State's expert witnesses, Zimmerman's injuries were insignificant.
Furthermore, Zimmerman claimed that Trayvon Martin covered Zimmerman's bloody nose and mouth. Yet, none of Zimmerman's blood was on Martin's hands and sleeves. Martin is right handed but there were no injuries on his right hand. If he repeatedly punched Zimmerman, there would probably be some injuries on his right hand. According to the State's expert witness, the Zimmerman struck his head once.
Zimmerman claimed that Trayvon Martin jumped out of the bushes. There is one problem. There were no bushes where the incident occurred.
The prosecution made another powerful point. If Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman with his legs covering Zimmerman's waistband, how was Zimmerman able to reach his gun? Zimmerman claimed that Martin grabbed his gun. However, none of Martin's DNA is on the gun or the holster.
Again, there is yet another inconsistency. Zimmerman said that he did not know about Florida's Stand Your Ground law. Yet, he studied self defense law and got an A in the class. As the prosecution said, Zimmerman knew how to shape his story in a away to support his false claim of self defense.
Moreover, I am convinced that Trayvon Martin was the one screaming on that 911 tape. As one of the witnesses testified, the screams sound like a boy's voice, not a 28 year old man's voice. Of the people testifying about that tape, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, was the most creditable. Her dignified demeanor and emotional testimony was compelling. George Zimmerman's parade of witnesses were not believable for a couple of reasons. First of all, Zimmerman acknowledged that the voice on the tape did not even sound like him. That alone trumps his parade of biased, self interested witnesses. Two of Zimmerman's witnesses are profiting from the Zimmerman trial by selling books and they plan to make donations to George Zimmerman. Clearly, they are biased. Zimmerman's uncle's testimony was not creditable. I find it difficult to believe that he immediately recognized Zimmerman's voice when he heard the screams on the news.
In sum, I do not see any reasonable doubt. I have an abiding conviction of guilt. It does not waver or vacillate. Since Zimmerman's story lacks credibility due to many inconsistencies and since Zimmerman was the aggressor, I would reject his self defense claim and enter a verdict of guilty. That killer is guilty in my eyes.
Even if the jury does not think that the State proved that Zimmerman committed second degree murder, they can and should find him guilty of manslaughter. West's F.S.A. § 782.07 states that:
(1) The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
For a manslaughter conviction, the State does not have to prove that Zimmerman acted with ill will, spite or hatred. Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin without legal justification. At the very least, the jury should convict Zimmerman of manslaughter.
As the President Obama said, "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon." When I see Trayvon, I see my nephew. When I see Trayvon, I see my brother. I see myself. I hope that Zimmerman does not walk. I hope that he ges to jail for this crime.