I’m no lawyer, but I do believe the state was pushed via politics to bring a murder charge against George Zimmerman. This case has unfortunately evoked similar feelings similar to that of the OJ Simpson trial, with opinion being largely split amongst race (and in many cases political affiliation).
It didn’t help that the media did such an awful job of covering this story when it first broke. Mike Spindell wrote a terrific piece last year that almost seems prophetic:
The Zimmerman case has again raised the wrath of anger and injustice on all sides. Zimmerman has been demonized and his victim Trayvon Martin has also been demonized. Zimmerman’s trial, should he not take a plea, will be a circus raising hackles everywhere. Whatever decision that comes from it will be questioned by people whose minds have been made up via the information leaking out. In the end we will all be victims of yet another diminishment of our legal system via a process we must be very loath to rein in. Democracy and freedom cannot flourish without widespread information on public happenings. There is no one we can honestly give the power to make a decisions as to where the media crosses the line, because invariably all human decisions are ultimately self-serving.
He is correct in a sense, but the media also has a responsibility to report the truth and they went so far off the reservation, NBC even resorted to editing Zimmerman’s 911 call to fit a narrative they were pushing. The narrative pushed by the media (with an assist from that race baiter, Al Sharpton) insisted George Zimmerman was this unstable racist with an itchy trigger finger that gunned down a young boy who was only heading back home after getting some Skittles and iced tea. This created a division and allowed for another side to emerge convinced that Trayvon Martin was young thug, who had Watermelon flavored drink and Skittles he was going to use to make Purple Drank or Lean and attacked Zimmerman, making the shooting justifiable.
The media got what they wanted and now they are just awaiting the results.
Dan Abrams gives his view on how the trial should go, based entirely on the evidence and the law:
I drew a legal conclusion on “Good Morning America” Saturday that would have surprised the Dan Abrams who covered the George Zimmerman case leading up to, and shortly after, his arrest.
Now that the prosecution’s case against Zimmerman is in, as a legal matter, I just don’t see how a jury convicts him of second degree murder or even manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
So what happened? How can an armed man who shot and killed an unarmed teen after being told by the police that he didn’t need to keep following him, likely be found not guilty of those crimes?
I certainly sympathize with the anger and frustration of the Martin family and doubt that a jury will accept the entirety of George Zimmerman’s account as credible. But based on the legal standard and evidence presented by prosecutors it is difficult to see how jurors find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t self defense.
Prosecutors are at a distinct legal disadvantage.
They have the burden to prove that Zimmerman did not “reasonably believe” that the gunshot was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to himself. That is no easy feat based on the evidence presented in their case. Almost every prosecution witness was called to discredit the only eyewitness who unquestionably saw everything that occurred that night, George Zimmerman.
The essence of Zimmerman’s account is basically as follows:
He spotted Martin, became suspicious, called police, was told he didn’t need to follow him, was only out of his car to give the authorities an address, was jumped and then pummeled by Martin and as he was being punched and having his head knocked into the ground, Martin went for Zimmerman’s firearm and Zimmerman shot him once in the chest.
The prosecution, on the other hand, called 38 witnesses to try to show: Zimmerman was a wannabe cop who regularly reported black strangers in his neighborhood; initiated and was at least at one point, on top during the encounter; that Zimmerman’s injuries were minor and that many aspects of his accounts to the police and media were inconsistent and/or lies.
For a moment, lets put aside the fact that many of the prosecution witnesses seemed to help Zimmerman in one way or another.
As a legal matter, even if jurors find parts of Zimmerman’s story fishy, that is not enough to convict. Even if they believe that Zimmerman initiated the altercation, and that his injuries were relatively minor, that too would be insufficient evidence to convict. Prosecutors have to effectively disprove self defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Abrams unfortunately repeats an oft-repeated mistake: That Zimmerman was in his car when 911 dispatchers suggested he did not have to follow Martin. That’s not true. Zimmerman had already excited the car when the dispatcher said he did not need to continuing to follow Martin. Zimmerman claims he stopped (though there are holes in his story).
Aside from that, other legal experts seemed to have reached similar conclusions. Namely, the prosecution did not make its case for murder.
Of course, juries are not computers and anything can happen. That being said, there will be people who wil be angry, regardless of what the decision is.