The verdict

ScalesIt’s not often that I find myself in agreement with Joe Scarborough but his opinion on the George Zimmerman case was pretty close to my own reaction. Shortly after the verdict was announced, I had to turn off the TV and shut down Twitter and Facebook. I just couldn’t take it.

Most of what I heard was inappropriate, to put it mildly. I’m no lawyer, but what little I saw of the trial convinced me that this case was a lost cause. This wasn’t like the OJ trial, in which the evidence was, in my mind, overwhelming.  That verdict was a shock. In this case, the presence of the self-defense claim – and Florida’s law on it – made the bar for conviction quite high.

Still, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old young man was dead. And I couldn’t help but think about my own brother, who was gunned down in 1995.

I wonder if Virginia had had some form of the same self-defense law as Florida if my brother’s killer would have gotten off. I’ll never forget the Hampton detective telling me that guns had become the great equalizer in a fight between a bigger man, like my brother, and a smaller man, like his killer.  The Zimmerman defense sounded too familiar.

My brother’s death was not politicized; black-on-black crime rarely is. But the Martin death was, from the very beginning. And it shouldn’t have been.  But that didn’t stop folks from doing it.

I’ve had little to say about the Martin case, mainly because experience taught me that we, as a society, are basically incapable of having a serious conversation about our differences. Saturday night and Sunday just reinforced that experience. And that’s truly sad.

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9 thoughts on “The verdict

  1. The OJ verdict was correct because the prosecution DID frame him.

    It would have been a far greater travesty to allow such prosecutorial misconduct to stand than it was for OJ to go free.

  2. All life is precious regardless of the color of your skin. The people of Florida have to search their hearts to think about the law they have created and if they are not happy with it like millions of others, they need to work to change it.

  3. It’s a tragedy this case was so politicized and that it led to the prosecutor making a second degree murder charge. Had it been involuntary manslaughter from the start and her strategy been legal as opposed to an emotional attempt at character assassination, Zimmerman would no doubt be in jail right now. Granted it wouldn’t have been a life sentence, but it would have been something.

      1. Actually it does. Not voluntary manslaughter, but certainly involuntary manslaughter. Though Florida law does not specifically differentiate between the two by name, only by code section. The section below was not the one the prosecutor got included towards the end of the trial, but its what he should have been charged under originally.

        782.11 Unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act.—Whoever shall unnecessarily kill another, either while resisting an attempt by such other person to commit any felony, or to do any other unlawful act, or after such attempt shall have failed, shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter

        Assault and battery, which is what Martin was doing before he was killed, is against the law. Zimmerman did not have to shoot him through the heart to adequately defend himself. The self defense argument could still have been made by his lawyers, but if the prosecution was coming at this from the angle that Martin shouldn’t have been smashing his head into a hard object and Zimmerman didn’t have to shoot him through the heart, then it would have been more than possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that killing was not necessary to resist his assault.

        The problem with that argument though is that it requires the prosecution to admit Martin was not a perfect angel and for purely political and racial reasons, they just weren’t willing to do that, even at the expense of letting Zimmerman walk.

  4. Vivian,

    Sorry to learn about your loss. All of this is a dumbfouninng and sad commentary of our state of affairs. We have to keep trying to make a change.

  5. it would be interesting and take great courage if the media/news outlets spent a significant amount of resources interviewing the victims of the violence following the verdict as well as those that are convicted of committing it. This would perhaps open the way for a true discussion. Sadly our countries media/news complex will have moved on all in the name of chasing ratings and sales. The martin case is a true tragedy. God bless his family, but it is likely little will be learned from this case by the public

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