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Justice For None

It’s been near impossible to avoid hearing about the George Zimmerman trial.  A grown man who pursued a young teenager as part of what he determined was his duty as a member of the neighborhood watch.  A grown man who ended up killing this unarmed teenager.  A black teenager, which angered people even more, as they felt that the teen’s death was no doubt linked to his race.  The trial kept people on the edge of their seats up until the moment that the six person jury, all females, found Zimmerman not guilty of all charges.  Even the lesser charge of manslaughter did not stick, so Zimmerman is now a free man.

Opening Statements Begin In George Zimmerman Trial

I’ve heard many comparisons between this case and the Casey Anthony trial.  Two Florida cases where a presumed guilty killer got off scot-free and the family of the lost loved one is left feeling that justice was not served.  Some have compared it to the OJ Simpson trial as well; another case where a man who the general public viewed as guilty was allowed to walk free at the expense of lost lives and devastated family.  The only comparison I feel comfortable in making with the Zimmerman trial and any other trial is that the prosecution didn’t do their jobs to their fullest extent and didn’t provide the jury with enough ammunition for a verdict.

This opinion is coming from someone who did not follow every letter of the Zimmerman trial, mind you.  I read the updates in the news, I saw clips of the trial on TV, but I didn’t go above and beyond in obtaining information and immersing myself in the case.  The defense claimed that Martin “viciously attacked” Zimmerman, which caused him to shoot in self-defense.  Prosecutors claimed that Zimmerman profiled the teenager as a criminal, pursued him, and shot him because he wanted to.  Zimmerman did call the non-emergency police line and stated that he was following Martin, and the defense states that there was no suggestion from police that Zimmerman stop the pursuit.  One juror has come out to say that Zimmerman’s heart was in the right place and that things just went terribly wrong.

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Florida’s Stand Your Ground law allows someone to use deadly force if they are in fear for their life.  The confusion came from whether Martin was simply just walking home after buying some candy and afraid because a strange man was following him or if  Zimmerman was attacked by Martin and simply doing what he thought was his duty to protect the neighborhood.  There was no doubt that Zimmerman had injuries, but the question is did Zimmerman put himself in a bad situation by pursuing an unarmed teen and provoking an attack or was Zimmerman honestly in fear for himself and his neighborhood?

I personally cannot see how Zimmerman can say that he felt threatened.  If there is a suspicious person nearby, call the police and have them deal with it.  Keep an eye on the person from a distance and DO NOT FOLLOW THEM AROUND.  Martin wasn’t a large adult with weapons, he was a kid with candy.  Kids have big mouths, sure, but I have a hard time believing that Martin was a threat.  I have a hard time believing that the Stand Your Ground law was meant to allow people to pursue and antagonize others in order to provoke an altercation that would allow them to stand their ground and harm that person.  I firmly believe that Zimmerman got carried away with his neighborhood watch duties and the end result was a young life was needlessly lost.

Trayvon-Dad-Tracy-Martin-Cries-jpg

Legally though, my opinion (and yours) does not matter.  What matters is what the prosecution can prove and what the defense can counter with.  The prosecution did not do enough to show that Martin was innocent and that Zimmerman acted outside the bounds of the Stand Your Ground law.  They did not do enough to show that Martin was pursued for no reason other than having a suspicious appearance.  They failed to even prove that Zimmerman was guilty of manslaughter.  Whether or not Zimmerman racially profiled Martin is not the issue here.  The issue is that the legal system failed because the people we trust to put guilty people behind bars aren’t living up to their responsibilities and aren’t working hard enough to prove their case.

We can be angry with the jury, but it will do no good.  We can hate Zimmerman and riot and protest, but it won’t fix anything.  We can cry racism until we’re blue in the face, but the only result will be tiring ourselves out.  Look at Casey Anthony for a minute; most people see her as guilty, but the prosecution couldn’t prove it and that is why she is free.  Don’t believe for a second that people on her jury didn’t believe 100% that she killed her daughter.  Don’t believe for a second that one or more jurors on the Zimmerman trial didn’t believe that he killed Martin out of spite, racism, or to be some sort of vigilante.  But belief and personal opinion is not what matters in a trial.  It’s what can be proved and disproved.

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Zimmerman is now said to need to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.  It’s made worse by the fact that he will be able to retrieve the gun used to kill Martin.  And while I fully believe that this man should suffer with what he did, I do not feel that it’s the public’s responsibility to make him suffer.  What is being fixed by going outside the justice system and harassing or harming a man who was cleared of guilt by the court?  I’m disgusted by the fact that Zimmerman is “not guilty,” but I’m also disgusted by the people who are now saying they’ll attack him on the streets if they see him.  How does that make you any better than him?  How is that helping?  We do not live in a society that accepts eye for an eye justice.  We have to be better than the people who anger us.

What I do hope is that Zimmerman suffers emotionally for what happened, learns from it, and that people learn from his experience.  I hope that Martin’s family is able to find peace and able to move on.  I hope that the focus shifts from racism and onto what seems to be a broken judicial system.  The fact that Zimmerman is a free man is a clear sign that there is a serious problem with the prosecution teams in Florida (and probably elsewhere) and that needs to be repaired.  We need prosecutors to do their job and make people accountable for their crimes.  If you’re riled up about this case, please put your focus in the proper place.  Focus on the people who can make a difference and who can keep something like this from happening again.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on July 16, 2013, in Fear, Kids, News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. You missed a few pretty key bits in all this, Jamie.

    To start with, the only reason Zimmerman was charged was because the family turned to the news media to (and rightly so!) generate the outrage required to have him charged. A grown man shot a kid and the local police department weren’t even going to bother to investigate (because the kid was black and Zimmerman was initially viewed as white–his mixed race heritage didn’t come into play until six months into the controversy when his dad offered it up in a very eye-rolling “he can’t be racist, he has black friends and is mixed race!” rant).

    That gap between the events taking place and the actual investigation being conducted is a big part of the reason why Zimmerman got off. The shooting took place on February 26th, and the investigation didn’t start until March 13th. That’s a long time for critical details to become fuzzy in the minds of people that only peripherally witnessed what happened or were half awake when the screaming started and didn’t become fully alert until the gunshot (as happened in a lot of the witness accounts).

    As for Zimmerman himself, he broke pretty much every rule of every Neighborhood Watch program in the country (more info here: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-14/news/os-trayvon-martin-beth-kassab-031512-20120314_1_orlando-police-block-captains-zimmerman ).

    Zimmerman also had the benefit of having a retired magistrate judge for a father to call in some favors and get the investigation suppressed to begin with. Then this happened: http://abcnews.go.com/US/judge-george-zimmerman-prepared-flee-country/story?id=16715647#.UeVfv9Ip80g

    • That’s why I have you 🙂 Like I said, I didn’t follow this trial closely and only got information from a few articles, news clips, and some Google searching. I didn’t get into court transcripts and didn’t look into this history. I’m just focused on the surface: an unarmed kid is dead because of an overzealous man who took his neighborhood watch duties to an extreme. What bothers me, and even more so with the information you posted here, is that the prosecution completely failed at their job. I was 100% certain that the fact that Zimmerman pursued him would make this case cut and dry (I don’t know much about neighborhood watches, but I do know that they key word is “watch” and not “act”) and it boggles my mind that the prosecution couldn’t prove that Zimmerman went after Martin, which caused the attack and the death.
      The race card being thrown around now bothers me because of WHY it’s being thrown around. No one is talking about what you mentioned above. Everyone is saying “if Martin was white and Zimmerman was black, he would have been found guilty!” I don’t mind playing the race card when it’s appropriate. The way it’s being used (at least from what I’m hearing) is not appropriate.
      The whole thing bothers me. But the nice thing is, I’m getting more and more information about it now that I decided to start blabbing about it 🙂

      • Well, it’s grossly simplifying all the background that goes along with understanding the why of it, but people saying “If Martin was white and Zimmerman was black, he would have been found guilty!” are actually 100% correct.

        I mean, we’re talking about Florida here. This is the state that literally had a racist-run concentration camp in Marianna, FL (google the Arthur G Dozier school for more info on that). And don’t get me started on the enslaved migrant workers.

        Basically, racism and slavery are alive and well in this country and people are fooling themselves if they think that shit ended with the Civil Rights movement.

    • “…the local police department weren’t even going to bother to investigate (because the kid was black and Zimmerman was initially viewed as white…”

      That’s a pretty weighty blanket accusation to make. The fact is that he wasn’t charged because there was no evidence to charge even at that early stage. It’s a living person’s word against a dead person’s word. That’s the long and the short of it. There was no probable cause to assume that Zimmerman was lying in his story (which a jury of his peers just reiterated.)

      You’re basically saying there was some evidence to the contrary which the police ignored. That just isn’t the case.

      • And yet, once the actual investigation started, they had enough evidence to charge him and take him to court (which the prosecution then proceeded to fuck up by over-charging the crime)?

        Do you not see how monstrous a person you appear to be when you posit that a 28 year old who admits to killing a 17 year old should be allowed to walk free as long as he claims self-defense first, no investigation required?

        Keep in mind that the actual investigation did not occur until March 13th, and the shooting happened on February 26th. Fifteen days with nothing being seriously investigated.

        • You can bring charges against another for almost anything. Whether you have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, or are even justified in bringing charges is another issue entirely. It’s quite clear charges were brought because of public outcry. That’s not a legal threshold last I checked.

          Do I appear monstrous? Why? Because Martin was 17? 17 year olds can’t be violent? 17 year olds can’t be dangerous? Is it so impossible to believe a 28 yr old was in fear for his life from a 17 year old? I’ve met quite a few 17 yr olds who I would not want to have on top of me punching me in the head. If they did, I’d probably defend myself with whatever was available.

          Do you even understand the No-Retreat law? As long as you have a legal right to be where you are, are not committing a crime, are legally authorized to carry a firearm, and are faced with a threat that you have a reasonable belief puts you in grave bodily harm, you can meet that force with deadly force. Sounds pretty clearcut to me. What suspicion did the police have to warrant any further investigation?

          They roll up on the scene and a guy who shows visible signs of having been physically assaulted tells them he just a shot the assaulter.

          As for the timegap….investigative work is conducted based on caseload and manpower availability. Do you know what the Sanford PDs detective schedule was? Did you read the responding officer’s reports? Detectives work on the most pressing cases first. This became a pressing case due to the court of vocal public opinion.

          • Why is Zimmerman the only one that the No Retreat law applies to? Why is it that the man who was previously charged with assaulting a police officer, molesting and raping one of his cousins and lied to the judge and got his wife on the hook for perjury in his attempts to flee a trial getting the benefit of the doubt while everyone can call the 17 year old who didn’t have any hand injuries consistent with administering a beating to someone else (per the autopsy report, what with no bruising or scrapes of any kind on his hands) murderous thug?

            • You should read the MEs report. Martin did have abrasions on his hand. Have you ever punched someone or been in a fight? Did your knuckles look bruised or torn up? I’ve had mine torn up from punching a heavy bag, but no marks from punching a person.

              In shooting, the first person to call the Police is assumed to be the “victim” unless circumstances indicate otherwise. The responding officers took the call, evaluated the available evidence, and determined there was no reason to disbelieve Zimmerman’s story. His legal history, whatever that may be, is not the issue. The evidence in the case supports ZImmerman’s story and Martin isn’t around to give his side of the story. This happens in self-defense shootings around the country all the time.

              This one became an issue because a vocal group decided to make it an issue.

            • As for your argument about why there was no investigation: There was. Or at least, one began before this got out of control. According to the former PD Chief
              “It was a matter of protocol, Lee said. Arresting Zimmerman based on the evidence at hand would have been a violation of Zimmerman’s Fourth Amendment rights, he said. Thus, the Sanford police presented a “capias request” to the state’s attorney, asking that the prosecutor determine whether it was a “justifiable homicide,” issue a warrant for arrest or present the case to a grand jury.”

              By 16 March the investigation was taken out of the hands of the PD due to public reaction. Perhaps, if the PD had been allowed to finish their investigation they may have decided to arrest Zimmerman based on other evidence not available that night. Or maybe they wouldn’t have. We’ll never know now, though.

            • I would imagine that in the case of any death, regardless of circumstance, the investigation would begin right away. I’m no expert, but it seems that someone saying “it was self defense” wouldn’t be enough for the police to say “okay, great” and drop the whole thing without looking into it further.

            • You’re right. When I read up on it, the PD had started their investigation, but they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Zimmerman at the time for wrongful death. Investigations do take time.

            • I’ve read the ME’s report. It literally says that the only evidence of an injury to his hands is a 1/4″ x 1/8″ scrape on one finger (and an old scar, which is irrelevant). This was so inconsequential that the ME didn’t bother to list it in the “Final Diagnosis and Findings” section of his report.

              Now, maybe you’ve never really been in a fight (which would explain why you think such small shit could possibly mean he’d been in any kind of aggressive position in a fight). But I’ve been in fights before, and if you’re throwing punches to somebody’s face your knuckles will end up bruised and split open, bleeding all on their own, and that’s in regular old school yard fist fights where intent to kill isn’t even considered.

              Here is the report: http://cfnews13.com/content/dam/news/static/cfnews13/documents/TRAYVON-MARTIN-AUTOPSY.pdf

            • So, in theory, couldn’t the scrape be explained by a fall during the attack rather than a punch? Also, do you know if anyone looked into seeing whether or not Zimmerman’s injuries could have been self inflicted?

            • The ME testified in the case that Travyon survived the shot for as long as ten minutes, because the gun shot, while fatal, wouldn’t have killed him instantly (a shot to the heart is actually an extremely painful way to die if it doesn’t flat out pulverize the heart, and even then you’ve got three minutes before the brain starts shutting down from lack of oxygen).

              I’d be more apt to believe that Zimmerman’s beating happened *after* he shot Trayvon, because what did the kid have to lose at that point?

            • That would make sense, especially if Martin went into some sort of shock and didn’t realize the wound was fatal. He was probably fighting for his life.

  2. Anyway, since everyone defending Zimmerman likes to dig up all kinds of shit about Trayvon’s temperament and character, I’d like to submit George Zimmerman’s 911 call records.

    I mean, look over this and (using an abbreviation reference for police records, if you need it) just look at some of the inane bullshit he was calling 911 over: http://www.scribd.com/doc/86593433/george-zimmerman-911-call-history

    • I’ve read about that and I would think that it would have been serious ammo for the prosecution. (I don’t know if it was admitted or not) Who calls the police because someone left their garage door open?!? And why is he calling about every car that isn’t driving to his perfect standards? It reminds me of lonely single old people who just stare out of their window constantly, looking for drama that they can complain about. It makes it obvious that he seeks out so-called criminals so he can get them arrested and feel good about himself. It’s like every time he sees a teenager, anyone is being loud, or anyone is just rubbing him the wrong way, he calls the police.

  3. Watching this video sealed the deal for me. IMO, Zimmerman is not guilty.

    I’m not a big fan of Molyneux, but he lays out the facts and 1+1 is still 2, no matter who says it.

    “The Truth About George Zimmerman & Trayvon Martin” – Stefan Molyneux

    • Okay, so if I went and put together a thirty-five minute video detailing how George’s father (the retired magistrate judge) interfered with the investigation and pointed out how one of the juror’s was married to one of Zimmerman’s attorneys from past legal troubles, not to mention all of the various ways Zimmerman ignored both the guidelines of the Neighborhood Watch and the instructions of any given CCW program that is worth a damn, would you be conflicted again?

      • Granted, none of that would change the fact that Florida’s laws are fucked up, in that they couldn’t offer proper manslaughter charges like other states (which would have resulted in an actual Guilty verdict), but still. Saying Zimmerman is Not Guilty simply because the process in Florida is screwed up is not the same thing as saying he was justified in killing Trayvon.

        Keep in mind that pretty much everything Molyneux speculates on in his video regarding Trayvon’s irrelevant past is shit Zimmerman had no possible way of knowing at the time of the murder.

        Here, just watch this interview Zimmerman did with Hannity. It’s a much better thing than all the speculation you are basing your reasoning on (just look at Zimmerman’s lawyer’s face as the interview goes on, and listen to all the bullshit Zimmerman says).

        He’s lucky this video wasn’t able to be entered as evidence, because of all the points where it conflicts with the narrative he gave the police, and the conflicts with his final testimony in court. All those conflicting details would have destroyed his defense.

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