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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Late in the day on Wednesday, September 21st, Troy Davis was put to death by lethal injection for the murder of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia back in 1989. It was reported that in Savannah, Georgia, MacPhail was attempting to defend a man who was being assaulted when he was shot by Davis. Witnesses claimed they either saw Davis shoot MacPhail or that Davis later confessed. The murder weapon was not found, but ballistics linked the bullets near the scene to another shooting involving Davis. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
I’m not going to get into a debate on whether or not Davis was guilty because I wasn’t there, I haven’t researched the case, and at this point it doesn’t really matter because Davis has been executed and you don’t exactly come back from that. I also can’t debate because from the little bit I know about the case, I can’t form an opinion on his guilt or innocence. I’m just not sure.
What I’m Hearing…..
“If I knew then what I know now,” Brenda Davis, one of the jurors in the trial told CNN in a 2009 interview, “Troy Davis would not be on Death Row. The verdict would be ‘not guilty.'” – IBTimes
The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Many witnesses stated they were coersed or pressured into testifying or signing statements against him. The state of Georgia has killed Troy Davis. – AmnestyUSA
If Troy Davis had been a high school principal or a funeral home director or the proprietor of a soul food restaurant, he probably wouldn’t have landed in the middle of an investigation into a police officer’s murder. Had he been a member of Savannah’s black middle-class, he likely would have been treated with a bit more deference by the criminal justice system. – TheGrio
Questions of guilt or innocence seem almost beside the point when you consider the fact that people of color often receive more harsh sentences for the same crimes as whites, especially when the victim is white. Author William Jelani Cobb said, “The implication is that a white life is worth more.” – Colorlines
What I Know…..
The justice system isn’t perfect. I know this first hand; I have to jump through hoops right now to change my son’s last name because I don’t have permission from his deadbeat “father” who hasn’t bothered with either of us for nearly all of my son’s life. Sometimes the safeguards that are in place to protect us actually serve to harm us. Guilty people go free and innocent people are punished. Sadly, there really isn’t much that can be done about it, as people will continue to lie and be creatively deceptive and others will continue to be in the wrong places at the wrong times.
Troy Davis was a black man in Georgia in the late 80s accused of a crime against a white man, who (no disrespect) kind of looks like Nicholas Cage. Georgia probably didn’t have a sign up saying “WELCOME ALL BLACK PEOPLE!” during the time of the crime; when I moved there in 1997, there were still KKK rallies near my home and Grand Wizard Whatever-they’re-called proudly marching around town insulting anyone who wasn’t their shade of pale. It’s not exactly a secret that racism exists and that it’s more prevalent in certain areas of the world. Racism is a fact, but it’s not the culprit and the scapegoat for every injustice against a person of color. That includes Mr. Davis.
The case against Davis didn’t conclude back in 1991 when the sentence was handed down. It was appealed and revisited time and time again. There was adequate time for evidence of his innocence to come to light in the 20 years that followed, as well as time for new eyes to view the evidence and fresh ears to hear witness testimony. If the prosecution was acting irresponsibly or investigators weren’t doing their jobs, there was enough time to prove it and fix it. It didn’t happen. Not enough people seemed to care until the last few days of Davis’ life, when it was too late to really make something happen.
What Should Have Happened…..
Troy Davis may or may not have gunned down a cop, but either way I don’t see what the point was in putting him to death. If the case was truly relying heavily on witnesses, what they have to say at this point doesn’t matter too much; even an event as significant as watching someone get shot is going to become fuzzy as the years pass, making it somewhat understandable that their story changed many years after the fact. There are obviously many doubts in the case, which now has the attention of the nation. Let’s say some ambitious lawyer decides to dive into the case and discovers indisputable proof of Davis’ innocence. You can let a man out of jail if he’s proven innocent. You can’t undo an execution.
I’m not against the death penalty at all either. Some people deserve to die. Serial rapist who killed half his victims and mentally scarred the other half? Kill him. Pedophile and murderer? Dead please. Burn down a building and kill half its occupants? String him up! Any serial killer (except for Dexter) deserves to die. Sometimes the crime is so severe that the only worthy punishment is death. The one big exception I see to this is when a police officer is killed; it turns into an immediate death sentence for the accused. If you commit one murder, even if the one murder is a cop, you don’t deserve to die. Maybe you were afraid, maybe you were being spiteful, maybe you were an idiot who thought it would be cool and immediately regretted it, but either way it doesn’t warrant a death sentence. One murder equals a serious sentence and lots of time behind bars, but shouldn’t equal death at the hands of the state.
Troy Davis, guilty or innocent, did not deserve to be executed and it’s a shame it happened. But it did and there isn’t anything that anyone can do to change that course of events. He will disappear from the news in a couple of weeks and disappear from the thoughts of most people soon afterwards. He shouldn’t be automatically made into a great man by his supporters nor should he be drug through the mud by those sure of his guilt. This shouldn’t be turned into a racism issue; not every negative thing that happens to a black person is due to their skin.
We shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the death penalty unless it’s evident that letting the person live is a severe danger to society and the prison community and there is NO other option. The people who obsess and involve themselves in these cases should stop and learn the name(s) of the victim(s) and not just focus on how horrible the accused is. Movements that start due to cases like this for the rights of certain groups shouldn’t fade away when the case fades and also shouldn’t appear simply because the case garnered some attention. News outlets need to be more responsible in their reporting and not get editorial when they should be reporting facts.
As I said earlier, give this a couple of weeks and it’ll fade from the news, then fade from most of our minds. Something else will happen that is deemed an injustice and the process will repeat. Same ignorant responses, same wasted efforts, same silly protests outside the courthouse. People will get involved and sign petitions and take donations and once the novelty of the case wears down or the case itself draws to a close, people will forget and the process will again repeat itself. Again and again. A couple of months from now, Troy Davis will just be the black guy from Georgia who killed the white cop with a great mustache. Soon afterward, we’ll forget he existed. We’ll be too busy with the next Casey Anthony, or maybe something will happen with Amanda Knox and that will matter again. Whatever the focus is, I’m sure we’ll all be plenty busy offering up theories that don’t matter and claiming injustices that probably don’t exist.
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. ~Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
When Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murdering her daughter Caylee, my heart skipped a beat and I immediately felt angry. When it was announced that she was found not guilty of even manslaughter and child neglect, I was enraged. Casey did a great job of portraying herself as a selfish woman who was not prepared to raise a child and who was not quite ready to grow up and accept the responsibilities of adulthood. The media overwhelmed the public with all the juicy details of Casey’s private life; incriminating photos, rumors from friends, facts from family members and employers. Casey easily became one of the most hated women in this country.
After the verdict was handed down and Casey was to become a free woman, the collective rage of the public was palpable. People needed someone to blame. The court found Casey to be blameless in the eyes of the law, save for lying to law enforcement, and we had been blaming her all along anyway. The natural scapegoats were the jurors assigned to this trial. People were outraged that this group of 12 let a murderer walk away after killing a child. How could they come to such a decision when it was obvious to US that she killed her baby? These people truly were clueless, heartless bastards.
Jurors have been banned from restaurants, insulted and threatened online, and shunned by family members. One woman quit her job and moved out of Florida because she was afraid for her life. Nearly every day I check the news websites, there is a story on a juror and the hardships they now face for being associated with this trial. The hatred and anger that should be reserved for other parties has now landed solely on the shoulders of these jurors.
Personally, I was outraged at the verdict and initially couldn’t understand why she was acquitted of murder and not charged with manslaughter or neglect. That being said, it’s understandable that Casey was allowed to walk free. An anonymous juror told People Magazine that the vote to convict Casey of lying to the police was easily 12-0, while the vote to convict her of murder went from 10-2 to acquit to all voting for acquittal after 30 minutes. The manslaughter charge went from a split decision, to 11-1 to acquit, and finally to 12-0 to acquit in what was called a very difficult decision. Every single juror interview I have read or seen has included a variation of the statement “I wish we could have convicted her, but the evidence just wasn’t there.” That may sound like a cop-out to many of us who have had full internet and TV access throughout the trial, but it makes perfect sense to the sequestered jury who had to go solely off of the evidence provided by the prosecution and the defense. Every single one of those jurors could have thought Casey was a murdering cold-hearted sorry excuse for a parent, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing when it comes time to handing down a verdict. The only thing that matters is what was presented to them in court, and what was presented was a very weak case by the prosecution.
If we are going to be angry, let’s get angry at the prosecution for not presenting a better case. Even better, let’s be angry that a small child lost her life. Let’s get mad over the fact that it took far too long for Caylee to be reported missing because no one seemed to care enough to speak up. Let’s be angry that a murderer, whether it’s Casey or someone else, is walking free after committing such a vile act. I truly hope that this case serves as a learning experience for the prosecuting team and that next time around, they are able to build a solid case that finds the guilty party guilty and provides proper punishment. I also hope that people refocus a bit and stop blaming the jury for doing the only thing they could have done, handing down a not guilty verdict while knowing the public would hate them for it. These people performed their civic duty to the best of their ability and don’t deserve this backlash of anger and hatred. Let them move on.
[Updated at 2:17 p.m.] Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. She was also found not guilty of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. – CNN.com
[Updated at 2:20 p.m.] Casey Anthony has been found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement in the case of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, who was slain in 2008. – CNN.com
[Updated at 2:22 p.m.] Casey Anthony has left the courtroom. – CNN.com
I’ve been following Casey’s story on and off from the beginning and I’ve followed the trial’s progression almost daily. At first I had my doubts, but as more details of Casey’s behavior following Caylee’s disappearance emerged, the guiltier she got in my eyes. Assuming the defense’s story about an accidental drowning was in fact true, how does a young mother who just discovered her child drowned, then assisted her father or at least knew her father covered up the accident to look like murder, go from grieving to partying so quickly? Nights out at bars, getting a tattoo that means “the good life” or “beautiful life,” and acting like she doesn’t have a care in the world. The only answer I see is that she got rid of her daughter, who she saw as a burden, and then felt free to live her life as she chose without a toddler holding her back.
The defense worked to discredit the prosecution’s evidence of a decomposing body in the trunk of Casey’s abandoned car and I guess the jury believed it. It’s the defense team’s job to discredit everything in any way they can. How did the jurors forget about that so quickly and decide Casey is blame free? To me, this was a damning piece of evidence that Casey put Caylee’s body in her trunk and kept her there for a period of time prior to dumping the body. The jury also seemed to forget about the internet searched for chloroform and other terms related to the little girl’s death. Casey’s mom Cindy tried to claim that she made the searches (disproved by her time cards at work) which I saw as a mother’s desperate attempt to help her daughter who is facing the death penalty, but which unfortunately allowed some room for doubt.
I have zero doubt in my mind that Casey murdered her little girl. I also have no doubt that the prosecution didn’t present a solid enough case for first degree murder. The thing I don’t understand here is why the jury felt she should get off on the manslaughter and child abuse charges. They didn’t deny that Casey was a liar, as they found her guilty of lying to law enforcement, so why absolve her of manslaughter and child abuse? I’m not claiming to be an expert on anything here, but I believe there was enough evidence present to convict her on the manslaughter charge at the very least. This chick killed her kid and all that’s being done is a conviction for being a liar, and a bad one at that.
Our justice system is fucked, plain and simple. At the very least, Casey knows exactly what happened to her daughter, and at the most it was done at her hands. This unnecessary tragedy will go unpunished because a system designed to protect the innocent is also a system that is easily manipulated to allow guilty folk to weasel out of trouble with the assistance of smooth talking attorneys. At times, I long for years past, where Casey would have been strung up or stoned to death for murdering a baby instead of celebrating as I’m sure she is at this very moment. I wouldn’t mind seeing the return of “an eye for an eye” justice, especially when the news is filled with stories of babies in microwaves or cages, people shooting and stabbing loved ones, and other horrific events. I bet people would stop and think before running over their ex in a jealous rage if they knew that their punishment would be getting hit by a speeding car themselves.
I hope Casey enjoys her freedom once she’s released from jail (she can serve up to 4 years for lying to the police, credit for time served). Karma is a spiteful bitch and it will catch up with her soon. Murder of anyone is an unspeakable crime, but killing your own child? You deserve nothing but the depths of hell for that one.
For the past couple of months, I’ve found myself caught up with the Casey Anthony trial. For those not paying attention or who don’t care, she’s accused of killing her almost 3 year old daughter, Caylee. She’s maintaining her innocence and tried to blame her daughter’s death on a fictional nanny and an accidental drowning in her parent’s swimming pool. The trial has been going on for a while now and every day I’m at work I can’t help read nearly every news story I see about it.
From what I’ve read, I’m certain that she did kill her daughter and carelessly disposed of her body. I believe the accusations that she did so because she felt her daughter was holding her back from leading a “normal” life, which is one thing the prosecution is trying to prove by showing her participation in hot body contests immediately after her daughter’s disappearance. I believe it 100% because in a small way, I understand what Casey felt.
Obviously you don’t harm or kill your kid, or anyone for that matter, regardless of how bad you think your situation is. That being said, if Casey felt trapped, I get it. I was a single mom too and I remember feeling stressed out due to my parents and their judgmental attitude towards me and the things I wanted to do. I get how she was frustrated by not being able to go out and party as she used to because she has a responsibility at home. I get the depression a new mom feels, even to the point where some mothers want to throw their kid out a window to make it stop crying or to get some sleep. It’s a bitch when you have a kid at a point in your life when you’re not yet ready to fully grow up.
Most people in that kind of situation, including myself, find ways to deal with it. I sacrificed most of my nights out and instead invited people over so I could have time cutting up with friends while my son slept. I had to quit going to 2 concerts a month and be very picky about which ones I wanted to attend. Even if you have the greatest baby sitter in the world, you just can’t live like you used to once there’s a baby in the house. It changes everything.
In Casey’s case, I think she felt overwhelmed and desperately wanted a way out. Being one of the many who think she’s guilty, I have to wonder why in the hell she didn’t just have an abortion. Even if you’re totally against abortion, you can’t tell me it would have been a worse option than killing a toddler by suffocating her and then dumping her in the woods.
I understand a lot of what Casey must have felt. I sympathize with her. I also hope that jury finds her guilty of first degree murder and whatever else they can tack on and I hope she received the maximum allowed sentence. As a mom, you’re allowed to get pissed off and frustrated at your kids, you’re even allowed to imagine how great life would be without them. But there’s a line, and it’s not even a thin line, more like a brick wall that you have to climb in order to get to the extremes of Casey and other parents who do this kind of thing. There are plenty of opportunities to quit climbing and jump back down to sanity. Once you’re over that wall, you’re lost to this world.
I wish I could end this with a brilliant solution, but I’m fully lost on this one. My son has kept me up at night for weeks on end, stressed me out with bad behavior, frightened me with hospital visits, murdered my social life in a lot of ways, contributed to past weight gain, taken away a “normal” beginning to marriage, and has got me saying “potty” to adults. He has pooped in the bathtub. And peed on me. He has the worse selective hearing in the world. He uses up a huge chunk of my paycheck. He spilled water on the bathroom floor one day and tried to clean it with a tablet you put in the toilet tank, which dyed the floor blue and took me an hour to clean up. Honestly, he can be a pain in the ass.
Still, a hug from him speaks volumes, as does hearing his little voice tell me he loves me. I look in his eyes and see a world of opportunity ahead of him. Seeing him grow and develop new talents and quirks is amazing, I love the kid more than I can say. Not even with a gun to my head could I ever harm that little boy. Someone please explain to me why the fuck this world is so filled with people who can, because I just don’t get it.