I am not a legal professional, nor do I claim to be one, but I do have at least a lay understanding of how the law works in the American justice system. As an educated member of the laity I find myself increasingly flabbergasted by the treatment of the Trayvon Martin case by both the Republican-affiliated media and significant portions of the American public. I am not an attorney nor do I have anything but the most cursory legal training. However, I think it is overtly clear that the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin is the most open and shut murder case we have seen in modern American history. [Note: I say this because usually the police and state attorneys don’t completely fail to act when faced with such an easy case. There are likely more obvious murder cases, but they do not make news. This is news because of the FAILURE to act.]
If you are the State’s Attorney in Florida and this case arrives on your desk you simple seek Murder 1 and wait 0.05 seconds for the defense to plea out with a manslaughter charge of some varying degree. A recompense is made to society, a crime is punished, and the State’s Attorney is able to save the millions of dollars it would have spent prosecuting a full proceeding.
Prosecutors often employ a tactic called “overcharging” to seek plea deals on lesser sentences. In this case if the prosecution was open to such a plea they would get one without a moment’s hesitation from the Zimmerman team. If the prosecution decided that it did not want a plea and instead wanted to go to trial that same Zimmerman team would be facing a wrecking ball in court. If the prosecution wanted to directly pursue a murder conviction this case seems like a slam dunk. If the prosecution wanted to couple that murder charge with existing hate crime legislation it could again easily go forward with a still fairly impenetrable case.
I am not arguing here that Zimmerman murdered Martin, I am simply stating that the known evidence makes the case a walk in the park for anyone with any legal training. Maybe Zimmerman was acting in self-defense. Maybe Martin did try to kill him. Maybe he is completely innocent. That does not change the fact that all of the available evidence could easily be crafted to show just the opposite in court.
Yet George Zimmerman has never been taken into custody – not even for questioning on the night of the shooting, as is the standard practice literally every instance of fatal altercation.
There is no impending prosecution, and there is no active investigation. A grand jury has been called but its findings will not be exercised for quite some time.
Let us just begin with what we know.
George Zimmerman (28) killed Trayvon Martin (17). This isn’t me denying him innocence until proven guilt, this is the simple fact. Zimmerman admitted this much at the scene.
Zimmerman was armed and patrolling his neighborhood alone at night – as he often did – and called the police about a suspicious black male walking the streets – as he also often did.
Zimmerman admitted to leaving his truck and pursuing the suspicious black male to the police over the phone and to the officers on the scene despite being told directly by the police dispatcher not to pursue the suspect and to wait for police to arrive.
Zimmerman referred to the suspicious individual – now known to have been Trayvon Martin – as a “fucking coon” while on the phone with police dispatchers in his 9-1-1 call. [Note: Perhaps during his on-foot pursuit of Martin, Zimmerman tripped over or was spooked by a raccoon. Perhaps he simply saw one and dislikes raccoons. I dislike pigeons, fucking pigeons.]
Zimmerman was carrying a 9mm pistol, loaded and in its holster, while Martin was unarmed and carrying a bag of candy and a can of iced tea. He was also wearing a now-infamous hooded sweartshirt, which some have argued gave Zimmerman cause for alarm and concern.
Some sort of altercation ensued between the two parties resulting in Martin being shot fatally in the chest by Zimmerman. A boy’s screams can be heard in the background of a 9-1-1 call placed by another resident of the neighborhood. A gunshot can also be heard as the screams fall silent.
Zimmerman has claimed through friends and legal counsel that he was savagely beaten by Martin and feared for his life. This is the basis of his self-defense argument excusing Martin’s death as a case of accidental homicide. HOWEVER he is not legally protected by self-defense statutes because he can be verified as the aggressor in this case. Zimmerman, armed with a loaded pistol, pursued Martin. Had Martin beaten Zimmerman to death with his bare hands during their altercation HE (Martin) would have been a more appropriate case for the “Stand Your Ground” law and a legal protection under self-defense and accidental homicide.
Why is Zimmerman a free man despite the insurmountable evidence against him?
That is a question that no one can answer in full. Perhaps the Sanford Police Department is simply incompetent. Perhaps it was indifferent to the case on racial grounds. Regardless, the fact of the matter remains that it SHOULD have pursued full legal action against Zimmerman and instead it did nothing. The police did not do the bare minimum in this case, they simply did nothing. A boy was killed by a man who police knew without any doubt to be the shooter and NOTHING happened.
Martin’s girlfriend has call logs showing that she was on the phone with Trayvon immediately prior to, and perhaps during, the incident leading to his death. Another neighbor also claims to be a witness to the incident but she has largely been ignored by police.
Zimmerman claims to have been beaten such that he feared for his life but there are no witnesses to substantiate the report. There are no medical records showing signs of major trauma. There are, on the other hand, paramedic reports from the scene that offer no indication that Zimmerman had been brutalized in any way.
Zimmerman claims that Martin was the assailant and even reached for his gun, but this could just as easily support Martin’s legal claim to self-defense as it could Zimmerman. Zimmerman was armed and in pursuit of Martin who was unarmed. If, in a hand-to-hand struggle, Martin had reached for control of the pistol of an armed man who followed him both on foot and in his vehicle late at night with whom he was now fighting for his life such a decision could be easily justifiable. Zimmerman’s claim to self-defense could also be easily justifiable if not for the fact that the known circumstances of the incident place him as the aggressor in the only logical reading of the events.
Zimmerman should have been arrested and charged but instead literally nothing happened. The only reason this story is now in the news is because members of the public read the official record of the events and cried out that the killer be arrested. He has not been arrested and he in all likelihood – thanks to gross police misconduct from the start – will not be arrested or charged for any crime. Regardless of Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence he SHOULD be facing a trial. It is just as the much the job of the prosecution to try an innocent man as it is the job of the defense to defend a guilty man… unfortunately for the American system of justice, in this case, absolutely nothing will happen.