It’s been a few weeks since I first wrote about the Trayvon Martin case – a blog post by the way, that generated more comments and discussion than any other I had previously written. In the time since I first wrote A Rush To Judgment, George Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder. Now released on $150,000 bond, he addressed the parents of Trayvon Martin directly during his bail hearing, and apologized for his part in their tragedy.
In the months ahead George Zimmerman will face trial by a jury of his peers for the killing of Trayvon Martin. This will no doubt become a media circus that will consume the airwaves for the entire length of what is sure to be a long, and painful trial. Already the supporters of Martin are calling foul, and insisting that Zimmerman is a cold-blooded murderer who should be locked up and the key thrown far, far away.
As expected, the two sides of this issue remain miles apart from one another. The parents of Martin and their supporters continue to cry foul – claiming police conspiracy and cover-up on the part of Zimmerman. Even after photos were released of the bloody wounds on the back of Zimmerman’s head from his encounter with Martin, they continue to claim that these photos were somehow faked, or the injuries themselves somehow manufactured by Zimmerman himself.
What bothers me about the recent events in this case is that I don’t believe the charges support the crime. According to Florida law, 2nd degree murder occurs when a person commits either “Murder with a Depraved Mind” or “Accomplice Felony Murder”. The statute goes on to define Murder with a Depraved Mind as:
“Murder with a Depraved Mind occurs when a person is killed, without any premeditated design, by an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind showing no regard for human life.”
The trouble arose that night when Trayvon Martin decided he did not like being followed. All accounts seem to agree that at some point, Martin noticed Zimmerman following him, and turned to confront him. Many of my liberal friends (all of
whom I have a great deal of respect for) seem to agree that because George Zimmerman chose to follow Trayvon Martin that night, everything that happened after that decision was made is Zimmerman’s fault. I’m afraid my liberal friends are wrong.
As I see it, George Zimmerman was performing his duty on the night in question. As a member of the neighborhood watch, it was his job to identify suspicious persons in the neighborhood. He saw an individual he did not recognize. He called the police and followed the person to see what they were up to. Zimmerman has taken a lot of flak for this act alone – following a suspicious person while on duty for the neighborhood watch. Really? What was he supposed to do instead – call it in to the police, and then take the rest of the night off?
What if the ‘suspicious person’ had in fact been someone who was in that neighborhood to commit a crime? What if Zimmerman had called the police, and then during the 30 minutes to an hour they likely would have taken to arrive on the scene, what if the ‘suspicious person’ had broken into a house and robbed it – possibly harming the occupants? Or
what if they had raped a woman home alone? No matter what the scenario one might paint, if Zimmerman had just ‘called it in’ and gone home, he would have been crucified for being negligent. It was his JOB as a member of the neighborhood watch to notice and keep an eye on suspicious persons in the neighborhood. “…an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind…”? I think not.
I find it unlikely that Zimmerman approached Martin with his gun drawn. While there were no eye witnesses (beyond Martin and Zimmerman themselves), it seems clear that if Zimmerman approached Martin with his gun drawn in a threatening way, Martin probably would not have attacked Zimmerman. Rightly or wrongly (and this point will be debated forever I am sure) Zimmerman did approach Martin that night. I presume his intent was to question Martin as to his business in the neighborhood.
Frankly, if Martin had simply told Zimmerman who he was, and that he was staying down the street with his father, the matter would have been ended there. Instead Trayvon Martin took issue with being followed, and attacked George Zimmerman. How Zimmerman reacted to that attack is the lynch-pin for this entire case, and the single point on which the two sides of this debate are the farthest apart. Whether Zimmerman was within his rights or not when he approached Trayvon Martin that night, once Martin attacked him, Zimmerman had a right to defend himself.
That is where Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law will come into play. The law was written and intended to provide citizens with legal protection if they should use deadly force to defend themselves from an attack – whether at home, in a place of business, or a public street. If you are attacked and you reasonably feel that your life is in danger, under the Stand Your Ground law you have the right to defend yourself.
George Zimmerman had a right to defend himself that February night as well. That he was attacked by Martin is fairly clear – despite the Martin supporter’s insistence to the contrary. Photos of his wounds, and witness accounts from that
night confirm his wounds, and tend to support his version of events. Once attacked therefore did Zimmerman have the right to defend himself?
Those liberal friends of mine I mentioned earlier would tell you that because Zimmerman should not have been following Martin in the first place (a position I disagree with, but for the sake of argument…) then everything that happened after that was Zimmerman’s fault. How they can come to this conclusion is beyond me. Zimmerman was on duty that night. He was charged with the responsibility to keep the residents of Twin Lakes safe. While performing that duty, he attempted to question a suspicious male. For this he was brutally attacked, and forced to defend himself. “…showing no regard for human life”? Of course not.
It is a tragedy that Trayvon Martin is dead. And I in no way intend my words to mean that he deserved what he got that night. He certainly did not. Nobody does. But that also does not mean that George Zimmerman is guilty of 2nd degree murder. If convicted of that crime, he could face the rest of his life in prison. Is that justice? Will that bring Trayvon Martin back? No.
If George Zimmerman is guilty of any crime, it might be manslaughter. The unintended death of another. What happened that night in Florida back in February was not murder – in any degree. But it was a tragedy. A tragedy of course for the Martin family. I am the father of six children, and I cannot imagine the pain of losing one of them to violence. This is also a tragedy however for the Zimmerman family. They too stand to lose their son over this incident.
And the invisible victim in all this is justice. Instead of calm and reason prevailing, the fires of racial tension have been
fueled by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton until the black community in Florida – and indeed around the nation – is whipped into a frenzy, still demanding the head of George Zimmerman. In their eyes Trayvon Martin was hunted down and murdered like a dog. There is no other possible explanation. The photos of Zimmerman’s injuries? Faked. The statements of the witnesses? Lies. Even the apology Zimmerman offered to Martins parents at his hearing – according to the Martin family attorney, an “insincere and untruthful apology”.
And shame on state attorney Angela Corey for playing along. Clearly she has succumbed to the pressures exerted by
Jackson and Sharpton and the rest of the liberal far-left. I don’t believe the facts of this case rise to the level of 2nd degree murder, and she should know better. Even if it were determined that Zimmerman should not have been following Martin that night, he would be guilty of poor judgment, not of “depraved mind, showing no regard for human life”.George Zimmerman was performing his duty as a member of the Twin Lakes neighborhood watch. He had every right – indeed he had an obligation – to follow and question Trayvon Martin about his presence in that area. The moment Trayvon Martin chose to attack Zimmerman for following him, Zimmerman had a right – morally, and under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law – to defend himself.
It’s ironic to me that the lynch-mob mentality is still alive and well in the south. Even in 2012 the crowd can be ignited.
Spotlight grabbing opportunists can still play on the emotions of the people, and convince them that justice is not being served. George Zimmerman has been released on bail pending his trial – innocent until proven guilty. He can have no life however. Until his trial, and probably for a very long time afterwards – regardless of the outcome – he will have to be in hiding. The most hated man in Florida because he was trying to do his job..