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"We did not come to this decision lightly" says Special Prosecutor Angela Corey
April 11, 2012 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Floridian Special Prosecutor Angela Corey has charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder. In a story that has become the focus of national and worlwide attention, a major step has been taken. Where the main question here was not who committed the murder of Travyon Martin but why, and where racial factors in fact a motivation in the killing? From a rare expression of more personnal grief and concern from President Barack Obama, to millions of online signature assembled in the form of a petition, the case of two concerned parents determined to not let the loss of their son's life be forgotten without a closer look, will be debated in a US court of law.
posted by Meatafoecure (845 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's about fucking time.
posted by elizardbits at 5:26 PM on April 11, 2012 [51 favorites]


Justice delayed is justice denied; but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
posted by Renoroc at 5:27 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was leaning towards the sad actuality that he was going to escape a murder charge. Wow.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:28 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now, where the hell is Zimmerman?
posted by Burhanistan at 5:30 PM on April 11, 2012


What are the chances he'll get off on a manslaughter plea?

Everything I know about the criminal justice system, I learned from Law & Order.
posted by griphus at 5:31 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Second degree murder defined:
Second degree murder is a death which results from an assault which is likely to cause death. Second degree murder is distinguished from first degree murder, which is a premeditated, intentional killing or results from a vicious crime such as arson, rape or armed robbery. Second degree murder is not murder committed in the "heat of passion".
Second degree means Zimmerman could face life in prison, but not the death penalty.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on April 11, 2012


Now, where the hell is Zimmerman?

During the press conference the, special prosecutor declared that he was in police custody (he had turned himself in) but was adamant that she could say nothing more.

She also repeated several times that she is committed to real justice for both victim and defendant.
posted by saiwol at 5:34 PM on April 11, 2012


Now, where the hell is Zimmerman?

Come on, dude, if I can rtfa then anyone can. "She said Zimmerman had turned himself in and was being held in the state."
posted by elizardbits at 5:34 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now, where the hell is Zimmerman?

Zimmerman is in custody, and pleading Not Guilty. No word yet on a bond hearing.

Also, previously.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:34 PM on April 11, 2012


As the woman said in the press conference, Zimmerman was given the opportunity to turn himself in, and he did so. He will be held without bail until a bail hearing is held to consider the subject of bail.
posted by gjc at 5:34 PM on April 11, 2012


What are the odds on him being found not guilty?
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:35 PM on April 11, 2012


A question I have yet to hear raised (although maybe it's out there somewhere): Zimmerman claims Trayvon Martin attacked him; let's say that's true. Martin apparently felt he was being followed by this guy (unless the story I've read about the call he made to his girlfriend is baseless). Why wasn't Trayvon Martin the one "standing his ground"?
posted by uosuaq at 5:39 PM on April 11, 2012 [44 favorites]


Second degree murder seems like a long shot to me, but I believe manslaughter is a lesser included offense of second degree murder, so a jury might well convict on that. That seems like the crime that was committed, based on the evidence that is publicly available. Maybe there is more evidence that we don't know about that kicked it up to second degree murder?
posted by gjc at 5:39 PM on April 11, 2012


I would be surprised if there isn't more evidence that we the public have yet to see.

On a more personal level, I hope Zimmerman rots.
posted by item at 5:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone know the name of the last guy to speak at the family's press conference (with the yellow tie)? I'm an atheist and I would worship at his church. That was some powerful stuff.
posted by desjardins at 5:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think the arrest means much. A judge can still throw this out at any time.
posted by Ardiril at 5:45 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone know the name of the last guy to speak at the family's press conference (with the yellow tie)? I'm an atheist and I would worship at his church. That was some powerful stuff.

Could it have been Kaili Joy Gray?
posted by saiwol at 5:45 PM on April 11, 2012


Now if we can just get worldwide media attention every time something like this happens, we'll be all set!
posted by Garm at 5:45 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Zimmerman doing time would be good, the cops seeing some consequences would be better. I guess full and equal protection under the law for all in society would be best of all, but that's reaching a little.
posted by Artw at 5:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


Brandon, that's definition is probably based on some model federal statute. Specifically, in Florida, second degree murder is:

The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life

There's also some other factors which are probably not germane to this case, see here for a full list. Probably the only time I will ever link to hannity.com in my life.

Frankly, I am a bit shocked by the graphic in the wp article that shows that 55% of whites support the use of deadly force if a person feels threatened, even if they can retreat. Really? I mean, do people think this stuff out? Somone might "feel threatened" every day walking down a busy city street.
posted by xigxag at 5:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


A question I have yet to hear raised (although maybe it's out there somewhere): Zimmerman claims Trayvon Martin attacked him; let's say that's true. Martin apparently felt he was being followed by this guy (unless the story I've read about the call he made to his girlfriend is baseless). Why wasn't Trayvon Martin the one "standing his ground"?

Because despite what lots of people seem to be thinking, "stand your ground" doesn't mean you can escalate a situation. All it means is that you do not have a DUTY to back down or run away if you are attacked by someone else.

(I'm not sure if it is an actual problem or not, but apparently there is concern that if someone has a duty to try to run away when confronted by an attacker, they could put themselves in more peril by failing to do so effectively. So the law says that you don't have to try to run away before trying to protect your life or the life of others.)

If the situation was going like you said, Martin would have no legal right to start a confrontation just because some guy was following him.

As was discussed in the other thread extensively, stand your ground just does not seem to applicable here.
posted by gjc at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2012


oops, I misread that. Sorry.

(but it may still be helpful to finding the speaker's identity)
posted by saiwol at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman will not be very popular in prison, I imagine. There's nobody prisoners hate more than snitches and this guy called the cops as a fucking hobby.
posted by jonmc at 5:49 PM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Second degree murder is distinguished from first degree murder, which is a premeditated, intentional killing

Seems to me if you get out of your car, gun in hand, and follow a young man after being told not to, that's premeditation. But I guess they figure they stand a better chance of proving second degree?

What are the odds on him being found not guilty?

I'll put money down on 100%. You heard it here first.
posted by tzikeh at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw the press conference. If officials are going to stage national press conferences, they need media training. Corey began her press conference with a big smile and a warm, welcoming tone, and that just isn't appropriate for this context. Nothing about this case should make anybody smile.

She also spent several minutes patting the backs of various law-enforcement agents and agencies that have been involved in this case. That's pretty common for these press conferences, but again, it's inappropriate. In these cases generally, and especially in this one, it isn't the right time to be praising and thanking each other.

And if she was going to take questions, then she had to know she would be asked about the delay between crime and arrest. Her answer was to deny that there was any delay. That's just absurd. If that is the best answer you can come up with, then just decline to take questions.
posted by cribcage at 5:51 PM on April 11, 2012 [30 favorites]


Zimmerman will not be very popular in prison, I imagine.

If the dude sees prison, which I doubt, it'll be some bullshit white collar deal.
posted by Artw at 5:53 PM on April 11, 2012


i'm not sure this could be going "better" at this point. a second-degree murder charge is serious, serious shit. i'll tell you what, if i had just been arrested on 2nd-degree murder, i would not be comforted by the extra couple of weeks it took to get to that point, and i wouldn't particularly care about the optics of the prosecutor's press conference. i would be shit fucking scared.
posted by facetious at 5:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


What are the odds on him being found not guilty?

I'll put money down on 100%. You heard it here first.


Ye gods, I hope not, unless they're actually running off the "How to Start a Race Riot" playbook.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw the booking photo on CNN just now.... Zimmerman has a really round face.
posted by hellojed at 5:55 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the reply, gjc. (Sorry I missed the discussion in the other thread.) I have some major reservations about the law itself, but your explanation of how it works was very helpful.
posted by uosuaq at 5:55 PM on April 11, 2012


Zimmerman will not be very popular in prison, I imagine.

Twitter got this covered. #songszimmermandontwanttohearinjail (Songs Zimmerman Don't Want to Hear in Jail) and #howlongzimmermangonelastinjail (How Long Zimmerman Gone Last in Jail).
posted by desjardins at 5:56 PM on April 11, 2012


So... if Zimmerman eventually goes free... what does that do as a precedent? Is that saying it's A-OK for me to target anyone I don't like, follow them around menacingly until they're sufficiently provoked, and then shoot them in "self defense" ?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:57 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


WILL HE KILL AGAIN?
posted by Artw at 5:58 PM on April 11, 2012


Twitter got this covered. #songszimmermandontwanttohearinjail (Songs Zimmerman Don't Want to Hear in Jail) and #howlongzimmermangonelastinjail (How Long Zimmerman Gone Last in Jail).

Ugh. Can we leave the prison rape/violence jokes out of this, please?
posted by lalex at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2012 [64 favorites]


i'll tell you what, if i had just been arrested on 2nd-degree murder, i would not be comforted by the extra couple of weeks it took to get to that point, and i wouldn't particularly care about the optics of the prosecutor's press conference. i would be shit fucking scared.

Eh, I wouldn't be worried. On the other hand, I've never murdered a child.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


So I guess the news outlets get to run the criminal justice system now. Although I think the charges are appropriate, Florida's Stand Your Ground law has produced a pile of injustices and victims' families without a day in court [1 2]. But since every newsrag and cable news channel in America loves a good race-baiting story, Florida prosecutors decide to actually act on this one. Pat on the back?
posted by norabarnacl3 at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that saying it's A-OK for me to target anyone I don't like, follow them around menacingly until they're sufficiently provoked, and then shoot them in "self defense"

If you're in Florida, and get the same jury, then maybe...

Juries don't set "precedent", they just make a decision on an individual case
posted by wildcrdj at 5:59 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ye gods, I hope not, unless they're actually running off the "How to Start a Race Riot" playbook.

Why not? A race riot just gives 'em more felons they can strike from the voter rolls.
posted by tzikeh at 6:01 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uh, Shakespeherian, you're making an assumption about being innocent and being found innocent that may not fly in as tight a formation with reality as you imply.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:08 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm having a serious problem thinking this guy can get a fair trial. Not just in his county, but anywhere. The media has been saturated with people calling for his head. I think any prosecution here is going to run into serious Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment issues.
posted by valkyryn at 6:09 PM on April 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


If the situation was going like you said, Martin would have no legal right to start a confrontation just because some guy was following him.

If Zimmerman had his gun pulled, it would seem at least arguable that Martin could reasonably believe that force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself. Even in a non Stand Your Ground state, if somebody jumps out of the shadows waving a gun at you, beating the shit out of them might be considered justifiable. You can't "retreat" from a bullet coming at you at 700 miles an hour.
posted by xigxag at 6:10 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


But since every newsrag and cable news channel in America loves a good race-baiting story, Florida prosecutors decide to actually act on this one. Pat on the back?

What?

I personally haven't seen any stats that showed all the Stand Your Ground victims to be of the same race as their shooters, though I suppose that's possible; if you have that information, feel free to post it.

And I'm not sure what you're getting at anyway. The media doesn't treat white deaths as important as black deaths? Are you really asserting that?
posted by emjaybee at 6:10 PM on April 11, 2012


I can't imagine how they're going to be able to assemble an unbiased jury for this case, after it played out in the media for weeks on end.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:11 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


In general I feel like if you're shooting and killing unarmed people you should probably go to jail.

It's really the reactions to this incident that bothers me the most.

Frankly, I am a bit shocked by the graphic in the wp article that shows that 55% of whites support the use of deadly force if a person feels threatened

It is indeed disturbing that so many people are so quick to react this way. Tis why I still think concealed carry is absurd; another issue I suppose, but related. Aw, fuck it. Even if my uncle is hopped up on methadone all the time he should still be packin' heat cuz I ain't never walked into a Target and thought, "damn, wish I'd left my nine at home". Meanwhile there's fully trained and deadly me, refusing to carry a sidearm in nearly all circumstances - but I'm a Progressive Communist, so no one listens to me.

If the dude sees prison, which I doubt, it'll be some bullshit white collar deal.

It also disturbs me that the penal system in this country is so horrible that it is seen as "bullshit" when prison comes without rape and other violence. not picking on you Artw, plenty of others think this same thing.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:13 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


qxntpqbbbqxl: not legal precedent, but maybe evidence to figure it's ok in FL, if the person you shoot is black and you're not.
posted by girandole at 6:14 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't care that much about Zimmerman. I mean, it's important that justice is served on that kook, but ultimately that's a detail in this story. All of the attention on Zimmerman distracts from the real question:

Why did it take so long for the police and prosecutors to do anything?
posted by scelerat at 6:18 PM on April 11, 2012 [30 favorites]


Whatever prison he goes to aside, my poit was that snitches are very unpopular people in prison (and outside prison too, quite frankly) and this guy called the police like 50 times a month, which is the definition of snitching.
posted by jonmc at 6:19 PM on April 11, 2012


Any chance we could stop making light of Zimmerman's potential brutalization in prison? Thanks.
posted by downing street memo at 6:20 PM on April 11, 2012 [25 favorites]


interesting to me is that Zimmerman's lawyer when talking about his clients bond stated that his family (Zimmerman's) was of "limited means" yet here is this high priced lawyer representing him
posted by robbyrobs at 6:20 PM on April 11, 2012


Florida's Stand Your Ground law has produced a pile of injustices and victims' families without a day in court

In the second link you posted, the shooter was actually charged with manslaughter.

And the reason this went from local story to national had more to do with public outrage than media "race baiting". And while the racial profiling aspect of this case is a large factor in the attention being paid to this case, a lot of the anger has to do with Martin being an unarmed minor returning home from the store with candy. Which paints a much more vivid picture off the inherent flaws of stand your ground than two adults squaring off in an argument that ends badly.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:22 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


yet here is this high priced lawyer representing him

"He's willing to do it for free, just for the pub" - Tom Haverford
posted by holdkris99 at 6:22 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the existence of tiered, class- and race-based punishments is also bullshit, and I don't think I must be lamenting a lack of rape when I do so.

That's assuming he's punished at all. I have my doubts.
posted by Errant at 6:23 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems to be a popular sentiment that no way, no how is Zimmerman going to get a fair trial.

I don't know. I'm sure it's happened before in 235 years of US history and I'm just not thinking hard enough, but I can't recall a single prominent case, ever, where a jury was seemingly coerced by the mob or media sentiment into convicting someone for killing a black person.
posted by xigxag at 6:24 PM on April 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


here is this high priced lawyer representing him

Not anymore. Zimmerman's lawyers resigned from the case yesterday for not returning their calls and talking to the prosecutor without consulting them.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:26 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope when this comes to trial the judge doesn't turn out to be Zimmerman's dad.
posted by Flashman at 6:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know there are probably important legal reasons why this phrasing makes sense

punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life

but it made me go O_o anyway.
posted by saturday_morning at 6:29 PM on April 11, 2012


and whatever the outcome of this case what of the civil case(s)?
posted by robbyrobs at 6:32 PM on April 11, 2012


Linked in the previous thread, but worth repeating here: John McNeil killed a white man who assaulted him on his property. But, unlike George Zimmerman, he's serving life

Can you guess what's different?
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on April 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


man i don't know what's in the water tonight but some of the reactions here are just bizarre - for the prosecutor to charge zimmerman with second-degree murder is *as far from letting him off as it is possible to get*. the full weight of the authority of the prosecutor's office, i.e. the fucking State of Florida, is being brought down on this guy. it's *good news*. no, the only good outcome is not for this criminal to be sexually assaulted in the State of Florida's racist, classist, Kafkaesque prisons (Errant, you took the words out of my mouth) - the good outcome is *exactly what's happening right now*.

nothing can truly make up for the (apparently) cold-blooded racist murder of a teenage kid by some piece of shit cop-wannabe vigilante. but the State is taking this shit seriously, and zimmerman is being prosecuted, not sheltered. please reconsider your blithe dismissal of 2nd-degree murder charges.
posted by facetious at 6:36 PM on April 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Can you guess what's different?

The trial is over in one of these cases and hasn't started in the other?
posted by Justinian at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


Wow, you guys are nuts. This guy's going to walk easy and the prosecutor is going to be disbarred for malicious prosecution.

See you folks in a year!
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 6:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems to be a popular sentiment that no way, no how is Zimmerman going to get a fair trial.

I don't know. I'm sure it's happened before in 235 years of US history and I'm just not thinking hard enough, but I can't recall a single prominent case, ever, where a jury was seemingly coerced by the mob or media sentiment into convicting someone for killing a black person.


It doesn't take coercion by the "mob" or media for a trial to be unfair. It just takes the fact that the jurors grew up with institutionalized racism so prevalent as to be undetectable.

Zimmerman's not going to prison.
posted by tzikeh at 6:45 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'll have to forgive me if I'm skeptical of "This time it'll be different!". Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:50 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone else think it's weird that we have no idea what actually happened that day and yet so many pretend like they do. This whole treatment of the story is sensational and a little disgusting. "I hope Zimmerman rots." -- come on. It's so obvious people who say stuff like this are just unloading personal/cultural baggage. Innocent until proven guilty is worth respecting, every time.
posted by victory_laser at 6:52 PM on April 11, 2012 [36 favorites]


Angela Corey has her own problems locally. Google the Christian Fernandez case. It's also worth mentioning that she is up for reelection...
posted by wittgenstein at 6:55 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


we have no idea what actually happened that day and yet so many pretend like they do

That is just simply not true. Do we know everything that happened? No, of course not. But as Corey said in her press conference, way too much info has been leaked than ever should have, so people have a relatively good idea of what the available facts are. I would imagine there are others the public don't know and, of course, there are facts no when will ever know, except maybe Zimmerman. To say we have no idea what happened is disingenuous.

"I hope Zimmerman rots." -- come on.

I read that as (if found guilty)I hope Zimmerman rots.
posted by holdkris99 at 6:57 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Artw, I don't believe the McNeil case is a good example of racial bias. The appeals verdict by the Supreme Court of Georgia describes McNeil as telling the 911 operator that he was going to whoop the victim's ass. Then he got his gun out, loaded it, and instigated an argument. The victim did have a knife, but it was folded and was in his pocket, not in his hand. Just like Zimmerman, if he would have stayed in his car and waited for the cops, no shooting would have happened. Just like Zimmerman, he lied to the cops about the victim attacking him. I hope the proliferation of McNeil mentions stops because it does not lend credibility to cases of actual racial bias.
posted by desjardins at 6:58 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ye gods, I hope not, unless they're actually running off the "How to Start a Race Riot" playbook.

The best part about any resulting riots would be the "Every generation needs a revolution" Thomas Jefferson misquoting Tea Party idiots tut-tutting about "Those People" who don't respect the rule of law.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:58 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's going to be frustrating if he gets off for murder two, when manslaughter could have been more easily had.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2012


Angela Corey has her own problems locally. Google the Christian Fernandez case

You are right wittgenstein (about Corey, but not about whether there is a rhinoceros in this room). Trying any 12 year old as an adult in any situation is barbaric.
posted by holdkris99 at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can you guess what's different?

Lots (sorry, were did you mean "which single irrelevant detail did the Salon article choose to highlight?")

Why did it take so long for the police and prosecutors to do anything?

They know about things like "right to a speedy trial" and stuff like that. This case is far from the slam-dunk conviction most people imagine it to be, and building up a strong enough case to secure an indictment (particularly when the initial conclusion was not to pursue charges at all) takes time. Dealing with public outcry, media requests, outside scrutiny, votes of no confidence, etc. tends to slow things down further.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:00 PM on April 11, 2012


It's going to be frustrating if he gets off for murder two, when manslaughter could have been more easily had.

I still think as i said in the other thread that this will be plead down to manslaughter and my natural cynicism led me at first to believe that they were charging 2nd degree as an appeasement to the public, knowing that they couldn't get a conviction. But, as I read more about Corey, I am not so sure.

I hope the proliferation of McNeil mentions stops because it does not lend credibility to cases of actual racial bias.


I disagree. The victim in the McNeil case had already threatened his son with the knife and was on McNeils property. Under Florida Law certainly the Stand Your Ground Law does not mean that you have to sit in your car in front of your house and just hope that the guy leaves. But there in lies the problem of those kind of laws and people carrying guns around with them. The crazy thing about the McNeil case to me is that a year later he was charged.
posted by holdkris99 at 7:07 PM on April 11, 2012


Ye gods, I hope not, unless they're actually running off the "How to Start a Race Riot" playbook.


There probably was always that they didn't even arrest the guy or seem to want to investigate it. Now that there's been so much build up, anything short of the chair is going to be seen as him getting off easy.

He's probably going to get manslaughter at best. More likely, he's going to get a hotshot celebrity lawyer and get off completely.
posted by empath at 7:08 PM on April 11, 2012


"the full weight of the authority of the prosecutor's office, i.e. the fucking State of Florida"

Two words - Casey Anthony.

What do we know? After Crystal Mangum's Duke Rape hoax and Jena 6, we know that the news is an undependable source for details of a crime scene. MSNBC's little audio editing snafu is just icing.
posted by Ardiril at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2012


Innocent until proven guilty is worth respecting, every time.

You're serious about this? Trayvon Martin is the one who has presumption of innocence. There is no question but that Zimmerman killed Martin - everyone admits that. The hypothetical thing absolving Zimmerman of guilt is the affirmative defense that requires us to believe that Martin is the one guilty of posing a threat to Zimmerman's life.
posted by 0xFCAF at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2012 [30 favorites]


The victim in the McNeil case had already threatened his son with the knife and was on McNeils property.

Not to further derail into McNeil territory, but the victim was not on McNeil's property at the time McNeil arrived. He left the property (to the next door neighbor's property) then returned when McNeil showed up with a gun in his hand. Apparently that's a major legal distinction in these kinds of cases.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:12 PM on April 11, 2012


I don't think the arrest means much. A judge can still throw this out at any time.

Judging from their press conference, it meant a lot to Trayvon's parents. They seem very open to just letting the system work, they just didn't to want to let the system ignore the killing of his son as if it never happened.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:14 PM on April 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


*their son
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:14 PM on April 11, 2012


Ah, thanks ShutterB. Also I just saw your linked comment from the old thread. Thanks for the clarification. It seems this SYG law is too nebulous and has too much grey area.
posted by holdkris99 at 7:15 PM on April 11, 2012


My mileage varies from theirs.
posted by Ardiril at 7:16 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trayvon Martin is the one who has presumption of innocence.

Trayvon hasn't been charged with anything, obviously.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:17 PM on April 11, 2012


Trayvon Martin is the one who has presumption of innocence.

Trayvon hasn't been charged with anything, obviously.


No, but he will be accused, at trial, of instigating the situation by the defense to prove self defense.
posted by holdkris99 at 7:19 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


No, but he will be accused, at trial, of instigating the situation by the defense to prove self defense.

And it's illegitimate somehow for Zimmerman's lawyers (whoever they may be) to present that as a defense?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:26 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Innocent until proven guilty is worth respecting, every time.

You're serious about this?


This is moronic. You don't get to selectively choose when you wait for the evidence to be shown and when you can just say, "I've heard enough! The newspapers told me so!" Well guess what, I have it on good account that Zimmerman is a witch.
posted by victory_laser at 7:26 PM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Maybe you've all been following it a lot closer than me, and there's a lot of evidence I just don't know about, but I think anyone making judgment calls now is just showing THEIR prejudice...and I say this as someone who thinks Zimmerman is an idiot, and most likely a trigger-happy guy who made an adrenaline-fueled deadly mistake (maybe even due to racism).

Personally, I'm withholding public judgment until I know more (while recognizing that only one side is going to get expressed fully).
posted by whatgorilla at 7:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


THEIR should read HIS/HER or HER/HIS. Damn tense agreement.
posted by whatgorilla at 7:30 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's new lawyer, "is a criminal and family law attorney, as well as a legal analyst for Central Florida's WKMG Channel 6."

The media circus continues.
posted by Ardiril at 7:32 PM on April 11, 2012


I'll add that in my mind, presuming guilt here is on par with saying, "They're terrorists; we can torture them."
posted by victory_laser at 7:33 PM on April 11, 2012


...what?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:35 PM on April 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


Zimmerman better hope his jury is made up of Sentinel Islanders and Papua New Guinea tribesmen, because he's not likely to get a fair trial otherwise.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:36 PM on April 11, 2012


Yeah, we're just assholes on the internet. We can presume whatever we want... but we ought to respect (or at least acknowledge) the fact that Zimmerman has a legal presumption of innocence and a right to a vigorous, aggressive legal defense.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:38 PM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


And it's illegitimate somehow for Zimmerman's lawyers (whoever they may be) to present that as a defense?

That's not illegitimate, but if anyone deserves the presumption of innocence it is Martin, and the onus is on Zimmerman's lawyers to prove otherwise.
posted by moorooka at 7:40 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we're just assholes on the internet. We can presume whatever we want... but we ought to respect (or at least acknowledge) the fact that Zimmerman has a legal presumption of innocence and a right to a vigorous, aggressive legal defense.

Yes. He absolutely should have those rights.

And then, very shortly thereafter - if there is any justice in the universe at all - he'll have a right to 3 hots and a cot for a very, very long time.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


On a more personal level, I hope Zimmerman rots.

You know, it's this kind of viewpoint about crimes not yet brought to jury with evidence, yet selectively speculated on via mass and social media, that scares the living crap out of me as to where this country is headed.

I'm not saying anyone is guilty or innocent here...there's no question on whether he shot Trayvon, it rather comes down to reckless speculation as to whether it was really self defense. (on preview: more on the lines of what valkyryn, pinksuperhero, victory_laser, and others are suggesting) The man needs an honest fair trial, and justice should be served accordingly based on evidence...atleast for the sake of our forefathers' envisioned American principles. Yet it's going to be tough for anyone watching the news to perceive a fair trial is taking place because of problems verifying "Stand your ground." It's also going to be difficult finding a jury that has no prior media/social network bias on the incident. And it's going to be incredibly difficult to get around the causation/correlation of race/severity when it comes to punishment and overall justice.

Setting this case to the side for a moment, what needs to be ultimately looked at here (and to be actually frustrated and/or angry about) are really two things: Florida's "stand your ground" law, which in its current state unfortunately has been leading to this situation more than a few times....and fair unbiased court trials (which...yea...is a doozy of a thought). Race needs to stay out of the review of the law itself...it is a question of determining when human on human gun violence is a crime, or self defense. For ubiased court trials, I really feel that the courts of this country, not just Florida are in need of some kind of internal auditing already to ensure that sentencing is fair for *ALL* races, classes, creeds, and religions (seriously, it's an issue that has existed in some form for the entire life of this country...the Lindsay Lohan's of the U.S. need to be served equal punishments as the less popular and wealthy). I fear people won't have faith in fair trials however...possibly ever...until Lady Justice has her blindfold repaired and put back on...unfortunately that burden is soley for judges and jurors to bear, which is open for biased judgements, and it's not being fairly exercised across the board.

So with that being said, I'm really more angry at this country, at the cops who did not arrest Zimmerman immediately for the sake of consistency, and the media for their recklessness, than I am at Zimmerman himself. People shoot each other all the time in this country of ours...whether it's out of passion, hate, accidents, or self defense. While absolutely tragic and heartwrenching in every case, there's no reason to feel particularly more rage towards Zimmerman than anyone else. There's plenty of reason to be disgusted at the status quo of media bias, vanity, and racism we currently *allow* to greatly influence our lives...
posted by samsara at 7:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, he did kill that guy, that is established fact. He has an excuse, and there are some blindspots around the excuse, but pretty much everything else is well documented at this point.
posted by Artw at 7:42 PM on April 11, 2012


Zimmerman better hope his jury is made up of Sentinel Islanders and Papua New Guinea tribesmen, because he's not likely to get a fair trial otherwise.

By this logic is it impossible to get a fair trial in any case that has been publicized so much? OJ, Casey Anthony, Sandusky coming up. What is the remedy for this situation if any?
posted by holdkris99 at 7:42 PM on April 11, 2012


"pretty much everything else is well documented at this point."

How many times have we seen similar circumstances, only to learn further details that nullified the perception?
posted by Ardiril at 7:46 PM on April 11, 2012


Ta-Nehisi Coates commented earlier today that, while a conviction may be out of the question, the fact that Zimmerman was actually charged with any crime is the significant point here. I feel the same way.
posted by Currer Belfry at 7:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's not illegitimate, but if anyone deserves the presumption of innocence it is Martin, and the onus is on Zimmerman's lawyers to prove otherwise.

What does that mean, in a practical sense? The state of Florida should start with the presumption that Martin did absolutely nothing to initiate a conflict with Zimmerman? That's stacking the deck. Zimmerman deserves a legal presumption of innocence, period, and it's up to the prosecution to prove that he's guilty of murder.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I also have to say that, given that Zimmerman is-- without dispute-- responsible for Martin's death, and given that if he is acquitted it will almost certainly be on the grounds of the Stand Your Ground law which is, in my opinion, an unjust and bullshitty law, I have no problem saying that I hope he goes to prison even though I don't know all of the circumstances around what occurred that night.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Innocent until proven guilty is worth respecting, every time.

Quotes from Zimmerman's 911 call:

"There's a real suspicious guy [gives location]. This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."

"He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male."

"Now he's looking right at me."

"Something's wrong with him."

"These assholes. They always get away."

"He's running... he's running toward the other entrance to the neighborhood" (note -- not running at Zimmerman, as he later claimed)

(911 operator): "Are you following him?"
Zimmerman: "Yep."
(911 operator) "Okay, we don't need you to do that."

"He ran." (Again, AWAY from Zimmerman, not toward him.)

(911 operator): "Okay, do you want to meet with the officers when they arrive?"
Zimmerman: "Yeah."
(911 operator): Where will you be?
Zimmerman [gives extensive directions to his current location] (Note - at this point Trayvon was still running away from Zimmerman, and Zimmerman said he would wait where he was for the cops.)

Zimmerman then changes his mind, and tells the 911 operator to have the cops call him when they arrive, and he would tell them where to meet him.

There is a recording, on another 911 call from a resident, of one of the two of them screaming for help. Forensics analysts have determined that it is not Zimmerman--as he later claimed.

George Zimmerman took his gun, got out of his car, chased down an unarmed teenaged boy who was running away from him, and then shot him to death.

When the cops came, he told them that he shot the kid to death.

What more evidence do you need for "proven guilty?"
posted by tzikeh at 7:49 PM on April 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


Well, it needs to go to court. And Zimmerman has a really shitty and hard to beleive excuse that people will argue the legitimacy of. But outside of that the whole "we don't know anything" thing is in the realm of space aliens and ancient egyptian curses now. Hey, the whole world could be a simulation inside the matrix, would he really be guilty then?

Also fuck Zimmerman even if Martins roundhouse kicked him to the face - that fucker was the initiator of the situation.
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is there any doubt that Zimmerman is guilty of at least manslaughter? Obviously, IANAL, but is it unreasonable for anyone to agree that he shot a young man in circumstances entirely of his own creation? Isn't that by default manslaughter?

I wholeheartedly agree that he deserves a fair trial, and tempting as it may be, I try not to pretend to know what's in his heart.

But I just don't think that anyone can reasonably say that his actions resulted in a totally unnecessary and avoidable death. Isn't that the definition of manslaughter? (Harrison's question, by the way)
posted by graphnerd at 7:54 PM on April 11, 2012


And if you're going to try and argue me into think Sanford PD need some kind of benefit of the doubt here, well, good luck...
posted by Artw at 7:56 PM on April 11, 2012


What more evidence do you need for "proven guilty?"

Well, technically, a court, a jury, and a ruling. That's the 'proven' part.

Although, personally, I'm convinced that this racist dick is a murderer and should go away for life.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:56 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


But I just don't think that anyone can reasonably say that his actions resulted in a totally unnecessary and avoidable death.

His actions resulted in a totally unnecessary and unavoidable death.
posted by holdkris99 at 7:57 PM on April 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


But since every newsrag and cable news channel in America loves a good race-baiting story, Florida prosecutors decide to actually act on this one. Pat on the back?

Although I feel uncomfortable defending the modern media, many would argue that the journalism / the news media exists so it can play this role - to call public agencies to account, to inform the public of injustice.
posted by Jimbob at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


um, avoidable death.
posted by holdkris99 at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2012


George Zimmerman's actions resulted the totally unnecessary and avoidable death of Trayvon Martin.

If George Zimmerman didn't do, oh -- 3 or 4 separate negligent acts, Trayvon Martin would be alive tonight, and George Zimmerman wouldn't be sitting in Jail awaiting a bail hearing tomorrow.
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm having a serious problem thinking this guy can get a fair trial. Not just in his county, but anywhere. The media has been saturated with people calling for his head. I think any prosecution here is going to run into serious Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment issues.

There has never been a case where somebody walks because the crime has too much notoriety.mremember, such concerns only come up in a motion for a new venue. By definition, every accused must have a place where they can be tried. You can bet his new attorneys are gonna look for the most racist white venue in FLA.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


AND... I take offense at the suggestion that calls for Zimmerman to be charged and explain to a Judge why he killed Trayvon Martin to be anything other than calls for due process.

To suggest that Zimmerman can't get a fair trial because everyone's been demanding he stand trial causes cognitive dissonance of such magnitude it HAS TO BE right out of the RNC strategy meetings...
posted by mikelieman at 8:03 PM on April 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Fortunately for Zimmerman's sake, this terrible fucking tragedy has somehow become a goddam partisan issue and almost just as many people have been loudly proclaiming his innocence as have been calling for his head.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:04 PM on April 11, 2012


By definition, every accused must have a place where they can be tried. You can bet his new attorneys are gonna look for the most racist white venue in FLA.

Wouldn't it be far more likely to be moved to Duval County on the basis of "security" and "access" a'la OJ being moved to LA County?
posted by Talez at 8:06 PM on April 11, 2012


has somehow become a goddam partisan issue

That's because EVERYTHING is a goddamned partisan issue in this country
posted by holdkris99 at 8:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, if you want to talk jury pools, what in holy hell were prior counsel doing in that presser yesterday? Going on national TV and telling the public and the prospective jury pool their client was crazy and had third party contact in which the facts of the case may have ben discussed? Fucking malpractice. That was one of the worst examples of lawyering I've ever seen.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:08 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's shameful that it took this long.
posted by Philofacts at 8:09 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to the Miami Herald, before a jury is even formed:
Once all the evidence has been provided to Zimmerman’s defense team, his lawyer can file a motion for immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law. A judge must hold an evidentiary hearing and decide by a “preponderance of the evidence” whether Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.
A "preponderance of the evidence", his lawyers don't even have to prove self-defense.
posted by Ardiril at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So presumably the crustiest, oldest, most racist fuck in the state is being dug up as we speak?
posted by Artw at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2012


"These assholes. They always get away."

"He's running... he's running toward the other entrance to the neighborhood" (note -- not running at Zimmerman, as he later claimed)

(911 operator): "Are you following him?"
Zimmerman: "Yep."
(911 operator) "Okay, we don't need you to do that."

"He ran." (Again, AWAY from Zimmerman, not toward him.)

(911 operator): "Okay, do you want to meet with the officers when they arrive?"
Zimmerman: "Yeah."


Like so many others, you just couldn't help doing some editing, could you?

After the police respondent (this was NOT a 911 call) says "we don't need you to do that," Zimmerman replies "Okay." and his labored breathing subsides, as does the sound of wind in his phone.

He is reluctant to give his home address, because, as he says "he doesn't know" where Trayvon is at that moment, and might be hiding close by, listening. If he was "pursuing" Trayvon, he's certainly not very good at it, having lost him in less than 30 seconds.

I don't mean to call you out in particular, but this kind of subtle "leaving out details" happens SO often in protracted discussions like this (to the point where it becomes accepted fact) that it causes a lot more people to rush to judgement on faulty information.

A few minor details might not make or break the entire case, but as you've used this call to do just that (i.e. "what more evidence do you need?") then it becomes REALLY important to get 100% of the facts straight.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


The standard for 'preponderance of the evidence' is 'more likely to be true than not true'.

They'd have to prove it's more likely that Trayvon Martin "had enough and attacked whitey" rather than George Zimmerman, who while armed, disobeyed competent advice against his course of action, left his vehicle, and hunted after and killed Trayvon Martin after stating for the record his frustration that "These assholes always get away"...

Trayvon Martin sure didn't get away from George Zimmerman that night, did he?

Motion denied.
posted by mikelieman at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2012


Mark my words: Zimmerman will walk because of the "stand your ground" law.
posted by photoslob at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2012


An interesting point about "innocent until proven guilty":
"Innocent until proven guilty" is a phrase that separates (at least in theory) the United States from totalitarian states where an accused criminal must prove his/her innocence. It refers only to the rights of a defendant within the legal system, however. As noted by Vincent Bugliosi in his book "Outrage," which examined another controversial case, "Contrary to common belief, the presumption of innocence applies only inside a courtroom. It has no applicability elsewhere, although the media do not seem to be aware of this. .... Actually, even in court there are problems with the presumption of innocence. ...Conviction rates show that it is ridiculous to presume that when the defendant is arrested, charged with a crime, and brought to trial, he is usually innocent. But obviously, the converse presumption that a defendant is presumed to be guilty would be far worse and, indeed, intolerable. ... The solution would seem to be to eliminate the presumption-of-innconce instruction to the jury, keeping those two necessary corollaries of presumption which do have enormous merit: first, the fact that the defendant has been arrested for and charged with a crime is no evidence of his guilt and should not be used against him; and second and more important, under our system of justice the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt. The defendant has no burden to prove his innocence." (pages 21-3)

A citizen has no obligation, legal or otherwise, to assume a person accused of a crime is "innocent until proven guilty." If, however, a person who has formed a belief of either guilt or innocence is called for jury duty, the court is obligated to reject them. This is the clearest proof that the concept is only used within the court system. Further, to eliminate any lingering doubt about this issue, if a person is charged by their employer of theft, the employer has no legal obligation to wait until there is a court verdict before firing the accused thief.
posted by TDavis at 8:23 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is all about race, always has been. We are profiled, targeted, incarcerated and killed way more than others. Al Sharpton is doing great work. Everyone at the press conference was on point. The Mazda/Rolls Royce analogy sucked. All in all, I'm am as satisfied as I can be with the south right now. Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, has really white teeth.
posted by Flex1970 at 8:23 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Like so many others, you just couldn't help doing some editing, could you?

What part of "Quotes from Zimmerman's 911 call" was unclear? I didn't say this was a transcript--in fact I made it clear that it wasn't--so take your smugness somewhere else.

He is reluctant to give his home address, because, as he says "he doesn't know" where Trayvon is at that moment,

I never said anything about him being reluctant to give his home address, so I don't know why you're bringing that up.

I don't mean to call you out in particular, but this kind of subtle "leaving out details" happens SO often in protracted discussions

Again, I point to the word "quotes." If I said "transcript" and then selectively edited it, you could call it "leaving out details." But I didn't.
posted by tzikeh at 8:25 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"They'd have to prove it's more likely that Trayvon Martin 'had enough and attacked whitey'"

Didn't Martin's girl-friend tell him to run and his reply was along the lines of “I'm not going to run"? If you are going to believe everything the news media tells you, then you pretty much have to believe *everything* the news media tells you.
posted by Ardiril at 8:26 PM on April 11, 2012


To Corey's credit, she's got some snarling-dog credentials (from wikipedia):

In 2011 Corey's office oversaw a case in which 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez was accused of killing his two-year-old brother. Corey sought and received a grand jury indictment Fernandez on charges of homicide and aggravated child abuse, and decided to try him as an adult.[13] This move, which made Fernandez the youngest person ever to face a murder charge in Jacksonville's history, drew criticism and protests to send the case to juvenile court instead,[14] but Corey held that the juvenile system was inadequate to handle a crime of this magnitude.[15] However, Corey stated she did not intend for Fernandez to stand trial or serve a life sentence, but would rather accept a plea deal.[16] As of February 1, 2012 the defense and prosecution had not agreed to a plea deal, but were still in discussion. A trial was scheduled for February 27, 2012, but was postponed.[17]
posted by Ardiril at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2012


If I were a court officer in the jurisdiction in question, or were on a jury panel, I would absolutely presume his innocence unless and until over the course of the trial, his guilt were to be proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt.

But since my opinion has no bearing on the case, and in no realistic way could anything I have to say have any affect on its outcome, I am free to state my opinion.

If the facts as stated are accurate (and I have no reason to doubt that they are), the timeline played out thusly:

Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious person.
911 told him not to follow or engage with this person and to remain where he was.
Zimmerman declined to remain where he was and followed Martin.
Some sort of confrontation took place.
Martin was ENTIRELY unarmed, unless you count Tea and a bag of Skittles.
Zimmerman shot Martin.

My conclusion is this:
Zimmerman is guilty as fuck, and should probably be up for Murder One not Murder Two.
posted by chimaera at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, "selected quotes, with unspecified redactions from Zimmerman's call to the Police non-emergency line."

Recall the hot water NBC got in for pretty much the same kind of "leaving out a key portion of the call" a couple of weeks ago.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:31 PM on April 11, 2012


Anyone else think it's weird that we have no idea what actually happened that day and yet so many pretend like they do. This whole treatment of the story is sensational and a little disgusting. "I hope Zimmerman rots." -- come on. It's so obvious people who say stuff like this are just unloading personal/cultural baggage. Innocent until proven guilty is worth respecting, every time.
posted by victory_laser at 6:52 PM on April 11 [8 favorites +] [!]


I came in late but for this ^ and all others sticking up for fair process and don't forget innocent until proven guilty that went out the door when (now-)murder suspect George Zimmerman shot and killed someone who happened to be 1) unarmed, and 2) a teenager but then was not subject to ordinary murder investigation or even standard policy follow-up after the "incident" [sic right?].

This is not all about George Zimmerman. This is not even about Trayvon Martin. This is about everyone who could be George Zimmermans and the rest of us who could be Trayvon Martins.

I say "the rest of us" because I am one of the people not out hunting people who I believe may be doing criminal. And that is the difference between Travon Martin and George Zimmerman in my book. George Zimmerman was hunting people. Then when he killed one of us, he was allowed to go back out and be on his way with the (then) implicit understanding that maybe he would get to do it again.

And by us I mean people who aren't hunting George Zimmermans.
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:32 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Didn't Martin's girl-friend tell him to run and his reply was along the lines of “I'm not going to run"?

Under Florida Law, Trayvon Martin had no duty to run away from his attacker.
posted by mikelieman at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well publicized, controversial issue. And people have opinions? Without seeing all the evidence? This is my shocked face. Of course, Zimmerman deserves a fair trial and presumption of innocence . . . in court.

Not here though. People are free to express whatever their opinion is about this case, thankfully. This doesn't make one a bad person with personal baggage or whatever the hell nonsense has been bandied about in this thread. It makes them human. I think one would struggle to find to many people who haven't formed an opinion about this, or myriad other cases through history, and probably without much of a look at the actual evidence.

This isn't a bad thing, unless you're a juror and then, you probably won't be a juror.

It does seem that the basic fact in the case: George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, is not in dispute.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Recall the hot water NBC got in for pretty much the same kind of "leaving out a key portion of the call" a couple of weeks ago.

Yeah, but I'm not a news organization.

And the fact that he was on the phone with an official law-enforcement agency, and not 911, makes the fact that he went after Martin after being told not to worse, not better.
posted by tzikeh at 8:34 PM on April 11, 2012


How about y'all just imagine for a moment that it went down something like this:

-- Trayvon's coming back with drink & skittles
-- Zimm sees him and assumes he's up to no good; alerts cops; follows
-- Trayvon sees Zimm following, assumes Zimm is coming after him
-- Zimm assumes Trayvon is running away
-- Eventually they confront each other. Both say the same thing: "What the fuck do you think you're doing"
-- confrontation escalates. Trayvon, the stronger, ends up on top of Zimm. Zimm goes for gun. Trayvon sees it, fears for life, whacks Zimm's head on pavement. Zimm fears for life, gets gun shoots.

You don't have to assume malice or idiocy on either person's part for this. But it isn't 2nd degree murder.

Always assume in cases like this that the facts will confound your favorite reading of it.
posted by unSane at 8:38 PM on April 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


He wasn't explicilty told not to go after Trayvon, although the meaning was pretty clear. What the officer said was 'we don't NEED you to go after him'. The defence will be using the wording, trust me.
posted by unSane at 8:39 PM on April 11, 2012


Zimmerman deserves a legal presumption of innocence

which, in this case, is equivalent to saying that Martin deserves to be presumed guilty. See how fucked up this Stand Your Ground law is?
posted by moorooka at 8:39 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course, Angela Corey being an Episcopalian Republican up for reelection this fall has no bearing whatsoever.
posted by Ardiril at 8:40 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


By definition, every accused must have a place where they can be tried. You can bet his new attorneys are gonna look for the most racist white venue in FLA.
Wouldn't it be far more likely to be moved to Duval County on the basis of "security" and "access" a'la OJ being moved to LA County?


I'm not sure what you're getting at here. If you're trying to get Zimmerman acquitted by a racist jury, Duval isn't the ideal jurisdiction. (Also, even though the OJ trial was moved within the county, neither the murders nor any of the court proceedings took place outside Los Angeles County.)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:42 PM on April 11, 2012


You don't have to assume malice or idiocy on either person's part for this. But it isn't 2nd degree murder.

From your own recounting:

Zimmerman follows a kid who is running away, after alerting the cops.
Trayvon assumes Zimmerman is following him -- and he is.
Zimmerman has a gun in his car, which he takes with him and gets out of the car to pursue a kid who is running away.

Tell me there's no malice here. (Idiocy is implicit.)
posted by tzikeh at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


How has Fox Nation reacted to the news of Zimmerman's arrest?

sierra10
Ni gg ers are taking over.
Buy those guns white America.....and learn how to use them.
The savages are restless.

.
.
.

TONY1954
They can put Zimmerman on trial and they may even convict him, but George has saved countless victims by taking out this animal before he got the chance to hurt anyone else. Plus probably hundreds of victims from the offspring this thug would have more than likely produced with the neigborhood mamas.
2 people liked this

.
.
.
gruntworker
Time to disassociate from Blax. We have done everything we can for them since the civil war where we lost almost 600,000 whites fighting on their behalf. They have no appreciation and still hate us. No matter how much we give them, they continue the racist march. Don't hire them or befriend them...they have proven they cannot be trusted to be intelligent and fair. Blax are only concerned for other Blax...they care nothing about anyone else.
19 people liked this.
.
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.

etcetera
posted by moorooka at 8:45 PM on April 11, 2012


Mark my words: Zimmerman will walk because of the "stand your ground" law.

Only if the court allows defense counsel to mislead the jury as to the nature of that law, which does not allow you to invoke it in a situation that you have escalated.

which, in this case, is equivalent to saying that Martin deserves to be presumed guilty. See how fucked up this Stand Your Ground law is?

The "stand your ground" law has absolutely nothing to do with being presumed innocent until you're proven guilty. Nothing.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have done everything we can for them since the civil war where we lost almost 600,000 whites fighting on their behalf.

Brain... melting... cannot... process....
posted by tzikeh at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Trayvon hasn't been charged with anything, obviously.

Whatever he might have been charged with, a sincerely doubt the punishment would have been to be executed in the street.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't Martin's girl-friend tell him to run and his reply was along the lines of “I'm not going to run"?

He said he wad not going to run but was going to walk.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 PM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Zimmerman deserves a legal presumption of innocence
which, in this case, is equivalent to saying that Martin deserves to be presumed guilty.
What a bizarre assertion.

It doesn't say anything at all about Martin. It says that Zimmerman should not be found guilty in the legal sense without a fair trial in which the prosecution proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Just like every defendant.
posted by Flunkie at 8:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


If the facts as stated are accurate (and I have no reason to doubt that they are), the timeline played out thusly:

Zimmerman called the Police to report a suspicious person.
Some sort of confrontation took place.
Zimmerman shot Martin.


So far I think those are the only facts that both sides would be willing to stipulate on.

I know these itemized lists get a little redundant, and are something of a cop-out when it comes to online debate, but since we're dealing with a timeline, here are the errors:

It was a non-emergency call to police, not 911. (a minor point, but assuming that it was a 911 call could lead people to think that Zimmerman was prone to overreacting, thinking that a dark kid in a hoodie was an "emergency."

Zimmerman was not told by 911 "not to follow" Martin, and was not told to "stay where you are." (he was advised by the police operator that "we don't need you to do that." (as noted elsewhere, this is likely a carefully worded phrase, indicating neither advice nor consent, though maybe an implicit instruction not to do so. Neither did they tell him to "stay where you are".

Zimmerman declined to remain where he was and followed Martin.
Unknown. By the time Zimmerman's call ended, he had lost Martin: "I don't know where this kid is."

Some sort of confrontation took place.

Agreed. The nature of the confrontation is more or less the whole key, isn't it? Unless you're arguing for premeditation?

Martin was ENTIRELY unarmed, unless you count Tea and a bag of Skittles.

I haven't heard anything to the contrary, although that's not quite the same as stating it as a fact. It's *probably* a fact, though.

Zimmerman shot Martin.

Indeed.

You're concluding "guilty as fuck" but I'm concluding "I don't think we know NEARLY enough about it."

I'm starting to feel a bit like Juror Number 8 here.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


There is no way this guy is getting off. I don't think even the most fervent racists would contest the facts as we currently understand them. I don't think Angela Corey or anyone else involved would risk their career by doing anything less than their best. Why exactly is a judge, prosecutor or anyone else under public scrutiny going to help out a nutjob who gunned down a kid. The time to make the case quietly dissapear has already passed. Nobody in a position of power is going to help this guy.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:55 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note, folks, that NBC is being extremely manipulative in how they present images and evidence in this case. In addition to leaving out the part of the 911 call that made Zimmerman sound much less racist and culpable, they're also pulling tricks like running pictures of Trayvon when he was 13, looking all cute and vulnerable, next to pictures of Martin, when he was much heavier than he is now, in a prison jumpsuit from some other arrest.

The coverage, at least from that network, is totally slanted to get your outraged eyeballs. You are not getting the truth from that outfit, and I think we may not be really getting the truth from ANY of the media outlets. So I'd strongly suggest being patient and waiting to see what the jury says.

I agree completely that he should have been arrested and charged, but I am not convinced he's actually guilty, and you shouldn't be either, because you are being actively manipulated to be angry about the case.

Outraged people come back, you see, to receive more ad impressions.
posted by Malor at 8:56 PM on April 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


I don't think even the most fervent racists would contest the facts as we currently understand them.
I think you underestimate the fervor of the most fervent racists.
posted by Flunkie at 8:58 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


What a bizarre assertion. It doesn't say anything at all about Martin.

yes it does. Zimmerman's only defence under the law is that he was protecting himself from Martin. Since there is no doubt that Zimmerman killed Martin, the only doubt is whether it was in self-defence or not. The presumption of Zimmerman's innocence is therefore a presumption of Martin's guilt.
posted by moorooka at 9:00 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


The presumption of Zimmerman's innocence is therefore a presumption of Martin's guilt.

Not according to any accepted American jurisprudence.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:01 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Trayvon hasn't been charged with anything, obviously.

Whatever he might have been charged with, a sincerely doubt the punishment would have been to be executed in the street.


Neither is the punishment for spousal abuse to be shot to death in your home. Except when it's justified*. (apologies for another potential de-rail, but court decisions are so often based on precedent that it feels equally appropriate to mention previous cases with occasionally similar details

*I was going to link to a specific story I had in mind, but a quick Google search reveals that it happens fairly often. The point I'm going for, though, is that a "self defense" plea does not invalidate or otherwise infringe upon (or indeed have anything to do with) the right of the deceased to be "presumed innocent."
posted by ShutterBun at 9:02 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not according to any accepted American jurisprudence.

Just logic.
posted by moorooka at 9:03 PM on April 11, 2012


Oh, please, moorooka. You're throwing away a fundamental basis of fair legal systems since there was such a thing as a fair legal system.
posted by Flunkie at 9:04 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


because you are being actively manipulated to be angry about the case.

Sorry, no, I don't actually need photo and evidence manipulation to be outraged over the murder of an unarmed kid.
posted by elizardbits at 9:06 PM on April 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


Logic and truth play second fiddle to procedure.
posted by Ardiril at 9:06 PM on April 11, 2012


Just logic.

Not even that. The legal system's presumption of a defendant's innocence never implies any guilt on a victim's part. It simply doesn't work that way.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Easy, Malor. I doubt most people are taking in all their news directly and only from NBC. There is plenty of information coming from a number of sources, that we can see and hear regarding this case.
posted by cashman at 9:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you underestimate the fervor of the most fervent racists.

Maybe I do but I don't think they are under any illusion that Trayvon was the agressor here. Everything we know so far points to Zimmermman stalking and shooting Trayvon. Trayvon had a legitimate fear for his life, a man with a gun was following him. In my mind he would have been justified in doing whatever it took to prevent his own death. There is no way a dude can follow you with a gun, you try to fight him off, and he gets to claim self defense.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Legal cases are much easier to decide based on "the facts as we understand them," without all that "cross-examination" mumbo-jumbo.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, please, moorooka. You're throwing away a fundamental basis of fair legal systems since there was such a thing as a fair legal system.

Well, if the "Stand Your Ground" Law relates in any way, shape or form to Zimmerman's style of vigilante hoodie-hunting, then I would say that this Law has nothing to do with "fair legal systems" anyway.
posted by moorooka at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I watched the press conference on CNN this afternoon. She seemed a little pleased with herself, but that aside, she did a good though sometimes wordy job explaining the facts and the process. For me, it was all OK till near the end, when she said that the first thing she did with the Martin family was to pray. I can see expressing sympathy, and saying she would get justice done, or whatever, but praying?
posted by anothermug at 9:10 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


He'll get a trial. It won't be a fair one given the media hue and cry, the trial will likely be decided at the jury selection stage. Too many influenced by the Trayvon Martin was a golden cherub stories and Zimmerman will spend quite a long time in jail. Too many influenced by Faux News and he walks.

If you're of the mind that he should just proceed directly to jail/freedom because of the risk of the above working against your beliefs on this... I need you to either go for full Wild Wild West or exit the country. A poisoned process with the trappings of legitimacy is quite deadly.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:10 PM on April 11, 2012


There is no way a dude can follow you with a gun, you try to fight him off, and he gets to claim self defense.

At the risk of playing both sides of the coin, here: police officers do this ALL THE TIME.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:10 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Neither is the punishment for spousal abuse to be shot to death in your home. Except when it's justified*

I suppose I remember exactly this discussion when Bernhard Goetz shot four young black men in a NYC subway in 1984. They had said "Give me five dollars!" They said they were panhandling, Goetz said they were robbing him. One was permanently paralyzed. Goetz became something of a hero.

I suppose it depends on what sort of lens you see things through. I see it through the lens that if a black person seems scary, in this country, they have historically invited a death sentence, to the sounds of celebration. I will be curious to see if the facts of this case demonstrate justifiable homicide. I think this will be consistent with previous cases like it, in which being black and scary is too often fatal.

As to reserving my judgment -- I am not his jury. I can look at the facts of the case as they stand now and come to a conclusion. If new facts come out, I will revise my opinion, but, as it stands, my opinion is this: a young man was shot for being black.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


The legal system's presumption of a defendant's innocence never implies any guilt on a victim's part.

It might not imply guilt in the legal sense, although being dead I doubt Martin will appreciate the distinction.
posted by moorooka at 9:11 PM on April 11, 2012


The legal sense is what the people you're arguing with are talking about, moorooka.
posted by Flunkie at 9:12 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe I do but I don't think they are under any illusion that Trayvon was the agressor here.
The way Zimmerman tells it, that's what happened. Zimmerman makes it seem like oh sure, he was upset and saying "these assholes always get away" and following Trayvon armed with a gun, but once he got into a confrontation with Trayvon, he was like "Hi fella! I don't have a problem at all, I just noticed your shoe was scuffed and I wanted to shine it for ya!" and that black beast attacked him.

And like someone said, if they get the trial in some parts of Florida, they could easily find enough xenophobic fucks that get terrified and believe it.
posted by cashman at 9:13 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The legal sense is what the people you're arguing with are talking about, moorooka.

And if Zimmerman is found innocent, then the only reason Martin wouldn't be legally guilty is because he's too dead to be charged with attacking Zimmerman.
posted by moorooka at 9:15 PM on April 11, 2012


What a bizarre assertion. It doesn't say anything at all about Martin.

yes it does. Zimmerman's only defence under the law is that he was protecting himself from Martin.


Really? Zimmerman's only possible defense is he was protecting himself? Hardly.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:15 PM on April 11, 2012


And if Zimmerman is found innocent, then the only reason Martin wouldn't be legally guilty is because he's too dead to be charged with attacking Zimmerman.
No, the only reason Martin wouldn't be legally guilty is because he hadn't received a fair trial in which the prosecution proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Do you seriously not understand this?
posted by Flunkie at 9:16 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


So with charges finally being filed I guess there's nothing really to discuss until the case is presented and a verdict is in.
posted by mazola at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no way a dude can follow you with a gun, you try to fight him off, and he gets to claim self defense.

Some questions to which we do not know the answer (and to which you are presuming answers prejudicial to Zimmerman's case):

At what point did Martin become aware that Zimmerman was armed?
At what point did Martin draw his weapon?
Was Zimmerman following Martin at the time of the confrontation between them (Zimmerman's phone call to the police ends with him having lost Martin and declaring that he is returning to his vehicle to await the police).
Who initiated the altercation between Martin and Zimmerman?

Without answers to these questions it is impossible to make any meaningful judgment about the strength of the legal case against Zimmerman. Anyone claiming to know the answers from the evidence thus far made public in the media is simply running with a story that happens to flatter their particular prejudices.

And no, arguments from incredulity don't actually help us answer any of these questions.
posted by yoink at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sorry, that should read "at what point did Zimmerman draw his weapon" obviously.
posted by yoink at 9:21 PM on April 11, 2012


At what point did Martin draw his weapon?

I assume you mean Zimmerman here because otherwise o_O
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 PM on April 11, 2012


as it stands, my opinion is this: a young man was shot for being black.

At the risk of bringing logic back into the discussion, this is a classic "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" conclusion. He was black, he was shot, Therefore he was shot because he was black. It's your opinion, and you're entitled to it, but aren't you at least curious about the several hundred tidbits of extenuating circumstances that make up EVERY SINGLE murder trial?
posted by ShutterBun at 9:24 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you don't want to talk about the case, the unedited 911 calls, the police video, Zimmerman's father's statements, witness videos and other information, you can always leave the thread. But some of these questions we'll always only have one side of the story on, because one of the parties is dead. So if you don't want to talk about it, don't. But trying to stop other people from doing so, on a message board, is silly I think.
posted by cashman at 9:25 PM on April 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


but aren't you at least curious about the several hundred tidbits of extenuating circumstances that make up EVERY SINGLE murder trial?

Your presumption that I haven't looked into this case is not accurate.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"In general I feel like if you're shooting and killing unarmed people you should probably go to jail."

I've found this whole discussion very odd because, years ago, I got into an argument here with a departed-though-prominent mefite who told a story of how he got into an argument with a cable installer in his home.

The installer had greasy hands and was getting prints on the wall he was working on; the mefite asked him to clean his hands; the installer didn't; and they began yelling at each other. At some point, the mefite felt threatened (threats weren't made, just angry words and gestures, and the installer didn't immediately leave when commanded to do so) so the mefite went to his desk and pulled out his gun, which he pointed at the installer and insisted the installer leave. The installer left.

The mefite told this story with a clear sense of satisfaction about how he'd protected himself from this cable installer and became very angry and defensive when I responded to his story critically.

...because I found the whole story pretty appalling — not only was it unnecessary to bring a handgun into a heated situation where previously everyone was unarmed, but I also thought it was foolish. I assumed — incorrectly many argued — that you can't just shoot and kill an unarmed person, even in your home (and especially someone who was invited in), without being investigated and possibly charged. I had thought that self-defense was an available legal defense both during investigation and at trial, but that even within one's home it wasn't automatic or prohibited any real police/prosecutorial scrutiny. Especially when the dead person is unarmed and was a guest. But, according to several people in that thread, this isn't the case. This is nuts. It's doubly and triply nuts that the same thing can happen outdoors, off one's own property, via the insane stand-your-ground law.

And, regardless, I thought it was foolish beyond the legal ramifications. How is someone going to feel having shot and killed an unarmed person because they were acting "threatening"? And, more to the point of the Trayvon story, this was a well-off mefite in a nice home in a nice neighborhood. There'd be some press about a lowly, unarmed cable installer shot dead by a well-off homeowner who was upset about the installer's greasy hands. It would be a good way to badly complicate one's life for the sake of refusing to simply walk away.

My opinion was a minority one in that thread. The majority felt that the mefite's actions were justified, not unwise, and that had he shot and even killed the installer, he would not have been charged or even investigated. On MetaFilter, was this general opinion.

I don't really care if Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. Zimmerman created that situation, he was looking to make something happen, he's responsible for the consequences of bringing his gun to the confrontation and using it. There should be serious and adverse consequences when you kill someone you've intentionally attacked, even in self-defense, and especially when you've used a gun.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2012 [31 favorites]


as it stands, my opinion is this: a young man was shot for being black.

That is not the crux of the issue here. The focus on Zimmerman and whether he was a shining-armored hero protecting a bedeviled community or a white-sheeted racist with a hankering for a lynching is entirely missing the point. The point isn't whether or not Trayvon Martin was shot for being black; the point, the tragedy, the outrage here is that his killer was not even properly investigated. And while it might just be the truth that the Sanford Police Department is incompetent, or corrupt, or that word came down from on high that Zimmerman was to be protected, it might also be the truth that Martin was an easy victim not to fight for on account of his race.

There are going to be bad guys doing bad things and killing people for no reason until the Earth melts and falls into the sun. What we depend on is having a fair, transparent, forthright system in place to investigate those crimes and prosecute the wrongdoers. If we don't have that, we don't NEED white-sheeted racists brandishing firearms! The system will just grind up people of color and slough them to the side, with eyes averted so we can all fake our innocence.

It may be that Zimmerman's defense makes an argument that genuinely exonerates the dude. He may, in fact, be totally innocent of any crime. But to just assume he is, because his dad is a judge and his victim is black? That is more poisonous than any one individual racist can be. And I think the focus on personal racism here instead of institutional racism is really troubling.
posted by KathrynT at 9:34 PM on April 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


they're also pulling tricks like running pictures of Trayvon when he was 13, looking all cute and vulnerable, next to pictures of Martin, when he was much heavier than he is now, in a prison jumpsuit from some other arrest.

This is seriously fucked up, that's all, and I expect better from MetaFilter.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:35 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


and given that if he is acquitted it will almost certainly be on the grounds of the Stand Your Ground law which is, in my opinion, an unjust and bullshitty law, I have no problem saying that I hope he goes to prison even though I don't know all of the circumstances around what occurred that night.

I don't see any way to read this except that you don't actually care if Zimmerman broke any laws, you hope he goes to jail no matter what can be proven or even what actually happened. Which would be a far more dangerous result than even Zimmerman not having been charged in the first place would have been. I hope Zimmerman goes to jail for a long time if he can be shown to have broken the law. I hope he gets acquitted if he cannot be shown to have broken a law.

What you are exhibiting is pure bloodlust rather than a desire for justice.
posted by Justinian at 9:35 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


a young man was shot for being black

I think a young man was shot because he was black, but that's not quite the same thing. That is, if Martin had been white and all other circumstances the same Zimmerman wouldn't have called the cops, wouldn't have followed him, and everyone gets to go home safe. In that sense, Martin is clearly yet another victim of a racist society. But that's a far cry from "shot for being black." There's still plenty of room in the story for potential scenarios in which Zimmerman's use of the gun is legally defensible. Nothing we know rules out the possibility that Martin did, in fact, initiate the physical altercation between the two men. Maybe he was scared. Maybe he thought Zimmerman was some kind of sexual predator. Who the heck knows? Nobody in this thread, that's for sure. And once the physical altercation starts, if Zimmerman didn't initiate it, he has a very clear legal right to defend himself if he feels that he is threatened with serious physical injury.

I don't have a clue what happened on that night. I doubt we will ever be confident that we know what happened. But I am amazed at people's willingness to simply assume that they know how it "must" have happened in the absence of almost any supporting evidence.
posted by yoink at 9:36 PM on April 11, 2012


Trayvon had a legitimate fear for his life, a man with a gun was following him. In my mind he would have been justified in doing whatever it took to prevent his own death.

Well, closing ground proved a poor choice.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:38 PM on April 11, 2012


Of course there are a lot of question, we are not in a court of law and we are all just bullshitting here , but I simply don't think it is credible that Zimmermman was defending himself. Even if Trayvon had hid in the bushes, lured Zimmermman out of his car and tried to kill him with a rock Trayvon would still have been in the right. Assuming that Zimmermman did in fact shoot him, and there was no second gunman in the grassy knoll, Trayvon had a legitimate fear for his safety. A strange dude in a car was clearly following him. How long does he have to wait before he does something?

Of course this is all for the courts to decide, but based on what little I know, I think that Zimmermman initiated the incident as soon as he started tailing Trayvon. Trayvon, if in fact he tried to "turn the tables" on Zimmermman, was in the right, his fear that he might be killed was proved correct. We can never know what would have happened if Trayvon had tried to run, or knocked on a door, or anything else. He may have been shot and killed no matter what he did.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:38 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The same evidence required to prove Martin's guilt should be required to prove Zimmerman's innocence - the fact that it isn't just goes to show what an abomination this "Stand Your Ground" law is. Any random kid can be hunted down a dark street and killed by a stranger for no reason at all, but the killer will only be prosecuted if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that this random dead kid didn't attack the killer just before being shot!

And the funny thing is that even if Martin had attacked Zimmerman, he could invoke the same stupid law - because Zimmerman was following him with violent intent. It's like, whoever kills first gets to be presumed innocent! Speaking as someone from the other side of the world, the whole thing is just demented. What a fucked-up country.
posted by moorooka at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Is Malor still talking shit about a dead kid? Just checking. Count me the fuck out.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:42 PM on April 11, 2012


The same evidence required to prove Martin's guilt should be required to prove Zimmerman's innocence
People shouldn't be required to prove their innocence. It's frankly amazing to me that you're still making statements phrased in ways like that. Good night.
posted by Flunkie at 9:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you don't want to talk about the case, the unedited 911 calls, the police video, Zimmerman's father's statements, witness videos and other information, you can always leave the thread.

Even with those things, there are some pieces we are missing :

- The ME's report. Yeah, we heard from the coroner, but his testimony to a reporter isn't what the court is going to hear. Depending on what the ME found, Mr. Zimmerman could either be very toast or in a much better position.

- Actual witness statements. We've heard the Mary Cutcher's and Co. stories for the reporters, but it would be foolish to assume that every witness came forward to the press and not the police. There may very well be a credible eye witness to the entire event we don't know about yet.

- Other evidence not released. What they found on Mr. Zimmerman's clothing, etc.

So, yeah, there is room here for Mr. Zimmerman to walk.

But, I gotta say that if the prosecutor feels like she can charge and get Murder 2, I'm not feeling the warm fuzzies about any of those things being exculpatory for Mr. Zimmerman.

IMO, Mr. Zimmerman's hopes at this point lay with a lenient judge and/or police misconduct a la LAPD planting evidence.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:42 PM on April 11, 2012


I don't have a clue what happened on that night. I doubt we will ever be confident that we know what happened. But I am amazed at people's willingness to simply assume that they know how it "must" have happened in the absence of almost any supporting evidence.

Look, almost everything we discuss on here, is from incomplete information. Some newsworthy situation where we will never have all the facts. It gets discussed with the information we have, from news media and through things people can find on websites and such. If you feel like you can't talk about it, don't.

I don't know why you're acting like all we have is a mugshot and a dead 17-year-old. There is a ton of information, statements, calls, records and information from witnesses. If you don't have information, maybe you should read more. There has been a new unnamed female witness who has appeared through her attorney just in the past week or so. If you don't feel like you can talk about the case, then don't.
posted by cashman at 9:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


they're also pulling tricks like running pictures of Trayvon when he was 13, looking all cute and vulnerable, next to pictures of Martin, when he was much heavier than he is now, in a prison jumpsuit from some other arrest.

This is so old and busted. They ran those photos originally, like every other news organization, because they were the available photos. Everyone has been showing the newer photos now.

But what about Fox News still using the old Zimmerman mugshot, biased against him?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:44 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The same evidence required to prove Martin's guilt should be required to prove Zimmerman's innocence - the fact that it isn't just goes to show what an abomination this "Stand Your Ground" law is.

Perhaps you don't know this, but in the American legal system, and even in your own, defendants are considered to be innocent until proven guilty. The "stand your ground" law has absolutely nothing to do with this.

What a fucked-up country.

Yes, but not for the reasons you've invented.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:44 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


.

[for Trayvon & his family].
posted by ericb at 9:46 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't see any way to read this except that you don't actually care if Zimmerman broke any laws, you hope he goes to jail no matter what can be proven or even what actually happened. Which would be a far more dangerous result than even Zimmerman not having been charged in the first place would have been. I hope Zimmerman goes to jail for a long time if he can be shown to have broken the law. I hope he gets acquitted if he cannot be shown to have broken a law.

What you are exhibiting is pure bloodlust rather than a desire for justice.


You misunderstand. My contention is that the Stand Your Ground law(s) enable murderers to escape justice, and that if Zimmerman is acquitted, it will be for this reason. Not every law is just.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:46 PM on April 11, 2012


People shouldn't be required to prove their innocence.

Yes and this is especially true of dead people, although this is effectively what "Stand Your Ground" requires for a prosecution.
posted by moorooka at 9:48 PM on April 11, 2012


There are two sides arguing, but it seems like both sides are a bit vague on how sure/unsure they are on some important points. It seems like a lot of people are just talking over each other, so I'd like to ask:

Given what we know:

How likely is it that Trayvon came back to confront Z?

How likely is it that Z was alternatively retreating back to his car, just standing and looking around, or pursuing Trayvon when either one approached?

How likely is it that one or the other was more aggressive verbally before the fight?

How likely is it that one or the other started physical altercation?

How likely is it that one or the other escalated the fight (e.g. from pushing or grabbing to punches to knock down)?

How likely is it that cries for help were Trayvon or Z's, given the 911 tape analysis by experts?

How likely is it that Trayvon and Z fought for the gun before Z pulled it out?
posted by rainy at 9:49 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really happy Zimmerman got arrested, and at least the evidence will be looked at in full, to check for consistency. For me, the crucial piece of information is that video from the day after, where they have Zimmerman re-enact the killing. I said in the other thread that given the circumstances, he can't be expected to remember exactly how it happened, at what angles, and get everything perfectly right. But if there is a major hole in the way he says it happened, I think that would be what gets him. The voice on the tape begging for help is the next big piece after that, to me.
posted by cashman at 9:50 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your presumption that I haven't looked into this case is not accurate.

My actual assumption was that you've seemingly chosen to disregard a whole bunch of potentially mitigating (and even corroborating) evidence in favor of seeing it purely as a case of racial profiling /racism, which is sub-optimal, in my opinion.

I can't totally dismiss the notion of race being the catalyst /contributing factor for this series of events, but to conclude that it's the sole reason for what happened would require me to ignore a lot of other factors, which I'm not down with.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:53 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, back off, everyone. Let this one white dude from Hollywood sort everything out first before we get our collective knickers in a bunch over -- ah, what was it again? ah yes -- an unarmed innocent American kid shot dead.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:58 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not that we can't totally dismiss the notion of race being a catalyst/contributing factor for this "series of events" or anything. Give us a fucking break.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:59 PM on April 11, 2012


No-one's saying race wasn't a catalysing factor. That doesn't make Zimmerman legally guilty of anything. And at this point nobody knows anything that the media hasn't told them. So everyone's opinion is as good as everyone's else's.
posted by unSane at 10:03 PM on April 11, 2012


Whatever. Tilt at those windmills. I'm a fucking lawyer, I understand presumption of innocence. MetaFilter isn't a fucking jury box. It's (ostensibly) a community, and I (perhaps naively) expected more of its members in this instance. Carry on.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:06 PM on April 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Angry. Perhaps too close to the topic to comment with a clear head. Checking out of the thread accordingly. Wishing you all the best.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:07 PM on April 11, 2012


nobody knows anything that the media hasn't told them.

Have you seen the tapes the city of sanford released of Zimmerman? Have you heard the 911 calls? I have seen unedited footage of witnesses speaking. There is a lot of information that you can digest.

What I think is impressive, is the demeanor of Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton. They were humble and really appreciative today. It was good to see them seemingly feeling the tiniest measure of solace after the announcement.
posted by cashman at 10:07 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Have you seen the tapes the city of sanford released of Zimmerman? Have you heard the 911 calls? I have seen unedited footage of witnesses speaking. There is a lot of information that you can digest.

Right, and you and I have absolutely no idea what the witnesses who haven't spoken to the media will say, or what the tapes that haven't been released will show, or how much of it will be admissible in court.

Pay the most attention to the accounts which contradict your understanding of events, because those are the ones which will fuck you up.
posted by unSane at 10:17 PM on April 11, 2012


That is, if Martin had been white and all other circumstances the same Zimmerman wouldn't have called the cops, wouldn't have followed him, and everyone gets to go home safe. In that sense, Martin is clearly yet another victim of a racist society. But that's a far cry from "shot for being black."

I'm sorry, I really don't see how "victim of a racist society" is any different than "shot for being black".
posted by Go Banana at 10:21 PM on April 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


You misunderstand. My contention is that the Stand Your Ground law(s) enable murderers to escape justice, and that if Zimmerman is acquitted, it will be for this reason. Not every law is just.

Then I agree with you; the Stand Your Ground law appears to be just asking for trouble. The remedy, however, is to repeal the law and censure the legislators who enacted it. Not to put people in jail who don't break the law. I read you as saying Zimmerman should be thrown in jail even if the Stand Your Ground law puts him on the "right" (in the legal sense) side of the law.
posted by Justinian at 10:25 PM on April 11, 2012


There's a lot of contradicting information. My point is just the whole "we don't know nuffin! Don't talk 'bout it!" thing is annoying, when all anybody does on this site is talk about things third hand all day every day. Yeah there is a lot of information. The whole "nbc will deceive you! omg!" thing is hilarious in the age of the internet and in light of entire news outlets dedicated to distorting events. I'm paying attention to all the information related to the case. As I said, there is a good amount of conflicting information.

Some of that has been called out already. Zimmerman's father's statements (which localroger pointed out are worth monitoring) of what Zimmerman said and did have already been contradicted in a bunch of ways. It'll be interesting to see what role that plays in this whole thing, if any.

But the police reports - those are online. The phone records - viewable. The timestamp on the city of sanford tape - viewable.

But in a court, a lot of this stuff is going to contradict. It's to be expected, right? The defense's ideas contradict with what the prosecution is going to present as its ideas.

I wish they would have had him re-enact the shooting that day, not the next day. He had time to get his story straight, mess up evidence, or to forget vital details.
posted by cashman at 10:28 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


cashman: I agree; it would have been even more critical to have the main witnesses participate in the reenactment and confirm how much they could see from the distance, visibility, his clothes, etc, and pinpoint exact locations on the same or at least on the next day.
posted by rainy at 10:35 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"But in a court, a lot of this stuff" may never be presented to a jury.
posted by Ardiril at 10:37 PM on April 11, 2012


Is Malor still talking shit about a dead kid?

Not that it will ease your conscience any, but this ALWAYS happens in cases like this. Dead abusive husbands have all of their bad deeds revealed. "Aggressive / psychotic building contractors who get shot" have their dirty laundry aired. The victim's past behavior, like it or not, has a VERY pertinent effect on courts and juries. The deceased can't speak for themselves, and anything else is hearsay. A jury charged with determining, essentially, "what the victim may have done at the time" can really only consider what the victim's known past behavior was. Hearsay is seldom permitted.

You may think you're accusing someone of "talking shit about a dead kid," but that's nothing compared to what a competent defense attorney will make out of it.

From a purely "talking shit about a dead kid is wrong" standpoint, what if (and mind you, I KNOW this is not the case) but what if Trayvon had a string of petty arrests / school suspensions for assault or fighting? Obviously, that kind of thing would be HUGELY relevant to the case. Would it suddenly be OK to broach the subject? I'm guessing "yeah."

The problem is, there is no "cutoff point" to decide whether such facts become relevant. (other than a judge's admissibility ruling) Zimmerman mentioned in his call that Trayvon "looks like he's on drugs or something." That opens the door to Trayvon's pot use. One side might say "he got killed because he smoked pot!," while the other side will claim "see? Zimmerman's instincts were correct!" Is either side correct? It's up to the jury!

It's up to the jury. It's out of our hands. (avoiding Pilate references here, natch)

Zimmerman is Tony Montana. He's the guy we point to and say "that's the bad guy. That's the racist. This guy represents racism in our society." This standpoint, of course, relies on an almost absurd ignorance of facts, while also relying on society's deep-seated need to decry "racism in others," as opposed to "an entire society."

If you're looking here for a classic case of a race-motivated killing of a black teenager, in my opinion, you couldn't have picked a less viable target in the last year or so (assuming a field limited to unarmed black youths shot by armed non-black adults) For one thing, I have a feeling there would be a horrifying number to choose from. For another, I'd bet that very few of them were of mixed white/hispanic heritage. For another, I bet fewer still would be civic-minded "hall monitors" like Zimmerman was. And probably ZERO were on the phone with the police in the mere moments leading up to the shooting.

And even among that miniscule sample group, I'd bet none of them distributed fliers amongst his community calling for swift justice against the son of a white police officer who had beaten a homeless black man less than 6 months prior to the Trayvon Martin's shooting.

I'm not saying you have to believe everything here, or that this is some kind of "defense effort for Zimmerman" on my part. This is honestly just how my "understanding of the justice process" works. Take it or leave it. But if you're going to conclude that this killing was race-related, based on the pittance of evidence we in the general public have been afforded, well shit, that's as bad as anything the other side has engaged in, historically.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:37 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


People shouldn't be required to prove their innocence. It's frankly amazing to me that you're still making statements phrased in ways like that. Good night.

I was under the vague impression that in many places, when you admit and/or it is proven that you killed someone, that proof takes care of presumption of innocence and the onus is then on the proven killer to demonstrate they were justified, not on others to demonstrate that the killing was unnecessary. ie that self defence is a legal defence you can mount, not a presumption that must be disproved.

Presumably that's not the case in FL, but I don't know that presumption of innocence is as cut and dried as it gets made out to be.

I've read through most of this thread trying to find if we have a expert explanation of this as applies to Florida, and/or whether I'm muddled on this, but I missed it if it was there.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:41 PM on April 11, 2012


I don't really care if Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. Zimmerman created that situation, he was looking to make something happen, he's responsible for the consequences of bringing his gun to the confrontation and using it. There should be serious and adverse consequences when you kill someone you've intentionally attacked, even in self-defense, and especially when you've used a gun.

To me this has always been the crux of this situation. Either Zimmerman was actively looking to kill someone, or he created the situation where he felt he had to kill someone. Either way, he killed someone. We, as a society, cannot allow people to do this and not be charged with a crime. Period.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:42 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying you have to believe everything here, or that this is some kind of "defense effort for Zimmerman" on my part.

No, it is. You've been looking at one side of the case this entire time, in both of these threads.

But if you're going to conclude that this killing was race-related, based on the pittance of evidence we in the general public have been afforded, well shit, that's as bad as anything the other side has engaged in, historically.

Wait, what? I know you're addressing someone else, but ... what?
posted by cashman at 10:43 PM on April 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I seriously miss the old thread.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:01 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


At the risk of playing both sides of the coin, here: police officers [follow others while carrying guns] ALL THE TIME.
In too many places, police officers can break down doors in the middle of the night, screaming and pointing loaded weapons, and shooting pets that scare them, without even pre-identifying themselves as police officers. (these are all deliberate acts; the unintentional collateral damage is naturally broader)

The supreme court says that evidence they get this way is perfectly admissable, and at least some trial and appeals courts say that in these circumstances, even pointing a weapon back at the police is felony assault.

That's probably going a little too far. But surely police officers (as well as non police officers, because we are not supposed to be living in a caste system) ought to be able to at least follow someone through a public space while carrying (but not brandishing, and definitely not aiming) a weapon, and this should not be considered a threat which warrants an attack.

On the other hand, Zimmerman may have also made the first unprovoked assault; I'm just agreeing that "followed someone on public property" and "had a gun with him" don't count.

And on the gripping hand, who actually started the fight is probably irrelevant now - isn't self-defense an "affirmative defense", burden of proof on the killer, because we don't want to create an opportunity for any would-be-murderer who happens across a victim who could plausibly be claimed to have attacked first? Even if Zimmerman is innocent, privately confronting people who may be violent criminals or who may mistake you for a violent criminal may not be immoral, but it's not all that bright, and it appears that doing so without a wearable camcorder (cheaper than that gun, these days!) is de facto criminal negligence.
posted by roystgnr at 11:02 PM on April 11, 2012


Yeah, back off, everyone. Let this one white dude from Hollywood sort everything out

Zing?

Come on, man, we're TALKING. Am I shutting people up? Does my race or location have anything to do with any of this? (sheesh, we have the same birthday, doesn't that mean something to some people?)

If I sounded like I was shutting anyone up, please call me out. But also please reserve me the right to correct people on obvious shit. And referring to me as "one white dude from Hollywood..."; what is that in aid of?

I agree, Metafilter IS a community. (hell, it says so right there in the title) I certainly hope there is room in your community for opinions from other genders/races/locations at equal value, even if they don't match up with your own. Further, I hope that my "contentions in this thread" are taken as some kind of "I'm right, you all are wrong!" kind of thing. Sure, I think I'm right, and those who disagree are (at some level) presumed wrong. But I'd rather illustrate the HOW and WHY I disagree, not the WHO and WHERE.

As you've indicated, you've perhaps got more of a dog in this hunt than I do, as I have the privilege of being more or less a "spectator" with regard to potentially racially motivated killings at this point. Obviously my race and residence would preclude me from serving on a jury in this case. But if you can demonstrate any flaws in my thinking, other than "I'm the wrong race, living in the wrong location" I'd like to know. Otherwise, this is just flame-war B.S. tactics.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:03 PM on April 11, 2012


I AM ALSO A WHITE DUDE FROM HOLLYWOOD.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:10 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


when you admit and/or it is proven that you killed someone, that proof takes care of presumption of innocence and the onus is then on the proven killer to demonstrate they were justified

Well, they *did* handcuff him and interrogate him for 5 hours at the police station afterwards. It's not as if they just said "OK" and let him walk back to his house from the scene of the shooting.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:10 PM on April 11, 2012


-- confrontation escalates. Trayvon, the stronger, ends up on top of Zimm. Zimm goes for gun. Trayvon sees it, fears for life, whacks Zimm's head on pavement. Zimm fears for life, gets gun shoots.
You're missing the fact that Trayvon was shot two houses down from where the fight happened. Trayvon ran away from where the fight happened, and Zimmerman had to have chased him. Furthermore, under the scenario you outline, Zimmerman would have 'provoked' the fight, which means he's no longer protected by SYG.
posted by delmoi at 11:18 PM on April 11, 2012


delmoi: I believe there are two witnesses who say the fight was going on moments before the shot was fired. I'm not sure if there were two fights at different locations.
posted by rainy at 11:26 PM on April 11, 2012


OJ was presumed innocent, then found innocent.

Is he innocent?

No-- pretty obviously, no.

The evidence we already know about against Zimmerman is far stronger than the evidence against OJ ever was.
posted by jamjam at 11:27 PM on April 11, 2012


I know! Let's all rent 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and watch it this weekend! Meet you guys back here afterward!
posted by victory_laser at 11:32 PM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


delmoi: I believe there are two witnesses who say the fight was going on moments before the shot was fired. I'm not sure if there were two fights at different locations.
There were a bunch of witnesses who saw them fight on the street. There is a witness who heard trayvon begging for his life (and was on the phone with the cops) when Travon was shot in her back yard she went out and saw him standing over the body.

This was a couple of houses down from the main fight, with other witnesses saw.

---

Man, there are a ton of people who don't understand the legal process in play here. The prosecution DOES NOT NEED TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that Zimmerman was not acting in self defense. They only have to show a preponderance of evidence that it was not the case. This is about whether or not Zimmerman has immunity under Florida's Stand your Ground law. It's an affirmative defense. You go before a judge and ask the case be thrown out under the law, and they decide based on the preponderance of evidence. They don't throw out the case if it's not 'beyond a reasonable doubt', all that matters is whether they think it's more likely then not.

In other words, saying "innocent until proven guilty" is actually incorrect. It's not a question of "proving" built, but only showing that it's more likely then not he was in a life threatening situation or that he was the one who provoked the fight.

That's a very important point. If Zimmerman provoked the fight, then the SYG law does not apply. And again, it's not a question of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman provoked the fight, but rather what's more likely given the evidence.

In order for you to say that you think a preponderance of evidence shows that Zimmerman didn't provoke the fight, you must say that a preponderance of evidence that Martin did, and that he still posed a threat to Zimmerman after he ran away and was shot two houses away, while pleading for his life.

So It's one or the other here, when it comes to SYG. Either Zimmerman provoked the fight, or Martin did. It has to be one other, not neither. And if you don't think the preponderance of evidence shows Zimmerman did it, you have to claim the evidence shows Martin did.

If it was a "reasonable doubt" question you could say "it could be either way, thus there's reasonable doubt on either side". But that's not what's going on here, all that matters in court, at least on the SYG thing. If Zimmerman loses the SYG defense, he and his lawyers can come up with some other defense.

But one thing is obviously clear here: Zimmerman shot martin.
And it's illegitimate somehow for Zimmerman's lawyers (whoever they may be) to present that as a defense?
There's nothing wrong with it, but in order for Zimmerman to be legally innocent, Trayvon must have been legally guilty. But again, it's not something the prosecution has to disprove 'beyond a reasonable doubt'
That's not illegitimate, but if anyone deserves the presumption of innocence it is Martin, and the onus is on Zimmerman's lawyers to prove otherwise.
Yes, and that's also how the law works in this case, when you're talking about Florida's Stand Your Ground defense. It is not legally the case that you are presumed to have been acting in self defense if you shoot someone, and the state has to prove otherwise. Rather, you are allowed to try to prove that you were acting in self defense, and if you convince a judge, they can drop the case.
What does that mean, in a practical sense? The state of Florida should start with the presumption that Martin did absolutely nothing to initiate a conflict with Zimmerman? That's stacking the deck.
That's not stacking the deck. You're not supposed to fucking go around shooting people. If you shoot someone you need to prove it was self defense. The state doesn't need to prove it wasn't.
Zimmerman deserves a legal presumption of innocence, period, and it's up to the prosecution to prove that he's guilty of murder.
But he does not deserve or receive the presumption of self defense It's something that he has to prove, not the state.

I don't see why we should have a higher standard of evidence for SYG in internet comment threads then in the court itself.
Only if the court allows defense counsel to mislead the jury as to the nature of that law, which does not allow you to invoke it in a situation that you have escalated.
Judge, rather then Jury, gets to decide.
Oh, please, moorooka. You're throwing away a fundamental basis of fair legal systems since there was such a thing as a fair legal system.
Again, it's not the actual basis of the legal system when it comes to Florda's SYG law. There is no presumption of self defense. Zimmerman has to prove it in court, based on a preponderance of evidence. And a judge decides, not a jury.

There's no obligation to buy Zimmerman's unless you can disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt. You just have to decide if it's more or less likely. That's what the court is going to do.

It's amazing how many people in this thread don't understand the legal principles in play here.
People shouldn't be required to prove their innocence. It's frankly amazing to me that you're still making statements phrased in ways like that. Good night.
You do need to prove, or at least show via preponderance of evidence, that you were acting in self defense.
The coverage, at least from that network, is totally slanted to get your outraged eyeballs.
*shock* rolls eyes. Seriously, you're complaining that an alleged murder victim is being portrayed in a positive light, and an accused murder in a negative one? Since when is that unusual?

---

Finally, there is no reason not to figure out for ourselves as people who read the news or comment on the internet, with the available information whether or not someone is probably or probably not guilty. Nothing bad happens if we get it wrong, and if new evidence comes up we can change our minds.

By that standard, no one should ever be allowed to question guilt if someone's been convicted, but we do that all the time (i.e. the west Memphis three)
posted by delmoi at 11:35 PM on April 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


There were a bunch of witnesses who saw them fight on the street. There is a witness who heard trayvon begging for his life (and was on the phone with the cops) when Travon was shot in her back yard she went out and saw him standing over the body.

This was a couple of houses down from the main fight, with other witnesses saw.


Yes, aside from these, there were two witnesses, one of them saw, from a distance, the fight, she was not sure who was on top but thinks it was Z, then she heard a shot, then she saw Z standing up and walking away.

A second witness saw them fighting with Trayvon being on top, he went upstairs and heard a shot and saw Z standing up and Trayvon lying dead.

These accounts were floating around on major news sites like cnn and msnbc. Perhaps they were mistaken, but I definitely remember reading them.
posted by rainy at 11:42 PM on April 11, 2012


The charge should be "provoking self defense".
posted by BurnChao at 11:46 PM on April 11, 2012


Either Zimmerman provoked the fight, or Martin did. It has to be one other, not neither.

Well, having seen fights start, I'd say "both" is an option. I don't know if that's legally possible, or if it happened in this case, but let's not settle on a false dichotomy if we don't have to.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:47 PM on April 11, 2012


Zimmerman claims Trayvon Martin attacked him

I've ponder "did the cops feel Trayvon was 'a troublemaker'"? Because if the cops think you arn't squeaky clean they tend to ignore ya and if you've been a 'problem' they treat any of your problems as not theirs.

Trayvon sure seems to have been filed in the 'not theirs' folder. Living in a gated community would normally get ya better treatment than if you were straight outta compton.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:48 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I certainly hope there is room in your community for opinions from other genders/races/locations at equal value, even if they don't match up with your own.

No, there really isn't.

Ask about Primus Paris. (and I'm sure someone will correct the name/spelling of the pro-Bush guy. The pain killers are kicking in and I can finally collapse for an hour or 2 before the pain starts again)
posted by rough ashlar at 11:53 PM on April 11, 2012


Zimmerman is entitled to the presumption of innocence on whether he shot and killed Martin. But he told the police he did, then acted out the scenario, and handed them his gun, and Martin is dead from a single shot from that gun which is registered to him, and his lawyers keep announcing that he shot him -- so I think we can safely say that there is no reasonable doubt that Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

So please stop accusing anyone who judges that evidence to be beyond a reasonable doubt of disrespecting judicial process, supporting lynch mobs, or exhibiting "pure bloodlust" instead of a desire for justice. It's obnoxious and wrong.
posted by msalt at 11:54 PM on April 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think anyone in the thread was arguing that a third person shot Trayvon.
posted by rainy at 12:01 AM on April 12, 2012


Moral judgments of guilt and innocence made online by individuals who lack any influence in the outcome or procedures of this case do not need to be approved by 12 strangers who may or may not serve eventually jury duty. Juries are not the ne plus ultra in determining ethical goodness. After all, the men who killed Emmitt Till were found not guilty by a jury of their peers. While the act he committed was far less heinous than those who killed Till, Zimmerman is clearly the person who killed Martin. Was this killing wrong? The law is just one way of determining right and wrong, and we all know this - having the legal right to do something does not make it morally right and vice versa.

Wrongful killing is one crime that is more or less universally condemned across all human societies, and so produces an almost visceral ethical reaction in most individuals. Of course, right now we do not know if Zimmerman's killing of Martin will be found to have been legally wrong, but that does not prevent someone from making a moral judgment. It is not surprising that people find it morally reprehensible that a man could shoot an unarmed teenager and not be charged with anything. Not only does the killing of an unarmed minor child appall many, there is a further context in the US of unarmed black men gunned down repeatedly and often with near-impunity, while at the same time being imprisoned at higher rates than any other group. Zimmerman's killing of Martin, and the subsequent treatment of the case by the Sanford PD, smacks mightily of injustice, of unfair treatment under the law.

The same legal apparatus that has so harmed black men in this country is now being held up by some as the arbiter of right and wrong in this case. Let no one come to conclusions yet, in this case where a man has admitted to killing a child. Let no one say whether it is right or wrong in this case, except that the man who has admitted to killing a child must be presumed innocent. Let's let the justice system tell us what's right, this justice system whose flaws are so patent and systemic to anyone who has bothered looking.

While there are certainly issues with how justice is meted out in the US right now, this case is all the evidence one needs to demonstrate that even greater injustices are possible when citizens feel free take the law into their own hands. There should only be comparisons of people who believe Zimmerman is guilty with 'the other side' start when they start calling for extra-judicial justice and community-level reprisals. The history on 'the other side' is quite brutal, and goes well beyond stated opinions of guilt and innocence on some internet comments page.
posted by palindromic at 12:04 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think anyone in the thread was arguing that a third person shot Trayvon.

They were arguing that we must presume Zimmerman innocent of killing Martin until the courts have rendered their verdict, or else we are exhibiting bloodlust and trampling justice. Which is absurd, since Zimmerman himself freely acknowledges killing him.
posted by msalt at 12:35 AM on April 12, 2012


Zimmerman is entitled to the presumption of innocence on whether he shot and killed Martin.

Criminal culpability (in general) depends on both act and mental state. There are lots of situations in which you can legally shoot and kill someone without having committed any crime. It's not possible right now to fairly evaluate his self-defense claim without access to all the evidence - testimony of the witnesses, the EMTs at the scene, forensic evidence, autopsy data and so on. I'm very skeptical of Zimmerman's story based on the publicly available information, but I simply don't know enough right now to pronounce on his guilt or innocence with any competence, and neither does anyone else without access to the evidence. It's fine to have opinions about the probability that he is or is not telling the truth, but those opinions are just so much hot air without evidence to cite to.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:49 AM on April 12, 2012


Zimmerman is entitled to the presumption of innocence on whether he shot and killed Martin.

Um, no. He is entitled to presumption of innocence of his charge. (to wit: that he committed 2nd degree murder against Martin.)

"Shot and killed" does not always mean "committed 2nd degree murder." Wouldn't you at least agree with that?
posted by ShutterBun at 1:12 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What more evidence do you need for "proven guilty?"

People like you make the The Running Man seem like an entirely plausible future.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:13 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, there are a ton of people who don't understand the legal process in play here. The prosecution DOES NOT NEED TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that Zimmerman was not acting in self defense. They only have to show a preponderance of evidence that it was not the case.

Delmoi, you've kinda outed yourself as the very target of your objection. The whole "preponderance of evidence" thing only entered into the picture with regards to a potential defense motion for an immediate ruling by the judge.

I can't be sure of Florida's specific standpoint on Affirmative Defenses, but in general the Burdon of Proof does NOT shift to the defendant pursuing a self defense case. (if you know otherwise, do tell)
posted by ShutterBun at 1:39 AM on April 12, 2012


I can't be sure of Florida's specific standpoint on Affirmative Defenses, but in general the Burdon of Proof does NOT shift to the defendant pursuing a self defense case. (if you know otherwise, do tell)
Read up on Affrmative defense
Because an affirmative defense requires an assertion of facts beyond those claimed by the plaintiff, generally the party who offers an affirmative defense bears the burden of proof.[6] The standard of proof is typically lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. It can either be proved by clear and convincing evidence or by a preponderance of the evidence. In some cases or jurisdictions, however, the defense must only be asserted, and the prosecution has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defense is not applicable.[citation needed]
In Florida, it's preponderance of evidence. The prosecution does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman SYG does not apply in this case.
Um, no. He is entitled to presumption of innocence of his charge. (to wit: that he committed 2nd degree murder against Martin.)

"Shot and killed" does not always mean "committed 2nd degree murder." Wouldn't you at least agree with that?
Given the facts of the case, other then self-defense how could it not be either murder or manslaughter? We don't need to ask about absurd hypothetical like "what if he was in a firing squad performing a legal execution?"

One thing that they were saying on CNN before the announcement is that under Florida law, manslaughter with a gun, and against a minor has the same penalties as murder 2. So it doesn't really make a difference anyway.

Again absent the stand your ground law which would be decided before the trial, what possible doubt is there that he is guilty of either murder or manslaughter?

The Stand your Ground thing does not have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It has to be shown by the defense.

So what is the basis is there to reasonably doubt that Zimmerman is guilty of murder or manslaughter if he doesn't qualify for SYG protection? And again, the only way Zimmerman qualifies for SYG is if Martin really was the one who provoked the fight, and legitimately threatened Zimmerman's life. So a presumption of self defense would mean a presumption of guilt for Martin. That's not how the law works.

Finally, as I said earlier. There is no reason why people who are not judges and jurors can't look at the evidence and come to our own conclusion. Again, nothing bad happens if we come to the wrong conclusion, and we can change our conclusion if new facts come up.

I do not understand this idea that "People deserve a fair trial" somehow equates to "people who are not jurors should not come to conclusions". If you don't want to hear people discuss the case and the evidence, you don't need to post in the thread.
posted by delmoi at 2:55 AM on April 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


There is a ton of information, statements, calls, records and information from witnesses. If you don't have information, maybe you should read more.

For real. The presumption of ignorance is starting to get my goat. If I see one more variation of "I've only barely followed this case but I'm disturbed so many are jumping to conclusions" I'm gonna holler. Those people are projecting their own ignorance onto those of us who care about this.

I've been following this case since the family's first national news conference on March 8. I tirelessly searched for any information I could find but at that time there was very little. Since then a lot has come out and I've paid as much attention as I can.

I haven't watched a second of NBC coverage of the case. The fully unedited 911 recordings have been available and linked here on Metafilter from multiple sources, including the Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel, all over youtube, and the Sanford city website. I've listened to them too much at this point. I've listened to what sounds to me like a teenage boy screaming for help and crying.

We have all the reports on every call George Zimmerman ever made to law enforcement. We have the reports on all the burglaries that had taken place in that gated community in the prior year. We have the killer's version of what happened from a lot of sources, including his father, the police chief, and his former lawyers.

I of course eagerly await his own unfiltered words on this but one thing they all have in common is the claim that Zimmerman wasn't following Trayvon at all, he was trying to find his bearings and was attacked out of the blue by an angry wild kid. Since I think this story is a bold-faced lie, I simply wanted someone to do an investigation who could look at a black kid and not think "perp". I felt if said investigation happened then the killer would be charged. Yay.
posted by Danila at 3:03 AM on April 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Delmoi: If you don't want to hear people discuss the case and the evidence, you don't need to post in the thread.

Hoping that wasn't directed at me, because I certainly welcome all discussion of the case and the evidence. I hope my pointing out what I consider "mistakes" or "oversights" aren't construed as "shouting down."

Danila: I tirelessly searched for any information I could find but at that time there was very little. Since then a lot has come out and I've paid as much attention as I can.

I don't think anybody is arguing that there is a dearth of "available data" in this case. Certainly there is plenty to read about. What there is very little of, though, is admissible data. There are no sworn statements. No verified forensic reports. No first-hand statements from the accused.

All we have are some 911 calls (along with Zimmerman's call to the police) and some un-sworn statements from eyewitnesses, and some police reports (most of which tend to back up Zimmerman's story, if not simply repeating it for the record)

Then we have some background evidence on the accused and the victim, to be weighed as we as individuals see fit.

Statements to the press made by "investigators" or persons involved with the case are, by and large, inadmissible at this point in time. True as they might be, it's imprudent to accept them as "facts" at this point, as they are not subject to cross-examination, or even, in most cases, proper vetting.

It's quite easy to concoct an air-tight case for conviction based on "if we believe these 5 people", but it's just as easy to concoct an air-tight case for acquittal "if we believe these other 5 people." Granted, I'm sure that same tactic or rationalization has been used a hundred times by history's villains, but when legal experts with no particular interest in the case are saying things like "this will be a difficult case for the prosecution," I'm sure they have their reasons for doing so, other than politics.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:35 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a good site you could link people too for them to read all the info that's out there? I got most of it from the old thread, which isn't really light reading.

A site that went through all the available evidence would be useful.
I don't think anybody is arguing that there is a dearth of "available data" in this case. Certainly there is plenty to read about. What there is very little of, though, is admissible data. There are no sworn statements. No verified forensic reports. No first-hand statements from the accused.
Cashman was quoting yoink saying:
I don't have a clue what happened on that night. I doubt we will ever be confident that we know what happened. But I am amazed at people's willingness to simply assume that they know how it "must" have happened in the absence of almost any supporting evidence.
However, yoink obviously knows what's in the public record, since he was arguing over the finer points in the last thread.

---
I don't think anybody is arguing that there is a dearth of "available data" in this case. Certainly there is plenty to read about. What there is very little of, though, is admissible data. There are no sworn statements. No verified forensic reports. No first-hand statements from the accused.
Dude, we know for a fact Zimmerman shot martin. There isn't some huge mystery, and now the prosecution is charging him with murder-2 after a major investigation.

This kind of epistemological wankery is really beside the point. Rather then argue "Given the evidence X is more likely" you're simply saying that we should not even be discussing what the evidence suggests, because we can't "really" know.

There is also some serious confusion between a court of law and a metafilter thread.

information does not need to be admissible in court in order to be discussed on metafilter. We have witness statements. Those witnesses weren't under oath when they gave the interviews, but there is nothing wrong with assuming that they said the same thing on TV that they would have in a court room. So what's wrong with making judgments based on them.
but it's just as easy to concoct an air-tight case for acquittal "if we believe these other 5 people."
Who are those five people and what did they say?

I haven't seen a single 'skeptic' (or whatever you want to call it) present any evidence to suggest either that Zimmerman qualifies for SYG, or that he's not guilty for some reason.

Instead, it's just a bunch of people saying "but how can we really know??!?" and arguing that people shouldn't draw conclusions.

Again, what exactly is wrong with coming to a preliminary conclusion based on the available evidence?

Right now, that preliminary conclusion is that Zimmerman shot Trayvon, that he doesn't qualify for SYG and that he's guilty of at least manslaughter.

What evidence is there that this isn't true? Again, I'm not saying that I know for sure, what I'm saying is that given the information I've seen that's the most reasonable conclusion at this point.

If you think that's not a reasonable conclusion, explain the evidence that you think makes it not.

But simply arguing that people shouldn't reach conclusions is just a waste of everyone's time.
posted by delmoi at 3:51 AM on April 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm not saying it will be an easy case for the prosecution, btw.

But what I am saying is that the SYG thing does not get the "presumption" of being true. Accused people should get the presumption innocence, but that's not the same thing as presuming the people they shot deserved it.

Florida law is particularly messed up. But if Zimmerman does get off under SYG, that will not mean he's "innocent" but rather the law was badly written. If an act is immoral in NY, it's also immoral in Florida, even if there is some accidental loophole in the law.

If you think the publicly available evidence shows a preponderance of evidence that SYG applies, then show us the evidence. Don't simply say none of the evidence counts and we can't draw a conclusion.
posted by delmoi at 3:56 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen a single 'skeptic' (or whatever you want to call it) present any evidence to suggest either that Zimmerman qualifies for SYG, or that he's not guilty for some reason.

One or two eyewitnesses point to Martin as the aggressor (either specifically saying he was on top of Zimmerman, or saying that someone "wearing a light shirt" was the agressor)

The police report indicates that Zimmerman sustained injuries and had wet grass on the back of his jacket.

EMT's at the scene treated him for injuries.

The coroner who performed Trayvon Martin's autopsy noted no defensive injuries.

I'm not concluding that these claims are necessarily any more believable than others, but they're part of "the evidence, as we know it."
posted by ShutterBun at 4:00 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't simply say none of the evidence counts and we can't draw a conclusion.

Drawing a conclusion based on incomplete and uncontested evidence is, of course, your right. How OK are you with exercising that right, though?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:06 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi and Danila make great points, and others here have brought to my attention some information I didn't have before that makes it more reasonable to condemn Zimmerman.

Again, what exactly is wrong with coming to a preliminary conclusion based on the available evidence?

The heart of the matter - the thing that got me riled up was a certain sentiment that was coming through people's statements. Coming to a reasoned conclusion, like you, delmoi, are doing is great. On the other hand, saying essentially that Zimmerman is a piece of shit, etc. etc. is a different conversation altogether. There is just something revolting about whatever it is that leads people to say things like "I hope he rots." Even if he had been convicted just now, and someone said that, I would take issue with it. That's just the way I am. It's the same reason I disagreed with my hometown newspaper's headline after Bin Laden was assassinated: "Americans Rejoice." Saying things like that just feels wrong, no matter who you're saying it about.
posted by victory_laser at 4:31 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't matter who the "Aggressor" of the physical fight was. The word "Aggressor" isn't in the law.

The Stand Your Ground law does not apply if you provoke the fight. That's the word the law uses, "Provoke". If you come up to someone and insult their mother, and then they take a swing at you, it does not give you the legal right to shoot them under Florida law. They would be guilty of assault, but if you shot them you would not protected by self defense.

So even if Trayvon took the first swing, if Zimmerman said something rude or insulting to Trayvon, then in fact he would not be able to claim protection under the law. He would have a responsibility to run away before trying to take deadly force. Not only did he not do that, he actually chased him from the fight to the place where he was shot.

The other thing is that there are no witnesses who actually saw Trayvon take the first swing. This was confirmed by Zimmerman's lawyers on CNN. The fact that martin may have ended up on top at some point tells us nothing about how the fight started

Again, this isn't a question of "reasonable doubt" but rather preponderance of evidence. Given the evidence, is it likely that Martin "provoked" the fight? I would argue that following someone around in a car and then chasing after them would be "provocative" Even simply asking a rude question could be considered "provoking" a fight. We know martin wanted to stop the kid, which implies he might have tried to physically restrain him or at least demanded that he not go anywhere. Either of those things, especially physical restraint clearly count as "provoking" a fight.

So it really comes down to 1) A preponderance of evidence that Zimmerman provoked the fight and 2) how FL defines "provoke" in this case.
One or two eyewitnesses point to Martin as the aggressor (either specifically saying he was on top of Zimmerman, or saying that someone "wearing a light shirt" was the agressor)
Him being on top does not mean he was the one who initially provoked the physical fight. All you're saying is that at some point martin may have gotten the upper hand. That does not make it legal to shoot him under FL law if Zimmerman started the fight.
The police report indicates that Zimmerman sustained injuries and had wet grass on the back of his jacket.
The police didn't witness the incident. We've seen video of Zimmerman walking around after the fight. There were no bruises or bandages or anything else to indicate a serious injury. Obviously, the records of that do exist, and will probably be brought up at the trial.
EMT's at the scene treated him for injuries.
Which required no bandages and didn't leave any bruising. Again, this should all be in the medical records, which I'm sure will be discussed in court.
The coroner who performed Trayvon Martin's autopsy noted no defensive injuries.
Not relevant, as they have nothing to do with who provoked the fight.
How OK are you with exercising that right, though?
Uh, fine. Why wouldn't I be? Seriously, what is the actual problem caused by people on the internet drawing conclusions based on the evidence they have?

---
On the other hand, saying essentially that Zimmerman is a piece of shit, etc. etc. is a different conversation altogether. There is just something revolting about whatever it is that leads people to say things like "I hope he rots."
The case for saying those things is even stronger then the case for saying he doesn't qualify for Florida's SYG law. We know he shot Trayvon, so if we are just judging his character, and not the intricacies of the law, then it's even simpler.

There is nothing wrong with saying that shooting an innocent, unarmed black teenager because of some paranoid mall-cop fantasy, in a way that would be illegal in the majority of states is a piece of shit.
posted by delmoi at 4:45 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Too many influenced by the Trayvon Martin was a golden cherub stories

A maddening false equivalence. What, for the sake of thought experiment, if Trayvon was in fact a drug-dealing, gang-colors-wearing, bad-ass? What if he was what FoxNation commenters think all young black men are by default, a "thug," or a "hood," or whatever? So what? He was an American citizen, walking on a public street (gated or not, I don't believe the streets and sidewalks are private property and Zimmerman was in any case not an agent of the property owners as such even if not). He was unarmed. Never mind that he was also a kid, cherubic or not. But had he been an ex-con on his way to deliver drugs, it would not change the evident injustice of the sequence of events that led to his death, would not justify Zimmerman following him (let alone pulling a gun on an unarmed citizen walking on a public street). True, precisely *because* America is so fucking racist, any little evidence that Trayvon might be an disposable black person, just another thug, is being used to somehow discredit his right to live, to walk on the street, and to do so unmolested by racist pricks with guns and cop-fantasies. Oh my god, he was once found with marijuana residue in his pocket! That's it, Zimmerman was justified, honey bring me another beer.

All this hair splitting by the mefi legal defense team is bothersome. We get it. Presumption of innocence, due process, fair trial, whatever. All the things Trayvon -- and tens of thousands of other young black men every year -- never get just because they are black and presumed malevolent.

We seem to be talking past each other in this thread. Some of us -- without any need for NBC's supposed "manipulation" -- see this case as just another in an endless string of white guys killing black guys and getting away with it because law enforcement is a racist operation run by similar white guys and on behalf of similar white guys. No wonder Zimmerman (who I suspect has some anxiety about his own claim to "whiteness") wanted so much to be one of the boys in blue. They're his peeps. He could only aspire to have so much power to back up his hatred of people who look like Trayvon.

Even if Zimmerman is convicted of 2d degree murder, he'll be one small exception to the general rule that if a white guy shoots a back guy (especially if the white guy has a badge), it's because the black guy was asking for it because he didn't raise his hands fast enough or his wallet looks like a fucking gun. Maybe Trayvon's iced tea looked like a gun to Zimmerman.

Anyway, crime one here is that Zimmerman was on patrol with a gun in the first place. He had a felony charge knocked down a few years before (for assaulting a police officer, no less, in a heated argument, no less) probably because his father is a fucking judge. And that, my friends, is how it has always worked for white guys with connections in America, and especially in the south since reconstruction. Had he been charged with and convicted of the prior felony he would not have had a carry permit, hence no gun, hence maybe a few bruises but a promising young life would not have been cut brutally short.

I'm not on the jury and I'm not a reporter. I hope Zimmerman rots in jail too. But I doubt he'll be convicted in Florida, which is among the most structurally racist justice systems in the US, and that's saying something. Hopefully, a federal civil rights violation will be charged and prosecuted after this, however.

White dude with a gun shoots and kills black dude without one just walking home in the evening. Cops let him walk anyway. Only a massive protest brings any kind of investigation or charges. Sorry, we've seen this movie before. Madame Justice hasn't worn a blindfold where black victims (or defendants) are concerned in the history of this country, so I'm really not moved by high minded appeals to the "principles" of American justice. What happened to Trayvon -- what George Zimmerman DID to Trayvon -- is much more typical of American justice. The only odd part here is that Zimmerman wasn't a real cop, in which case he would probably be completely out of the woods.
posted by spitbull at 4:45 AM on April 12, 2012 [24 favorites]


Try a conceptual experiment: Zimmerman shot and killed a white teenager instead.

You think it plays out the same way in the immediate aftermath? Or in that situation, does Zimmerman become a *Latino* thug to FoxNation?

I'd place money on the latter. In America, justice is relative to race.
posted by spitbull at 4:49 AM on April 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm an American, but have lived in Asia for many years and I was wondering if someone could concisely explain why this story has such a high profile in view of the total number of murder cases.

Just grabbing a quick statistic for 2009, there were 15241 murders in the United States. Without resorting to internet research can anyone recall one of those cases?

I'm not suggesting this particular case isn't important, I'm just curious what people might think the reason is for the unusual high attention it's getting (including President Obama's chiming in).
posted by rmmcclay at 4:56 AM on April 12, 2012


Because, rmmcclay, Trayvon stands for thousands of other cases where the white guy got away with murder.
posted by spitbull at 4:58 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, your figure of "15,241" leaves out a significant number of cases not called "murder" because a cop shot a black guy, and that's just business as usual. Go look up "Omar Edwards," a black shooting victim (of the NYPD) in 2009, the year you mention. No charges filed. He looked suspicious, like a drug dealer.

He was an off duty NYPD cop himself. No black man is ever safe in America.
posted by spitbull at 5:03 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Try a conceptual experiment: Zimmerman shot and killed a white teenager instead.

You think it plays out the same way in the immediate aftermath? Or in that situation, does Zimmerman become a *Latino* thug to FoxNation?


Agreed 100%. The same people saying Zimmerman can't be racist because he's half hispanic would be the ones shouting that he's a racist [slur].
posted by inigo2 at 5:11 AM on April 12, 2012


I'm an American, but have lived in Asia for many years and I was wondering if someone could concisely explain why this story has such a high profile in view of the total number of murder cases.

The fact that it was an unarmed teenage boy shot and killed on his way back from the store in suburban America plays a part in that.
posted by inigo2 at 5:13 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given the known facts, it seems perfectly clear to me that there is plenty room for Zimmerman to walk. By that, there are plenty scenarios that cover the knowns which allow for Zimmerman to shoot in self defense. At least, on the level of his feeling threatened. The provocation part adds plenty uncertainty.

I can see myself giving Zimmerman reasons to fear for his life, if he surprised me in a tight place, and acted like a menace. Imagine Zimmerman pulling a gun on you and ordering you to lay down! Right there is a major threat. So Trayvon freaks out and attacks the gun wielding beast in desperation.

I guess we'll be seeing increasing numbers of such shootings. Even the government can't be trusted to behave, once you allow them to arrest you. They might drag you off to some unknown location and torture you to death.
posted by Goofyy at 5:23 AM on April 12, 2012


I know! Let's all rent 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and watch it this weekend! Meet you guys back here afterward!

Sure, but can we also watch '12 Angry Men' as well?
posted by samsara at 5:49 AM on April 12, 2012



pro·voke
/prəˈvōk/
Verb:
1) Stimulate or give rise to (a reaction or emotion, typically a strong or unwelcome one) in someone.
2) Stimulate or incite (someone) to do or feel something, esp. by arousing anger in them.
posted by mikelieman at 5:59 AM on April 12, 2012


your figure of "15,241" leaves out a significant number of cases not called "murder" because a cop shot a black guy, and that's just business as usual

Yes please. Please. What elevated this case was the fact that this time, it wasn't a cop killing yet another unarmed black person. This time, a regular citizen got to shoot an unarmed black kid, in an incident that began because he thought the kid looked "suspicious", and then he wasn't arrested.

I believe there is a possibility that I could be killed and because of the color of my skin it wouldn't matter as much as if I were not black. It's even more of a concern for my brother and my father. As many have said, we can easily put ourselves in the shoes of the dead person.

It's that being black automatically adds a level of suspicion that would not be present if you were not black. What took this to the next level is the poor investigation and attempt to sweep this under the rug. When it came out that this is a town known for racial friction and lack of justice for black victims, so much so that one police chief had just stepped down, a lot of people decided this can't happen again.

It is so so easy for our society to lose sight of black victims. To make them disappear as if they don't matter, and with them the families and communities who mourn them. As if we should just expect to die.
posted by Danila at 6:02 AM on April 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm an American, but have lived in Asia for many years and I was wondering if someone could concisely explain why this story has such a high profile in view of the total number of murder cases.
How many of those involved the following premises:

1) It was known who the shooter was, with multiple witnesses
2) The police seemed to have no interest in interviewing the witnesses
3) The shooter wasn't charged with anything, and the local prosecutor decided not to prosecute?

Those are some pretty unusual circumstances.
By that, there are plenty scenarios that cover the knowns which allow for Zimmerman to shoot in self defense.
It doesn't matter if there are 'scenarios' where he shot in self defense, his lawyers have to prove that he was (or show by a preponderance of evidence that he was)
I can see myself giving Zimmerman reasons to fear for his life, if he surprised me in a tight place, and acted like a menace. Imagine Zimmerman pulling a gun on you and ordering you to lay down! Right there is a major threat. So Trayvon freaks out and attacks the gun wielding beast in desperation.
Yeah, except, as I explained, Zimmerman doesn't get to claim self defense, because he would have provoked the fight.

You can't run around picking fights with people, and then shooting them if they take bait, not even in Florida. If you do start a fight, you then have to make an effort to make an escape before you can use deadly force.

Again, it comes down to the word "Provoke". What, from a legal standpoint, counts as provoking a fight, to the extent that you can't use deadly force? Obviously "fighting words", (which is a legal term) would qualify. Grabbing someone would qualify. I would think that raising your voice or making demands on someone you'd never on the street at night, after you'd seen them following you in an SUV might qualify.

The other key is that this is not a 'reasonable doubt' thing, but rather you have to show that Zimmerman didn't provoke the confrontation by a preponderance of evidence.

There's also the question of whether or not Zimmerman had a legal right to be in Mary Cutcher's back yard. In order for SYG to apply, you need a legal right to be in the place where you use deadly force. I haven't seen anyone address this issue, I'm kind of curious about it.
posted by delmoi at 6:04 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




Interesting. I was just about to say I kind of feel bad for Zimmerman. I'm not really sure what was going through his head when he pulled the trigger, but I'm sure he regrets it now. The problem, though is that if he's not charged it sets a pretty terrible precedent. So, even if he regrets it and would probably not do anything like it again he still needs to go to jail. It sucks for him, but he could have avoided it by not shooting the kid.

Earlier on CNN they were saying that Given the victims age and the fact a gun was involved, a manslaughter charge would carry the same sentence as murder-2 anyway.
posted by delmoi at 6:31 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's nothing wrong with it, but in order for Zimmerman to be legally innocent, Trayvon must have been legally guilty.

This simply isn't so. The two default legal settings are "We don't know" and "Misunderstanding". In neither of those scenarios is anyone found legally guilty.
posted by Francis at 6:37 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. That's why, whatever the outcomes, charging Zimmerman was the right thing to do. I strongly suspect he will walk -- the grass stains, the head injury, the nose, his story, their relative sizes, the darkness... there's masses of room for reasonable doubt even without the whole race/SYG thing.
posted by unSane at 6:39 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't change the fact that he is a stone-cold racist killer, and I don't need a jury to tell me so. The court needs to presume his innocence. Not me.
posted by spitbull at 6:55 AM on April 12, 2012


Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. That's why, whatever the outcomes, charging Zimmerman was the right thing to do.

This statement reflects a mob mentality, not justice. Charging Zimmerman simply to let justice "be seen to be done," even if the prosecution doesn't think the evidence will support such a charge, is to engage in a cynical political prosecution.

FWIW, I think charging Zimmerman was the right thing to do, and think there's a good chance he'll be found guilty.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:57 AM on April 12, 2012


and if we need political prosecutions to satisfy the pitchfork crowd, we don't deserve democracy.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:11 AM on April 12, 2012


Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton told the TODAY show Thursday that she believes her son’s fatal shooting by George Zimmerman was an accident.

I watched the whole video of what she said, and after thinking about it I think Ms Fulton is essentially making a layperson's distinction between first- and second-degree murder (that is, Zimmerman didn't know the person he was following was a minor, he thought their son was a dangerous person, he didn't start out to kill someone, the situation just got out of hand, etc). Seen that way, she's basically making the same distinction as the state prosecutor.

The NBC headline, more interested in web site hits and getting people to watch the Today Show than thoughtful consideration, is trumpeting her words out of context is as much a disservice to the case as the edited 911 tapes.

(Also, I noticed the lawyer for Martin's family tensed up noticeably when Ms Fulton says the word "accident.")

The other thing I have been thinking about is how the way the case has played out will affect the inevitable civil trial that will follow the criminal trial.
posted by aught at 7:12 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]




and if we need political prosecutions to satisfy the pitchfork crowd, we don't deserve democracy.

Bullshit. If he's got a reason to shoot an innocent teenager then let him tell it to a judge.

This whole "better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6" mentality sort of requires it, as well.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:17 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This whole "better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6" mentality sort of requires it, as well.

What do you mean by this?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:20 AM on April 12, 2012


"Fighting words" is a First Amendment concept. And when a defendant presents an affirmative defense, that does not mean the prosecution must prove the defense isn't true beyond a reasonable doubt. It means that if the prosecution sustains its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did commit the crime, then the burden shifts onto the defendant to prove his "affirmative" defense.

With respect, if you aren't a lawyer...I understand it's fun to discuss legal concepts, but you run the risk of being wrong. Really wrong, very often, in a lot of different threads.
posted by cribcage at 7:24 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only if you are analyzing the legal aspects of the case.

We can all make moral judgments on an equal basis.
posted by spitbull at 7:31 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What do you mean by this?
posted by BobbyVan


The expression means "better to kill in self defense and risk having to make the affirmative defense after the fact to 12 jurors" (pace cribcage) "than to die not defending yourself and be carried to yourgrave by six pallbearers."

And that calculation, in the moment, often depends on your race. And a lifetime of habits engrained from coming of an age in a racist society.
posted by spitbull at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


It means that if the prosecution sustains its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did commit the crime, then the burden shifts onto the defendant to prove his "affirmative" defense.

There probably are states where this is the case in criminal trials, but it's not always the case. Some states do require the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is not entitled to the defense.

Florida's jury instructions on this issue read:

"If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty"

which looks to me like the burden on the state to prove that Zimmerman was not entitled to use deadly force, but I could be wrong.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2012


spitbull - that's very interesting, and I'm in agreement with you and Pogo that Zimmerman ought to have been charged.

What I'm pushing back against is the notion that a Zimmerman prosecution can be justified on the grounds of making justice be "seen to be done." That might be an unintentional benefit of the prosecution, but it shouldn't be the motivation.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:39 AM on April 12, 2012


We have a justice system BECAUSE people seem to like to make moral judgements and mete out punishment based on feelings, rather than provable facts. We are not required to presume innocence anywhere besides in the courtroom, but it really is a good idea for us to do so anyway.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, but I like to be informed about the law and the legal system. It may seem confusing, but it is ultimately just a flowchart. Crimes have elements. Meaning, to be guilty of a certain crime, you must have done some thing, and possibly other things as well. The prosecution needs to provide evidence that you did each and every one of those things, and the defense is entitled to provide evidence that you didn't.

In this case, the prosecution needs to prove that Martin is dead, that Zimmerman caused his death, and that it was was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

We already know that the first two are true. The prosecution will try to prove that the third one is true too. The defense will likely try to prove that it is not.
posted by gjc at 7:47 AM on April 12, 2012


This "misunderstanding" nonsense is pointless: it doesn't matter if Zimmerman set out to kill Trayvon in the first place. He's not being charged with first-degree murder, he's being charged with second-degree murder. Whether through his own stupidity or through malice (and the 9-11 calls make it pretty plain Zimmerman is the one who thought he was going after a potentially dangerous criminal, which kind of rules out the clueless innocent defensive argument), Zimmerman put himself in a dangerous position that ended the life of a seventeen year old kid. Whether Trayvon's mom made a remark to the press about how the killing may have been an "accident" or not is immaterial to the legal or moral situation.

Speaking as a father, if this happened to my son, Zimmerman would already be a dead man, if I could get my hands on him. I can't believe anyone here is arguing there's some greater justice served by defending this man who by all accounts murdered an unarmed teenager just trying to get back home in his own neighborhood.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:55 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wrongful killing is one crime that is more or less universally condemned across all human societies

Is a drone strike on a wedding party wrong?
How about the use of Phosphorous in a 'kinetic action'?

What level of condemnation is enough for the society to rise to a 'universal' condemnation? How much higher should that number or volume from the citizens be to claim a separation from the citizens and its governments action?

Its fine to stand on 'morals' - but be sure you ain't standing on the mote in your own eye.

Even the government can't be trusted to behave, once you allow them to arrest you. They might drag you off to some unknown location and torture you to death.

DHS won't explain its order of 450 million hollow point bullets
The attack on Moore “appeared to be completely unprovoked and at no time was Mr. Moore fighting back,” Polak – who has never spoken with the victim – related in her affidavit. “At no time did Mr. Moore try to attack an officer. At no time did Mr. Moore try to reach for an officer’s weapon. Mr. Moore was surprisingly calm.” .....
At one point, that body was literally lifeless, in a clinical sense: Moore “flatlined” on the sidewalk and had to be medically revived by the EMTs. Polak, looking at Moore from a distance with the eyes of an RN, couldn’t tell if the victim had survived: “

posted by rough ashlar at 7:56 AM on April 12, 2012


Whether Trayvon's mom made a remark to the press about how the killing may have been an "accident" or not is immaterial to the legal or moral situation.

I agree with you, but I cringe at how that statement will be spun. Sabrina Fulton does make it clear that she feels Zimmerman should face consequences for what he did. But you just know all over, that people are typing "see, even the mother thinks it was just an accident".
posted by cashman at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I'm pushing back against is the notion that a Zimmerman prosecution can be justified on the grounds of making justice be "seen to be done." That might be an unintentional benefit of the prosecution, but it shouldn't be the motivation.

The entire point of our legal system is supposed to be seeing to it that justice is done. Granted, we're supposed to design the rules to do that, and to defer to the rules in the absence of a blatant miscarriage of justice, but before Scalia came along, no respectable legal authority in the land would have ever argued that justice should take a backseat to the observance of the letter of the law. Hell, there are probably thousands of examples from case law of courts ruling specifically that some law or another couldn't be strictly observed in a particular case because doing so would result in a miscarriage of justice.

Putting the commitment to the letter of the law before the spirit--and before justice itself--is how you end up with oppressive police state systems that propagate injustice on the basis of "just following orders." American justice must be better than that, especially given the lofty standards we've set for ourselves.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2012


But you just know all over, that people are typing "see, even the mother thinks it was just an accident".

I know. I hate the press for doing this, because it's only natural that the victim's family isn't necessarily going to know how important the tiniest nuances of their statements to the public can be; private citizens can't be expected to be PR cops and are practically bound to make careless statements when the press keeps hounding them. The press really should be leaving the family alone and respecting the boundaries of their privacy more; in the past, the coverage might have been more deferential and more responsible. But our culture has changed too much for that to be a possibility. We don't even consider granting people the dignity of mourning in private anymore if a story catches our interest. Everyone's fair game and their dignity and privacy equally worthless now, it seems.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:09 AM on April 12, 2012


It seems to me that in this instance, it's possible both shooter and victim could feel they were threatened and had the right to stand their ground. If Martin knew Zimmerman had a loaded weapon he could have reasonably felt he needed to attack with his fists to preserve his life. Zimmerman, in the midst of Martin beating him to a pulp, could have reasonably feared for his life and used his gun to preserve it. Neither was committing a crime at the initiation of the incident, both had a right to be where they were.

Isn't this the fundamental flaw in the SYG legislation. Basically, it allows two "reasonable" individuals to escalate to deadly force in a heartbeat.

Wrongful killing is one crime that is more or less universally condemned across all human societies

So you're saying "wrongful killing" is always considered "wrongful killing," but isn't that tautological? I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:15 AM on April 12, 2012


Everytime I see the "Let's not let the media convict this man, we have to wait until all the facts are available, and in court" I can't help but picture Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer saying it. Not sure what to make of that.
posted by Big_B at 8:16 AM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Granted, we're supposed to design the rules to do that, and to defer to the rules in the absence of a blatant miscarriage of justice, but before Scalia came along, no respectable legal authority in the land would have ever argued that justice should take a backseat to the observance of the letter of the law.

Putting the commitment to the letter of the law before the spirit--and before justice itself--is how you end up with oppressive police state systems that propagate injustice on the basis of "just following orders."


I'm sorry, but that's utter nonsense. Let's be crystal clear about what you're arguing -- the "letter of the law" is all well and good, except when it goes against your notion of "justice" and the "spirit of the law." Sounds like a great system, and I can't imagine how it could ever break down.

I'm also going to need a citation on your argument that "before Scalia came along, no respectable legal authority in the land would have ever argued that justice should take a backseat to the observance of the letter of the law." If we're only going to be answerable, ultimately, to some judge's individual concept of justice, as opposed to our constitution and laws, why bother with elections and legislatures at all? Let's just find some philosopher-kings, live under a benevolent, enlightened dictatorship, and eat lotuses all day long.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:19 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's happens now that Zimmerman is charged in Trayvon Martin death?
The special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin shooting case has announced that she has filed a charge of second degree murder against George Zimmerman.

So, what did Special Prosecutor Angela Corey have to do legally to get here and what will happen next?

In Session's Beth Karas and Jessica Thrill break down the steps she took in order to file the charges and how the case will proceed from here.

Step 1 – Corey files an “information” with the court

- An “information” is the official document that accuses him of the charge or charges.

Step 2 – Corey presents a judge with a probable cause package supporting the crimes charged in the “information”

- The judge will then decide if there is probable cause based on the information Corey submits.
- The judge will only authorize an arrest if he/she finds probable cause. In Florida, probable cause means that the facts and circumstances would lead a cautious person to believe that there’s a “reasonable ground of suspicion” that a particular person is guilty of a particular crime.

Step 3 – Once Zimmerman is arrested, he will have a “first appearance” before a judge

- The judge will read Zimmerman the charges.
- The judge will address Zimmerman’s right to counsel.
- The judge will set bond. Among the factors the judge will consider in setting a reasonable bond are whether Zimmerman is a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Step 4 – Arraignment

- The arraignment will likely happen within two to three weeks of the arrest and will be in open court.
- Zimmerman will be arraigned and must enter a plea on the charges, most likely “not guilty” (at this stage, defendants almost never plead guilty)
- Often the defendant will waive his appearance at the actual court hearing. The attorney can enter a written plea of not guilty on the defendant’s behalf.

Step 5 – Defense files a motion to dismiss based on Florida's “stand your ground” law

- If Zimmerman is charged, he is entitled to a pre-trial evidentiary hearing on whether he is entitled to the immunity based on the law.
- The burden at that hearing is on the defense to prove by “a preponderance of the evidence” (more likely than not) that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force.
- In Florida, an individual can use deadly force anywhere (with no duty to retreat) as long as he/she:
1. is not engaged in an unlawful activity;
2. is being attacked in a place he/she has a right to be; And
3. reasonably believes that his/her life and safety is in danger.

- The judge decides whether Zimmerman’s actions were justified, and therefore entitles him to the “stand your ground” immunity.
1. If the judge finds the force was justifiable, then the charges are dismissed and Zimmerman is immune from further criminal prosecution and possibly, civil liability.
2. If the judge finds the force was not justifiable, then the charges against Zimmerman move forward.
 
- If the judge rules Zimmerman is immune, the prosecution can appeal that decision to a higher court.

Step 6 – Pre-trial

- Both the prosecution and defense could file a slew of pre-trial motions in the case that deal with anything and everything from turning over documents and evidence to keeping certain evidence out at trial. It is just too early to tell.

Step 7 - Trial

Zimmerman is charged with murder in the second degree.

Florida law describes murder in the second degree as an act that is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” if it is an act or series of acts that:

- a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
- is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
- is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

In Florida, a charge of murder in the second degree carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Florida does not offer the chance for parole. The sentence would however take into account several mitigating and aggregating factors.
posted by ericb at 8:24 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Someone upthread asked for a link to events, and in the previous thread a link was provided to the wikipedia page. It's wikipedia, but the page has a lot of good information, media and links.

The city of Sanford's website. They used to have a lot of info there, but now I don't see more than a couple of brief pieces of info.
Danila looked up and linked to Zimmerman's 911 calls from previous times, but that file has been taken down now. It seems to have been saved, and reposted here.
Here is the police report.
Trayvon's cell phone records (or the records of the young lady he was talking to).

Also, Shutterbun's comment: "The coroner who performed Trayvon Martin's autopsy noted no defensive injuries."

That's not correct, Shutterbun - the funeral director, speaking of Trayvon's body: "We could see no physical signs like there had been a scuffle [or] there had been a fight," he said. "The hands -- I didn't see any knuckles, bruises or what have you. And that is something we would have covered up if it would have been there."

The point being made is that Trayvon didn't have injuries to his hands, bringing into question Zimmerman's claims of what happened.
posted by cashman at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


I keep circling around to a few things that we "know" about this case:

- Why did Zimmerman appear to be so angry from the outset of his call? "These assholes always get away" plus "fucking " -- what could Trayvon Martin have been doing that makes Zimmerman escalate to that language so quickly?

- Zimmerman has claimed he was running a personal errand. Why did he have his gun with him? I know a couple of gun owners. As far as I know, they don't take their guns with them on personal errands, unless that errand includes a stop at a shooting range.

- Okay, so, for whatever reason, he takes his gun in the car when he's on personal errands. Why did he have it on him when he got out of the car to check the street he was on, if that's what he was doing?

Those last two points really hit hard for me. Take the gun out of this situation, and both Zimmerman and Martin are alive and free today. Replace the gun with many other different kinds of weapons -- a billy club, a Taser, pepper spray, a sap -- and both men are alive and free today.

Why did Zimmerman introduce a gun into this situation if he was looking to avoid confrontation as he claims? I just don't get it.

posted by lord_wolf at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


In America, justice is relative to race.

Bull. Its based on class. If you have money you can hire a lawyer. If you have political clout games can be played like ex-parte hearings and records not being in the court record. Politically connected go to the DA and lo and behold things get reduced or dates for filing get missed and the case gets tossed.

If the PR blitz was not done by the parents and associated people - would this matter have resulted with a 2nd degree charge?

There is a case of a dead human I'm working discovery on. The dead human was known to 'party' with a family that has 3 generations of drug dealing/drug usage. So when the death happened - various official parties are felt to have not behaved in a thorough manner. Opposite case - city of 250K+ people. A local employer of 1000+ happened to have his car broken into and the radio taken. After nothing of note happening for a week, the owner stepped up to a mic/camera and mentioned how it was a shame about crime in the city and how such makes it hard to locate his next 200+ person plant expansion in the city. 2 days later a perp was caught.

Class matters.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:35 AM on April 12, 2012


We are not required to presume innocence anywhere besides in the courtroom, but it really is a good idea for us to do so anyway.

I did, until I heard and read a ton of evidence pointing to his guilt, which is the same damn thing a jury will do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:37 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Truthfully, didn't we have this exact same discussion about the law and it's applicability at the onset of the previous thread? It's painful to see it all rehashed again and again.

I think it's borderline trolling if you haven't read through the really well thought out and well spoken discourse that some people provided over there.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:38 AM on April 12, 2012


If we're only going to be answerable, ultimately, to some judge's individual concept of justice, as opposed to our constitution and laws, why bother with elections and legislatures at all? Let's just find some philosopher-kings, live under a benevolent, enlightened dictatorship, and eat lotuses all day long.

Scalia takes his view so far as to say that "actual innocence" is immaterial to whether or not we put someone to death. If you're okay with that, we don't have enough common ground in our worldviews to have a discussion about this at all.

And we could go round and round on this subject because it's one legal scholars still debate to this day, and that whole books have been written about. Me personally, I'm in the "fairness and justice should come before stupid adherence to the form of the law" camp, but you're more than welcome to defend and hold that ground for yourself, if you really want it.
For example, Law Professor John Harrison asserts that the word "law" in the Constitution is simply defined as that which is legally binding, rather than being "defined by formal or substantive criteria," and therefore judges do not have discretion to decide that laws fail to satisfy such unwritten and vague criteria.[31] Law Professor Frederick Mark Gedicks disagrees, writing that Cicero, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and the framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that an unjust law was not really a law at all.
Me personally, having had my hands pretty deep in the guts of a certain variety of legal sausage back when I was a legal code supplement editor, I think only an inexperienced idiot or an ideologically blinded partisan would take the strict legalistic view preferred by the conservatives on the court and others that currently dominate the legal field. It betrays a species of bad judgment and profound moral insecurity to put the letter of the law before the spirit, IMO. But then, lucky for you, I'm not a Supreme Court justice, since in your world my view would lead inevitably to anarchy.

Class matters.

It does matter. But in this case, what made Zimmerman suspicious of Trayvon enough to hound him around the neighborhood and eventually shoot him to death in the first place was pretty clearly race. And the reluctance of the Sanford police to bring charges against Zimmerman immediately are pretty suspect, too, because I guarantee you, if Zimmerman had been recorded on that 9-11 call complaining instead about a suspicious looking "good ol boy" or a "suspicious redneck" in the neighborhood, and if it had been a 17 year old white teenager that likes to break into cars to steal spare change or car radios of the variety we frequently get in Florida instead of a young black guy, there is no chance in hell Zimmerman would not have ended up behind bars facing a murder charge within the hour.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:07 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The main point of this comment by spitbull seems to be to refer to Zimmerman as "white" as many times as possible. Looking at the photos of Zimmerman (his mug shot) and Martin in the NYT today, I notice that Zimmerman's skin is only slightly lighter than Martin's. Zimmerman does have one white parent; so does Barack Obama, who I've never seen referred to as "white" on Metafilter. How did you decide that the correct label for Zimmerman is "white"?
posted by John Cohen at 9:20 AM on April 12, 2012


Ok, so Ctrl+F: 'white'
Replace All with 'non-black'

Does that feel better or worse to you?
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:23 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scalia takes his view so far as to say that "actual innocence" is immaterial to whether or not we put someone to death. If you're okay with that, we don't have enough common ground in our worldviews to have a discussion about this at all.

I feel a derail coming on, but that's actually not what Scalia said in the Troy case. Here's his dissenting opinion in the case. I disagree with Scalia's argument, but not because I think I can throw away the Constitution and make up my own laws... I think the Eighth Amendment should protect "actually innocent" people from being executed.

As to your vague Wikipedia'd quotes on rule of law vs. "spirit of the law" (rule of men): I think the latter has done much more damage to life, limb and property over the long arc of human history than has the former.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:24 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


both shooter and victim could feel they were threatened and had the right to stand their ground.

That's not what the law requires. It requires either reasonable belief of the necessity of deadly force to prevent death or great bodily harm, per Fl. Law 776.012(1)-(2) or the applicability of the presumption of such a fear under certain circumstances:

if:

(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.


Fl. Law 776.013(1)(a)-(b).

The argument will be made that these exceptions apply to Zimmerman's actions but it's unlikely to prevail.

There's also an applicable portion of the statute that could be used to argue that Martin, even if he did physically go against Zimmerman (although the evidence doesn't seem to support that, thus far), was acting within his rights under the law:

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.


Fl. Law 776.013(3).

Fundamentally, I think the media isn't paying adequate attention to the applicability of the statute and is making erroneous assumptions without closely reviewing the law. Of course, I could be wrong, as I am just looking at the statute and haven't read any cases interpreting it. (IANYL.)
posted by miss tea at 9:24 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"-- Trayvon's coming back with drink & skittles
-- Zimm sees him and assumes he's up to no good; alerts cops; follows
-- Trayvon sees Zimm following, assumes Zimm is coming after him
-- Zimm assumes Trayvon is running away
-- Eventually they confront each other. Both say the same thing: "What the fuck do you think you're doing"
-- confrontation escalates. Trayvon, the stronger, ends up on top of Zimm. Zimm goes for gun. Trayvon sees it, fears for life, whacks Zimm's head on pavement. Zimm fears for life, gets gun shoots.
"

Trayvon Martin was 140 lbs and Zimmerman is 250 lbs, I'm not sure Zimmerman had any reasonable/non-racist basis by which to fear for his life.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:40 AM on April 12, 2012


He'll get a trial. It won't be a fair one given the media hue and cry, the trial will likely be decided at the jury selection stage. Too many influenced by the Trayvon Martin was a golden cherub stories and Zimmerman will spend quite a long time in jail. Too many influenced by Faux News and he walks.

Why do we assume that the jury won't do a fair and impartial job based on the facts as they are presented in the courtroom and that all the jurors will come in biased and with their mind made up before hearing any evidence. In the Casey Anthony trial the jury seemed to base their decision on the evidence as presented disregarding all the media reports that were not admissible. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but ask yourself what you would do on the jury and I would bet most of us would say that we would follow the judges jury instructions, consider the evidence as presented to us, disregard any preconceived notions we may have brought in to the case with us, and realize that one life has been taken and at least a good portion of another persons life is at stake and make our decision to the best of our ability. We would take the job seriously and approach it earnestly hoping to provide both Z and Martin and his family with our best possible effort using our head and critical thinking to come to a decision rather than a gut feeling or our emotions.

I have served on a jury for a murder trial that was nowhere near as murky as this one, but everyone on the jury took their time, reviewed the evidence time and again to make sure we were making the right decision according to the rule of law as we understood it. Call me naive, but I expect nothing less from this eventual jury.
posted by holdkris99 at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and since I don't think anyone has said this yet:

Guilty, 20 years (+/- 5).

You heard it here first.
posted by Big_B at 9:43 AM on April 12, 2012


Trayvon Martin was 140 lbs and Zimmerman is 250 lbs, I'm not sure Zimmerman had any reasonable/non-racist basis by which to fear for his life.

Where do these weights come from? i have heard them repeated time and again. Also, why is weight relevant? If Zimmerman wrongly assumed that Trayvon was armed (which apparently often the case with someone carrying a concealed weapon, they think everyone else is armed there's a link on the old thread that talks about that, can't link to it now) what difference would their weights make?
posted by holdkris99 at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2012


6'3 and 140 lbs is not a football player's build.
posted by unSane at 9:46 AM on April 12, 2012


Fl. Law 776.013(1)(a)-(b).
If... (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.


That last clause is pretty wide open. Do you think his lawyer could interpret "unlawful and forcible act" to mean the very fight they were having? Or does it have to be some other forcible crime? Is breaking and entering "forbible"?

It seems pretty clear that Zimmerman thought Trayvon was a criminal, either a mugger or thief. If you read this law most expansively, you could argue that simply by thinking that Trayvon was breaking into houses, Zimmerman gave himself the right to kill him.
posted by msalt at 9:50 AM on April 12, 2012


had reason to believe

Come on. If me walking down the street dressed appropriately for the weather, talking on my phone is reason to believe I am committing a crime, then fuck Florida and fuck America. That is literally walking while black, msalt.
posted by cashman at 9:54 AM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Class matters.

It does, but so does race. I went to a very fancy private high school that was on the edge of a very, VERY fancy neighborhood. One of my classmates lived in that fancy neighborhood, and was stopped by the police once or twice a month walking home from school in his fancy private school uniform, wanting to know what he was doing there, hassling him about where he was going. Once he went to get his wallet to show his ID with his address on it, and they knocked him to the ground and restrained him on the presumption that he was going for a weapon.

He was upper class, but he was also black. Even though there were plenty of displayed markers of his class -- his good shoes, his private school uniform -- they were outweighed by his race.
posted by KathrynT at 9:59 AM on April 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


msalt, the statute requires meeting both (a) and (b)-- so basically (a) requires a showing of "unlawful and forceful entering" or removal or attempt at removal of another "against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle;"
and
(b) requires a showing that the user of allegedly defensive force "knew or had reason to believe" in the forcible act.
posted by miss tea at 10:02 AM on April 12, 2012


they're also pulling tricks like running pictures of Trayvon when he was 13, looking all cute and vulnerable, next to pictures of Martin, when he was much heavier than he is now, in a prison jumpsuit from some other arrest.

Because, as you know, young black men are very menacing.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:10 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's a couple of interesting things I'm not sure were discussed in the last thread, and relevant to msalt's post above. George Zimmerman called to report a suspicious black 7-9 year old.
On April 22, 2011, Zimmerman called to report a black male about “7-9” years old, four feet tall, with a “skinny build” and short black hair. There is no indication in the police report of the reason for Zimmerman’s suspicion of the boy.
In that same article, the volunteer coordinator for the Sanford Police talks:
Twin Lakes’ neighborhood watch itself did not exist before [September 2011], according to Wendy Dorival, volunteer coordinator for the Sanford Police Department.

Dorival first met with Twin Lakes residents to give a neighborhood-watch presentation on the evening of Sept. 22. The meeting was initiated by a call from Zimmerman, she said.

“He was the one who contacted me at first to get it started there,” Dorival said.

Dorival recalled that about two dozen residents showed up to hear her speak about the responsibilities of neighborhood-watch volunteers.

“There were about three or four burglaries that had happened that people were upset about, and that’s what initiated me to get out there for them to start a neighborhood watch,” Dorival said.

Part of the instruction Dorival gives new volunteers, she said, includes when to call 911 and when to call non-emergency numbers. Both lines go to the same operator, Dorival told the Daily Beast, but the different numbers allow the operator to triage calls.

“I basically tell them you call non-emergency dispatch if you come home after work and you notice somebody took a bike off your porch,” Dorival said. “A 911 call is when there is a crime in progress. If someone’s life or property is in danger, you call 911.”

At the end of the Dorival’s presentation, she invited residents to choose a neighborhood-watch leader.

“I went through all the roles and responsibilities for neighborhood watch and I said, ‘Now it’s time to choose your community leader,” Dorival said. “And pretty much the people chose George Zimmerman as the coordinator.”
So George called the non-emergency number, instructed by his training to do so when property or life is not in danger. So it would be interesting if as msalt discusses, they tried to say Zimmerman claimed he thought Trayvon was in the process of committing a crime - if that training and the number he called would be brought in.

Separately, CNN made it sound like everything (proceedings, etc) will be viewable because of the sunshine laws Florida has. It'll be interesting to see just how much of the proceedings get shown.

I wonder if Sabrina knows Zimmerman was calling and reporting skinny black 8 year olds to the police.
posted by cashman at 10:13 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A link might help.
posted by cashman at 10:14 AM on April 12, 2012


they're also pulling tricks like running pictures of Trayvon when he was 13, looking all cute and vulnerable, next to pictures of Martin, when he was much heavier than he is now, in a prison jumpsuit from some other arrest.
posted by Malor at 8:56 PM on April 11


Similarly, no one pointed out that Byron Naisbitt turned out to NOT EVEN REMEMBER BEING ATTACKED and later DROPPED OUT OF COLEGE so you know he probably got what he deserved. Real 'reliable" witness imo ... and no one ever pointed out that Natalie Holloway was a dang slut, hanging out with people on the beach (uhhhh what does that say about her??? thanks for nothing, "media").
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2012


Where is the evidence Zimmerman is racist?

He only mentioned the skin color when asked. I'm not getting the accusations of racism. Hey could have just been one of those guys with their dick in one hand and a gun in the other roaming around looking for trouble to prove they are a man. He may well have not cared a whit what the color of the trouble was.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:17 AM on April 12, 2012


I'm wondering why Zimmerman kept calling 911 instead of the direct line to the Sanford PD.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2012


Oh, it looks like he did a combination of 911 and direct calls, depending on his own reckoning.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 AM on April 12, 2012


Miss Tea is quoting the wrong part of the law. Ignore the 'forcible entry' stuff. That has to do with deadly force regarding people breaking into your house. There are different rules for that compared to the rules for Stand Your Ground, which deals with being in a place you have a right to be.

Section (3) that she quoted is the relevant part, however, there are other sections that deal with what happens if you provoke a fight.
Where is the evidence Zimmerman is racist?
How many times did he call up about white kids? Were there any? Apparently in his mind simply being a black kid walking around is 'suspicious' enough to follow him and call the cops.
This simply isn't so. The two default legal settings are "We don't know" and "Misunderstanding". In neither of those scenarios is anyone found legally guilty.
What are you talking about?

1) Zimmerman needs to show with a preponderance of evidence that he didn't provoke the fight. If we say "We don't know", that means he didn't do so, and thus is guilty. That's the way this particular law works

2) I don't know what kind of "Misunderstanding" results in someone getting shot without it being a crime.
It seems to me that in this instance, it's possible both shooter and victim could feel they were threatened and had the right to stand their ground. If Martin knew Zimmerman had a loaded weapon he could have reasonably felt he needed to attack with his fists to preserve his life. Zimmerman, in the midst of Martin beating him to a pulp, could have reasonably feared for his life and used his gun to preserve it. Neither was committing a crime at the initiation of the incident, both had a right to be where they were.


That would be true except for the fact that the law says that SYG does not apply to the person who provoked the fight.

The problem, though is that even if you do provoke a fight, you might be able to get away with it if you can come up with some bullshit evidence.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




I have no interest in "proving" George is a racist, but there is that whole "Fucking Coons" issue. It'll be interesting to see if he can replicate whatever he claims to have been saying, and have it sound like what he said on the tape.


Trayvon Martin's mom retracts 'accident' characterization, says Zimmerman killed him in 'cold blood'.


DUMP CRUMP.
posted by cashman at 10:32 AM on April 12, 2012


I have no interest in "proving" George is a racist, but there is that whole "Fucking Coons" issue. It'll be interesting to see if he can replicate whatever he claims to have been saying, and have it sound like what he said on the tape.
CNN did another analysis where it sounded like he was saying "Fucking Cold", but the last part got drowned out by some wind noises.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2012


Where is the evidence Zimmerman is racist?

He only mentioned the skin color when asked. I'm not getting the accusations of racism. Hey could have just been one of those guys with their dick in one hand and a gun in the other roaming around looking for trouble to prove they are a man. He may well have not cared a whit what the color of the trouble was.


The "trouble" he was constantly looking for was in the form of young black men. He called the cops to report 8 or 9 of them in the past year and none of them were burglars. I mean, I do agree he was just a vigilante in general and overzealous but he could be racist too.

I simply don't think he'd have followed and shot someone who wasn't black because black people is what he was looking for. But if he had, I really don't think the police would have been so lackadaisical about the investigation, and that's the source of the outrage.
posted by Danila at 10:36 AM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Delmoi, you're right, I was just trying to be comprehensive, but I didn't clarify that adequately.
posted by miss tea at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2012


MSNBC is live streaming Zimmerman's court appearance right now.
posted by ericb at 10:37 AM on April 12, 2012


That was brief and to the point.
posted by ericb at 10:39 AM on April 12, 2012


Missed it. Anything of note?
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:41 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"During the brief appearance Thursday, Zimmerman stood up straight and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney. The judge said an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge."*
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on April 12, 2012


Also, the judge agreed with the attorneys to seal the case records.
posted by ericb at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2012


They just brought up the "Sabrina said she thought it was an accident" thing during the prosecutor's press conference (which is ongoing, unless I'm watching old video).

Twice.
posted by cashman at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2012


Gotta give it to Zimmerman's lawyer replying to a question about Sabrina's initial "accident" comments, saying "They lost their son. We are not going to take the words of a woman whose child is dead and use them against her."

I hope he sticks to that. That is honorable of him to say, and I appreciate that.
posted by cashman at 10:55 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Even though there were plenty of displayed markers of his class -- his good shoes, his private school uniform -- they were outweighed by his race.

If the family had real class power - the family would have had a talk with the political establishment and political class would have had a conversation with the local enforcement arm and the problem would have went away.

But out-of-control "policing" gets things like this - Three men convicted of purse snatching -- one of whom was sentenced to 99 years in prison -- were exonerated Friday in Dallas. They are the latest examples of men who have been wrongly convicted of crimes in Texas. At the courthouse, Watkins -- the first black district attorney elected in Texas -- called for a nationwide discussion about race and justice after seeing too many exonerees who, like Friday's trio, are black. A nationwide discussion isn't gonna do squat if the local situation isn't good.

How many of the people who are complaining about race working for local court watchers?
posted by rough ashlar at 10:57 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


On April 22, 2011, Zimmerman called to report a black male about “7-9” years old, four feet tall, with a “skinny build” and short black hair. There is no indication in the police report of the reason for Zimmerman’s suspicion of the boy.

IIRC in the other thread there was another article (or perhaps an actual copy of the police report?) that supposedly clarified this - it claimed he was calling because he was concerned that this young kid was walking alone on the side of a busy road or something?
posted by elizardbits at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2012


> I hope he sticks to that. That is honorable of him to say, and I appreciate that.

And at any rate, she could say it was God's Will or whatever and it wouldn't have much bearing in a court case.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2012


it claimed he was calling because he was concerned that this young kid was walking alone on the side of a busy road or something?

That makes sense, and yes, furiousxgeorge did note it in the previous thread - here is the link. I tried to find that in that thread, doing a view source, before I posted my previous comments, but the search messed up several times because of the thread length. I remember reading that comment now.
posted by cashman at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2012


As a resident of Jacksonville, FL. I want to apologize in advance for Angela Corey. This is her time to shine, and gosh darnit she is not going to let it get away. Even if it costs her the case.

I also want to apologize to Angela Corey, who is probably monitoring all mentions of her name on the internet, and will hunt me down and out me for talking bad about her.
posted by Tavern at 11:07 AM on April 12, 2012


rough ashlar: "Watkins -- the first black district attorney elected in Texas -- called for a nationwide discussion about race and justice after seeing too many exonerees who, like Friday's trio, are black."

So he was only concerned about the number of innocent people incarcerated when many were black? How many of them were men? Perhaps we need to have a nationwide discussion about gender and justice. After all more than 50% of prisoners are men. The only possible reason for that is a bias, a prejudice. At least to use the same logic as others.
posted by 2manyusernames at 11:14 AM on April 12, 2012


Prison Sentencing Study: Whites, Women, Non-Poor and US Citizens Are Given Lighter Sentences, from the blog Creative Destruction, with link to PDF of study.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the family had real class power - the family would have had a talk with the political establishment and political class would have had a conversation with the local enforcement arm and the problem would have went away.

Wait, what? They can't have been REAL upper-class people because if they were, surely they would have had extra-legal ways of getting around the problem? Dang, those goalposts were right here a few minutes ago.
posted by KathrynT at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


psst. angela. suspect is known to hang out in taverns.
posted by telstar at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2012


Justice is a funny term. In the general sense, it can go beyond uniform application of the law. So, even if black men *were* treated 'fairly' in the legal sense, they may well be treated unjustly in the societal sense because they are not given equal opportunity, etc.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:45 AM on April 12, 2012


Has this been linked on the blue before? I think it has some relevance to some of the discussions going on in this thread:

Bryan Stevenson TED talk - We Need to Talk About Injustice
(video, approx 23 minutes):

"In an engaging and personal talk -- with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks -- human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system."
posted by lord_wolf at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Holy crap, were you ever right cashman: the press has now taken to promulgating the news about Trayvon's mom's inopportune remarks on every channel they can--even squeezing the information into completely unrelated headlines to make sure it gets out to the public as quickly as possible, e.g. this monstrously nonsensical example:

Zimmerman arraignment set for May 29; Trayvon Martin’s mother says encounter ‘an accident’

It's pretty telling that Zimmerman's attorney is actually playing this more respectfully than the press is.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


From what little I have seen of Zimmerman's new attorney (very little, a few short web bios and a CNN interview) he seems like the right guy for the job. Seems pretty no-nonsense, put up the best defense, don't make it a media show any more than it has to be. If that impression is accurate, it seems obvious why Zimmerman let those other guys go. That press conference really was not well handled.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:07 PM on April 12, 2012




Damn it's confusing and hard to hold online media accountable for what they publish when it can all disappear/be edited out of existence a second later, before you've even had a chance to point it out.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:13 PM on April 12, 2012


That would be true except for the fact that the law says that SYG does not apply to the person who provoked the fight.

What if said provocation of a fight was done in the honest belief that ones life was threatened (e.g., by a gun-toter stalking you in the dark)? Doesn't that person have a right to stand his or her ground by using fisticuffs or whatever other weapon is available?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:39 PM on April 12, 2012


Trayvon's parents, from last night on MSNBC (Video). Got it from Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog. And here is part of a great comment on that blog(mark m), aside from the wonderful comment about the grace of the parents by rikyrah.

"The mother and father speak to our better angels, but why does it seem to me, rightly or wrongly, that black people are too forgiving at times? I am black and they speak to my heart but it wrankles me that we are, at moments like this, compelled to be moral teachers rather than humans who have anger, bitterness and vengeance. Maybe it's due to the rabid racial conversations going on as a result of the shooting or maybe it's the belief that public perceptions would be more sympathetic if there were white parents that showed anger, even irrational anger.

That boy is dead. He will never come back and he was shot by this man. Sometimes I wish moral anger was part of the acceptable emotions for black people. It's as if b/c we have limited power and are the targets, even today, of some of the most vile sentiments, our only weapon is morality. That limited toolbox is a heavy and frustrating burden. Stokley Carmichael spoke of these other emotions."
posted by cashman at 1:22 PM on April 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Was Trayvon's mother at the scene? If not, it doesn't matter what she thinks, for the purposes of law, unless there's a sentencing hearing. For the purposes of justice, her anguished face says it all.
posted by spitbull at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2012


1) Zimmerman needs to show with a preponderance of evidence that he didn't provoke the fight. If we say "We don't know", that means he didn't do so, and thus is guilty. That's the way this particular law works

Actually the case goes to trial if he fails to show that he had reasonable fear for his safety. This is a motion before a judge, not the jury. If the judge decides for the prosecution, the case goes to trial.

A terrible law.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:31 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That would be true except for the fact that the law says that SYG does not apply to the person who provoked the fight.

Doesn't self defense also not apply to the person who starts a fight? You can;t just go around with a gun stalking and picking fights with people and, as soon as you start losing the fight, kill them. Even in my bloodthirsty state (TX) you can't get away with that.
posted by holdkris99 at 1:33 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, looking at the picture of George Zimmerman in the media where he's smiling, he has a great smile.

And reading about some of his volunteer work and social awareness, he seems like basically a decent person. I know that gets said a lot about people in cases like this, but my impression is that, like the teenager he shot, he was still trying to figure out his life and be a decent chap. I'm only about a decade older than him, and I recall quite clearly that there was still quite a lot I was trying to sort when I was in my late 20's and watching 30 approach rapidly.

So I have to ask this again: why did he have to bring that goddamned gun with him when he exited his car that night? Without the gun, only a very few people outside of their families would be discussing what likely would have happened: Trayvon gets arrested and charged with assault and battery (the racism of the Sanford PD would doubtless still come into play, I feel), and Zimmerman is charged with disorderly conduct or something else very minor.

A terrible law.

This needs to be shouted from the mountaintops. One of my deepest hopes is that this case ultimately leads to a review and rejection of this bullshit law in Florida and every other state where it applies.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


from (holds nose) Yahoo! News:

George Zimmerman, the Hispanic Floridian who killed black teenager Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, had a MySpace account whose username was “datniggytb,” The Daily Caller has learned.

According to a family member whose identity The Daily Caller has agreed not to reveal for safety reasons, the “datniggytb” name is not a racial slur, but a friendly nickname that referred to George himself.

“That was an old nickname his black friends gave him,” the Zimmerman family member said. “He didn’t have an issue with the profile name.”

posted by porn in the woods at 1:46 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


[link]
posted by porn in the woods at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2012


So I have to ask this again: why did he have to bring that goddamned gun with him when he exited his car that night?

I don't know, but I do hope he speaks up for himself in the trial, assuming it goes to trial. Since his version of events is essentially the only first hand account from start to finish, I would be disheartened if he just completely clammed up and never took the stand. He's well within his rights to do so, of course. But damn, if you shoot a 17 year old kid to death and you're a grown man, the least you can do is get up there and explain what the hell happened.

I still look at localroger's pointing out of George's Judge father. He is also a Vietnam veteran. I wonder if stories he's heard over the years influenced what he aimed to be regarded as by neighbors, friends and his father, but it probably is something as simple as him wanting to be a gun-carrying law enforcement officer.
posted by cashman at 1:49 PM on April 12, 2012


why did he have to bring that goddamned gun with him when he exited his car that night?

Well that's the crux of it isn't it? A former friend of mine got a concealed handgun license and a gun about 12 years ago and I never understood it. He would carry the fucking thing everywhere. It's what ultimately ended our friendship. I don't understand the psychology of being armed like that.

My buddy said they told him in classes when getting his licenses that while always a last resort, to not carry a gun unless you are prepared to use it if the situation arises. I would imagine that Z had that mindset. He thought Trayvon was in the neighborhood to commit a "forcible felony" - burglary- and he was prepared to stop him, one way or the other. He was tired of "[them] always getting away." He no doubt was well versed in the SYG ground law and was prepared to shoot to kill. I don't see how you can grab a gun and follow someone without thinking in your mind "alright if shit pops off I am going to shoot."
posted by holdkris99 at 1:49 PM on April 12, 2012


>>had reason to believe
>Come on. If me walking down the street dressed appropriately for the weather, talking on my phone is reason to believe I am committing a crime, then fuck Florida and fuck America. That is literally walking while black, msalt.


That's exactly my point -- don't shoot the messenger. it's a crazily dangerous law to give a license to shoot to anyone who has a "reasonable fear" since obviously interpretations of reasonable will roam all over the place, and be very sensitive to public prejudices.

Is there any chance that this law could be appealed by the prosecution and declared unconstitutional as depriving victims of their constitutional rights?
posted by msalt at 1:51 PM on April 12, 2012


but I do hope he speaks up for himself in the trial

I think there is about a 0% of him testifying. No good lawyer, hell no bad lawyer for that matter, would let him testify. I realize it's up to the client and he probably thinks he did nothing wrong, but man I would be shocked to holy hell if he gets on that stand. Also, I would be glued to the set.
posted by holdkris99 at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, it was said in the other thread, but let me say it again in this one:

lord_wolf's contributions have been invaluable as I try to parse all of the comments in the threads and all the news stories, etc. Reminds me of The Whelk's commentary in that OWS thread.

It's commenters like lord_wolf that make MeFi so great
posted by holdkris99 at 1:54 PM on April 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think there is about a 0% of him testifying.

How does that work though - a lot of his "it was self-defense" is predicated on his version of events. How does he present that without testifying? Or do they just use police video of the explanation, and of the re-enactment?
posted by cashman at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2012


Yep, police testimony. Zimmerman would be absolute moron to get up on the stand.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:55 PM on April 12, 2012


a lot of his "it was self-defense" is predicated on his version of events. How does he present that without testifying?

The SYG part is a hearing before the judge only, before trial. But does the judge have the right to question the defendant, or can the prosecution depose him? It seems more like a motion for summary judgement than a trial of fact.
posted by msalt at 1:58 PM on April 12, 2012


Where is the evidence Zimmerman is racist?

He only mentioned the skin color when asked. I'm not getting the accusations of racism. Hey could have just been one of those guys with their dick in one hand and a gun in the other roaming around looking for trouble to prove they are a man. He may well have not cared a whit what the color of the trouble was.?

Racism doesn't just mean "The white man is the superior race...gonna string up some colored folks. KKK forever"

It also refers to the subtle racial biases that are part of our society. Zimmerman's initial asessment of Martin's situation, "acting strange, suspicious, possibly on drugs" smacks of racial bias, because it speaks to a pre-existing narrative of black men as agressive, dangerous, suspicious, out of place.

Zimmerman's accounting of the events that allowed him to claim self-defense also speak to this same pre-existing narrative, and the only way his story is believable is to also accept his initial assessment of Trayvon. There are no widely accepted pre-existing narratives in our society that portray 17 year old white kids armed with a bag of candy and a soft drink as "dangerous or suspicious" absent some other extenuating act or circumstance.

Unfortunately in this country we still have not found a way in the public sphere to have nuanced finely grained discussions of the problems with race that we all have. Which is sad, because as this case shows, the type of subtle racial biases that it's easy for people to explain away on a regular basis can have a really big impact on people's lives.

I can honestly say I don't think of Zimmerman is a Racist. I don't care what's in his heart. I care about what he did. I think he committed a racist act, and told a racist story. And because we live in a racist society, it took millions of people crying foul to get him in front of a judge.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:58 PM on April 12, 2012


I agree Cashman. We have been told over and over that there were only two people who knew what happened that night and Trayvon is no longer with us. It does seem like that in order to prove self defense he would have to testify. But he doesn't have to prove self defense, the prosecutors have to prove that it wasn't, which is going to be tough considering trayvon is gone and Z would be a fool to testify.
posted by holdkris99 at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2012


I can honestly say I don't think of Zimmerman is a Racist. I don't care what's in his heart.

I have been going back and forth but if this is legit, I have trouble believing he is not racist.

Plus there's the whole "fucking coons" thing, if that is what he said.
posted by holdkris99 at 2:01 PM on April 12, 2012


holdkris99 - I am no lawyer, and IIRC neither is delmoi, but he seems smarter than me, so read what he said upthread:

You do need to prove, or at least show via preponderance of evidence, that you were acting in self defense.
posted by desjardins at 2:02 PM on April 12, 2012


National Review Editors: SYG Not A 'License To Murder'
posted by BobbyVan at 2:06 PM on April 12, 2012


This gets linked here every so often, but again here is Jay Smooth's instructional video about not getting into the trying to say someone is a racist thing. And I'll admit I have been waiting for Sir Smooth to make a video about this case, since he usually is ridiculously insightful. "the 'what they are' conversation is a rhetorical Bermuda Triangle where everything drowns in a sea of empty posturing."
posted by cashman at 2:07 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


National Review Editors: SYG Not A 'License To Murder'

In that article, they say "To justify his claim of self-defense, Zimmerman says that Martin attacked him without provocation...If this is true, Zimmerman..."

It isn't true. Zimmerman provoked Martin by following him in his car on a rainy evening, then getting out and following him on foot. So that's the end of that. It is not true.
posted by cashman at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2012


attacked him without provocation

Cashman's got it. Zimmerman so much as admitted it during his not-911 call.
posted by holdkris99 at 2:29 PM on April 12, 2012




There are no widely accepted pre-existing narratives in our society that portray 17 year old white kids armed with a bag of candy and a soft drink as "dangerous or suspicious" absent some other extenuating act or circumstance.

It doesn't have to be widely accepted. This is a specific instance, in a specific place, with specific people. It isn't society as a whole. There could be tons of racism in society, and this is not. Or there could be only a little racism in society, and this is a wildly racist act. Norms, and common themes, etc. don't matter in individual cases. There are plenty of places where a white kid in a hoodie wandering in a neighbourhood might well be considered suspicious. I'm totally against shooting them for it, but the fact he considered a kid in a hoodie to be dangerous makes him inherently racist because the kid is black is, well, just kinda crazy. That is not even close to enough to go slinging around accusations of racists behaviour. For all you know, there are groups of gang members in the area who wear hoodies and are of various races.

Now, I'll give you that if you look at his patten of previous behaviour, of seeming to only report black males, it would seem likely that he inherently distrusts black males more then others; that would be racist behaviour. That is assuming the areas he 'patrols' are not very dominantly black, of course; then the commonality would just be statistical. Do we know the racial breakdown of those areas? From what it sounds, the last one sounded mixed race, but I don't know about the others. Facts on those would be nice.
posted by Bovine Love at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2012


Hey, they don't even bowdlerize!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:09 PM on April 12, 2012


The last few days have just been bizarre. Judge Daddy has obviously been running whatever cover he can for his son, which probably includes both contacts and an understanding of the ins and outs of gaming the process that most of us wouldn't have, even with competent counsel. Ditching his counsel and disappearing is the kind of thing you do if a grand jury is about to take you on a fishing expedition, yet Z did it almost on cue when it was announced that there wouldn't be a grand jury.

I am wondering if maybe Z didn't understand his father's advice, and bolted because he thought this was the situation he should run from; in fact it was about the worst possible thing to do at the worst possible moment, probably contributed to the sudden declaration that there would be an arrest and indictment, at which point dad explained that he just had to come in and suck it up, the damage having been done.
posted by localroger at 3:11 PM on April 12, 2012


George Zimmerman, the Hispanic Floridian who killed black teenager Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, had a MySpace account whose username was “datniggytb,” The Daily Caller has learned.
What does that mean? I imagine "dat" is "that", and of course I have a guess for "niggy", but what's "tb"?
posted by Flunkie at 3:20 PM on April 12, 2012


Where is the evidence Zimmerman is racist?

Six feet underground.
posted by spitbull at 3:21 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bovine Love, I'm on my phone but im pretty sure I posted stats for the census tract in the last thread. Z's tract plus the surrounding ones were about 30-40% nonwhite iirc. Search my activity for census or tract.
posted by desjardins at 3:21 PM on April 12, 2012


but what's "tb"?

According to the article, it stands for "Tug Boat," apparently in reference to Zimmerman being overweight, or "tubby" I suppose.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2012


According to the article, it stands for "Tug Boat," apparently in reference to Zimmerman being overweight, or "tubby" I suppose.

According to his family it means that. It could also be Trayvon Benjamin. If the myspace was up and running and that name was on their before this happened then it means nothing. If that nickname appeared after he killed trayvon, that would be highly coincidental at the least
posted by holdkris99 at 3:55 PM on April 12, 2012


but the fact he considered a kid in a hoodie to be dangerous makes him inherently racist because the kid is black is, well, just kinda crazy.

I specifically said I don't think Zimmerman is inherently racist. Inherently biased is the point I was making. And in this society racial is not a stretch of the imagination in any way shape or form.

To clarify, I'm not even stating that said bias is what caused him to pull the trigger. It's what caused him to create the situation, it's was the basis of his explanation of his behavior, and it was what allowed the police to completely give him the benefit of the doubt. And to me, that's why race is important in this tragic incident.

And you're speaking in all of these hypotheticals which have no bearing on anything. Yes, white kids could hypothetically be the subjects of racial profiling. But they aren't. Yes there could have been a multi-racial hoodie gang in that neighborhood. But there wasn't.

To try and explain it away to some other hypothetical situation is to give George Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt. His story and actions simply don't add up, and I have yet to hear any evidence that Trayvon Martin did anything to justify Zimmerman's course of action that night. And yet for some reason it is so important to some people that we go to all these great lengths to give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt.

Presumption of innocence is not the same as "I believe your bullshit excuse" otherwise nobody would ever get arrested.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


holdkris99 - I am no lawyer, and IIRC neither is delmoi, but he seems smarter than me, so read what he said upthread:

You do need to prove, or at least show via preponderance of evidence, that you were acting in self defense.


So the burden of proof is on the defendant here? That seems counter to what I have always been taught about the justice system and my experiences within it.
posted by holdkris99 at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2012


If the myspace was up and running and that name was on their before this happened then it means nothing. If that nickname appeared after he killed trayvon, that would be highly coincidental at the least

If Zimmerman set up a new myspace account since this all went down, that that would officially be the most unexpected event in this entire case.
posted by inigo2 at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


And in this society racial *bias* is not a stretch of the imagination in any way shape or form.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2012


If Zimmerman set up a new myspace account since this all went down, that that would officially be the most unexpected event in this entire case.

If anyone set up a new myspace account since this all went down that would be shocking. I guess the question is whether that particular nickname appeared before or after.
posted by holdkris99 at 4:01 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the burden of proof is on the defendant here? That seems counter to what I have always been taught about the justice system and my experiences within it.

As delmoi noted above
, that's how affirmative defenses work.

I realize that this is a reductive explanation, but essentially, you have a claim (in civil court) or a charge (in criminal court). The prosecutor (or plaintiff, in civil court) argues the elements of the charge/claim. With a "standard" defense, the defendant only has to argue that the prosecution/plaintiff hasn't proven the elements of the case, or that the facts underlying the elements are not true.

With an affirmative defense, on the other hand, the defendant is saying that other facts exist that will defeat the claim even if the facts supporting the claim are true. In other words, if the prosecution/plaintiff does its job, the defendant must still prevail because of these other facts. The defendant is the one who brings it up; the defendant is the one saying "yes, the other side has done its job, but because of these particular facts, I should not be found liable even though the other side has met its burden of proof." That's why the defendant carries the burden of proof of an affirmative defense. It's not as high a burden as the state has in criminal prosecutions -- depending on the type of case and jurisdiction, the standard of proof is either preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence -- but it's still the defendant's burden.
posted by bakerina at 4:20 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




Thanks for the explanation bakerina, that does make sense now.
posted by holdkris99 at 4:28 PM on April 12, 2012


Given what delmoi and bakerina have said, it seems Z will have a difficult time proving self defense without testifying, given there are no eye witnesses that saw the whole thing clearly (that we know of at this point).
posted by holdkris99 at 4:30 PM on April 12, 2012


That's exactly my point -- don't shoot the messenger. it's a crazily dangerous law to give a license to shoot to anyone who has a "reasonable fear" since obviously interpretations of reasonable will roam all over the place, and be very sensitive to public prejudices.

Except that "reasonable" doesn't roam all over the place. That's why they put that in there. Stand Your Ground does not say "you may use deadly force if you fear for your life." That would be what you said: anyone can claim to have been in fear. That's why reasonable is used. Zimmerman might be telling the complete truth, he might well have been completely terrified. (Since he does seem to be a bit of a fraidy-cat.) But would a reasonable person be terrified? That's what it hinges on. And I don't think any reasonable person can believe that it would have been reasonable to be afraid in that situation. And even then, it would be completely unreasonable for someone who *was* afraid to do anything but drive away.

I really hate that this has become a "stand your ground" battle line.
posted by gjc at 4:32 PM on April 12, 2012




So the burden of proof is on the defendant here? That seems counter to what I have always been taught about the justice system and my experiences within it.

The burden of proof for the self-defense explanation is on the person offering it. In law this is called an affirmative defense. The burden of proof for murderous intent is on the prosecution. So is the burden of proof that Zimmerman drew a gun and shot Martin, for that matter, but nobody disputes the fact that he did so so likely the defense will stipulate that fact, and the argument will be about whether his intent was murderous or defensive. In general, the burden of proof in any argument is upon the person making a positive claim.

Incidentally, most of the 'analysis' here about provocation and self-defense is completely wrong. If I approach you and insult you, well then I've provoked you to some extent. You may be somewhat justified in slapping my face or suchlike to express your anger, and it would be on me to either withdraw or limit my defense to about the same level of force. On the other hand if you pick up a rock and try to beat me to death, I don't have to let you do that. Ideally I should withdraw, but if I reasonably believe that cannot safely do so then I can respond to your deadly force with deadly force of my own. Looking at the stand-your-ground law out of context is misleading, because there are other situations where self-defense can apply that are not included in that statute. If someone provokes you by saying 'hey asshole,' the fact of the provocation doesn't offer you legal license to beat the person to a pulp. So saying that Zimmerman provoked the incident by following and/or confronting Martin can be true, but does not by itself obviate a claim of self-defense.

Conversely, if there isn't a bunch of forensic evidence to back up Zimmerman's claim of being attacked and overwhelmed by Martin to the extent that he was in fear for his life, then his self-defense claim will fail. The fact that Zimmerman's injuries, if any, were so superficial that he showed up at the police station without any kind of visible bandages does not augur well for his case. He would have to show that he was concussed or similarly injured, and that the EMTs who inspected him at the scene were massively negligent by not transporting him to hospital or applying a field dressing of any kind, or explain why he would decline further medical attention despite (supposedly) having had his head repeatedly slammed onto concrete.

Personally, I am not sure that he will fight the case all the way. A plea of voluntary manslaughter early in or midway through the proceedings seems very possible.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:35 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's also the possibility of a jury coming to a conclusion that
    Mr. Zimmerman sincerely but unreasonably believed that he was appropriately using lethal force to defend himself, which is known as “imperfect self-defense.”
According to this nytimes article.
posted by rainy at 4:43 PM on April 12, 2012


Yes there could have been a multi-racial hoodie gang in that neighborhood. But there wasn't.

The thing is, you don't know that anymore then I do. I'd be interested in hearing why he felt this guy was a threat. Now I'll be honest; my gut feel is that a good percentage of it was that the guy was black, and Zimmerman figures that increases the odds of him being a hood. That would make it a racist action, though I very much doubt that he'll use that particular angle in court. But gut feels are wrong sometimes, and I'd like to see more evidence. I'd hope that many people who believe in things like justice, would believe in justice for all and hear more evidence here. Now there will be a court case, and I do think that is crucial, but I think a few more actual facts would be nice.

I'll say again though, his pattern of picking black males exclusively as suspicious seems way way more damning then the one case here, which has alternate explanations. I wonder if his history of call-ins will be usable by the prosecution. Actually, since SYG seems to hang on whether the shooter felt threatened (and idiotic condition, it should be the 'reasonable man' thing at the very minimum), I wonder if Zimmerman could actually use racial bias as a defence. You know, bring up the crime rates, quote some incident with a black man from his youth, and claim he found this guy threatening in part because he was black. That would be an interesting (and explosive, likely tragically so if it succeeded) defence. Does anyone know if it is valid?
posted by Bovine Love at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2012


if there isn't a bunch of forensic evidence to back up Zimmerman's claim of being attacked and overwhelmed by Martin to the extent that he was in fear for his life, then his self-defense claim will fail. T

The statute in question specifically allows for preventative use of force, if the person reasonably believes that the person against whom they use deadly force is going to commit a forceful felony. (i.e. you don't have to wait until after you're raped in order to be justified in shooting your would-be rapist, etc.)

Injuries to Zimmerman would certainly go a long way toward convincing a jury, but lack of injury is not (according to the wording of the law) detrimental to the claim.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2012


Y'all, there's an element to this case that has nothing to do with any of its specifics. It is outrageous that Zimmerman was not immediately arrested. It should be truly inconceivable, to any honest person not living under a very large rock, to imagine any non-celebrity black person in the US shooting any white person for any reason and not being charged for a month and a half. Black people get arrested and strip searched for having an unpaid parking ticket, and they get shot for pulling out a cellphone. It's possible-- possible!-- that the trial will reveal that Trayvon Martin had the red button to a nuclear bomb planted under the Capitol Building, and that Zimmerman in fact has saved America as we know it. But that would have literally nothing to do with how the whole situation has unfolded thus far.

You can't have a demonstrably super-racist justice system and then get all mad when people assume it's being super-racist.
posted by threeants at 5:03 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, threeants, I honestly believe that part of that what keeps some of us from being outraged at that is the florida factor; certainly *here* I would be seriously outraged. But there seems so many damn ways to kill someone 'legally' in Florida that I think, for quite a few of us, we aren't sure if it is racism or just Florida. If it was Texas, it would be even more confusing.
posted by Bovine Love at 5:07 PM on April 12, 2012


I wonder if his history of call-ins will be usable by the prosecution.

I doubt they'd want to use them. There are only 3 or 4 out of 40+ calls which mention black males. There are lots of calls which don't specify, there are several calls about white males, there is one about a woman, a white couple, and one involving a white male and 2 hispanic males. Most of the rest are about speeding drivers, potholes, stray dogs, and open garage doors.

His previous calls about "suspicious black males" appear to have been a direct result of being given a description of the burglary suspects that had been active in the neighborhood only a few days before.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:08 PM on April 12, 2012






Thanks for the 'all important' info Miami Herald: George Zimmerman buys $79 in snacks, sundries and underwear at jail commissary.
posted by ericb at 5:13 PM on April 12, 2012




Yes there could have been a multi-racial hoodie gang in that neighborhood. But there wasn't.

The thing is, you don't know that anymore then I do.


let me get this straight. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie that night, and this fact has become so much of a symbol of the public's outrage over this incident that members of congress are wearing hoodies in protest. Yet nobody in Sanford has come out to mention that there was a pre-existing hoodie wearing gang in that neighborhood. No member of the press has uncovered this hoodie gang, despite all of the investigation into every aspect of this case.

I think it's safe to say that such a thing, while possible, is highly improbable.

But as improbable as it is, I should weigh that possibility equally with the proven and demonstrable history of racial bias in this country?

I get the point you're making, and I think we're mostly on the same side of this issue. But it's a very common and frustrating thing to always have to address the improbable hypotheticals that always come up to explain away very real problems in this society.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:15 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It should be truly inconceivable, to any honest person not living under a very large rock, to imagine any non-celebrity black person in the US shooting any white person for any reason and not being charged for a month and a half

In the McNeil case that people keep bringing up, the black shooter was not charged for a year after the crime, which is another reason it's a bad example of a double standard.
posted by desjardins at 5:30 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


spitbull:

Some of us -- without any need for NBC's supposed "manipulation" -- see this case as just another in an endless string of white guys killing black guys and getting away with it because law enforcement is a racist operation run by similar white guys and on behalf of similar white guys.

Trayvon stands for thousands of other cases where the white guy got away with murder.

Also, your figure of "15,241" leaves out a significant number of cases not called "murder" because a cop shot a black guy, and that's just business as usual. No black man is ever safe in America.


This is just race-baiting nonsense that would make Jared Taylor or John Derbyshire blush. Framing the Trayvon Martin case as part of a bigger picture of some kind of epidemic of white guys shooting black guys with impunity mirrors the way that white racists paint every black-on-white crime as part of a larger pattern, and more to the point ignores the statistics. Interracial violence is more likely to be black-on-white than vice versa, both in absolute numbers and per capita, and blacks are much more likely to be victims of violence from other blacks than from whites or police. These facts have been brought up by the right-wing already in this controversy, and while I think it wrong to bring them up as if they somehow exonerate Zimmerman, they are a legitimate rebuttal to claims that this case is typical of a larger trend of white-on-black violence and so I make no apology for it. If it is a legitimate answer to racial fear mongers such as Derbyshire to point out that they are more likely to be victimized by other whites than by blacks, then the converse also applies.

There are cases of unjust shootings by police (not that this is really relevant, since Zimmerman isn't a cop) but these are statistically very rare. The police kill about 300-400 people per year in the USA (of all races). A percentage of these will be justifiable. White-on-black murders (for all motives) are in the low hundreds. In a nation of 300+ million the notion that black men are "never safe" from marauding racist white vigilantes and racist cops is hysteria.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:12 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


notion that black men are "never safe" from marauding racist white vigilantes and racist cops is hysteria.

I'm not spitbull, but I think you've gotten things twisted and run with it, unfortunately.

"Safe" means everything from harassment to getting pulled over to getting asked "what are you doing here" (which is what happened in this case) to getting stopped and searched, to getting reacted to in most situations like you are the most dangerous motherfucker on earth, because you're a black male.

So throw pretty much every stat you quoted out the door, because "safe" wasn't just referring to killings.

There are anecdotes in the thread about kids - kids being followed. There are links in the other thread about black kids being stopped and searched and it being so frequent that they got used to it. Wesley Snipes' character in Jungle Fever acts it out on screen. It shows up in Public Enemy songs "A *#!$^ kills a white man, that's murder one! A white man kills a ^$&$%..that's self-defense!" Henry Louis Gates' story ought to be familiar to you.

You misunderstood, and went way down the wrong path. It's understandable, but spitbull's point remains.

It's ingrained in this society. Black men are dangerous and scary. It's so ingrained, check out how Ajani Husband (linked by the awesome lord_wolf) responds to it.
posted by cashman at 7:31 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]



There are cases of unjust shootings by police (not that this is really relevant, since Zimmerman isn't a cop) but these are statistically very rare. The police kill about 300-400 people per year in the USA (of all races). A percentage of these will be justifiable. White-on-black murders (for all motives) are in the low hundreds. In a nation of 300+ million the notion that black men are "never safe" from marauding racist white vigilantes and racist cops is hysteria.


No, you're right. By pure numbers, given no knowledge of American history, blacks don't have it that bad - considering some other countries in recent history.

But you can't use those numbers and ignore the context of Jim Crow, Separate but Equal, and so on. Those events continue to resonate, and they change the tenor of those facts you pointed out.

The fact is that even if Zimmerman wasn't conscious of it, he was primed to see a black kid more suspicious than a white one. The cops of Sanford - who have a documented history of this - were primed to not take a black kid's death as seriously as a white one.

So, yeah, Trayvon didn't die because he was black. But he also died because he was black.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:49 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


One interesting part about Zimmerman's apparent claims about the situation is that he said he was asked if he had a problem, and he (Zimmerman) said "no" and reached for his cell phone. Where was his cell phone?

To any person in that situation, he was some guy stalking you, in his car and then on foot, who was reaching for something. Someone in the other thread relayed a story where they were being followed, and they didn't want to go home, because they didn't want to lead the person tracking them right to their home. So at that point, you're face to face with the person tracking you, and they reach for something, I think it's entirely reasonable to have a legitimate fear for your safety at that point, and really from the moment you started getting chased for no reason. You can't outrun a bullet. So the actions supposed by the deceased to me seem reasonable, as we currently understand them.

I also hope we don't get the gasps and shock when the close up photos of Zimmerman with a gashed head and broken nose come out. For a while there it was almost up for debate whether he had injuries at all, and the video really made it seem suspect, but it's pretty clear he actually got punched, and that he actually had a cut on his head.

Also, thanks ericb for posting the links about Zimmerman being expected to testify by some legal analysts. I really hope he does. If he's planning on apologizing to the parents, if he feels like they deserve that, then I hope he also feels they deserve to hear his explanation of why he had to shoot their 17-year-old in the chest and kill him on the spot as he walked home from 7-11.
posted by cashman at 8:09 PM on April 12, 2012


I am putting m money on a manslaughter plea after the evidentiary hearing if the judge does not grant Z immunity from prosecution based on the SYG law. He is looking at the possibility of life in prison, but at least 25you years. Not sure what the max sentence for voluntary manslaughter is in Florida, but something close to max is what I expect. I get the feeling that trayvons parents may be sastisfied with that outcome as well.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:49 PM on April 12, 2012


Where was the gun when he approached Trayvon? Would that type gun fit in that type jacket pocket? If he was wearing a holster to run personal errands, why? If he had it drawn as he approached… well you see where I'm going here.
posted by desjardins at 8:55 PM on April 12, 2012


but it's pretty clear he actually got punched, and that he actually had a cut on his head.

I'm not meaning to be snarky, but I think there is a non-zero chance that he scoped himself with the pistol recoil and fell over. I bet Trayvon never even got close.

You laugh, but I've seen it happen at a gun range. Lack of training + adrenaline = hilarity. When it doesn't result in tragedy, that is.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:56 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought in the previous thread, Zimmerman's father's account of how George explained it to him was that during the struggle, the holster became visible.

there is a non-zero chance that he scoped himself with the pistol recoil and fell over.

Well there certainly is some wonder about, if Zimmerman was contacted as outlined in this map (linked by Danila in the other thread) at point 4, returning as he claimed, to his car, how him and Martin got to that other point where Martin's body was found. I still think the re-enactment will be important to see. And damn I wish it had happened that night, not the next day after Zimmerman had time to think over what to say, what position to get in, and get his story straight. Or like I said, to forget vital bits of the story, accidentally mess up evidence, and so forth.
posted by cashman at 9:03 PM on April 12, 2012


(though the exact map placements are obviously not official). I am looking forward to seeing the evidence they present. Certainly the story Zimmerman's father relayed is full of holes. It'll be interesting to see just what Zimmerman's story is in court, if it makes it that far.
posted by cashman at 9:13 PM on April 12, 2012


LP Hatecraft, I think you would benefit greatly from watching that TED talk I linked to upthread. (Fair warning: it's late, and I'm tired, so this post is going to be long and possibly not as well-written with nice transitions and point-building as I would like for it to be....)

Echoing cashman, I think you misconstrued some parts of spitbull's post. It is not simply a case of blacks being at greater risk of injury or fatality at the hands of white cops, it's the case that blacks are disproportionately at risk of injury or fatality at the hands of a cop of any race. Growing up, my friends and family and I all acknowledged the truth of Ice Cube saying, "Don't let it be a black and a white one..." in "F*ck the Police."

Another example: looking back at the Sean Bell case, one justification I heard offered for the shooting was that Bell was driving toward police officers, and the car could be construed as a deadly weapon in those circumstances. "Check out this video of a young white woman stealing a state trooper's car, driving at officers, and ramming other police cruisers. Show that video to any black person in America and ask them what they think would have happened if a black man had done that.

In the original Trayvon Martin thread, I linked to a study that showed how people -- even police officers -- were much more likely to shoot unarmed black males than unarmed white males.

Then there's this study which found that:

"The mere presence of a Black man, for instance, can trigger thoughts that he is violent and criminal. Simply thinking about a Black person renders these concepts more accessible and can lead people to misremember the Black person as the one holding [a dangerous object].

Merely thinking about Blacks can lead people to evaluate ambiguous behavior as aggressive, to miscategorize harmless objects as weapons, or to shoot quickly, and, at
times, inappropriately. In the current article we argue that just as Black faces and Black bodies can trigger thoughts of crime, thinking of crime can trigger thoughts of Black people—that is, some associations between social groups and concepts are
bidirectional
."

This is what we mean when we say black people, in particular males, aren't safe. So very many people -- including other black people and including non-blacks who are absolutely certain that they have no racial biases -- see us as prone to crime, dangerous, and violent.

And the consequence of what these studies reveal about peoples' feelings about black people is that black males seem to be disproportionately detained, harmed and killed by people working in any sort of security or public safety role, either with the blessing of the state or as private citizens. (Another consequence is that my daughter and son will not get to see very many people who look like them as major protagonists in the science fiction and fantasy I love so much, but that's an fpp and long discussion of its very own....)

Furthermore, one key to understanding the reaction of black people in America to Trayvon Martin's case is that there is a pervasive feeling that nobody in power or with the ability to shape the national discourse cares when we get killed, regardless of who killed us.

Tupac and Biggie Smalls, two prominent recording artists, killed in public at the height of their fame. Murders unsolved. Innocent black man killed by undercover cop trying to aggressively sell him drugs; rather than apologize or show sympathy, Giuliani somewhat illegally, and definitely cruelly, releases the man's criminal record. I could go on with many more examples.

Finally, with regard to race-baiting, as I implied in the original Trayvon Martin thread, I am almost certain that most black people under-report what we face in terms of racism. And we do this for the same reason women under-report sexual assault and sexual harassment: as if the original offense wasn't bad enough, we don't want our hearts broken when we see people who have the power to help us or who claim to be sympathetic to our issues rolling their eyes and labeling us as overly-sensitive troublemakers.

Also, folks, I already have a large cranium and thick dreads, so if you keep complimenting me on my contributions to these threads, I'm going to send you bills for the custom extra-extra-extra large hats and headgear I'll have to order. ;-)
posted by lord_wolf at 9:32 PM on April 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


Well then you can't make that FPP about sci-fi then, because that has been my pet issue for years and years. And if you make it, I will certainly be praising you. If you were next to me right now, I'd hug you. But I think I've blabbed enough (quaid) in these threads, and at this point, just collecting information in this thread that should be read in the other thread. I'll just leave this comment from Michelle Obama during a 60 minutes interview from 2007, as a last point about black men's safety in America.
posted by cashman at 9:51 PM on April 12, 2012


Lord Wolf, can you fix the link to the video of a woman stealing a state trooper's car?

(A quick google search reveals that "woman steals police car" is WAY more common than I would have thought)
posted by ShutterBun at 10:00 PM on April 12, 2012


Where was the gun when he approached Trayvon? Would that type gun fit in that type jacket pocket? If he was wearing a holster to run personal errands, why? If he had it drawn as he approached… well you see where I'm going here.

He had a holster in the wasitband of his pants.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:44 PM on April 12, 2012


Actually the case goes to trial if he fails to show that he had reasonable fear for his safety. This is a motion before a judge, not the jury. If the judge decides for the prosecution, the case goes to trial.

A terrible law.
No, the SYG does not apply if you provoke a confrontation, in Florida.
Doesn't self defense also not apply to the person who starts a fight? You can;t just go around with a gun stalking and picking fights with people and, as soon as you start losing the fight, kill them. Even in my bloodthirsty state (TX) you can't get away with that.
Uh, under Florida if you provoke a fight, and subsequently fear you might die or suffer great bodily harm, you can't use deadly force immediately. You have to try to get out of the situation, or if you can't do that make it clear that you want to escape but can't. You lose the right to "Stand Your Ground".
Incidentally, most of the 'analysis' here about provocation and self-defense is completely wrong. If I approach you and insult you, well then I've provoked you to some extent. You may be somewhat justified in slapping my face or suchlike to express your anger, and it would be on me to either withdraw or limit my defense to about the same level of force.


Did you read the actual law? It says if you provoke a fight you lose the right to Stand Your Ground, you have to try to escape, which Zimmerman didn't do. It's FL Law 776.041
 776.041Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
 (1)Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
 (2)Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
 (a)Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
 (b)In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
So it depends on what they mean by "Initially provokes the use of force"
I am putting m money on a manslaughter plea after the evidentiary hearing if the judge does not grant Z immunity from prosecution based on the SYG law. He is looking at the possibility of life in prison, but at least 25you years. Not sure what the max sentence for voluntary manslaughter is in Florida, but something close to max is what I expect. I get the feeling that trayvons parents may be sastisfied with that outcome as well.
Why would the prosecutor want a plea, though? Normally prosecutors offer plea deals to save time and money, but why would she want to do that in this case? Seems like it would cause a lot more trouble then it would save.
posted by delmoi at 10:47 PM on April 12, 2012


Zimmerman would have been a lot better off if the cops had actually arrested him at the time, and this was handled by a local DA with budget constraints.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


there is a pervasive feeling that nobody in power or with the ability to shape the national discourse cares when we get killed, regardless of who killed us.

I can totally understand the rationale for that feeling. Regardless of crime statistics, evenif we had some sort of omniscient power which would allow us to truly know "who is really guilty," it's an unassailable fact that blacks have been pretty much getting screwed by the criminal justice system in one way or another for the past several hundred years. (either by higher conviction rates, harsher sentences, insufficient justice for black victims, etc.)

Verifiable statistics such as "30% of black males will have been incarcerated at some point in their lives" (or whatever the actual number is) becomes more or less a self-fulfilling prophecy. Black males will be looked at with suspicion based on the fact that we all "know" that they are more likely to have been convicted of a crime (and, by extension of a flawed, yet kinda understandable leap of logic,) are therefore assumed by the general public to be more likely to be involved in violent crime.

It's no secret that poverty and crime more or less go hand-in-hand for most locales (in the U.S. at least) And it's no secret that being black and being poor also tend to correlate, numbers-wise. Racism (or at least racial bias) causes poverty, via lack of opportunity, trust, etc. Poverty results in increased crime. Crime (among a given population) leads to increased racial bias. The cycle repeats, and grows stronger. This is obviously a huge problem that has been going on for, well, centuries at this point.

I don't think this has much of anything to do with Zimmerman's case, however. Adding Martin's name to the growing list of "unarmed black males who have been shot and killed" is definitely something worthy of an outcry. Condemning Zimmerman's actions (insofar as they can be considered as a symptom, or at least an example, of "what's wrong with our society") is probably also warranted.

What's not fair is to assume that because far too many unarmed black youths are being killed, that means that this particular instance is a textbook example of the problem, and the weight of hundreds of years of injustice ought to hang in the balance.

I certainly don't mean that Zimmerman should be allowed to employ some sort of "black panic" defense, which would be ludicrous. I'm just saying that if society is looking for a "poster child" that crystalizes the problem of violence / injustice against blacks in America, this is probably not that case.

Those who are condemning Zimmerman as a "racist fuck" who went out hunting for a black kid to kill, are of course begging the question. (he killed a black kid, therefore he must have gone out intending to kill a black kid) There is plenty of evidence with regard to Zimmerman's past endeavors that he was not prejudiced against blacks as criminals.

There is also apparently a misunderstanding about the circumstances surrounding the investigation, and that Zimmerman was treated with kid gloves because the victim was black. The fact that he was not immediately charged with murder is the most common complaint. Regardless of the fact that many serious criminal investigations often take longer than we'd like, in point of fact Zimmerman was *arrested* on the night of the killing. The police report cites "Negligent Manslaughter; unnecessary killing of a person in order to prevent a felony" as the reason for the arrest. He was interrogated by police for 5 hours that night. The fact that he was not immediately charged might seem troubling, but it's not as if the officers immediately took his word for it and sent him straight home after the shooting.

There are huge problems with the criminal justice system here, particularly when it comes to race and social class. But I don't think this case is any kind of "prime example" of the problem, and I don't think Zimmerman ought to be made to pay for anything (a crappy law, historical injustice, etc.) other than what he actually did, and the particular circumstances under which he did it.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:56 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Zimmerman would have been a lot better off if the cops had actually arrested him at the time

They did. (that can't possibly be news to you at this point)

Why would the prosecutor want a plea, though?

Because it's a guaranteed conviction. Overcharging, then accepting a guilty plea to "the charge they wanted all along" is a not-uncommon tactic.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:01 PM on April 12, 2012


National Review Editors: SYG Not A 'License To Murder'

And just to the right of the editorial, there on the same webapge, an ad for a series of videos featuring Charles Murray. Lovely.
posted by dhens at 11:48 PM on April 12, 2012


webpage*
posted by dhens at 11:48 PM on April 12, 2012


Zimmerman would have been a lot better off if the cops had actually arrested him at the time

They did. (that can't possibly be news to you at this point)


Where's the mugshot?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:02 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Where's the mugshot?

He wasn't booked. No mugshot.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:02 AM on April 13, 2012


Zimmerman would have been a lot better off if the cops had actually arrested him at the time
They did. (that can't possibly be news to you at this point)

More to delmoi's point, if they had actually charged him at the time. Not just bringing him in and questioning him (and I'm interested to see a transcript of that meeting). At least one officer thought they were completely wrong in letting him leave that police station uncharged that night.
posted by inigo2 at 3:56 AM on April 13, 2012


Well, yeah. Had everyone listened to Serino, he would have been charged with the lesser cime of manslaughter that night. Would you be willing to forego the greater charge of 2nd degree murder after a delay, in favor of a lesser, yet more immediate charge?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:10 AM on April 13, 2012


Well, yeah. Had everyone listened to Serino, he would have been charged with the lesser cime of manslaughter that night. Would you be willing to forego the greater charge of 2nd degree murder after a delay, in favor of a lesser, yet more immediate charge?

Delmoi's point was Zimmerman would've been better off -- on top of a lesser charge, there would've been a hell of a lot less attention, which (from all appearances with that police department) would've hugely benefited Zimmerman.
posted by inigo2 at 5:29 AM on April 13, 2012


Would you be willing to forego the greater charge of 2nd degree murder after a delay, in favor of a lesser, yet more immediate charge?

I also think this sort of dances around the belief held by a lot of people (myself included) that had the public uproar not started, no actual charges would've been filed. Except for the public eye hitting the case, I think the alternatives were a lesser immediate charge (which didn't happen), or nothing. But obviously that's just guessing, and it's just my opinion.
posted by inigo2 at 5:32 AM on April 13, 2012


There is also apparently a misunderstanding about the circumstances surrounding the investigation, and that Zimmerman was treated with kid gloves because the victim was black.

...By a police department that had recently failed to investigate and prosecute an assault against a black man by the white kid of an officer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:12 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


you know what's funny? stand your ground is a law that isn't really about standing any ground. its a law designed to provoke a happy emotional response in a certain class of people, who can walk around with what they consider they needed to feel safe. It has nothing to do with actual use from a political standpoint. That's where it goes wrong.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


They did. (that can't possibly be news to you at this point)

No, they didn't. Bringing someone in for questioning is not the same thing as arresting them.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:23 AM on April 13, 2012


He was handcuffed. That's under arrest.
posted by unSane at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2012


My mistake. I missed the fact he'd been handcuffed. From the cozy way the police treated him in the aftermath, I had assumed he'd come voluntarily to the station for questioning.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:37 AM on April 13, 2012


He was handcuffed. That's under arrest.

No, it's not. If he was read his Miranda Rights he was under arrest.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:38 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


...By a police department that had recently failed to investigate and prosecute an assault against a black man by the white kid of an officer.

Which Zimmerman, according to his family, was upset about and handed out flyers urging for the arrest of the assailant
posted by holdkris99 at 8:39 AM on April 13, 2012


He was handcuffed. That's under arrest.

No, it's not. If he was read his Miranda Rights he was under arrest.


I should say at least not in Texas in my personal experience. In my days chasing meth I was detained for questioning and taken to a police station in handcuffs. I went voluntarily and as such, was not under arrest, but was cuffed for the general safety of the officers. It's just SOP. They made it very clear that I was not under arrest as I was not any kind of suspect or anything, but I was witness to a pretty serious crime. I suppose I could have said no and they would have had to go through the whole warrant process and all of that, which I probably should have done I guess, I dunno. Probably wasn't thinking straight at the time.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:45 AM on April 13, 2012


He wasn't booked. No mugshot.
Right, because he wasn't technically arrested.
Delmoi's point was Zimmerman would've been better off -- on top of a lesser charge, there would've been a hell of a lot less attention, which (from all appearances with that police department) would've hugely benefited Zimmerman.
Right, if Zimmerman had been charged, with the local DA prosecuting rather then this Special prosecutor, he would have had a much better chance of getting off under the SYG law. The reason it's going to be difficult for him is all the scrutiny and resources that are going into investigating it. Had it just been the local DA, he would probably have only been charged with manslaughter, been willing to plea down out of fear of having the whole case thrown out.
posted by delmoi at 8:48 AM on April 13, 2012


You are under arrest the moment that a police officer decides that you are not free to walk away.
posted by unSane at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2012


You are under arrest the moment that a police officer decides that you are not free to walk away.

Is this your personal belief or the legal definition?
posted by holdkris99 at 8:57 AM on April 13, 2012


Fortunately, the Supremes have given us a road map for determining just when a person has been "seized" -- or arrested, if you like. It goes something like this: When taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business. MICHIGAN VS. CHESTNUT, 486 US 567 (1988)
posted by unSane at 9:03 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, fair enough. What if they said "Hey Mr Zimmerman, would you mind coming with us to the station to answer few questions" and he says "Sure, ok." I mean, do we know if he was Mirandized? If not is that going to cause problems with anything he may have said while at the police station? Like I said, in my case I was not mirandized, agreed to go voluntarily, was cuffed in the back seat of the cruiser, was not booked or processed and then left after being questioned. I was not arrested. It is not on my record in anyway of having been arrested. Could the same thing not have happened here? Have their been any statements by the Stanford PD saying that Zimmerman was "arrested" at the scene? I know it's all just semantics. Though whether he was Mirandized seems to be fairly important here, no?
posted by holdkris99 at 9:27 AM on April 13, 2012


I'm sure he was Mirandized otherwise nothing he told the cops could be used, since he was clearly under arrest.
posted by unSane at 9:46 AM on April 13, 2012


"He was handcuffed. That's under arrest."

also

"Fortunately, the Supremes have given us a road map for determining just when a person has been 'seized' -- or arrested, if you like. It goes something like this: When taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business. MICHIGAN VS. CHESTNUT, 486 US 567 (1988)"

I was once handcuffed and taken against my will to a hospital because someone had reported to the authorities that I was suicidal. It wasn't voluntary. But I am extremely skeptical that it was an arrest. I was simply taken to the hospital and released into the hospital's custody (which, as it happened, had no beds available and they just sent me home with a friend three hours later). I also wasn't asked by the police for my identification.

I'd be interested in hearing from someone in law-enforcement if such things are officially considered "arrests". Because I doubt it.

And, in any case, even if according the SCOTUS cite above any such situation is legally, technically, an "arrest", that doesn't require that all arrests are the same sort of thing in all respects. There well could be a distinction between criminal and non-criminal "arrests", or there could be vague sort of investigatory and/or protecting general public peace arrests and the sort of arrest that represents the initial requirements to criminal prosecution. I don't know, I'm not presuming to know anything about the law, I'm just pointing out that simply as a matter of logic all arrests are not necessarily the same thing, even were it established that all instances of being handcuffed are technically an "arrest"...which hasn't really been proven, anyway.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:26 AM on April 13, 2012


Don't know why you guys are battling this so much. You are arrested if a law enforcement officer communicates to you in some way that you are not free to go. It's as simple as that. S/he doesn't have to tell you you've been arrested. It's constructive. This is why you ask a cop 'Am I free to go?'. If they say 'no' you are under arrest.
An arrest may occur (1) by the touching or putting hands on the arrestee; (2) by any act that indicates an intention to take the arrestee into custody and that subjects the arrestee to the actual control and will of the person making the arrest; or (3) by the consent of the person to be arrested. There is no arrest where there is no restraint, and the restraint must be under real or pretended legal authority. However, the detention of a person need not be accompanied by formal words of arrest or a station house booking to constitute an arrest.

The test used to determine whether an arrest took place in a particular case is objective, and it turns on whether a reasonable person under these circumstances would believe he or she was restrained or free to go.
You can be de-arrested instantly by a cop saying 'You're free to go' or indicating in another way that you can go about your business.
posted by unSane at 10:34 AM on April 13, 2012




Don't know why you guys are battling this so much.

Like I said, it's all semantics really. It was your comment: "He was handcuffed. That's under arrest" that I was disagreeing with, that's all.
posted by holdkris99 at 10:43 AM on April 13, 2012


From holdkris' link:

The judge hearing the George Zimmerman case today announced that her husband works for the law firm of Mark NeJame, who's been hired to act as a CNN analyst for this case.

Are you kidding me?
posted by Big_B at 10:58 AM on April 13, 2012


Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler said she had an ethical obligation to disclose that and allow Zimmerman's attorney or the special prosecutor to ask her to step down.

Shouldn't she just recuse herself? What a fucking circus. Eat your heart out Barnum and Bailey
posted by holdkris99 at 11:03 AM on April 13, 2012


Trial of the Millennium, bitches.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Trial of the Millennium, bitches.

more likely plea deal of the week, actually.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2012


The judge hearing the George Zimmerman case today announced that her husband works for the law firm of Mark NeJame, who's been hired to act as a CNN analyst for this case.

It's not like he's a lobbyist for the defendant. So the right wing should be fine with it.
posted by inigo2 at 11:51 AM on April 13, 2012


From holdris99's link:

Two weeks before Trayvon's death, [current, possibly conflicted Judge] Recksiedler dismissed an aggravated assault case against a 45-year-old Oviedo man after a "Stand Your Ground" hearing.

Michael David Adkinson shot and wounded his neighbor, Raul Castro Rosa, on May 18. According to court records after an argument Rosa banged on Adkinson's front door and window, went into the garage and banged on the interior door so hard, he left dents.

Adkinson then opened the door after having picked up a small handgun. Rosa saw it, charged him, broke a crutch over his head and tackled him, records say. The gun then went off and a bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Rosa in the shoulder, Adkinson told the police.

posted by msalt at 4:53 PM on April 13, 2012


I keep circling around to a few things that we "know" about this case:

- Why did Zimmerman appear to be so angry from the outset of his call?


I've wondered the same thing from the beginning. Some of you may know that I'm a local neighborhood watch volunteer, and until recently, we had a lot of drug and gang activity in our neighborhood -- for most of 2010, right across the street from us. During that year, I easily called 911 more than 25 times, and made many, many more non-emergency calls reporting license plates of suspected drug customers. Just for this one house, I made four separate calls while chilling incidents were taking place. I identify strongly with Zimmermann's initial call demeanor, as I felt appearing reasonable and calm was important. I also identify strongly with the neighbors calling 911 as the screaming and gunshot took place. These are, alas, directly relatable to my own recent experiences.

But where Zimmermann diverges from my experience is in having nothing more than suspicion to make his call. Some years I could -- in theory -- stay up half the night calling in people that make me "suspicious". In reality, I only call when they're doing something chargeable -- at the least a disorderly conduct ticket. Fighting. Yelling. Blocking traffic. I mean, I sort of am, but I don't want to actually be the neighborhood "shut up you kids" crank.

So what made this "suspicious person" worth calling in, if he had done nothing wrong at that point? It confuses me. Then the very idea of following Trayvon when he still has done nothing obviously wrong, takes this to an entirely new level. Again, I have spent more time on the 911 horn than I care to remember, and I'm baffled. To me, Zimmermann is already instigating and escalating, instead of observing and reporting. When I've been making those calls, I've stayed back, at the very least on my property, sometimes not even leaving the house. My "job" is to communicate information to the operator. As I've stated in other contexts, one of the greatest advantages the police have -- an advantage frequently ignored in popular entertainment -- is sheer numbers. Patrol. BOLO. Surround. Individual officers may not contribute anything except their presence, but it can make it difficult for a suspect to escape or even lay low. My part of that is telling them what I see out my window. If I get into the confrontation myself, I'm of no value -- indeed, I'm actually making it worse.

So my whole mind takes a leap back seeing Zimmermann violate those principles. No matter how restrained he sounds, he's engaging in alarming, irresponsible behavior. They do not teach this in neighborhood watch school.

And to this day I still don't know why. As you noted, he is holding back obvious frustration and even hysteria. My only explanation for this is that something happened earlier to put him into this state. One possibility is that he was already stalking Trayvon as he walked out of the neighborhood and that Trayvon's return solidified his suspicions, even though it made little logistical sense: "He wants to rob a house! So he leaves, then comes back again!" ??? The other is that he had some other encounter while running his alleged "errands", which so far as I know have not yet been identified. I had sort of been waiting for another shoe to drop here, such as some confrontation at a gas or convenience store, but nothing apparently has. So we're left with this guy who when we first meet him has a seething ball of resentment ("they always get away") and is overreacting to the presence of an unarmed young man whom he, incorrectly, presumes to have no business there. It still leaves me shaking my head.

There's something there, some additional rationale, even only in his own mind, that made him dial that phone that night. I can only hope it comes out at trial.
posted by dhartung at 1:46 AM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm not mystified. America is hip-deep in COPS-wannabe gun-crazy loontards who see gangs and drugs everywhere and eagerly step up to be the laughingstock of the 911 phone-bank. Does that clear it up for you?
posted by telstar at 2:03 AM on April 14, 2012


This was not a 911 call. It was a non-emergency call to report "suspicious activity" which is more or less the "prime directive" of neighborhood watch programs. Police had been called to that neighborhood (of only 250 or so households) over 400 times in the previous 13 months. A group of young black men had been arrested for home burglary only a few weeks prior.

I don't know why he decided to follow Martin, other than possibly he wanted to keep track of where he was so that he could point out Martin's location to police. (if he was stalking him in order to attack, why would he call police at all?) Possibly he didn't see his own actions as provocative, or even felt "empowered" by his Community Watch Captain status (which, yes, he was, even though it's not terribly official)
posted by ShutterBun at 2:34 AM on April 14, 2012


felt "empowered" by his Community Watch Captain status

Oh bullshit. He felt empowered by his fucking gun.
posted by holdkris99 at 5:29 AM on April 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Two weeks before Trayvon's death, [current, possibly conflicted Judge] Recksiedler dismissed an aggravated assault case against a 45-year-old Oviedo man after a "Stand Your Ground" hearing.

Michael David Adkinson shot and wounded his neighbor, Raul Castro Rosa, on May 18. According to court records after an argument Rosa banged on Adkinson's front door and window, went into the garage and banged on the interior door so hard, he left dents.

Adkinson then opened the door after having picked up a small handgun. Rosa saw it, charged him, broke a crutch over his head and tackled him, records say. The gun then went off and a bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit Rosa in the shoulder, Adkinson told the police.


Which one was charged and had the charges dismissed?
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:29 AM on April 14, 2012


Google to the rescue!

Michael David Adkinson, 44, of the 1000 block of Laurel Oaks Court, Oviedo, was booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility on May 18 and charged with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm.

Interestingly (?) he's also a sex offender, convicted of raping a child in Massachusetts.
posted by desjardins at 8:32 AM on April 14, 2012


Police had been called to that neighborhood (of only 250 or so households) over 400 times in the previous 13 months.

Does 400 calls in 13 months implies the neighborhood had a lot of suspicious behavior, or does 400 calls mean there was a lot of crying wolf?
posted by inigo2 at 8:43 AM on April 14, 2012


Probably both. What's that word in evolution science where one sex has a trait that the other sex is attracted to so that trait becomes more and more pronounced? That is what we have here.
posted by holdkris99 at 10:04 AM on April 14, 2012


holdkris99, it's just called sexual selection.
posted by localroger at 10:36 AM on April 14, 2012


You might be talking about runaway sexual selection.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:39 AM on April 14, 2012


Ah yes, runaway sexual selection. I realize its not the same thing really, but that was the first thing that came to mind.
posted by holdkris99 at 11:04 AM on April 14, 2012


Does 400 calls in 13 months implies the neighborhood had a lot of suspicious behavior, or does 400 calls mean there was a lot of crying wolf?

40 of those calls were by Zimmerman, often for trivial concerns. I'm not aware of a single case where his call led to the apprehension of any perpetrators.
posted by msalt at 2:28 PM on April 14, 2012


40-0 ? That's gonna help the prosecution's case.
posted by mikelieman at 3:44 PM on April 14, 2012


40 of those calls were by Zimmerman

Incorrect. The 46 calls Zimmerman made to the police were culled from a period of nearly 8 years. Many of his calls were from other neighborhoods (he only moved to Twin Lakes in the summer of 2009) In the time he lived at Twin Lakes, he made about 20 calls to the police. About 2/3rds of those concerned the neighborhood itself.

Of the 400+ times police were called to Twin Lakes in 2011, Zimmerman was responsible for about 10 of them.

source
posted by ShutterBun at 4:14 PM on April 14, 2012 [3 favorites]




0 for 11 still sucks.
posted by mikelieman at 7:11 PM on April 14, 2012


Yeah, though a lot of the calls were of the "loud party", "pothole in the street" or "stray dog" variety, so not really cases where a genuine crime was available to be prevented. A few open garage doors with expensive equipment within view, some dangerous drivers, and yes, a few "suspicious persons" whom he believed were involved in the string of burglaries they'd had.

Really nothing that points to any kind of pattern that indicated he was singling out suspicious looking black youths as a matter of habit.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:01 PM on April 14, 2012


How many calls about suspicious white pople?
posted by holdkris99 at 8:11 AM on April 15, 2012


During that time period, specifically, one. (some calls didn't specify race)
posted by ShutterBun at 10:35 AM on April 15, 2012


“Sybrina is an icon,” Holmes said. “A black woman. A single mother. There are stereotypes of what single black women can do. Women in Liberty City look up to her, because this is all about a mother’s fight."

posted by cashman at 1:33 PM on April 15, 2012


Bill Cosby - its about guns. Like Jay Smooth, he talks about how the "what he is" conversation leads nowhere. He also talks about the mindset you get into when you have a gun. Cosby says he used to own a gun -
Cosby: "I had the gun in my pocket. The reason I had it was to protect my family. But I also knew that anything that went on outside - and it appeared to be something that wasn't on the okay - I went out with my gun. And the thought was - if this person was not right, or if that doesn't move when I say move - I'm going to show that I have a gun."
posted by cashman at 3:02 PM on April 15, 2012


Cosby talks more (in a different forum) here, from 12:00 - 23:00. George Washington University's Bernard Demczuk (Ph.D. in American Studies and African American History) also adds to the discussion.

He understands that race plays a substantial part, but is focused on the mentality you get when you have a gun. Going forward, he quotes his wife in talking about how most people want people of diverse backgrounds to come together in peace. Others who want to destroy that exist, but the bigger number want peace.
posted by cashman at 3:22 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I ❤ Bill Cosby.

.
[for his son, Ennis, who was fatally shot in 1997].

posted by ericb at 4:35 PM on April 15, 2012


You are arrested if a law enforcement officer communicates to you in some way that you are not free to go.

Wrong. There's a difference between being detained and arrested.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:36 PM on April 15, 2012


Did you read the actual law? It says if you provoke a fight you lose the right to Stand Your Ground, you have to try to escape, which Zimmerman didn't do. It's FL Law 776.041

Yes, unlike you. Look at the two exceptions in paragraph 2, following the word 'unless'.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:40 PM on April 15, 2012


Wrong. There's a difference between being detained and arrested.


Absolutely not true in most jurisdictions. Cite please.
posted by unSane at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2012


(the bright line is 'Am I free to go?"

NO = under arrest

YES = not under arrest)
posted by unSane at 8:08 PM on April 15, 2012


I don't know that this derail is anything more than semantics, because it's obvious what was of concern in this instance, that you could shoot an unarmed person walking home to death one evening and sleep in your own bed that night charged with nothing, but okay.

So when Mary Jo gets pulled over for speeding, she got arrested? So basically, most American adults have been arrested? If you ask 100 people who have only ever been pulled over for speeding (that's their only contact with the police in their lives) if they were ever arrested, how many of them would answer yes? The point is that if this whole argument is about whether or not Zimmerman was arrested that night, it's pretty clear what the common understanding of arrest is, and the outrage in this case and Zimmerman not being arrested - that's based on the common connotation of arrest. But maybe I am misunderstanding what this debate is about.

posted by cashman at 8:29 PM on April 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Mary Jo gets pulled over and stops, she is co-operating. There is no reason to arrest her. The cop gives her a ticket and she goes on her way. She was never under arrest. However, if she says 'Am I free to go", the cop has a choice. He can say 'yes' or 'no'. If he says 'no' it is presumably because he believes she has committed an offence. And at that point she is under arrest. He gives her a ticket and says 'You may go' and she is no longer under arrest.
posted by unSane at 8:42 PM on April 15, 2012


To get back to the point: if you have handcuffs on, you are arrested, whether anyone tells you so or not. You may well have been arrested, legally speaking, some time before the cuffs went on.
posted by unSane at 8:44 PM on April 15, 2012


In CA, I think (IANAL) you can be detained for the safety of the officer without probable cause that you've committed a crime (say you are the passenger in a vehicle where the driver is being arrested). I'm not sure there's a clear legal line between detainment, temporary arrest and arrest in any case, but I thought the main difference is whether you've been Mirandized?
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:58 PM on April 15, 2012


No, you only have ot be Mirandized if an office wishes to question you and have the answers admissible in court. It has no bearing on your arrest status.
posted by unSane at 9:08 PM on April 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


C'mon, guys, I've already given the cites for arrest above, let's not do this again.
posted by unSane at 9:11 PM on April 15, 2012


Terry vs Ohio is the leading case in this area. Far from being overruled in Michigan v. Chestnut, it was affirmed by a 9-0 majority only a couple of years ago in Arizona v. Johnson.

Interestingly, your legal-dictionary cite above cites the same key cases and even speaks specifically of detention, but I guess you overlooked that. There is no bright-line rule on investigative detention, and explorations of the gray area that results may be found in any book on criminal procedure.

In the 9th circuit, police powers may be broader, but that's not relevant to our discussion here (or good law, necessarily).
posted by anigbrowl at 10:57 PM on April 15, 2012


In other Stand Your Ground news - Marissa Alexander.
posted by cashman at 8:04 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


March 8th transcript of CBS news (CBS News: CBS This Morning) talking with Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee:
MARK STRASSMANN: Sanford police have questioned Zimmerman, but not charged him. He had a legal permit to carry his concealed weapon--a nine-millimeter handgun. For now, he`s a free man who maintains he acted in self-defense.

Zimmerman admitted shooting him?

BILL LEE (Sanford, Florida, Police Chief): Correct.

MARK STRASSMANN: He was armed and the victim was not armed?

BILL LEE: That`s correct.

MARK STRASSMANN: But no arrest?

BILL LEE: No arrest.
posted by cashman at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess that settles it
posted by Subterranean Homesick Pygmalion at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2012


A couple of other cases in Florida where it's unclear who the aggressor was, but the shooter emerged from the incident without being arrested/serving jail time:

Road rage blamed in fatal shooting on Palm Harbor street: A 30-year-old man was shot to death in front of his twin brother in a road rage incident early Tuesday after three drivers stopped their cars and confronted one another, authorities said.

Investigators questioned the accused gunman at length Tuesday but did not press criminal charges against him. He told deputies that he acted in self-defense.


Argument over skateboarders leaves father dead in Valrico:David James was enjoying an afternoon game of basketball Sunday with his 8-year-old daughter when he was shot and killed in front of her by a neighbor trying to chase away skateboarders, said friends and authorities.

Neighbors say James, 41, was defending the skateboarders, telling a man who lives across the street there was no sign to prohibit them from skateboarding on the courts.

"I see a sign," the assailant replied as he pulled a gun, neighbors said.


When I was growing up in Florida, I remember being horrified by a poll that suggested 1 in 4 people would use a gun in a road rage incident if they had one in the car with them at the time. Maybe I'm giving myself too much credit, here, but I don't think the populace of Florida has grown calmer and more rational since I left.

It seems to me, then, that SYG + gun + anger = somebody dead, somebody else walks away with no punishment. SYG laws appear to give citizens a privilege formerly reserved for police officers: they can escalate to deadly force whenever they feel in the least bit threatened, regardless of their or the dead "attacker's" behavior beforehand (dead men tell no tales, of course), and then walk away unscathed.

I'd love to see a racial and ethnic breakdown of folks who benefited from SYG laws in Florida, because, per cashman's link above, I strongly suspect my above paragraph only applies when the gun wielder is a white male.

I'll repeat again something I've said in numerous Trayvon Martin discussions: We should all pray that one of the outcomes of this case is a repeal or massive reformation of SYG laws in all states that have them. Unless we want more Trayvon Martins and David Jameses.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:04 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]




I've been googling the Dooley case, but can't figure out if he ever was arrested? Or is he out on bail?
posted by Big_B at 1:36 PM on April 16, 2012


Dooley was arrested two days later and charged with manslaughter, improper exhibition of a firearm and openly carrying a firearm. He is free on $50,000 bail.

Whoops, nevermind.
posted by Big_B at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2012


Thanks for the update, the man of twists and turns. Turns out Dooley was arrested shortly after the article I linked to was published, back in September of 2010; this latest article is from April of this year.

Very interesting that the state is now acting aggressively to prosecute him. I wonder if the Trayvon Martin case is making them get off their butts on these kinds of cases and prosecute more vigorously.

Also interesting is that this is one of the cases where the shooter is black, as in the Marissa Alexander story cashman linked to. I really hope it's not the case that black shooters are prosecuted more rigorously in cases that invoke SYG than non-blacks. Because so far that seems to be the case in every SYG case linked to in these Trayvon Martin threads. If that's true, this seems to be yet another example of the Broken Soda Machine rule.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:49 PM on April 16, 2012


I really hope it's not the case that black shooters are prosecuted more rigorously in cases that invoke SYG than non-blacks

I have been hoping that someone out there in the media or whatever with more time and research capabilities than I have would come up with a detailed report about just what you are talking about. Certainly someone, somewhere is working on this.

Media lawyers seek to unseal Zimmerman-Martin case files
posted by holdkris99 at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2012


If it wasn't already obvious, I know very little about how our court system works. For example, this from holdkris99's link floors me: "...two sets of media attorneys, representing different publishers and broadcasters, on Monday filed motions, saying Zimmerman had not shown a need to seal the case."

That's amazing to me. They aren't directly involved in the case but they can file motions to unseal the case files? How does that work? Is "filing a motion" here the same thing as filing a request under FOIA, or is it something entirely different?
posted by lord_wolf at 2:07 PM on April 16, 2012


Ta-Nehisi Coates links to multiple people (who study or practice law) completely trashing the affidavit Corey filed. There is a lot of takedown to choose from ("This is not the worst affidavit I’ve ever seen — but it’s damn close"), but the only one I recognized right off was Alan Dershowitz:
Most affidavits of probable cause are very thin. This is so thin that it won’t make it past a judge on a second degree murder charge. There’s simply nothing in there that would justify second degree murder. It’s not only thin, it’s irresponsible.”

I think what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation and overcharged. This case will not – if the evidence is no stronger than what appears in the probable cause affidavit – this case will result in an acquittal.

This affidavit does not even make it to probable cause. Everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense. Everything.
posted by cashman at 2:15 PM on April 16, 2012


That's amazing to me. They aren't directly involved in the case but they can file motions to unseal the case files? How does that work? Is "filing a motion" here the same thing as filing a request under FOIA, or is it something entirely different?

Well, yeah. The parties to the case won't need to unseal the records - they're a party to them.

But the big idea is that court records are matters of public record, unless there is some reason they shouldn't be. If someone wants to see the records of a trial, they'll have to ask for them, and the way to do that if they've been sealed is through a motion to the court.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:20 PM on April 16, 2012


There’s simply nothing in there that would justify second degree murder. It’s not only thin, it’s irresponsible.”

Sounds like prosecutorial misconduct to me. I hope we can be against all instances of misconduct by prosecutors rather than against some instances and for others.
posted by Justinian at 3:34 PM on April 16, 2012


Uh... but that's Radley Balko, not Ta-Nehisi Coates. Unless I'm blind? Or something?
posted by Justinian at 3:35 PM on April 16, 2012


That's amazing to me. They aren't directly involved in the case but they can file motions to unseal the case files? How does that work?

Well, they claim the public has an interest in knowing about the proceedings of the case, under the 1st amendment. Myself, I'd tell them to go fly a kite and report on proceedings during or after the trail, because I hold the view that the public's being interested in something is not the same thing as having a legal interest in that something's immediate release, but that's a personal bias of mine. I have no idea what the case law is in this area and don't feel like looking it up now.

As for the affidavit, my guess is that the thinness is deliberate. The facts asserted are IIRC assumed to be true for the purposes of deciding whether a trialable issue exists, and the lack of detail strikes me as a strategic choice designed to allow the prosecution to keep its tactical options open - in other words, it's committing to as little as possible right now in order to minimize the defense's opportunity to file suppression motions until closer to the trial. This is only a guess though, I'm no expert in criminal trial procedure.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2012


From the Balko link: The one thing I’d add is that I was taken aback by Corey’s statement at the press conference that the first thing she did after she was appointed to the case was pray with Trayvon Martin’s family. I find the idea of a prosecutor praying with a victim’s family off-putting in general. But it’s particularly troubling in this case.

The mention of prayer, especially by someone with such a public role in the justice system, soured the entire press conference for me.
posted by desjardins at 3:56 PM on April 16, 2012


because I hold the view that the public's being interested in something is not the same thing as having a legal interest in that something's immediate release

It is important not only that justice is done but that justice is seen to be done.
posted by Justinian at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2012


You know, as far as the charging affidavit goes, I was a little surprised that it read like anyone who had been following the case in the media could have written it, I.e. it contained nothing that no one had heard, but I figured that it was mean o be general.

Is it possible that she intentionally overcharged just to pass the buck to the judge and that the judge will just pass the buck to a jury? I have advocated in both threads for an arrest and a charge, but Z has his rights and they should not be impinged because no one wants to make a difficult unpopular decision. I hope that's not what's going on here.
posted by holdkris99 at 6:06 PM on April 16, 2012


I got the link from Coates. If you look at his page on the atlantic, the link is there - his post was pretty thin so I didn't want to link to it, but I didn't want to make it look like I just found it on my own. Sorry about the wording. I should have just linked it like I started to.
posted by cashman at 6:14 PM on April 16, 2012


I'm sorry, but I don't see what is thin about this affidavit. I guess I'm not lawyer enough to see past the obvious.
  • Zimmerman shot Trayvon. That's not in dispute.
  • Trayvon was unarmed. That's not in dispute.
  • Trayvon was minding his own business when Zimmerman decided to, pick your word, reconnoiter or stalk Trayvon.
  • Trayvon noticed that he was being stalked, and mentioned this to his girlfriend on the phone. Trayvon did not in any sense initiate the encounter with Zimmerman. This is subject to courtroom testimony by the girlfriend.
  • There is no evidence at all that Trayvon did anything to provoke Zimmerman, including the Z's own calls that clearly show him huffing as he chases Trayvon.
  • Any sensible person being chased by someone (you don't know whether they're armed or not) might be expected to turn and fight if they suspect they might be overtaken or lead the pursuer to their home.
The affidavit might be thin without the girlfriend on the phone, but with that it's quite, quite thick. And I suspect that, as anigbrowl suggests upthread, there is holding back. The affidavit suggests race mad murder strongly enough to warrant a trial.
posted by localroger at 6:27 PM on April 16, 2012


Did you read the (many) instances of analysis by lawyers and such to which Balko linked?
posted by Justinian at 6:50 PM on April 16, 2012


Localroger, what makes it thin is that it doesn't seem to address any hard evidence that conflicts with Zimmerman's story of what happened.*

It seems to me like there are a few basic evidence-based questions that can't really be answered until the prosecution brings its case in court, and if this affadavit is any indication of the prosecution's strategy, it's not very clear if we'll get those answers.


*Although at this point, with all of the media hoopla, and emotionally charged discussions of the case, I don't actually remember if any of what we know to be Zimmerman's story comes from his actual on the record questioning from the police. Or even if any of the questioning from that night is even admissible in court?
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:43 PM on April 16, 2012


nydailynews
Jorge Rodriguez, Zimmerman's next-door neighbor, told Reuters that Zimmerman “had two big, butterfly bandages on the back of his head, and another big bandage on the bridge of his nose.”

“I saw two bandages on the back of his head, and his nose was all swollen up,” said one witness.
posted by cashman at 9:33 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman's story has changed several times. And while IANAL, I was under the impression that testimony such as the girlfriend might give about Trayvon's final phone call was in fact evidence.
posted by localroger at 4:55 AM on April 17, 2012


“I saw two bandages on the back of his head, and his nose was all swollen up,” said one witness.

All that is irrelevant since the lack of transport to an ER proving the injuries to be trivial.
posted by mikelieman at 5:32 AM on April 17, 2012


was under the impression that testimony such as the girlfriend might give about Trayvon's final phone call was in fact evidence.

She has not given tesitmony, she has given interviews and/or statements. The issue with the affidavit is that they were not properly attributed.

If you really look at the affidavit and compare it with more "textbook" affidavits, it falls somewhere in the "you've got to be kidding me" category. The prosecutor may well have a case to be made, but this aint it. As the pundits have stated, it's not even close. In fact, it may go so far as to be making the case for the defendant, insofar as it says little more than "after a series of non-illegal events, Zimmerman shot Martin for some reason, which he claims was self defense." There is NOTHING substantive in the affidavit that makes a distinction between this being self defense vs. an unlawful killing.

All that is irrelevant since the lack of transport to an ER proving the injuries to be trivial.

It's the opposite of irrelevant. It's up to a jury to weigh the significance of the injuries. (you don't have to wait for someone to hit you in order to be justified in stopping them with force; it's all about explaining your state of mind)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:17 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Zimmerman's story has changed several times.

No. The stories that Z's friends, family and former lawyers have told are conflicting. WE haven't heard Z's story from himself yet.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:06 AM on April 17, 2012


WE haven't heard Z's story from himself yet.

The police have. WE haven't seen their records, which are presumably the ones the press are trying to get unsealed. If the wildly divergent stories from Z's associates have as little to do with Z's own account du jour as they do with each other, Z certainly needs to find new associates because his current ones aren't helping.
posted by localroger at 8:36 AM on April 17, 2012


The police have. WE haven't seen their records

Right, so it's possible his personal account hasn't changed. It's easy to assume that he was feeding his father and brother and friends different accounts to respond to specific allegations, which really seemed to be the case during those few hectic days, but we don;t know for sure. Plus, all of that will not be relevant when and if this goes to trial. What will be relevant is what he told the police that night, what he said and did at the reenactment the next day and what he testifies to, if he takes the stand. What his various friends and family have said are irrelevant. Same with Trayvon's friends and family. Until testimony is given, that's just all background noise.
posted by holdkris99 at 9:23 AM on April 17, 2012


Heh. The right wing is trying to turn complaints about SYG laws into the liberal war on women. You see, in their minds, the whole SYG thing got started to protect women who were abused by their husbands. ALEC and the NRA just wanted to be sure a woman who shot her abusive spouse or lover wouldn't get locked up for it. Those of us who believe it's a bad thing just hate women, you see.

Just when you thought they couldn't stoop any lower or be more ignorant of reality...
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:00 AM on April 17, 2012


Well they they'll be hopping right on Marissa Alexander's case then, right?
posted by cashman at 10:41 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw's fpp about guns in America. The linked article starts off:
"There are around 90 guns for every 100 Americans yet, despite 85 fatal shootings a day, the mighty US gun lobby is as powerful as ever. In the wake of Trayvon Martin's killing, Gary Younge reports on the country's deadly attachment to firearms".
posted by cashman at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2012


The post has since been deleted. This is the article.
posted by cashman at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2012


I don't know, but this whole topic really makes me want to shoot something...
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:55 PM on April 17, 2012


I'm sorry, but I don't see what is thin about this affidavit. I guess I'm not lawyer enough to see past the obvious.
[...]
The affidavit suggests race mad murder strongly enough to warrant a trial.


Oh jeepers. No it doesn't. It just suggests that there's a case to answer about whether the killing was deliberate and premeditated. It's thin in the sense that it doesn't explain how the struggle broke out or what forensic evidence was gathered from the scene or any much else - just a bare minimum of factual assertions. Those who drew conclusions based on the content of the affidavit alone would be expressing bias of their own. It has very little evidentiary value, presumably because the prosecution hasn't yet built its case.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:06 PM on April 17, 2012




ALEC Retreats Under Pressure, Ends Push For 'Stand Your Ground,' Voter ID Laws

I suspect they're just playing possum. They'll be back at it as soon as the heat dies down. They can't help themselves.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:57 AM on April 18, 2012



New judge in Zimmerman case.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:16 PM on April 18, 2012


Bond hearing. Zimmerman's mother and father spoke. Omara is apparently trying to get George released to his parents.
posted by cashman at 7:06 AM on April 20, 2012


Here is a picture of Zimmerman's bloody head - The link is tagged 'Graphic'. It's pretty tame if you've ever played sports, but clearly he has been bleeding.
posted by cashman at 7:07 AM on April 20, 2012


This is a trip. They are grilling one of the folks who came up with the affadavit.

Omara said "If I say "peanut butter and..." and he says "jelly".
Omara says "Moe, Larry and...." and he says "Curly".
Omara says "Profiling"...and he says "Judging someone based on a set of characteristics"

And Omara is basically like "Come on bruh." and the guy says "I gave you my answer sir".
posted by cashman at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2012


Are Trayvon's Parents in the room?
posted by cashman at 7:26 AM on April 20, 2012


This is sad. It's basically "Zimmerman said it happened this way...do you have anything that contradicts that?" What does Trayvon say happened? Oh right, he's dead - so let's just go with with Zimmerman said happened. I like Omara, and it seems to me he is doing a much better job than the prosecution, but it boils down to that title shown on Colbert - "He said, He dead."
posted by cashman at 7:48 AM on April 20, 2012


Zimmerman has taken the witness stand.
posted by cashman at 7:53 AM on April 20, 2012


George Zimmerman apologized (to Sybrina and Tracy), said he thought Trayvon was closer to his age, and said he didn't know if he was unarmed or not.
posted by cashman at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2012


I'm shocked that they're letting him testify, TBH. His story is inconsistent and full of holes. Thanks for the updates, cashman.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:57 AM on April 20, 2012


Omara is asking for a $15k bond, supreme secrecy based on the nature of this case, a monitoring device, and the ability to leave the state. Zimmerman has surrendered his passport.

Based on what has happened this morning, I can't see Zimmerman not getting bond. I think part of that is because it doesn't at all seem like Zimmerman is going to get convicted of a single thing. Zimmerman is clean shaven, calm and businesslike, and Omara is procedural.
posted by cashman at 8:04 AM on April 20, 2012


The prosecution asked for no bond or a million dollars bond, based on Zimmerman's past violence and disregard for authority as documented.
posted by cashman at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Judge just cut him loose on 100k+ bond with GPS and other restrictions including curfew and reporting in every 3 days.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:10 AM on April 20, 2012


it doesn't at all seem like Zimmerman is going to get convicted of a single thing

Yep. His appearance and conduct + Omara's skills + a questionable chain of evidence and investigation (based on what is currently public knowledge) = no conviction for Zimmerman.

At this point, I've also given up all hope that the Sanford PD will be cleaned up or fixed in any way, but I'm holding on to my dream that SYG gets squashed or radically overhauled.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:11 AM on April 20, 2012


Zimmerman gets bond - $150,000 bond with monitoring. No contact with victim's family or witnesses, no possession of firearms, no consumption of alcohol, 7pm-6pm curfew, has to advise police of location every 3 days.
posted by cashman at 8:12 AM on April 20, 2012


I seriously doubt he's a flight risk. I do worry about his safety though. I also wonder if he's getting -- or if he is going to get -- the professional help he needs to deal with all of this psychologically. Same for Trayvon Martin's loved ones. I used to be skeptical of therapy for emotional issues, but I've seen it make a huge difference in the lives of people I love very deeply.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2012


I think part of that is because it doesn't at all seem like Zimmerman is going to get convicted of a single thing. Zimmerman is clean shaven, calm and businesslike, and Omara is procedural.

Wild-eyed scruffy defendants are the exception, not the rule. Most people try to look presentable, and most defense attorneys will try to have their client appear in civilian rather than inmate clothes if possible. the higher the stakes, the more effort will be made in this direction. I don't think he's a big flight risk either, but I still think there's a fairly high chance of conviction. As it happens, I feel more confident of that verdict based on the photo; the wound looks very superficial to me. But we'll see.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:56 AM on April 20, 2012


That seems a weird way to look at it. Any injuries at all on Zimmerman would indicate there was a physical altercation. If there was a physical altercation that drastically ups the chances of a Stand Your Ground defense. The objection would seem to me to be that Zimmerman provoked the altercation and thus the law is not applicable, not that the physical altercation had only left Zimmerman with non-serious injuries. You don't have to wait until your injuries become very serious before defending yourself.

Zimmerman will probably get convicted if the jury believes he provoked the altercation but acquitted if they do not. That his wounds aren't "serious enough" seems a red herring. He could absolutely have been frightened for his well being during a struggle in which he had not yet broken any bones or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I was being followed, I would likely consider that to be threatening. That may well be the principle here; that by following Travyon, he provoked or threatened him. It would seem reasonable. Not to mention, in the literal sense of the word, it is not "stand your ground" if you are chasing after the guy, but of course laws aren't their literal titles.

One curiosity here is that part of the problem was likely the concealed carry. If someone was following me, my reaction may well different if I can observe a firearm.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:50 PM on April 20, 2012


If there was a physical altercation that drastically ups the chances of a Stand Your Ground defense.

It's been pretty clear all along there was an altercation. The question is not whether there was, but who started it and was it an attempt to stand someone's ground, no? If Martin was accosted by Zimmerman and felt he was in jeopardy from Zimmerman trailing him with a gun, he had every right to attack Zimmerman. Of course, we can't know Martin's frame of mind, because he's dead.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:55 PM on April 20, 2012


Actually, ]you CAN in fact initiate a confrontation, even physically, and still defend yourself with deadly force if shit gets real and you're unable to get away. For example if you start harassing someone and begin pushing and shoving them, then they suddenly whip out a baseball bat and swing it at your head as they pin you down, you're allowed to shoot them. (this is a totally hypothetical situation, I am NOT saying it's what happened here, obviously)
posted by ShutterBun at 1:55 PM on April 20, 2012


The question is not whether there was, but who started it and was it an attempt to stand someone's ground, no?

But... but... that's what I said. That was the point of my comment, that whether Zimmerman's now-apparent injuries were "serious" or "non serious" are less important than who provoked the altercation!
posted by Justinian at 2:00 PM on April 20, 2012


"Actually, ]you CAN in fact initiate a confrontation, even physically, and still defend yourself with deadly force if shit gets real and you're unable to get away. For example if you start harassing someone and begin pushing and shoving them, then they suddenly whip out a baseball bat and swing it at your head as they pin you down, you're allowed to shoot them. (this is a totally hypothetical situation, I am NOT saying it's what happened here, obviously)"

And if the one with the bat connects, kills you, and claims she was in fear of her life, she gets out of jail free, too! Win, win!
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:40 PM on April 20, 2012


If this thing gets to trial i think it will come down to who the jury believes is screaming on that 911 call. If they decide its Z then they could very well acquit him, but if they believe its trayvon, then it sounds like an execution, like someone begging for their life at the barrel of a gun.
posted by holdkris99 at 4:27 PM on April 20, 2012


Do we know yet when the picture of Z bleeding came from and when it was taken?
posted by holdkris99 at 4:34 PM on April 20, 2012


if they believe its trayvon, then it sounds like an execution, like someone begging for their life at the barrel of a gun

I can't imagine a plausible scenario that gets us from what we know to have occurred to that ending. You have to imagine Martin and Zimmerman involved in a physical fight--grappling on the ground with each other (this we know to have occurred)--and then Zimmerman drawing his gun, standing up, standing over Martin, and with Martin entirely at his mercy and pleading for his life, deciding to execute him before the cops arrive--and with every expectation that he is being watched by multiple witnesses from the surrounding houses.

To even imagine such a scenario requires you to have deeply invested in the notion that Zimmerman is some kind of deranged White Power maniac who had sworn to eradicate black people from the face of the earth one by one.

A Zimmerman who started a fight with Martin and then shot him when he felt himself to be losing the fight I can believe. A Zimmerman who twirled his mustache while Martin begged at his feet and then coolly executed him belongs to bad fiction.
posted by yoink at 4:57 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why can't Martin be screaming for help while they are still on the ground fighting?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2012


A Zimmerman who started a fight with Martin and then shot him when he felt himself to be losing the fight I can believe.

Exactly. In fact this is what I've been pretty certain happened since about 5 picoseconds after the story broke. It's the very obvious Occam's Razor least common factor solution to the shifting stories and the few facts we have.

The thing is, if Z provoked Trayvon by following him, then he has no defense under SYG. He's guilty of manslaughter at minimum, and maybe more depending on his state of mind. There's a very delicate balance there, and with Z's testimony being the only evidence available due to the staggering incompetence of the cops, it falls to Z to fuck himself in cross-examination for justice to be done.

I suspect this is why the prosecution has been so tight-lipped about their strategy. They have one chance to get this right, and even then are really depending on Z to fuck up. Their odds are actually pretty good on Z fucking up, but it's best they don't let his defense team know exactly how to prep him for the trial.
posted by localroger at 5:05 PM on April 20, 2012


Why can't Martin be screaming for help while they are still on the ground fighting?

I don't know if that was aimed at me, but if it was--where did I rule that out? Of course it could be Martin screaming for help while they are fighting on the ground. That isn't "begging for their life at the barrel of a gun"--which was the scenario that I find implausible.
posted by yoink at 5:05 PM on April 20, 2012


Well the screaming went right up to the shot, so whatever happened was at the barrel of a gun for at least a brief amount of time.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 PM on April 20, 2012


To even imagine such a scenario requires you to have deeply invested in the notion that Zimmerman is some kind of deranged White Power maniac who had sworn to eradicate black people from the face of the earth one by one.

Or that he's a swaggering, macho wannabe who struts around with a gun looking for evil doers, and then gets beat up when he confronts a skinny black male ("they always get away"), feels so humiliated that he draws his gun and executes him.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:09 PM on April 20, 2012


The thing is, if Z provoked Trayvon by following him, then he has no defense under SYG.

That's not right. You can SYG anywhere you have a "legal right" to be. You have every legal right to follow someone (unless you're subject to a restraining order). If the sum total of Zimmerman's "provocation" was the following (or accosting Martin and asking him what he was uo to--also entirely legal) then a SYG defense is still viable. Where SYG would not be viable would be if Zimmerman physically grabbed Martin and tried to restrain him and Martin fought back. Especially if Zimmerman uttered any "fighting words" at the same time.

It is unlikely, though, that the prosecution have witnesses who can soeak to exactly what happened to initiate the fight--and the SYG law does make it very hard to prosecute in that case.
posted by yoink at 5:11 PM on April 20, 2012


Or that he's a swaggering, macho wannabe who struts around with a gun looking for evil doers, and then gets beat up when he confronts a skinny black male ("they always get away"), feels so humiliated that he draws his gun and executes him.

And, again, that is not the same thing as standing over Martin while Martin pleads for his life, and then coolly and deliberately shooting him.
posted by yoink at 5:14 PM on April 20, 2012


Well the screaming went right up to the shot, so whatever happened was at the barrel of a gun for at least a brief amount of time.

Yes, it is possible to twist the plain meaning of the words so that they kinda, sorta fit a plausible version of the event. I'm not sure how that helps, however.
posted by yoink at 5:17 PM on April 20, 2012


For folks that weren't able to check out this morning's hearing, there was one point where the prosecution noted that the powder burns and gun residue found are consistent with a close-range shot.

Prosecution also said, but did not elaborate on, that Zimmerman's account is contradicted by as yet unrevealed information. Or so that is what I heard. There was a good 30 or 40 seconds of semantic dancing when Omara was interviewing the prosecution guy (who was one of the co-authors of the little affidavit that couldn't).
posted by cashman at 5:32 PM on April 20, 2012


And, again, that is not the same thing as standing over Martin while Martin pleads for his life, and then coolly and deliberately shooting him.

Depends upon how long he held the bead on him before executing him, doesn't it? You really are bought into your one scenario.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:35 PM on April 20, 2012


Yes, it is possible to twist the plain meaning of the words so that they kinda, sorta fit a plausible version of the event. I'm not sure how that helps, however.

You twisted what holdkris99 said into some mustache twirling villain, what I am trying to communicate to you is that the scenario you invented there was not the only possibility for how Trayvon would come to be begging for his life at the barrel of a gun. holdkris99 has been very reasonable in their comments here, so there was no reason for you to twist that comment into something it wasn't.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:38 PM on April 20, 2012


The thing is, if Z provoked Trayvon by following him, then he has no defense under SYG.

That's not right. You can SYG anywhere you have a "legal right" to be.


No, that's not the case. The guy who introduced the law himself took the time to say so in front of a camera. If you are the provocateur, you do not have a legal right to be there because you're provoking the fight. Everyone seems to be pretty much in agreement on this one point at least. You only get to SYG if you are attacked, not if you are the attacker. Even the NRA guys are mostly nodding on this one. They kind of have to, because if they didn't SYG would go down in flames everywhere very quickly after this case.
posted by localroger at 5:53 PM on April 20, 2012


No, that's not the case. The guy who introduced the law himself took the time to say so in front of a camera. If you are the provocateur, you do not have a legal right to be there because you're provoking the fight.

Not a lawyer, nor a Florida resident, but I think what yoink is getting at is that Zimmerman had the legal right to follow Martin on a public street, so Zimmerman had no legal duty to retreat in the event of an attack. In other words, as I understand it, if this sequence were true, then Zimmerman could correctly raise SYG as a defense:

1. Zimmerman follows Martin but does not initiate a physical confrontation
2. Martin attacks Zimmerman (presumably in fear)
3. Zimmerman is in fear of death or great bodily harm
4. Zimmerman shoots Martin

I believe the distinction is that in jurisdictions without SYG, step 4 could only legally follow if Zimmerman was unable to retreat, whereas in states with SYG, he has no duty to retreat. Now, I have no idea if that sequence is accurate, that's for the legal system to sort out, but I don't think there's any legal inconsistency between following someone and raising self-defense as a legal argument.
posted by dsfan at 6:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, that's not the case

Here's the relevant statutory language:
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground
You are simply assuming that Zimmerman "provoked" the fight. Following someone around is perfectly legal and does not rise to the legal definition of "provocation." Asking someone what they are doing in the neighborhood is also perfectly legal and does not constitute, in itself, provocation. By Zimmerman's account, that is all he did. He may, of course, be lying. If he is telling the truth, however, and if the prosecutors cannot demonstrate that he is not, I cannot see how the Florida SYG law does not apply.
posted by yoink at 6:31 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That seems a weird way to look at it. Any injuries at all on Zimmerman would indicate there was a physical altercation.

Not necessarily. Three (entirely imaginary) possible explanations that don't support Zimmerman's claims:

a) Zimmerman is not very experienced with the gun and doesn't hold it properly. He fires, the recall is greater than he expected and he punches himself in the nose with the top of the gun, and is so startled he falls over and cuts his head slightly.

b) Zimmerman shoots Martin in cold blood, realizes that he's in for Big Trouble and throws himself down on the ground so as to stain his clothes and cause a minor injury.

c) Zimmerman and Martin have an altercation, Martin shoves Zimmerman who bangs his head on a wall or trips and falls onto his back, but does not follow up with any further attacks. Angered or unreasonably panicked, Zimmerman draws and shoots at Martin.

As I said above, all of these are wholly imaginary, I haven't gone looking for the forensic data since it'll come out at trial anyway. The reason I'm somewhat skeptical about the injury photo is that although there's a lot of blood it's obviously a very superficial wound. Think how much blood can result from small cut on your finger; this looks very similar.

If you are the provocateur, you do not have a legal right to be there because you're provoking the fight. Everyone seems to be pretty much in agreement on this one point at least. You only get to SYG if you are attacked, not if you are the attacker.

One more time:
776.041Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
 (1)Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
 (2)Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
There are two exceptions to the provocation rule. Zimmerman's defense will be that even if he did provoke Martin, Martin's response to the provocation was excessive. It's unknown (and perhaps unknowable) whether Zimmerman drew his gun early and Martin reasonably believed his life to be in danger. That's why Zimmerman's defense is (IMO) going to revolve around the nature and severity of the injuries he claims to have sustained.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:33 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


You twisted what holdkris99 said into some mustache twirling villain

What holdkris said was this:

If this thing gets to trial i think it will come down to who the jury believes is screaming on that 911 call. If they decide its Z then they could very well acquit him, but if they believe its trayvon, then it sounds like an execution, like someone begging for their life at the barrel of a gun.

To posit that what we hear on the 911 tapes--protracted cries for help that last for a considerable period of time--are the sounds of someone "begging for their life at the barrel of a gun" is to imagine a mustache twirling villain--it's to imagine Zimmerman standing there, not acting on impulse, not in the heat of fear, or anger, or shame, but with plenty of time for sober second thought deliberately deciding to snuff out this young man's life. That is melodramatic BS that comes from the general demonization of Zimmerman and seems to me so wildly unlikely as to be out of the bounds of serious consideration.
posted by yoink at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2012


if Z provoked Trayvon by following him, then he has no defense under SYG. He's guilty of manslaughter at minimum

I don't think that will play. It's a little like saying "if you decide to follow someone, anything that happens as a result is your fault."

The jury may end up agreeing that Zimmerman followed Martin, and that Martin could have reasonable considered it a provocative act. It seems like a bit of a stretch for me to imagine that Zimmerman would hang up the phone while the police were on their way, then go looking to start a fight. Maybe he used "fighting words," which further provoked Martin, who was therefore justified in escalating things to physical force.

Even then, Zimmerman still has a self-defense claim. As I said before, if he starts a fight and suddenly starts losing to the point where he feels in serious immediate danger, he can shoot.
And yes, BOTH parties can indeed be justified in their use of force during a fight. If Martin got in a lucky hit with his Ice Tea can or something, and it ended up killing Zimmerman, he would have been justified, assuming Zimmerman was doing something that made Martin seriously fear for his safety.

For a self defense claim, all Zimmerman really needs to establish is that he ended up in a situation where he was getting his ass handed to him, and had to shoot in order to save himself. About the only thing that might challenge that would be if he were to break into someone's home, start a fight, then shoot them.

In order to convict Zimmerman, I think they will need to establish a scenario wherein Martin and Zimmerman are fighting, Martin gets the upper hand early, then Zimmerman gains control, at which point he is out of danger, but shoots anyway.

All the stuff about who followed who, who started the fight, profiling, etc. is just window dressing (insofar as Zimmerman's guilt or innocence), I think.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2012


That is melodramatic BS that comes from the general demonization of Zimmerman and seems to me so wildly unlikely as to be out of the bounds of serious consideration.

Yes, that shit you made up that was not in the comment you quoted is indeed melodramatic bullshit, but it is not the only scenario in which Martin is begging for his life at the barrel of a gun. One such scenario of hundreds, is Martin begging while involved in a struggle for the gun that has been pulled on him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:52 PM on April 20, 2012


Martin begging while involved in a struggle for the gun that has been pulled on him.

The screaming lasts for at least a minute before the gun is fired (it happens about 40 seconds into the 911 call, which I'm assuming was initiated at least 20 seconds or so after the first scream)

A minute long struggle over a drawn gun, accompanied by cries for help, is not impossible. But it seems really unlikely to me. And while not necessarily "melodramatic", characterizing any reasonable scenario as "Martin begging for his life at the barrel of a gun" requires a set circumstances that at this point exist only in people's imaginations.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:15 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is not necessary for all of the screaming to be at the barrel of the gun, just some of it is enough to be fucked up if true!

Was Martin slamming Zimmerman's head for the entire minute? Probably not, but no need to have a fit over semantics if you say that is why he was screaming.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:04 PM on April 20, 2012


Either way, someone was losing that fight (or in desperate fear) for a LONG time before the gunshot. It's been a long time since I was in a random fight with a stranger, but 45+ seconds of fighting would be an absolute ETERNITY in my mind. It's beyond my reasonable believe (if that's a real term) to accept that Trayvon was screaming for that long before being shot.

At this point, of course, we don't know what other injuries Martin may have suffered during the fight. The funeral director says some things that indicate that he didn't see anything serious with regard to bruised knuckles, what-have-you. It doesn't rule much out, but it's all we have.

Given that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, I hope it's OK for me to say that I really can't picture a very good scenario where someone is able to injure their attacker, fight them off for at least a minute, then beg for their life as soon as a gun is introduced, screaming for help all the while.

I'm willing to admit that this may simply be a byproduct of my own shortcomings or a failure of imagination, etc. But I'd be very curious to see some kind of 3D computer animation supporting a scenario in which the following criteria are met:

1. Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter or murder
2. Zimmerman was indeed injured (as pictured) during the fight
3. The fight lasted over a minute
4. Martin was the voice heard screaming for help on the 911 call
5. Any (depicted) injuries to Martin correspond to the coroner's assessment (which I think is unknown at this point, yes?).

If this sounds like a challenge, well I guess it is. Whatever prejudices or predilections are on display via my comments are probably beyond my control, so I won't pretend to hide behind a mask of "I'm just searching for the truth!" All I can say is that my *intentions* in this case are more academic than political, as far as I can attest. My only particular dog in this hunt is noticing that public and media understanding of "how to solve a murder" are wrong an awful lot of the time, especially when other factors (race, politics, etc.) are introduced. There have already been several accusations against Zimmerman in the media which have subsequently been disproved or at least rebutted.

You can't tell me there wasn't a collective gasp among a lot of Zimmerman's opponents when the photo of the back of his head streaming blood was published. This, after the "fucking coons" debacle was more or less retired, and the "experts" who analyzed the 911 call were demonstrated to be about as reputable as the average pet psychic.

Obviously, it's not legally binding or perhaps even healthy to let this play out in the court of public opinion before all the facts are known. But since we're at it anyway, doesn't it strike you as troubling that the "Case Against Zimmerman" has already been on the wrong side of history this many times?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either way, someone was losing that fight (or in desperate fear) for a LONG time before the gunshot. It's been a long time since I was in a random fight with a stranger, but 45+ seconds of fighting would be an absolute ETERNITY in my mind.

I agree, that is one reason it is plausible to consider that they were not fighting the entire time. A potential scenario is that they went to the ground and Zimmerman hit his head in the process, but he still managed to take control of the fight after this and was on top. He held him at gunpoint to keep him in place for the police to get there so this punk wouldn't get away like the rest of the assholes did. Martin panics and continues to scream for help in fear that he is about to be shot because he has no idea what is going on and grabs at the gun, leading to Zimmerman shooting him.

That seems like manslaughter if Zimmerman started the physical confrontation, right?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:18 PM on April 20, 2012


That's not a bad scenario, furiousxgeorge, in that it fits the criteria.

To be honest, I have no idea how the law would treat a situation like that, though I suspect that, once again, "who started the fight" is not the be-all, end-all of the debate, especially in a fight/struggle that lasted so long. (obviously, if you go charging at someone with a gun drawn, and a second later they pull out a bat and begin swinging it toward your head, you can't claim self defense if you shoot them, even though you may have indeed feared for your life at that particular fraction of a second)

Zimmerman had a permit to carry his gun, so it's not clear (to me) whether or not he could be accused of reckless endangerment. There have been statements floating around in the press that some members of the neighborhood were specifically instructed by the police that carrying a handgun would be a good idea (good lord!)

I dunno. The prosecution has to prove a scenario where Zimmerman had Martin in a position to scream for help, either before or after he pulled his gun. Speaking for myself, it would take a LOT to convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that it's Trayvon's voice on the 911 tape, even if the conversation were limited solely to the acoustic evidence. To imagine a scenario where a person screamed for help for 40+ seconds before being shot by someone who (at some point) had them pinned down or otherwise restrained... I have a hard time picturing it.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:51 PM on April 20, 2012


You can't tell me there wasn't a collective gasp among a lot of Zimmerman's opponents when the photo of the back of his head streaming blood was published.

Certainly not from me. I mentioned it in this thread and the other thread that I hope nobody would do just that, and gasp and be all agape when the close up pictures were published. I sustained way worse injuries than that playing sports at lunchtime in high school. Zimmerman was just fine at the police station right after that. He'd been treated at the scene, and as the details came out, it was clear he'd gotten injured, but the shocking thing in the video was that for someone who just blew a hole in someone's chest allegedly out of fear, he was doing quite alright.

If this is allowed to stand, then every time someone gets in a schoolyard fight, they can shoot someone to death.

Zimmerman had a permit to carry his gun

The issue is what he did with it, right. So police have every right to have their guns, but when they shoot someone to death, then they can still have done something horribly wrong. A la Diallo, right?

There have been statements floating around in the press that some members of the neighborhood were specifically instructed by the police that carrying a handgun would be a good idea (good lord!)

I haven't seen those (good lord indeed), and I know you're on a crusade for Zimmerman (which is fine), but even if that were the case, the volunteer that gave Zimmerman training gave him two numbers to call when things were occurring. Non-emergency, and 911. And I'm pretty sure nowhere in there was "follow the suspect with your gun loaded and cocked".

If Martin got in a lucky hit with his Ice Tea can or something, and it ended up killing Zimmerman, he would have been justified, assuming Zimmerman was doing something that made Martin seriously fear for his safety.

Why even say some bullshit like this? The assumption is typically that black men are always super duper dangerous. Why even make something up like this. IF he got a lucky hit with his ice tea can, really? A black man can kill you with a can of ice tea now? And then saying "if Zimmerman was doin something that made Martin seriously fear for his safety". How about having a loaded, cocked, ready to fire gun, following you when you were doing nothing wrong? From the instant Zimmerman follows Martin, which is beyond dispute, Martin has a completely legitimate and completely understandable reason to fear for his safety.

I'm still interested in seeing what the prosecution has, since they alluded to it, that shows Zimmerman contradicted himself.

And talking about the gun, I hope the prosecution has Zimmerman explain just how he shot Trayvon to death. When he reached for the gun, that means the gun was loaded, the safety was off, and ready to shoot. So he is walking around with a 9mm gun that is ready to be fired. He is following Trayvon and confronting him. He was obviously ready to shoot.
posted by cashman at 12:13 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


And just to re-state: doesn't matter who started the confrontation, since they were both on neutral territory. If the fight got out of hand to the point where Zimmerman was unable to escape and felt in danger for his own safety, the shooting is justified, no matter what ridiclous mindset may have led him to be there.

I mean, if we take this about 12 steps further, imagine if Zimmerman was a KKK member in full costume chasing Martin down the street. If Martin somehow gets him in a position that he is pinned down and is about to have his eyeball pulled out of his skull and shown to him, he is allowed to shoot.

Granted, it's totally ridiculous and one would hope that the defense team has a whole lot of "here's why" to explain his reasonable fear of grievous bodily harm. But the point is, as far as the law is concerned, once the fight has started (and not abated) as soon as someone has a "reasonable fear" of severe injury, it's OK to end it with a bullet.

We're not exactly debating about what is "morally acceptable" or "reasonable to me" or "non-fucked up," we're talking about "legally justified." The law is imperfect and has a pretty bad track record for extracting justice out of total idiots who were nevertheless operating within the strict confines of the law.

My own feeling is that Zimmerman had no business carrying a gun that night, even though he was legally entitled to. (just because you "can" doesn't mean you "should," and it doesn't NOT mean you "shouldn't") In my own opinion, if Zimmerman didn't have a gun that night, he would have suffered pretty much the same injuries, hopefully learned an important lesson in "how NOT to deal with strangers" and that Martin would have been charged with complete overreaction and maybe assault & battery. (again, this is just my own opinion based on my "jury of one" assessment of the events as described)

Martin is commonly referred to supporters as being skinny and youthful, whereas Zimmerman's descriptions tend to make him out like he's the first cousin of Tank Abbott. The problem is, if Zimmerman was somehow so capable of dominating Martin physically, why would he pull a gun at all? I'm not saying the case hinges on this or anything, but it's one of the aspects that makes it hard to believe a Murder 2 charge is warranted. (and if it's not warranted, shame on the prosecutors for over-charging in hopes of a guilty plea to a lesser offense via scare tactics. That's in NOBODY'S interest.)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:17 AM on April 21, 2012


Martin is commonly referred to supporters as being skinny and youthful

He was skinny and youthful. Isn't his weight listed as 140 on the police report, or some other official document? Wasn't he 17? I don't know if I"m a supporter of a dead kid, I think I'm a supporter of facts like these that aren't in dispute.

whereas Zimmerman's descriptions tend to make him out like he's the first cousin of Tank Abbott.

His nickname was apparently tugboat, right? He has lost weight over the past few years, and even seems to have lost weight since that night, but on that police footage, that is not a tiny mouse of a man. There is a photo here - as in the Sanford video, he's as big as police officers.

He's 28, Trayvon had just turned 17.

Zimmerman is going to walk in my opinion.
posted by cashman at 12:27 AM on April 21, 2012


Re: the blood in the photo. The most superficial of wounds to the head lead to a visually shocking amount of bleeding. I learned this firsthand from playground injuries that my brothers and I suffered not infrequently. Most of the injuries did not even require stitching, but the amount of blood in that photo is extremely familiar. So, yeah, agreeing with everyone who says those injuries look superficial.
posted by bardophile at 12:51 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who read the police report knew he was bleeding after the incident, so it's a visceral depiction but not really new information.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:54 AM on April 21, 2012


Anyone who read the police report knew he was bleeding after the incident

I beg your pardon, but I recall seeing a whole lot of "not believing the police report" around that time, accompanied by a lot more "his injuries don't show up in the surveillance video!" afterwords.

He was skinny and youthful. Isn't his weight listed as 140 on the police report, or some other official document?

He was listed as 160 on the police report (not that they weighed him at the time)

Zimmerman is going to walk in my opinion.

That much seems clear. The questions at this point might be: "what caused/enabled Zimmerman to head down such a path unpunished, and is this an indication that something is wrong?

There are some things we know, some things we suspect, and some things we just can't know.

1. We *know* that black males are incarcerated WAY above the national average.
2. We (i.e. the social justice system) suspects that where there's smoke, there's fire.
3. We don't know exactly how much fire is associated with a given amount of smoke. And like it or not, we're never gonna know. In the meantime, have we gotten around to balancing out the known "smoke" versus comparable amounts of smoke in other communities/ethnicities? Why not?

Any way you slice it, black males get the ultimate shaft in our society. (I am not a black male, so I hope I'll be forgiven for simply stating some known facts here, and keep the conjecture to a minimum) Say what you want about women being oppressed for hundreds/thousands of years, but I don't think we've ever encountered a situation in modern times where 30% of them were incarcerated by the state on a regular basis. It's just a different kind of repression, I think. They both suck, but one of them is hyper-scary every day on an inhuman level, in this MeFite's opinion.

So, the deck is stacked against black males from the get-go. And it doesn't help that all of this oppression ends up with what is probably an artificially inflated crime and conviction rate against them. If it's not the dictionary definition of "self-fulfilling prophecy," then it's probably damn close. Oppress any group of people long enough, and rules will be broken. The criminal justice system is (I believe) already predisposed to recidivism, so now we've got a self-fulfilling prophecy that actually feeds itself. If it were a machine it would be outlawed for violating the laws of perpetual motion.

Now comes the hard part.

For whatever reason, are black males more likely to commit a crime? Or are they simply more likely to be convicted of a crime? And if they are more likely, is it fair to treat them with more suspicion?

For the layperson, obviously the answer to the last question is "no."

All other things being equal, a black male teenager in a hoodie should be no more suspicious than anyone else. Context is of course important. According to Zimmerman's phone call, Martin was simply acting "weird" or whatever. We can only guess what that meant. Since he immediately associated it with the break-ins in that community in the past summer (according to the transcript of his call to police), I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt: he probably thought this was one of the burglars. (who more or less matched Martin's description)

Make no mistake: at the time of this incident, it was pretty well known that a group comprised of young black men (and I think at least 1 white man) had been breaking into or illegally entering homes for the purposes of theft in that neighborhood. Even a cursory perusal of Zimmerman's previous calls to police indicates that he was calling *specifically* to report people who he thought might be involved in the burglaries. Trayvon was not a regular resident there, and unfortunately, he tended to match the general description of who they were on the lookout for.

It would be pretty ridiculous for Zimmerman to be suspicious of every teenage or young-adult black male who entered the proptery, given its demographics. (I think it's about 35% black?)

I think this is a situation that had a lot of extraneous circumstances leading up to it (concealed carry laws, crime demographics in the community, insufficient training, etc.) but we can't blame Zimmerman for demonstrating that "this is what happens when these circumstances are forced to co-exist."

My personal opinion (at this point in time, and just in case anyone is interested) is that Zimmerman was being an overzealous community watch dude, got his ass kicked by someone who felt he was being unjustly harassed, and subsequently overreacted because he didn't have any other recourse to extricate himself from a situation that he could have easily avoided if he'd known better. Manslaughter at most; any charge beyond that is dirty pool on the part of the prosecutors, who might as well charge him with starting the Chicago Fire and defy him to prove otherwise.

(yeah, I wandered a bit)
posted by ShutterBun at 2:04 AM on April 21, 2012


I beg your pardon, but I recall seeing a whole lot of "not believing the police report" around that time, accompanied by a lot more "his injuries don't show up in the surveillance video!" afterwords.

Okay, anyone who read the police report and didn't think through how unlikely it was that the police would lie about something the paramedics would be able to tell the truth or falseness of.

The comments on the video were more along the lines of injuries severe enough to need stitches do not appear to show up, and nothing really did show up on the low quality original.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:31 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think he got stitches. Butterfly bandages were indicated by those who saw him the next day.

But as sideshow jurors, can't we just at least admit that the picture of Zimmerman bleeding profusely from the back of his head was a very definite "oh shit" moment for the prosecution?

I've played hockey and baseball and football and gotten into one or two unwanted fights, and I can count the number of times I've bled from the scalp (as opposed to the face) on exactly zero fingers. (granted, being bald would make Zimmerman's scalp far more susceptible to superficial injury)

Face it: shit happened to Zimmerman and the entire question now is "was he reasonable in fearing for his safety?"

I've personally gotten my ass kicked a couple of times, and I have to admit that if I had a "win button" hidden in my waistband it would have been mighty tempting to use it. (this is of course, entirely hypothetical. I've never gotten into a fight with a loaded handgun on my person, nor have I (as far as I can remember) genuinely feared that I was at risk of losing a limb or major organ during a fight. But I can attest that when you've been hit in the mouth enough times that your teeth feel like they're free-floating in whatever-it-is gums are made out of, the phrase "end this fight by any means available" does indeed come to mind.

Zimmerman undoubtedly made some bad choices when he chose "9mm handgun" over "pepper spray," but it wasn't illegal, nor incriminating. It's a shitty set of circumstances and a bunch of laws that need reviewing, but we can't pin the whole thing on Zimmerman. If anyone here were to represent the prosecution in a mock trial (given the currently available evidence), do you think you'd win? The affidavit itself has been more or less torn to shreds by a handful of legal experts. No doubt there are others who feel it was totally adequate. And there is probably some "unreleased evidence" that we've all yet to hear about.

And yet, a whole lot of people made up their mind about this case over a month ago. Why is that, I wonder? Because it was so obvious? If it was so obvious, shouldn't the prosecustion have been able to come up with an affidavit that didn't immediately garner a "worst ever" award from a dozen pundits?

Clearly, this was not an "obvious" case, by any standard. The police were corrupt and/or incompetent, the DA was impotent, and a nationwide protest was required in order to convince the state to appoint a special prosecutor.

Think about that. A special prosecutor was appointed due to overwhelming public pressure, and with a case that had been open (?) for nearly 2 months they managed to come up with the weakest-ass affidavit in recent memory.

What do you think? The case suddenly became air-tight and they were ready to charge? Hell no. They caved to public pressure and came up with the most incredible set of statements ever to follow the phrase "I swear."

Even those out to convict Zimmerman ought to be outraged at this affidavit, as it consists of about 90% "made-up shit" (unattributed shit is the same as made-up shit when it comes to affidavits) which is bound to be challenged/appealed.

I've said all along that those hoping for Zimmerman to be convicted likely weren't going to get what they wanted. I never dreamed that the prosecution would make it quite so...obvious? (I don't want to say "easy" because they really had no choice)

To wit: he pays $15000 in cash and he gets to leave the state with a GPS. That's how strong the judge thinks their case is. I don't have much of an historical basis against which to measure this verdict, but it seems to me like this is a giant "you have your work cut out for you" message to the prosecution, who at this point can't even prove anything that isn't stipulated by the defense.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:03 AM on April 21, 2012


No doubt there are others who feel it was totally adequate.

Among them, the Judge who used it as the basis for the Arrest Warrant he signed.
posted by mikelieman at 4:40 AM on April 21, 2012


Indeed, it's sometimes surprising what a judge will decide when one side deliberately hides exculpatory evidence, wouldn't you agree?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:53 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And just to re-state: doesn't matter who started the confrontation, since they were both on neutral territory. If the fight got out of hand to the point where Zimmerman was unable to escape and felt in danger for his own safety, the shooting is justified...

You keep saying this but I'm no buying it so easily. I don't think the law is so open to starting fights which end in death. Or starting fights which don't end in death, for that matter.

BTW, reasonable most certainly does matter. In cases of self defense, or variations of it, what constitutes threat definitely matters and that is not cut and dried.
posted by Bovine Love at 4:57 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's already been stated, but again:
776.041Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
 (1)Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
 (2)Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
 (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
 (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

Think about what this means for a minute. It means that even if you are in the middle of committing armed robbery, if you suddenly find yourself being beaten about the face and neck with a piece of sports equipment, you're allowed to shoot to kill in self defense! (I'm not saying this is all "fine by me under any circumstances," I'm just talking about what the law allows. Take special note of point 2, especially in regard to the word "unless." It's clear that the aggressor of a fight bears some additional responsibility, but as soon as "shit gets real" (for lack of a better term) they are justified in shooting. Crazy, I know. Not yet illegal, though.

reasonable most certainly does matter.

Most definitely. If I suggested otherwise, that was a mistake on my part.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:28 AM on April 21, 2012


TL;DR:

The law says that even if you started the whole shit, if you suddenly find yourself getting handed such a beating that you *reasonably believe* you might lose an eyeball or something, and you can't just run away, you're allowed to shoot the other guy. *Regardless of who started it*

To put that in perspective, once we agree that it doesn't matter who started it, (since "starting the fight" obviously can't help the defendant) the only questions are: "did you have a reasonable fear for your own safety (against loss of life/severe injury)? Also, did you exhaust all other avenues (trying to run away, etc.)

Seems like Zimmerman could say "I had my head bashed on a sprinkler head, which I mistook for concrete, and honestly felt I was not capable of escaping a dangerous beat-down." I can't think of very many incriminating facts that would dispute his self-defense argument.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:39 AM on April 21, 2012


It means that even if you are in the middle of committing armed robbery, if you suddenly find yourself being beaten about the face and neck with a piece of sports equipment, you're allowed to shoot to kill in self defense!

You're misreading it. (1) specifically says that it doesn't apply to people committing a forcible felony. The (a) and (b) sections only apply to (2)
posted by unSane at 5:40 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're correct.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:45 AM on April 21, 2012


Suppose you were Z and you'd followed Trayvon imagining him to be a dangerous criminal, and that for whatever reason you found yourself on the ground with him on top giving you a drubbing -- all of which increases your certainty that he's a dangerous criminal, possibly armed. And you have a gun. What are your options, really?

I'm not saying this is what happened, but I am saying it's quite possible that Z did all the things we know he did, and still found himself in a situation where you or I would reasonably have feared for our lives.

In the absence of specific, credible, witness or forensic evidence contradicting Z's account, he's going to walk.
posted by unSane at 5:45 AM on April 21, 2012


Did anybody else watch the hearing? The prosecution seemed to suggest they had just that.
posted by cashman at 7:02 AM on April 21, 2012


In the absence of specific, credible, witness or forensic evidence contradicting Z's account, he's going to walk.

While I don't disagree with you, I'll just point out that an absence of all of those things is pretty much grounds to allow *anyone* to walk.

Given that a Murder 2 conviction is borderline preposterous at this point (the prosecution would somehow have to prove that Zimmerman all-of-a-sudden decided to kill Martin on purpose because he sucked, or something) all we're left with is manslaughter (assuming that will be an available option for the jury)

First degree murder was ruled out by the lack of a Grand Jury. Second degree murder is kind of like a "ground rule double". It's rare, but it happens under certain circumstances.

As it turns out, those circumstances are damn hard to prove, and usually only end up sticking when premeditation (i.e. first degree murder) can't be proven. You've basically got to go out of your way to kill someone for a completely ridiculous reason. (he resisted when I tried to steal his bicycle, etc.) Second degree murder almost always accompanies either A. evidence not quite sufficient to get a 1st degree conviction (i.e. no premeditation) or B. some other felony.

Second degree murder (as written) is almost scarier than first degree murder. There is no pre-planning, no clear motive, just a sudden impulse to "kill someone in the face!" because they looked at you funny or something. (the whole "depraved mind" thing)

There are probably plenty of exceptions, but most 2nd degree murder convictions I'm aware of were either cases where premeditation couldn't be proven, or something else was already going on.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:29 AM on April 21, 2012


The prosecution seemed to suggest they had just that.

That's what they do (both sides.) Until the case comes to trial they can play Lionel Hutz and "suggest" all kinds of stuff that's in the interest of their cause.

In pretty much any criminal trial, between the prosecution and the defense's opening statement, one of them is going to be around 90% total bullshit (if not more).

It's fair to assume that the prosecution is (for some reason) playing their cards close to their chest, and that they have some "strategy" for getting at the truth. Just don't assume that all promises of conclusive proof will be fulfilled. The prosecution generally has to play their hand way earlier than the defense, and a this point their case is so anemic that I'd be hard pressed to conceive of any piece of unheard evidence (short of a photo of Zimmerman leaving a Klan rally earlier that evening) that would really turn the tide.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:41 AM on April 21, 2012


This case is too "he said, he dead" to get a conviction. Mere proof Z's account having contradictions will not rise to proof beyond a reasonable doubt of murder two.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:05 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll be interested to see if Zimmerman's reason for following Trayvon was that Trayvon was walking while black. Zimmerman gave no specific, concrete reason to be following Trayvon when he called police. I hope Zimmerman doesn't make something up after the fact and try to assign his non-assertions to that.

If they show the video of Zimmerman's re-enactment from the next day, and then show forensic evidence that shows it couldn't have happened the way he described it, that would be a notable event.

I feel bad that Trayvon's parents seem to be surrounded by legal folks who have only a basic level of skill, whether it is the prosecutors or crump or the other lawyer. Their child is dead and about all the justice they will be getting is Zimmerman doing 10 days in jail, because their kid isn't there to tell his side of what happened, and Zimmerman can characterize things any way he'd prefer.

A kid that had just turned 17 was walking home from the store doing nothing wrong, then got chased and confronted by a man with a ready-to-fire gun, gets killed. And that's going to be that. I am glad Zimmerman apologized, though Martin and Fulton's lawyer said they weren't fond of it.

I wonder why the family chose Crump, because after seeing this (which they had to know when they chose him), why would you choose him?

Another dead black kid, and they had video of the killing. Think any person got convicted of anything? Of course not:
"the video was not enough for a jury.

The guards and nurse were charged with aggravated manslaughter for Anderson's death, but a jury found them not guilty on all charges."

"I really have a very hard time understanding how the jury came to the decision that it did, because the jury had a choice, they had a tiered ballot, and they could've chosen second degree manslaughter all the way down to misdemeanor mistreatment of a child," said Dr. Any Opel, an associate professor at Florida State University who spent the last six years creating a documentary about the Martin Lee Anderson killing.
Again,
Be clear and concise in your cries for help. This will not in any way add to the chance that you will survive the encounter. Instead, it serves to ensure that bystanders and anyone recording just the audio of the encounter will have a clearer depiction of what is happening. Phrases such as "help me!" are not enough. You must be clear. "Please do not shoot me! I am just a kid!" will alert others to the fact that it is you that is about to be shot, rather than your assailant. "I do NOT have a weapon! Please don't shoot me!" further emphasizes that you are unarmed (for after your death, no one is ever certain).

My son, you will die. You will perish at the hands of those who fear you. Your death will be likened to a hunting accident. The best you can hope for is that it is not your body that dies, only your spirit, as has been the case with me, your father. When you are older, you will know that you were never meant to be a man. Your very existence, your lifespan and quality of life, are indeed not determined by a heavenly Father, but by the complex societal trappings that deem you, somehow, to be faulty, potentially dangerous, and ill-equipped to exist on equal footing.
posted by cashman at 8:17 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder why the family chose Crump

Kind of a bummer (which is putting it mildly) that a victim's family feels compelled to hire a lawyer at all, at least until a civil suit is underway. Not their fault, of course, but when everything gets filtered through lawyers, I feel like the human process is somewhat cheated a bit. (I hope this doesn't come across as completely hypocritical of me)
posted by ShutterBun at 8:51 AM on April 21, 2012


And yes, BOTH parties can indeed be justified in their use of force during a fight.

So how does anyone ever fail in their claim of self defense, if both people can claim it in any altercation? Once the fight is on, both people are by the very nature of being in a fight engaged in self defense, no? And I am talking specifically if situation "comes to blows" or however you want to put it.
posted by holdkris99 at 11:39 AM on April 21, 2012


"Martin begging for his life at the barrel of a gun" requires a set circumstances that at this point exist only in people's imaginations.

But any set of circumstances exist only in people's imagination. Perhaps I could have chosen my words better. I wasn't trying to cast Z as a mustache twirling villain, the rest of my comments in this and the other thread don't characterize him that way and I don't feel that way. Rather, I think he instigated a situation that quickly spiraled out of control and he got scared and killed Trayvon. I do believe he is sorry for doing it, and not just because he got arrested, I think he is probably genuinely sorry. My point was just listening to that call, if a person on the jury decides that is Zimmerman screaming for help, they would probably believe his claim of self defense. If they believe it's Trayvon they probably won't believe his claim of self defenseand they could easily come to the conclusion that Zimmerman had a gun drawn on Trayvon and could have given him the chance to flee but did not, shooting him instead. and there are a 1000 other scenarios that had come from that as well. But since the shot came in the midst of the screaming it seems that the juries interpretation of that piece of evidence could swing it either way.

Anyway, next time I will choose my words more carefully. There's been enough hyperbole and inflammatory shit released into the ether about this case, I have no desire to add to that.

Cheers to everyone in these two threads by the way. Good on Sutterbun, cashman, lord_wolf, furiousxgeorgem, desjardines, unsane and the others who have kept these threads interesting and thought provoking and civil.
posted by holdkris99 at 11:56 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


So how does anyone ever fail in their claim of self defense, if both people can claim it in any altercation? Once the fight is on, both people are by the very nature of being in a fight engaged in self defense, no?

I agree. I said in the other thread, that once a fight starts, it's Thunderdome. You had better kill whoever you are fighting with before they kill you. Zimmerman shot first, and it's later that questions are asked.

It's funny, because I can think of a few high profile 'moments of culture' for a lack of an actual term, where this specific situation is addressed, and the suggestion is you should put down the gun, have a fistfight, and then when it is all said & done, you go your separate ways, alive. Notably, that scene from friday, but a few other instances also.

But you can't claim shit when someone chases you and puts a bullet through your chest before you can even turn 18.
posted by cashman at 11:58 AM on April 21, 2012


Looking it from the other side, if it is genuine self-defence, and there are no witnesses, how would you prove it?
posted by rainy at 11:59 AM on April 21, 2012


Looking it from the other side, if it is genuine self-defence, and there are no witnesses, how would you prove it?

To me, that's where (discussion-wise, not AAL) the circumstances come in. If you're in your house and shoot an invader, even if you are the only living witness, the circumstances suggest your self-defense.

If you're a woman walking home, as someone said in the other thread while relaying their own personal story, and you get followed by some man, and you're scared to go home, ---- if that guy hops out of his car and starts following you on foot, and you hit him to try to save your own life since it is clear he is after you, if he shoots you dead, it's kind of weird for him to then claim self defense based on the circumstances.

I think the term "genuine self defence" is sticky though.

I would also say that it would be surprising to see people defend Zimmerman if it would have been Sybrina instead of Trayvon, but people will defend anybody, especially when the dead person looks a certain way, and also if they are part of a certain segment of society.
posted by cashman at 12:51 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree completely, circumstances should matter. In this particular case, circumstances pointing against Zimmerman are that he had a more belligerent, suspicious and aggressive state of mind towards Trayvon right before the encounter. On the other hand, I would make a distinction between a suspiciuos and malicious attitude, and he seems to have had the former; it also must have occurred to him that there may be a number of witnesses looking at them from afar after a prolonged struggle and cries for help.

Putting aside legal questions, I think Zimmerman should still spend significant time in jail even if it was self-defense at the time of shooting. I believe it's most likely that he initiated the fight, and that's something he should not have done, being that he was a) not police and b) carrying a loaded weapon. In other words, he should have gone out of his way to hang back and carry himself in a mellow, peaceful manner, and he probably did the opposite.

I think, however, that at the very instant of shooting, it's more likely than not that he felt threatened. It may have happened in several different ways - it could be they were both fighting for the weapon, or he was getting his head slammed into the ground, or it may even be he shot accidentally when trying to hold Trayvon at gunpoint.

But the case is far from over, there's all kinds of evidence that may still come up during trial.
posted by rainy at 1:24 PM on April 21, 2012


If you seventeen with a hoodie on watch out for the neighborhood watcher. Wyclef does a Trayvon tribute song. I've seen videos from plies, face (with bun b, I think) and a few others, and I like this song the best, aside from the one in the other thread.
posted by cashman at 4:06 PM on April 21, 2012


Woman denied 'stand your ground' defense (April 20th video)

Marissa was convicted of 3 counts of aggravated battery (for firing a warning shot), and her sentencing is Monday.
posted by cashman at 10:16 PM on April 21, 2012


"Dennis Baxley, the state representative who championed the self-defense law at the heart of the Trayvon Martin case, is back in the national spotlight.

....A lifelong National Rifle Association member who’s been known to sip his coffee from an NRA mug, Baxley has sponsored numerous gun laws in a career marked by his close friendship with the tenacious gun lobbyist Marion Hammer, whom he calls “awesome.” He once joked in public that they were having a love affair.

Baxley is proud of the “stand your ground” law and believes it has saved many lives, but based on news accounts, he does not believe Zimmerman can use it to justify pursuing and killing Martin.

“I still don’t think it applies,” he says. “Nothing in this statute authorizes ‘pursuit, confront, provoke.’ ”
posted by cashman at 11:30 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


“I still don’t think it applies,” he says. “Nothing in this statute authorizes ‘pursuit, confront, provoke.’ ”

Except for the part where things not disallowed by law are allowed by law, yeah, like totally.

Good work, sir.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:59 AM on April 22, 2012


Marissa was convicted of 3 counts of aggravated battery (for firing a warning shot), and her sentencing is Monday.

I suspect there is more to the story there - although I do admit that suspicion is based entirely off my spidey sense from her fundraising website linked above.

Also, based off that deposition she linked, both her and her ex sound crazy.

Of course I might just be bitter because the last time my crazy ex hit me, she only got arrested for disorderly conduct and the prosecutor dropped even that minor charge.

There is never a railroad around when I need one.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:05 AM on April 22, 2012


Trayvon's parents put a "Card of Thanks" advertisement in the Miami Herald. Links to the page forward you to an account creation page.

Also, here's a Chicago Tribune map of the scene that I browsed across.
posted by cashman at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2012


if it is genuine self-defence, and there are no witnesses, how would you prove it?

I'm guessing "a photo of my bleeding head wounds" would be Exhibit A.

(granted, in the absence of the above, Zimmerman would have his work cut out for him, and would have to instead rely on "common sense" that says he would either have to batshit insane, suicidal, or way stupider than the average air-breather in order to do what folks think he did.)
posted by ShutterBun at 3:55 AM on April 23, 2012


granted, in the absence of the above, Zimmerman would have his work cut out for him, and would have to instead rely on "common sense" that says he would either have to batshit insane, suicidal, or way stupider than the average air-breather in order to do what folks think he did.)

No. Not really. All that's required is that Zimmerman is enough of a racist that he sees Martin as a threat and that he believes that the justice system is less likely to punish him severely. From the history of this case both of these are obviously true.
posted by rdr at 4:55 AM on April 23, 2012


What would Trayvon Martin's MOTIVE have been to attack George Zimmerman without provocation?

I don't believe that Zimmerman can sell his story without answering that question. And while I believe the "obvious" answer might have worked while a broad audience wasn't paying close attention, I do not believe it's going to fly with the heightened scrutiny.
posted by mikelieman at 4:57 AM on April 23, 2012


What would Zimmerman's motive have been to attack Martin without provocation?
posted by unSane at 5:11 AM on April 23, 2012


"These assholes always get away" ( Zimmerman's claim to 9-1-1 )

Consider this. Looking at the map above, we're talking < 100 yards. I don't buy Zimmerman's claim of "I lost him", and when that is discounted, the scenario becomes one where Zimmerman ( makes yet another negligent choice ) and confronts Martin, insisting that Martin simply waits for the police to show up and check out his story.

Which, is a reasonable enough request, but one which Martin has no obligation to obey.

If Trayvon Martin told Zimmerman to "Go Fuck Himself", what would Zimmerman's choice have been to force Martin's compliance?

Considering that I've not heard any motive for Trayvon Martin to attack Zimmerman unprovoked other than "Crazy Negro Needed To Be Put Down", I'm going to go with this version, which is consistent with Zimmerman's complete inability to make a rational decision consistent with that of an reasonable and prudent person.
posted by mikelieman at 5:23 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I just want to be clear here, and I think this is clearly a case of manslaughter, mostly involuntary. The chain of Zimmerman's negligent acts is so glaringly obvoius I think it's clear the he owns complete responsibility for those choices starting from his choice to carry his weapon that day, to his pulling the trigger.
posted by mikelieman at 5:28 AM on April 23, 2012


Eh, imagining things doesn't really help. You could just as easily imagine that Martin told Z to stop fucking following him, an order which Z had no obligation to obey, and then started a physical confrontation when Z continued following him.
posted by unSane at 5:30 AM on April 23, 2012


Motive: confusing people about the difference between real-life criminal cases and The Movies for over 60 years.

(granted, it's probably tainted a whole lot of juries in its time)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:00 AM on April 23, 2012


All that's required is that Zimmerman is enough of a racist that he sees Martin as a threat

That sounds so not easy to prove in a court of law.

Are you familiar with the expression "begging the question"? Because I have a feeling that whatever you're about to say next will be a textbook example of it.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:05 AM on April 23, 2012


Zimmerman leaves jail. Looks like he has a vest on.
posted by cashman at 6:48 AM on April 23, 2012


You could just as easily imagine that Martin told Z to stop fucking following him, an order which Z had no obligation to obey, and then started a physical confrontation when Z continued following him.

I guess I don't get this. I'd love to see this said in these mefi threads where women talk about getting followed. "Well that dude is under no obligation to stop following you, so quit worrying about it". Please try that.

"Danila, why would you expect some man to stop following you? He has no obligation to obey you. If you feel like you can't go home and must start a physical confrontation, and you get shot dead after getting the upper hand, it's your fault. That guy following you did nothing wrong."

Please try that. I just want to see what happens.
posted by cashman at 7:46 AM on April 23, 2012


I'd love to see this said in these mefi threads where women talk about getting followed

That would certainly be a good point if Trayvon had been a woman.

Anyway, I was just posting a mirror image scenario to the one mikelieman posted above, to show that "what you imagine happened" isn't really a very contentful way of thinking about things.
posted by unSane at 7:57 AM on April 23, 2012


Motive: confusing people about the difference between real-life criminal cases and The Movies for over 60 years.

Well...while it's not an element of the crime, my understanding (taken mostly from criminal defense attorney and blogger Jeralyn Merritt) is that the jury instructions for a second degree murder charge in Florida require that the jury conclude beyond reasonable doubt that the act was "done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent," and that there is substantial precedent that these things "usually require more than an instant to develop." So, in a practical sense, to get a second-degree murder conviction as opposed to manslaughter, it would be probably be extremely helpful to have what could be reasonably termed a motive.
posted by dsfan at 7:57 AM on April 23, 2012


Does the type of gun Zimmerman shot Trayvon with have a safety mechanism?
posted by cashman at 8:14 AM on April 23, 2012


That would certainly be a good point if Trayvon had been a woman.

Why is at that only a woman can be scared if someone is following her as she walks down the street alone at night? I am a big guy 6'2" a little over 300 pounds and if I was being followed while alone at night I would be scared at would probably start to panic.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:31 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyway, I was just posting a mirror image scenario to the one mikelieman posted above,...

Perhaps it's a symptom of your point of view that you don't see the difference in a command to stay put and a command to stop following someone.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:33 AM on April 23, 2012




Er, he apologized for the appearance of bad timing, not for the act of apologizing. The headlines for this are largely horseshit and shouldn't be reposted so freely.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shutterbun I wasn't talking about evidence in a court of law. I was replying to your statement that ...he would either have to batshit insane, suicidal, or way stupider than the average air-breather in order to do what folks think he did.

Like I wrote before all that is required is that Zimmerman be racist enough to fear Martin and that he thinks he's less likely to be punished. From there it's pretty easy for him to roll into a situation where he kills Martin without good reason. I admit that I can't see into Zimmerman's head so maybe the reason he thought Martin was a threat was some other reason than race but the evidence for him having a unreasonable fear of Martin is on the tapes. The Sanford PD's behavior after the shooting is all you need for a reasonable person to guess that they had a good chance of getting away with murder.
posted by rdr at 11:14 AM on April 23, 2012


he would either have to batshit insane, suicidal, or way stupider than the average air-breather in order to do what folks think he did.

Certainly you don't believe that every murderer can be classified with one of your three labels here, do you?
posted by holdkris99 at 12:38 PM on April 23, 2012


Or rather, every "person who kills another person" that is not at war.
posted by holdkris99 at 12:38 PM on April 23, 2012


Trayvon Martin shooting: Police chief in shooting quits. Politics or bad judgement on his part; it will be hard to tell. Maybe a little of column A and a little of column B.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:40 PM on April 23, 2012


Bill Lee, who was head of the Sanford Police Department in central Florida, will resign as of midnight under a separation submitted to him by Sanford City Manager Norman Bonaparte

That short, French bast..oh, wait.
posted by Subterranean Homesick Pygmalion at 12:55 PM on April 23, 2012


he would either have to batshit insane, suicidal, or way stupider than the average air-breather in order to do what folks think he did.

Or how about with just enough macho pride to be incredibly humiliated by being physically bested by a teenage boy to the point of shooting him. He tried to make Martin stay, Martin told him to fuck off, he then tried to physically prevent Martin from leaving and got beaten badly, at which point, in his anger and his pain, pulls the gun and after some deliberation, shoots him.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:14 PM on April 23, 2012


Not so fast - Bill Lee's (forced) resignation rejected.
"[Updated: 4:47 p.m., April 23: Sanford city officials later said that the chief would remain on paid administrative leave while the investigation continued and that Capt. Darren Scott would remain as acting police chief.]"
You can't fire me...I quit! You can't quit...you're not fired! Here, take some more cash and go play golf til this blows over.
posted by cashman at 5:18 PM on April 23, 2012


Certainly you don't believe that every murderer can be classified with one of your three labels here, do you?

Of course not. It's all the other stuff he did (call the police, etc.) that make me think "why would you do all that if you were armed and looking for trouble?" I mean, I'm sure it's been done before, but it certainly seems less likely to me.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:37 AM on April 24, 2012


Quoting multiple posters, so apologies for the scattershot response.

the evidence for him having a unreasonable fear of Martin is on the tapes.

That's highly debatable. All we really know is that he called in to a non-emergency line to report what he thought was a suspicious person, and subsequently followed him for some reason. If we take the transcript of the call at its word, Zimmerman didn't even seem entirely sure of Trayvon's race initially ("he *looks* black"), and was instead more concerned with the behavior itself, as opposed to the wardrobe or race of the person engaging in it. "Reasonable suspicion" is of course an appropriately nebulous term, open to a lot of interpretation. Suspicious packages get called in to police all the time, and they usually end up being nothing but misplaced luggage. That doesn't necessarily mean that the people who report them are being unreasonable.

Or how about with just enough macho pride to be incredibly humiliated by being physically bested by a teenage boy to the point of shooting him. He tried to make Martin stay, Martin told him to fuck off, he then tried to physically prevent Martin from leaving and got beaten badly, at which point, in his anger and his pain, pulls the gun and after some deliberation, shoots him.

That would be first degree murder.

in a practical sense, to get a second-degree murder conviction as opposed to manslaughter, it would be probably be extremely helpful to have what could be reasonably termed a motive.

Yeah, I can kinda see that. I think "frame of mind," or something like that would probably be the more likely legal term.

Obviously, one can find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time for either the right or wrong reasons. If some guy walks into a black neighborhood and erects a giant burning cross, and subsequently realizes that he has to shoot himself in order to avoid further beatings from a tire-iron, we can fairly say that his motives were really bad. But his "frame of mind" at the time was correct: avoid death by shooting the assailant. His "motive" for shooting had nothing to do with his avowed hatred of minorities, but rather his hatred of death. I mean, it's not as if our hypothetical racist would have avoided pulling the trigger if his assailant was white, would he? We can demonstrate he had a "depraved mind" and stuff, but it's a lot harder to prove that "that's why he pulled the trigger."

For a 2nd degree murder conviction, Zimmerman has to be pretty much "totally out of danger" when he pulls the trigger. It's almost worse than 1st degree murder, because his state of mind has to pretty much turn into the main character from the game "Doom." Shoot, because killing is what solves problems.

From the handful of other 2nd degree murders I've read about related to this case, it seems like the most common scenario is along the lines of "shooting a guy as he's running away from a fight." I can't really rule that out in this case (although we do know Trayvon was shot in the chest, not the back) but I think it would be very difficult to prove it, barring some earth-shattering revelation. I don't think the prosecutors can even remotely demonstrate that kind of scenario in this case (according to the affidavit) and as such, I think the charge is ill-conceived and not in the interest of justice. Over-charging in hopes of a guilty plea may be "business as usual" but it's not right. It's the same kind of bullshit that results in poor minorities with Public Defenders to plea bargain out of fear, as opposed to "justice," or "public interest." It's unfair *ANY* time it happens. If the prosecution had a reason to charge Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder, they would have stated it in the affidavit. Obviously, they didn't even come close.

There could very well be a case to be made against Zimmerman for manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder. Such a case has not yet been made, nor has probable cause been demonstrated. Calls for swift justice were met with exactly the kind of results haste usually produces: a mess.

I don't mean to suggest that "the easier viewpoint is generally the correct viewpoint" or any other bastardizaion of Occam's Razor, but if you were participating in a mock trial of this case, which side do you think would give you the best chance of winning?

If you conclude "well, Zimmerman would probably get acquitted, but that doesn't mean he's innocent!" I'd like to know what exactly convinces you that he's probably guilty. Are there specific, known aspects of the case that spell out "racist" or "profiling" or "whatever the legal definition of reckless endangerment is" for you? What are they?

Obviously, this sounds like a defiant challenge on my part, but I'd really be genuinely curious to hear a well thought-out "case against George Zimmerman," based on the evidence we all currently have access to. And before anyone says "oh, good grief, just go re-read everything we've been saying!" I'll point out that I've read it all, and I'm just not there.

This was called a racially motivated hate-crime from day one. Martin was black, young, unarmed, and got killed. Zimmerman was armed, non-black, and did the killing. Those were seen as the essential ingredients of a hate crime. Zimmerman's camp has been expected to defend what he did since day one. In that time, a lot of new evidence has come out. At *every* turn, all exculpatory evidence has been viewed with suspicion, while all incriminating evidence has been taken at face value.

Audio experts were called in to analyze the calls to police. We went from "fucking coons" to "fucking cold" and eventually someone settled on "fucking punks." At no point did the masses stop and ask: "who are these so-called experts?" Instead of them having to prove their credentials, others were tasked with deconstructing them. It proved to be a ludicrously easy task.

Then there was the police surveilance video. At first it was hailed as "proof" that Zimmerman had sustained no injuries. Then it was enhanced, and some people thought they saw something. Then they posted a picture of Zimmerman bleeding from his skull, exactly as the medics reported. Suddenly, the police video was non-important.

Of course, this kind of stuff happens all the time in "trial by media" cases. It's to be expected. "Everybody" knows this. Look how often the media has rushed to judgement on cases like this. And yet, so many people took the bait. The "bait" in this case was little more than "white/hispanic guy with checkered past shoots unarmed black teen." As soon as those facts were known, unbiased skepticism seemed to go completely out the window. That's OK. I admit my own skepticism has been biased against the prosecution to a measurable degree. But in my mind, that's as it should be at this particular point. Zimmerman is under no obligation to "demonstrate his innocence," nor should it be. It's like proving a negative. How can he possibly prove he didn't racially profile Martin?

I suspect I'm just ranting at this point, and have probably long since past the point of "length of posts people are willing to read in their entirety." In light of that:

TL,DR: if you were prosecuting Martin in a mock trial today, what would be the strongest provable points of your accusation?
posted by ShutterBun at 1:57 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


That would be first degree murder.

Maybe. Hard to prove. But plausible.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:18 AM on April 24, 2012



There could very well be a case to be made against Zimmerman for manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder. Such a case has not yet been made, nor has probable cause been demonstrated.


To prove Manslaughter only 2 elements must exist.

1) Trayvon Martin is dead.

2) George Zimmerman, through act or negligence, killed Trayvon Martin.

The only argument was whether Zimmerman was justified, but the facts we know clearly support manslaughter, and I don't believe that attempting to spin it any other way moves the discussion along.

And given that Zimmerman, in his very first hearing got up on the stand and contradicted the facts established in his call to the Police Dispatcher, we don't really have to give his testimony the benefit of any doubt.

Sure he's innocent until proven guilty, but once we discount his fairy tale, he has no defense against the known facts.

Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin through act or negligence.
posted by mikelieman at 6:04 AM on April 24, 2012


There's your Probable Cause.

Both elements of Manslaughter are satisfied and uncontested, and George Zimmerman is either lying on the stand, or lied to 9-1-1 the night he killed Trayvon Martin, and as a known liar, we don't have any obligation to give him the benefit of any doubt.

And given that we now know that Zimmerman's testimony is worthless, I understand why given all the other facts, that 2nd Degree Murder was charged.

"These Assholes Always Get Away". Then he chased after Martin.

Then he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman made sure Trayvon Martin didn't get away.
posted by mikelieman at 6:07 AM on April 24, 2012


Well, you've certainly convinced yourself.
posted by unSane at 6:33 AM on April 24, 2012


Well, me and all these here facts...
posted by mikelieman at 6:42 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is entirely tangential to the case.

I'm curious how people in an all-white gated community here in Wisconsin, where the middle-class Hispanic population is not particularly high, would react to Zimmerman. No matter his ethnic background, he would not be perceived as white by sight alone. If he were walking through the community in the daylight, I can almost guarantee someone would think he was a landscaper or roofer. If he were walking in the rain, in the dark, in a hoodie, through the backyards of houses, I can almost guarantee someone would find him suspicious.

Again, this is tangential conjecture and should not be construed as a statement that Z was or was not justified in his suspicion.
posted by desjardins at 7:26 AM on April 24, 2012


To prove Manslaughter only 2 elements must exist.

1) Trayvon Martin is dead.

2) George Zimmerman, through act or negligence, killed Trayvon Martin.


No, those elements prove homicide, which is simply the killing of one human being by another. Manslaughter is an unlawful homicide, to which numerous affirmative defenses (such as self-defense) exist.

And given that Zimmerman, in his very first hearing got up on the stand and contradicted the facts established in his call to the Police Dispatcher, we don't really have to give his testimony the benefit of any doubt.

Which facts would those be? I don't see any such mentioned in this transcription of his brief visit to the stand.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:20 AM on April 24, 2012


February 26, 2012


Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?

Zimmerman: He's got button on his shirt, late teens.


April 20, 2012


Zimmerman: I wanted to say I am very sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am, and I did not know if he was armed or not.
posted by mikelieman at 8:44 AM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


That's nothing. It's not so unusual to form a revised opinion of a first impression, or for that revised opinion to be mistaken. Subjectivity is so easily demonstrated and so familiar to most people that you can't make it the fulcrum of the case, as you do here. All it would take is for Martin to have had a deeper voice than Zimmerman anticipated, for example, for him to think 'hey, this guy sounds closer to 25.'

That's why his explanation of what sort of fight they got into is going to be key, because those assertions can be evaluated by a slightly more objective standard using forensics. For example, if Zimmerman were to claim that Martin punched him on the nose, and that Zimmerman started bleeding profusely, and that then Martin punched him on the nose again, you could then examine whether any of Zimmerman's blood ever turned up on Martin's knuckles or sleeves.

I agree that the hearing testimony is at odds with his remarks to the dispatcher, but the idea that you can then discount everything else that comes out of his mouth is facile. Juries are supposed to look at the whole context before making such determinations, and usually do, as best I can tell (because jury deliberations aren't subject to recording or explication).
posted by anigbrowl at 9:30 AM on April 24, 2012


To remind you, mikelieman's response was to your query:

Which facts would those be? I don't see any such mentioned in this transcription of his brief visit to the stand.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:15 AM on April 24, 2012


There could very well be a case to be made against Zimmerman for manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder. Such a case has not yet been made, nor has probable cause been demonstrated. Calls for swift justice were met with exactly the kind of results haste usually produces: a mess.

Well, I haven't been calling for swift justice, but a deliberative process that evaluates evidence in a transparent manner in such a way to satisfy a sense that justice has been done. Zimmermann's swift exoneration by the police and state's attorney failed that test.

I don't even believe that it was necessarily a strictly racist action by Zimmermann, although as I've said above, based on my own experiences as a neighborhood watch volunteer his actions go far beyond what such volunteers are tasked with and trained for, and he begins his call with what feels to me, with my own extensive experience, to be an unreasonable degree of unfounded suspicion lacking in any communication of overt acts requiring police intervention. I do feel that the investigation and exoneration may have had elements of systemic racism when compared to other shootings, and more generally, I feel the SYG law itself is probably in essence racist, in that it creates law enforcement situations that are far more likely to exonerate whites to the point where they can kill blacks with impunity for the least reason.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


To remind you, mikelieman's response was to your query:

I know that, but I think his claim that this is so blatant the rest of his testimony can safely be ignored is massive overstatement.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:32 PM on April 24, 2012


I suspect he thought Trayvon is much older when he got punched real hard.
posted by rainy at 2:20 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marissa Alexander's sentencing delayed (possible retrial?). Also, additional information, not that familiar with this site. Not trying to derail the thread, but this is definitely of interest if this lady can fire a warning shot after someone she has a restraining order out on confronts her in her own home (whether kids were present or not) and hurt no one, and be facing 20-life, and someone else can shoot a person who was watching a basketball game and stopped to go to the store, dead in the chest, killing them, and get off scott free.
posted by cashman at 2:22 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]



I know that, but I think his claim that this is so blatant the rest of his testimony can safely be ignored is massive overstatement.


Well, that and ALL THE OTHER discrepancies add up to viewing Zimmerman's account of the evening without giving him the benefit of any doubts.

There is a reasonable doubt to his self defense claims if he's shown to be, as we have some evidence for, that's he's a lying sack of shit.

And without the benefit of the doubt, he can't overcome not being able to explain WHY Trayvon Martin would have attacked him without provocation. His story is so shoddy that it began falling apart during the probable cause hearing. Is there any wonder why the State feels they have enough for conviction if this is the course the examination of his claims is going to take?

Which makes a straightforward case of "was it Manslaughter or Murder 2?"
posted by mikelieman at 2:52 PM on April 24, 2012


I also browsed back across this Washington Post story where Tracy Martin relays what police told him directly, two days after the shooting (this is obviously what Zimmerman claimed).
"A police detective told the father of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin that his son initiated two confrontations with the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot him."
I'd forgotten that claim. Interesting.
"Trayvon Martin walked up to Zimmerman’s vehicle and asked why he was following him. Zimmerman denied following the youth and rolled up the car window. Minutes after Trayvon walked away, Zimmerman got out of his vehicle."
So he was clearly following Trayvon, but told police he was not following Trayvon. I wonder what his story will be during the trial.
"Then came the second encounter, according to Tracy Martin’s recollection of the detective’s account. Trayvon Martin appeared from behind a building in Zimmerman’s gated community, approached him and demanded, “What’s your problem, homie?”

When Zimmerman replied that he didn’t have a problem, Martin said, “You do now.” The unarmed teenager hit Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground, pinned him down and told him to “shut the [expletive] up.”

During the beating, Zimmerman pulled his gun and fired one shot at close range into Martin’s chest. “You got me,” the teenager said, falling backward. "
I bet it was "you shot me" but no one will ever really know. That poor kid. We know from the 911 call that Zimmerman was following Trayvon. Following him in his car, then getting out and following on foot.

If this were to happen to me today, Trayvon's path of action makes complete sense. Some guy keeps following you - don't lead him to your door where your kid brother and family are if the guy is following you in his car and then on foot - neutralize the threat. Don't become a victim, right? Go down swinging. If Zimmerman stops stalking Trayvon after the first (presumed) encounter, nothing happens.

I go back to what Cosby was saying about his actions when he had a gun. Zimmerman had that gun loaded and ready to fire. He kept following Trayvon, putting himself in conflict with many a reasonable person getting stalked by someone, knowing he could shoot his way out of it.

I still don't see how it would be Zimmerman's voice on the tape, but I guess we'll see what happens with that. We know through Trayvon's gf that he was startled that some man was following him. Again, I'm the same way. If something scares me, after a minute, fight or flight kicks in and you want to be the aggressor and get the first strike in. But anyway, Trayvon was the one startled, carrying candy and ice tea, and unarmed. Zimmerman was the one that was upset, aggressive, and pursuing.

From the call, from his demeanor in the police video, from everything, he has that same air about him. So how does he go from that constant demeanor that we've seen, to suddenly screaming for help, when he was rocking a 9mm the whole time. When those eyewitnesses Mary Cutcher (sp) talked to him, they relayed that same demeanor - deadpan - "Just call the police". Everything Zimmerman is that same demeanor, but somehow he was screaming like a 17-year-old on the tape? But whatever, I guess we'll see how that shakes out.

without the benefit of the doubt, he can't overcome not being able to explain WHY Trayvon Martin would have attacked him without provocation.

It's clear, to me, that Zimmerman started the whole encounter. The kid was watching a basketball game and ran out for snacks for his little brother. I mean shit.
posted by cashman at 2:58 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


WAPost link. (3/28)
posted by cashman at 2:59 PM on April 24, 2012


When Zimmerman replied that he didn’t have a problem, Martin said, “You do now.” The unarmed teenager hit Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground, pinned him down and told him to “shut the [expletive] up.”

If that account stands, Zimmerman will walk.
posted by unSane at 3:30 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Something weird is going on with regard to what is, to me, one of the most damning "facts" against Zimmerman.

Numerous sources had reported earlier that Det. Serino, the homicide detective, did not buy Z's story and wanted to charge him with manslaughter; but he was overruled by someone in the State Attorney's office and subsequently filed an affidavit stating that he belieived the manslaughter charge held weight.

According to Trayvon Martin's father, Det. Serino, "told him he would challenge Zimmerman's account.

"The detective's words were, 'I want to interview him again

to catch him in a lie,'" Martin said."


But in a session attended by Chief Lee and others (unnamed) with the Orlando Sentinel near the middle of March, Serino said, "The best evidence we have is the testimony of George Zimmerman, and he says the decedent was the primary aggressor in the whole event. Everything I have is adding up to what he says."

This confuses me. I'm curious as to how this particular aspect of the case is going to shake out. If Martin is telling the truth, was Serino just trying to make him feel better when he expressed doubt about Z's story when they spoke given how he later appears to have done a complete 180? It's worth considering that statement from Serino, given in the presence of his chief and likely other officers, is the only direct quote from him that I've seen in reporting.

I also want to know why Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs and alcohol and John Doe'd. That still burns me up.

God, so much about this entire event is just...off.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:34 PM on April 24, 2012


I haven't followed the Marissa Alexander case closely, but from a legal standpoint an existing domestic arrangement makes matters enormously more complicated, as there are all sorts of duties and privileges that come into the picture; doubly so when there are kids involved. Battered woman cases where the expectation of harm may be based on past incidences rather than immediate events are also legally thorny. Finally, I'm not sure what the judge's reasoning process for turning down the SYG motion was.

There's a docket here but I'd have to pay copying fees to read the judge's orders explaining why she turned the motion down. This is the husband's deposition deposition. There's a dispute about the sequence of events, and (surprise) it's a good bit more complex than most of the blog summaries. I really can't tell whether these two documents are a good summary of the dispute or if they were cherry-picked to suit the defense argument.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:51 PM on April 24, 2012


That doesn't sound like a complete 180.. He was informally saying that he suspects Zimmerman is lying and will try to catch him in a lie. He presumably was not able to, and then made a formal statement that all data he has "is adding up to what he said". He may still suspect Zimmerman lied, but may not have anything to back it up in an official statement.

I think when Zimmerman got arrested at first he must have told the detectives Trayvon acted strangely, as if on drugs, and his best hope was that a test would show drugs in his system, and then his case is much stronger. It's not a bad thing - otherwise Zimmerman could claim in court that Trayvon looked and acted drugged, and the test proves he wasn't.
posted by rainy at 3:54 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


He may still suspect Zimmerman lied, but may not have anything to back it up in an official statement.

rainy, that's a good point. Upon reflection, I agree that it's perhaps not a complete 180, especially since it's not clear whether Det Serino did in fact have an opportunity to interview Z again and catch him in a lie.

By the way, a comment on a blog post from the excellent Ta-Nehisi Coates has led me to consider a possible answer to a question that has long bugged me and also given me another reason to doubt Zimmerman's account that has Martin acting like somebody straight out of central casting for the role of Young Black Thug #3.

Like many, I have wondered why, since he was so close to his father's house, Trayvon didn't just go all the way home. But a poster there pointed out something I'd forgotten -- something that does not appear to come up in much of the reporting on this incident: Brandi Green's 14 year old son was at home by himself after Trayvon went out for snacks.

If I'm being followed by someone who's making me quite nervous --as the young lady who last spoke to him alleges Z made Trayvon feel -- there's no way I'm leading this sketchy person back to the house when my 14 year old near step-brother is by himself, and the adults won't be back for several hours, and I know 9-1-1 is a joke. No way in hell.

So given that he had his 14 year old "stepbrother" waiting for him, why on earth is Martin going to, out of the blue, attack Ziimerman, knowing that if anything -- anything at all -- happens to him that prevents him from making it back, Chad is going to have no idea where he is and what's happened to him. I don't think that adds up.

Also, I grew up in a rough neighborhood, and I think most of the people "in the game" there would have been very slow, when they were unarmed and alone, to confront someone whose armed/unarmed status they couldn't ascertain. Yet Zimmerman would have us believe Martin, with no history of such conduct, all of a sudden came harder than hard at him.

So at this point, I'm sure Z is not telling the truth. And I'm also sure he's going to walk.
posted by lord_wolf at 4:16 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So he was clearly following Trayvon, but told police he was not following Trayvon. I wonder what his story will be during the trial.

Well, that's an excerpted account of what Martin's father says a detective said Zimmerman told him - so it's a third-hand account, or hearsay of hearsay. The testimonial value of that is zero, because there's so much room for misunderstanding or misremembrance. Whereas the audio recording of the call to the police is evidence, a media interview in which A is told by B what C said that D told him is two or even three steps removed, and you can't compare things on a point-by-point basis. The whole reason for the hearsay rule is that people are just terrible at accurately recounting what they were told, so courts won't even allow it into evidence except is very rare circumstances.

Now if Zimmerman's statements to police following the shooting are in direct conflict with the recording of his call to the dispatcher, or with forensic evidence, that's a whole other kettle of fish. there you either have the recording of a trained observer (police investigator on the spot) or possibly even a sworn statement signed by Zimmerman himself, so discrepancies there count for a lot.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:25 PM on April 24, 2012


Yeah, only in the days afterward, George's father Robert Zimmerman said George told him that too - that George never followed Trayvon.

Additionally, less than 24 hours after George killed Trayvon, George also told his brother Robert Zimmerman Jr. that he never followed Trayvon.
posted by cashman at 5:15 PM on April 24, 2012


Again, inadmissible hearsay. I've said a few times that I think a conviction is quite likely (more so than some other people here), but strictly based on the 911 call and the limited amount of forensic information that's around so far.

I've actually been avoiding reading/listening to interviews, analysis and so on because whenever I'm studying actual cases those tend to be ambiguous subjective issues that get in the way of the verifiable facts - the kind of thing people like to throw into legal exams as traps for the unwary. For all I know Zimmerman might have gone home and said 'oh god, I'm a bad person, I did that kid in' and his father and brother are in denial. So when there's a case like this, I assume everything said outside of court by third parties (even the lawyers, in some contexts) is irrelevant BS, since it probably won't be admissible anyway.

The sort of things I'm wondering about is what sort of cellphones did Zimmerman and Martin have, were they GPS capable, were there identifiable footprints, and other mechanistic things like that.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:27 PM on April 24, 2012


As someone stated before, this is a discussion on a message board, not the trial. If you have nothing to discuss until a trial, please do not quote my posts and reply to me, because I am discussing available information related to this case, currently. We'll just end up talking past one another.

The information in published reports and through interviews seems to reveal that Zimmerman did follow Trayvon, while he told the Police, his Dad, and his brother that he did not follow Trayvon.
posted by cashman at 6:56 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


To prove Manslaughter only 2 elements must exist.

1) Trayvon Martin is dead.

2) George Zimmerman, through act or negligence, killed Trayvon Martin.


You forgot a major part of point 2, which includes the phrase "without lawful justification."

To get a manslaughter conviction, they will have to prove that Zimmerman was either:
A: not it a situation which a reasonable person would conclude was threatening to his life or personal safety,

or

B: responsible for starting the fight, AND had not exhausted all avenues of escape before shooting, even if he was in reasonable fear for his safety.

"Stand Your Ground" will complicate this, because traditionally, if you start a fight and then get the crap beat out of you, you're expected to attempt to extricate yourself from the conflict before resorting to deadly force. But, in the event you are NOT able to extricate yourself from the fight, you are authorized to use deadly force if you're in fear for your safety, even if you started the fight.

So again, the case is not nearly so simple as "who shot who." It is incumbent on the prosecution to demonstrate that Zimmerman was not in reasonable fear for his life or safety at the moment he shot Martin, pretty much "no matter what" the other circumstances were.

They will have to either demonstrate that Zimmerman's wounds were totally superficial, that eyewitnesses completely contradict him, or in some other way that they really don't think Zimmerman was in reasonable fear for his safety.

There is NOTHING even approaching that in the charging affidavit. Again, all the stuff about Zimmerman profiling, following Martin, even provoking the fight...that doesn't matter unless they are pursuing a scenario wherein Zimmerman had a chance to leave the fight but didn't. Or, I suppose they could offer a scenario in which Zimmerman was so flagrantly antagonistic to Martin (i.e. goading Martin into attacking him with excessive force just so he could shoot him in "self defense") that he could be found culpable for the whole series of events. I haven't seen any evidence to suggest such a scenario, and the fact that it can't be ruled out is no reason to accept it as a probable cause at this point, in light of the anemic evidence they've presented in the affidavit.

I can see why the prosecution would want to play their cards close to their chest at this point, but they've got to give The People "something," and they haven't really given anything. Their statement of sworn facts wouldn't make it past the Kansas City Star's editorial desk when it comes to attribution and corroboration.

I'd love to see a case made against a racist who guns down teenagers due to prejudice or recklessness. I've yet to see that here, though.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:48 AM on April 25, 2012


there's no way I'm leading this sketchy person back to the house when my 14 year old near step-brother is by himself

That's a pretty decent and plausible explanation for something that, really, not that many people have seemed to be hung up on. It's a curiosity, for sure. "Why didn't he just run straight home? Because he didn't want to lead a suspicious person back to his house."

It's a necessary limitation of the case that we can really only speculate on Martin's motivations, since he's not going to be around to tell his side of things. And yet Zimmerman, despite being alive, has been almost as silent as Martin throughout this, with only second or third hand interviews being attributed to him, and a few brief statements at his bail hearing.

We feel less compelled to give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt, because he's presumably going to be around to explain his side of things. And yet, if we never hear from him again about this particular issue (which is entirely possible) the answer was already there for us to hear, in his own words.

"Oh crap, I don't want to give it [my address] all out, I don't know where this kid is."

If Martin is to be afforded a reasonable explanation for his actions via sheer deduction, oughtn't Zimmerman at least be afforded the same, considering that he specifically said it on tape?

Zimmerman's statements on the tapes have been used by some to catch him in "lies" later on. (i.e. his assessment of Martin's age, etc.) What about the part where he says he "lost" Martin, that "he ran," or that he "doesn't know where this kid is"? Does that really sound like he was following him? Maybe "attempting to follow," but from the sound of things, Martin could have easily lost him and slipped back home & locked the door undetected, not that he was obliged to do so.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:07 AM on April 25, 2012


They will have to either demonstrate that Zimmerman's wounds were totally superficial

Done. Notice the way the responding EMTs didn't even transport him to an ER for treatment, or for even any diagnostic imaging to rule out any head trauma they couldn't see. Which I imagine would be a concern *IF* Zimmerman's claims of being in danger of Great Bodily Harm were true.
posted by mikelieman at 5:31 AM on April 25, 2012


Diagnostic imaging is not SOP for all head injuries. I've had two that required stitches and caused concussions. In one I hit my heead on a concrete curb at relatively high speed (sledding). This was undoubtedly WORSE than if someone had slammed me into the sidewalk during a fight. I did pass out, I bled a lot, and required stitches, but no CAT scan or MRI.
posted by desjardins at 6:14 AM on April 25, 2012


The apparent superficiality of Zimmerman's wounds has no meaning from a legal point of view. The SYG statute requires only a reasonable belief of imminent great bodily harm or death, not that such harms be actually suffered.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:44 AM on April 25, 2012


I did pass out, I bled a lot, and required stitches, but no CAT scan or MRI.

You should have received at a bare minimum a neurological examination and consideration of imaging for evidence of bleeding. Malpractice, if not.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:46 AM on April 25, 2012


Apparently, Alan Dershowitz agrees that the prosecutors have no case.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:30 AM on April 25, 2012


Dershowitz: This is so thin that it won't make it past the judge on a second-degree murder charge.

And yet it "made it past the Judge" who used it as the basis for the warrant he signed to arrest George Zimmerman on second-degree murder.

Fascinating.
posted by mikelieman at 10:05 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikelieman, I believe the usual standard of proof for an arrest warrant is simply probable cause (and the story refers to an affidavit of probable cause). That's a far cry from the standard of proof required to pass a prelim or whatever equivalent is in the Florida courts. At the very least there will be an evidentiary hearing. Essentially, the judge felt there was enough there to require both sides to present their arguments, nothing more.

In a month, when he has his first hearing, we may know more about what both sides will be presenting at trial. That is the point at which Dershowitz expects the dismissal, but it almost certainly depends on things that are not in the affidavit, possibly intentionally.

One of the things of interest, should the case proceed past that initial point, is whether Zimmerman will take a bench or jury trial. Do his attorneys believe that he could take the stand in his own defense and have his word believed? Or is he prone (as some comments and leaks imply) to contradicting his own story?

What about the part where he says he "lost" Martin, that "he ran," or that he "doesn't know where this kid is"? Does that really sound like he was following him?

Actually, yes, yes it does. It sounds like he was attempting to follow him and failed.

Look, Martin was clearly potentially lost -- he may have missed his turn, if you've seen the map of the sub, and it was now dark enough that he was trying to figure out where he was. That's plausible because he'd barely spent any time there. Zimmerman, on the other hand, was a roving vigilante by habit and you really can't seriously suggest it makes sense that he had no idea where he was and needed to exit the vehicle he was in to read a street sign (signs which are, by design, placed for viewing by vehicle operators). Again, I don't pretend to understand his state of mind, but based on my experience doing almost exactly the same sort of neighborhood watch activity, he's lying. I don't know why. I don't know why the lies and the fear come out of that recording and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. There's something more to this story, something we may never find out. But he's afraid, almost freaked out, from the beginning of the call, and his actions during the call make no rational sense to me.

I have no idea how a jury will react to that, but that's what I focus on.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 AM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, Dershowitz's point is that the PC affidavit, which is sufficient for its intended purpose, isn't sufficient for things which it was never intended for.

Got it. Dershowitz is performing for the audience, and saying the things his publicist says will get him free publicity.
posted by mikelieman at 11:31 AM on April 25, 2012


>Zimmerman, on the other hand, was a roving vigilante by habit...

Viglante: A vigilante is a private individual (or (pl.) group of individuals) who presumes to carry out extralegal punishment in defiance of existing law.

I think using highly loaded language does not contribute the discussion. By habit, he was a tattle. I see zero evidence of prior attempts to carry out punishment, legal or extralegal.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:56 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Done. Notice the way the responding EMTs didn't even transport him to an ER for treatment, or for even any diagnostic imaging to rule out any head trauma they couldn't see. Which I imagine would be a concern *IF* Zimmerman's claims of being in danger of Great Bodily Harm were true.

I made this point several days ago - but I also considered the possibility that the EMTs might have been grossly negligent in not taking him to hospital. I don't know what Florida's laws are about refusing treatment, eg if you're scared of doctors. That too could be a factor.

Now the probability is that his head injury was indeed superficial, and calls his claims about danger of death into question. But probabilities are not facts, and observing that there's a high probability of something is not the same as proving it. A lot of people think that if you know A, B, C, D and E with 90% probability, you can conclude F with 99.999% probability. In fact, there's only a 54% probability that F is true. Arguments populated with words like 'clearly' and 'obviously' generally contain gaps in their reasoning. So my advice to other people discussing this topic would be stop focusing on the result you think is appropriate. Refine your process and the result will take care of itself.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:02 PM on April 25, 2012


I see zero evidence of prior attempts to carry out punishment, legal or extralegal.

Why, in defiance of all rational advice to neighborhood watch organizations, did he carry a gun, then?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:17 PM on April 25, 2012


The apparent superficiality of Zimmerman's wounds has no meaning from a legal point of view. The SYG statute requires only a reasonable belief of imminent great bodily harm or death, not that such harms be actually suffered.

True, but if I got in a punch-up and received a superficial wound, my belief in great imminent danger might not be reasonable. Say you punch me in the nose and I'm bleeding; it doesn't necessarily follow that you're going to significantly escalate the level of violence to deadly levels. Since the onus is on Zimmerman to justify his belief, it seems to me that the apparent superficiality of his injuries belies his claim about the severity of the attack upon him.

I've been mugged or or assaulted on the street quite a few times, including attacks by groups or with weapons; my experience is that street fights proceed by fits and starts rather than inevitably proceeding to an all-or-nothing conclusion. And I'm a small guy; it's not like I have the option of tanking my way through a fight. Still, I'm always skeptical whenever I encounter claims of the 'it happened so fast' variety.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:42 PM on April 25, 2012



Why, in defiance of all rational advice to neighborhood watch organizations, did he carry a gun, then?


In defense, not of Zimmerman but legitimate N/W programs, Zimmerman wasn't patrolling on behalf of N/W that night.

Of course, his chain of negligent actions is still a mile long even without that. The thing is really, if Zimmerman was N/W TRAINED, then he was TRAINED never to pursue or confront anyone, and that HIS JOB was done after he called 9-1-1.
posted by mikelieman at 2:52 PM on April 25, 2012


Why, in defiance of all rational advice to neighborhood watch organizations, did he carry a gun, then?

I don't think it's irrational to carry a weapon to defend yourself, nor does it prove you've been in the habit of punishing or even threatening people people. I've never had a gun and I find gun nuts incredibly tedious to be around, but not all gun owners are gun nuts. I really can't tell whether Zimmerman was an obsessive with an itchy trigger finger or had had a few close calls and bought a gun 'just in case'. Either possibility is plausible.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2012


Of course, his chain of negligent actions is still a mile long even without that. The thing is really, if Zimmerman was N/W TRAINED, then he was TRAINED never to pursue or confront anyone, and that HIS JOB was done after he called 9-1-1.

mikelieman, that's wrong on multiple levels. Negligence doesn't even apply here, and won't be the basis of any civil wrongful death suit filed against Zimmerman. I don't know why you would think that it would, because the various flavors of assault and battery that have been alleged by people on different sides would be superseding causes that would render allegations of negligence moot. If, say, Zimmerman's following of Martin had spooked Martin to start running away, only to surprise some arriving police officers who shot him by mistake, then you could argue Zimmerman was negligent. But since Zimmerman and Martin got into some sort of avoidable altercation which ended with Zimmerman shooting Martin, the issue of negligence doesn't even arise.

Also, your argument is not more persuasive for being partially rendered in capital letters.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:19 PM on April 25, 2012


I see zero evidence of prior attempts to carry out punishment, legal or extralegal.

I found some interesting allegations on both sides which I haven't seen here.

A blog sourcing the New York Daily Post reported that a former co-worker at a security firm said Zimmerman was fired for being too aggressive, that he had a temper and a tendency to snap. The blog also said there were several complaints about Zimmerman following people overzealously in the neighborhood, including complaints to the Sanford PD. And of course there's the charge of domestic abuse against him (dropped after he counterfiled) and his charge of assaulting an officer (pled down and resolved through pre-trail diversion, which is essentially a guilty plea).

On the other side, the Miami Herald reported that Trayvon was suspended from school another time for writing graffiti, and that school officials found 12 pieces of jewelry, a watch and a screwdriver in his backpack, which they felt could be evidence of burglary. They turned the items over to Miami police who did not connect the items to any reported crimes. I wonder if the latter would be relevant to the case unless police could show that Zimmerman knew about this before he started following Trayvon. Martin has a pretty airtight alibi for burglary on this night whatever he may have done before. And it's not punished by the death penalty in any case.
posted by msalt at 3:22 PM on April 25, 2012


I hadn't seen the Zimmerman thing before, but the Trayvon thing was reported a while back, when the mj traces thing came out.

've been mugged or or assaulted on the street quite a few times, including attacks by groups or with weapons

Good god, that's awful! I'm sorry that has happened to you.
posted by cashman at 4:43 PM on April 25, 2012


Eh, not really. Sometimes it's because I've been living or visiting a rough neighborhood, plus I'm small and have a youngish face so people have often mistaken me for an easy mark. Not that it's pleasant to be attacked, but I'm able to take care of myself physically and mentally. Lots of people have to deal with much worse.

This is why I'm not all that exercised about the 'stand your ground' law. Actually, I don't think you should have to run if someone launches an attack on you; it's more effective to fight in many cases, and I think healthier as well (in terms of how you process the events afterwards).

I'm a lot more worried about the wide availability of firearms, especially given that today's highly engineered handguns would have been massive force multipliers back when the 2nd amendment was inserted into the constitution. I don't know what can be done about that in a way that will yield results in the present. I mean, this situation in Florida is the sort of conflict that should have ended with nothing worse than a fat lip and an anger management program.

Gun advocates (as in this example) seem to fall into a mindset of thinking every threat has a high probability of being fatal, and that it's safer to shoot as a prophylaxis. But this just isn't true. Sure, nobody wants to get beaten, but I would rather be in 10 unwelcome fistfights than be shot with a bullet. To my mind part of the problem is that police officers receive relatively little physical training in many jurisdictions, and as such are somewhat over-reliant on their tools. But only part of it.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:21 PM on April 25, 2012


Trayvon was suspended from school another time for writing graffiti...

Really? Really? You're saying that with a straight face?
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:20 PM on April 25, 2012


I'm failing to see how Trayvon's alleged past misbehavior is of any relevance to the case. Or Zimmerman's, for that matter. Someone's hotheadedness in the past is not evidence of guilt in a particular situation. Is that stuff even admissible if he doesn't testify? (my understanding is that if he does testify, it could be used to impeach his credibility.)
posted by desjardins at 12:27 AM on April 26, 2012


"Blame the Victim". When the victim is black in the south, it's like a knee-jerk reaction. It's why Zimmerman was able to sell his insane fairy-tale when people weren't paying close attention. I expect that Serrano's affidavit contradicting Bill Lee's public statements had some small part.
posted by mikelieman at 5:46 AM on April 26, 2012


>>Trayvon was suspended from school another time for writing graffiti...
>Really? Really? You're saying that with a straight face?


You're being disengenous. I pointed out a couple links I hadn't seen here, the main one implicating Zimmerman. You single out the one on Martin, and cut out the main point -- that he had what school officials thought was a bunch of stolen jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack. I noted that the situation was ambiguous. I'm sharing information likely to come up in discussions with non-Metafilter people (or even Shutterbun), so yes, I think it's useful to be aware of that information.

Desjardins -- I don't know the legal rule on priors, but for my personal information, the fact that Zimmerman was fired from a security job for snapping and overreacting is a very relevant point. I was also responding to a comment from someone who said they saw no evidence of prior attempts by Zimmerman to carry out punishment, legal or extralegal. The source wasn't clear but it sounds like he was beating people the house parties where he did security, beyond the call of duty.
posted by msalt at 10:21 AM on April 26, 2012


he had what school officials thought was a bunch of stolen jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack.

And the Miami police did not think they were stolen. Who knows the real story, but if Zimmerman thought Martin was a burglar, it's not because of that, and the jewelry is not evidence that Martin intended to burgle any houses in the gated community. Therefore: irrelevant. My problem is that you framed it as "the other side [of the story]" when the two (Zimmerman's temper, Martin's alleged misbehavior) are not at all equivalent.
posted by desjardins at 10:36 AM on April 26, 2012


You single out the one on Martin, and cut out the main point -- that he had what school officials thought was a bunch of stolen jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack.

No, I was objecting to you loading the dice with the graffiti thing. Stolen stuff is relevant to burglaries, even though that is probably a red herring as well.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:23 AM on April 26, 2012


I think using highly loaded language does not contribute the discussion. By habit, he was a tattle. I see zero evidence of prior attempts to carry out punishment, legal or extralegal.

Loaded language? Zimmerman was the one with the loaded weapon for fuck's sake. Loaded with a clip and a shell chambered, and then with an extra shell replacing the empty space in the clip. And this wasn't just theoretical, because somebody ended up, uh, dead.

In any event, you've chosen one of the more negative definitions of vigilante, which more broadly means someone who takes the protection of their property and neighborhood or town unto themselves. I have no trouble with labeling an unofficial, unregistered neighborhood watch, who appoints an untrained volunteer captain, as a vigilante committee, and especially one who ignores all principles of neighborhood watch and arms himself, as well as following a person who has committed no obvious crime AND exits his vehicle with the apparent intent of confronting him. Remember, I do this myself. The guy is way outside the boundaries of what this job is supposed to be, almost from the beginning of his call -- and certainly from the point where he ignores the operator telling him "we don't need you to [follow Martin]". Thus, my experienced opinion is that he is a vigilante acting under the color of law.

Back to his state of mind. Reuters now has a backgrounder indicating, among other things, that Zimmerman had an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather, so was up to around 12.5% ethnically black, and his mother babysat a couple of black kids, which the rightwing blogs are trumpeting as EVIDENCE HE CANNOT BE RACIST (of course ignoring as they always do that racism is not a state of mind but a cultural system of outcomes). Additionally, they relate a series of burglaries in the neigbhorhood, including at least one home invasion while the occupant was in her home. At least one of those perpetrators was caught, but the article quotes a black neighbor anonymously saying "black boys" were doing the crimes, suggesting that she supports the profiling theory. Interesting considering the Miami Herald story linked by msalt above.
posted by dhartung at 11:26 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread seems to have gone a little insane. Zimmerman might have known about Martin's having some jewelry and a screwdriver (which the cops didn't think anything of?) If Zimmerman knew who Martin was he would have known where his father lived and could have just spoken to him. There would be no need to follow him or pull a gun or whatever.
Desjardins -- I don't know the legal rule on priors, but for my personal information, the fact that Zimmerman was fired from a security job for snapping and overreacting is a very relevant point. I was also responding to a comment from someone who said they saw no evidence of prior attempts by Zimmerman to carry out punishment, legal or extralegal. The source wasn't clear but it sounds like he was beating people the house parties where he did security, beyond the call of duty.
Zimmerman is the one on trial here, not Martin. The only question is whether or not martin provoked the fight, which has nothing to do with graffiti or screwdrivers in a bag. There would need to be some evidence of Martin picking fights to matter.

The fact that Zimmerman had a temper is very relevant.
posted by delmoi at 11:54 AM on April 26, 2012


Just came to post that Reuters piece dhartung linked above. Definitely a must-read.

Things just escalated and escalated and it seems like in Zimmerman's mind, he'd come to be the protector of the neighborhood. He did what this society does - profiles black males. Trayvon was walking while black.
posted by cashman at 12:09 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman was the one with the loaded weapon for fuck's sake. Loaded with a clip and a shell chambered, and then with an extra shell replacing the empty space in the clip.

That is chilling. I'd asked about that previously in the thread, and I never went back and researched it. So Zimmerman was walking around ready to kill, with an extra bullet (Orlando Sentinel reports the clip was full).
This means "Zimmerman loaded the gun, racked the slide to put a round in the chamber (reducing the number of bullets in the magazine by one), removed the magazine, put another round in the magazine, then replaced the magazine in the gun." In simpler terms, Zimmerman went through the trouble of chambering a shell and then reloading the magazine to full so that the gun would be ready to fire immediately, plus have an extra round.
So Zimmerman was walking around ready to kill. Followed Trayvon in his car. Got out of the car with his gun on him. Made sure the gun was loaded. Made sure the gun had one in the chamber. Made sure the gun had an extra bullet. Made sure the safety was off (not sure exactly which Kel Tec he had, but a good chance it had a safety).

"These assholes always get away". "Fucking punks". Zimmerman was driving around ready to kill. Remember, George just said lah-de-dah, I was just going to the grocery store. He went to the grocery store with his gun on him, loaded, with extra bullets, safety off?

I hope if he testifies the prosecution goes through all of this. I just want to hear his rationale. I want to hear him describe when he loaded the gun, why he took it with him to the grocery store, why he had extra bullets in the chamber, why he followed Trayvon in his car, got out, and then followed trayvon on foot, with his loaded gun, with extra bullets, ready to fire. He says he came face to face with Trayvon, said he had no problem, and then reached into his jacket or pocket to get his cell phone - that could have been him going for his gun. Somebody follows you in their car, follows you on foot, then they reach for something (and he not only had a gun, it was loaded, had extra ammo, and was ready to fire), that's a dangerous move to me if this happens to me tonight. I think you're going for a weapon - clearly you've been following me, stalking me. Now I'm supposed to think you're just pulling out your iPhone to play Angry Birds?

Apparently there is a hearing tomorrow where media attorneys will argue for release of all the info - the crime scene photos, the police interview, autopsy reports, everything. I doubt they'll get it, but the release of the 911 calls sure turned this case bigtime, so if they do release all that information, whoa nelly.
posted by cashman at 4:30 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't the article you linked describe how he got the gun because he and his wife were threatened by a pit bull and a cop told him to get a gun because "mace will take 3 seconds to work and the dog can jump you in quarter of a second"?
posted by rainy at 4:46 PM on April 26, 2012


So Zimmerman was walking around ready to kill. Followed Trayvon in his car. Got out of the car with his gun on him. Made sure the gun was loaded. Made sure the gun had one in the chamber. Made sure the gun had an extra bullet. Made sure the safety was off (not sure exactly which Kel Tec he had, but a good chance it had a safety).

Eh...

anyone who has a loaded gun is arguably ready to kill. There's no evidence (so far) that Zimmerman went through the business of configuring the gun this way while watching Martin. That might have been the way he was taught to load it up at his local pistol range. As I said above, I've never owned a gun, and in fact I've never even fired one or loaded one or anything else. But any time I've thought about how one might load a gun (say, after watching a crime movie involving people shooting at each other), loading, chambering, and reloading seemed entirely logical to me. I carry spares for lots of other things, so if I had a gun I think I would keep it fully loaded as a matter of course. As for the safety catch, the few unloaded guns that I have inspected which had a safety catch were all designed in such a way that it could be quickly disengaged with the user's thumb. Again, it seems logical to me that one would develop a habit of thumbing off the safety catch when drawing a gun. There's not much point in drawing a gun if it isn't going to be operable when you point it at something/someone you may need or want to shoot. My understanding is that the point of a safety catch is to prevent accidental discharges when the weapon in placed in a holster or set down somewhere. A quick google search says that Zimmerman had a Kel-Tec PF-9.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:06 PM on April 26, 2012


And IIRC the PF-9 has automagic safeties and as a DAO, all Zimmerman had to do when he killed Trayvon Martin was to draw the weapon, aim, and squeeze.

Is it any surprise if a "loose cannon" armed with a bad temper, an unhealthy amount of paranoia, and a weapon which didn't put even the most basic of impediments to its firing ended up killing an innocent person?
posted by mikelieman at 6:16 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doesn't the article you linked describe how he got the gun because he and his wife were threatened by a pit bull and a cop told him to get a gun because "mace will take 3 seconds to work and the dog can jump you in quarter of a second"?
I think mace would actually work better against a dog then a gun. With mace, there's an area effect, you you just start spraying in the general direction. With a gun, you have to line it up, hold he aim steady while the dog is jumping at you and if you miss you have to deal with recoil. Plus, you have the obvious risk of injuring yourself, unlike mace.

I mean, they make mace that's designed to fend off grizzly bears, I'm sure it could handle a pitbull.
posted by delmoi at 6:50 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The joke about bear spray is that it's usually at the bottom of your pack so that by the time you find it the bear's eaten you. I'd be pretty happy to use it to defend myself against black bears, but there's an old joke that black bear shit has cherry stones in it and smells of berries, while grizzly bear shit has bear bells in it and smells of bear spray.
posted by unSane at 7:05 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we can all at least agree it's best to have mace in one hand and a loaded gun in the other, to fend off simultaneous grizzly / pit bull attack?
posted by rainy at 7:37 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think mace would actually work better against a dog then a gun. With mace, there's an area effect, you you just start spraying in the general direction.

Well, and you don't want to miss the dog you might hit your neighbor.

And apparently killing black teenagers is profitable.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:49 PM on April 26, 2012


This is one of those times you wish paypal would fuck over the recipient and hold the funds, as it seems want to do when #1 uses it for a big campaign.
posted by cashman at 8:57 PM on April 26, 2012


So Zimmerman was walking around ready to kill, with an extra bullet

I really don't understand the agitation around what is, to me, a standard loading procedure.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman received $200,000 in donations through his Paypal site.
posted by Subterranean Homesick Pygmalion at 10:04 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


>>he had what school officials thought was a bunch of stolen jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack.
>And the Miami police did not think they were stolen.


Not exactly. The report says that they were unable to link it to a reported crime. Which I said, straight out, in my comment.

>> My problem is that you framed it as "the other side [of the story]" when the two (Zimmerman's temper, Martin's alleged misbehavior) are not at all equivalent.

Simply, no, and you added words. I indicated that the links break in different directions on the case. That does not mean that they are equivalent. They're data points. Read through my comments in this thread if you really doubt where I stand; I've been as anti-Zimmerman as anyone, but I don't think it's useful to suppress data points that might be useable by the other side. Forewarned is forearmed.
posted by msalt at 10:18 PM on April 26, 2012


Zimmerman received $200,000 in donations through his Paypal site

CNN:
The attorney for Trayvon Martin's family says George Zimmerman should be back in jail because he failed to tell a judge he had $204,000 during a recent bond hearing.

"They tried to portray themselves as indigent that they did not have any money," said Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump. "We think the court should revoke his bond immediately, and he should be held accountable for misleading the court."

... The donations Zimmerman received will be discussed Friday at a court hearing in Florida, O'Mara said.

O'Mara told CNN's "AC360" that Zimmerman told him Wednesday of the donations as they were trying to shut down his Internet presence to avoid concerns about possible impersonators and problems with his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

"He asked me what to do with his PayPal accounts, and I asked him what he was talking about," O'Mara told Anderson Cooper. "He said those were the accounts that had the money from the website he had. And there was about ... $204,000 that had come in to date."

O'Mara had said earlier this month that he believed Zimmerman had no money. "I think he's indigent for costs," he said, adding that Zimmerman's relatives had few assets.

... Crump said Zimmerman's failure to reveal that he had the money shows that he is being dishonest.

"If his testimony at the bond hearing is any indication of what is to come, then the lying has already begun," Crump said.

O'Mara said he was prepared to "deal with any fallout," but predicted Lester would not feel misled. "I told him what I knew at the time, which was exactly what I was aware of."
The money has been placed in a secure account since O'Mara learned about it, he said, adding, "Nobody's touching it until we figure out how to handle it."

But criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos said Lester might not react benignly. "I know a lot of judges who would remand the guy back into custody immediately," he said. "If you've got more money stashed in an account and you could just pay the bond and be gone, that gives a lot of judges concern."

Though the account has been closed, O'Mara said he intends to open a legal defense fund for Zimmerman. "I've had dozens, hundreds actually, of people wanting to donate," he said.
Omara, you're 'full o' shit.'

The website seeking donations was widely reported by the media. If you honestly didn't know of it's existence until now, as you claim, you should be fired for negligence.

Unfortunately, I don't think the judge will revoke bail at this morning's 9:00 a.m. hearing.
posted by ericb at 3:45 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


not sure exactly which Kel Tec he had, but a good chance it had a safety

Not sure if this has been addressed yet here on Metafilter, but the model of gun he had was limited to an old-fashioned safety. i.e. a stiff trigger pull with a lengthy excursion. The stiffness of the trigger, combined with the long distance it had to be pulled, was considered a "built in safety."

Granted, there are plenty of things one needs to do in order to shoot an automatic pistol, but in this case at least, there was no actual safety switch. Just wanted to add that info.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:08 AM on April 27, 2012


Is it any surprise if a "loose cannon" armed with a bad temper, an unhealthy amount of paranoia, and a weapon which didn't put even the most basic of impediments to its firing ended up killing an innocent person?

Oh man, cases are SO much easier to solve when you can just "believe shit" about people, and expect that it will be equally believed by a jury.

I love the paradox of the "loose cannon who literally carried a loose cannon." Should we blame him for being trigger-happy, should we blame the gun for being too easy to fire (perhaps accidentally?) or should we simply conclude that he was a trigger happy guy who bought the trigger-happiest gun he could find?

Try firing one of those guns. You can't shoot one accidentally in a million years. Double action revolvers have lighter trigger pulls than this gun. Look at the pull distance of the trigger. It's safety is better than a safety. It says "If you want to shoot, pull REALLY hard!" There is no accident possible. (what, would it be better if he accidentally pulled the trigger, but he had a safety switch engaged?) That requires even less intent for an accident to happen.

In short: forget the gun's safety. He wanted to shoot, and he shot. I'm not his lawyer, but I'd be willing to bet that point will be stipulated by the defense.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:17 AM on April 27, 2012


This means "Zimmerman loaded the gun, racked the slide to put a round in the chamber (reducing the number of bullets in the magazine by one), removed the magazine, put another round in the magazine, then replaced the magazine in the gun."

GASP! That sounds so premeditated!

Nah, that's what pretty much ANYONE who carries a gun for personal safety does. The notion of "one in the chamber" as a jackass crazy move is mostly a product of movie fiction and a failure to keep up with the times, I think.

Look up the term "Barney clip" and you'll see that this is not unusual for gun-carriers. It's certainly not what you'd call "extra safe" but sheesh, was Zimmerman supposed to rack the chamber while he was getting beat down? If he had a full revolver his modus operandi would have been no different whatsoever.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:37 AM on April 27, 2012


FYI: Re: Asset disclosure.

903.035 Applications for bail; information provided; hearing on application for modification; penalty for providing false or misleading information or omitting material information.

(1)(a) All information provided by a defendant, in connection with any application for or attempt to secure bail, to any court, court personnel, or individual soliciting or recording such information for the purpose of evaluating eligibility for, or securing, bail for the defendant, under circumstances such that the defendant knew or should have known that the information was to be used in connection with an application for bail, shall be accurate, truthful, and complete without omissions to the best knowledge of the defendant.

(b) The failure to comply with the provisions of paragraph (a) may result in the revocation or modification of bail.

(2) An application for modification of bail on any felony charge must be heard by a court in person, at a hearing with the defendant present, and with at least 3 hours' notice to the state attorney.

(3) Any person who intentionally provides false or misleading material information or intentionally omits material information in connection with an application for bail or for modification of bail is guilty of a misdemeanor or felony which is one degree less than that of the crime charged for which bail is sought, but which in no event is greater than a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
posted by mikelieman at 7:48 AM on April 27, 2012


was Zimmerman supposed to rack the chamber while he was getting beat down?

Yeah, I've heard this story about how Zimmerman was being held down by Trayvon Martin and getting his head smashed against the concrete.

I just can't imagine that the physical evidence from that gunshot, in those conditions, being that he'd have to shoot in the inches between the two as Martin is holding him to the ground, that I can't believe the State's Attorney would jump over manslaughter to charge 2nd degree murder...

And if he's not getting his head smashed against the concrete, then he's not in reasonable imminent fear of GBH or death.
posted by mikelieman at 7:52 AM on April 27, 2012


Nah, that's what pretty much ANYONE who carries a gun for personal safety does. The notion of "one in the chamber" as a jackass crazy move is mostly a product of movie fiction and a failure to keep up with the times, I think.

Not chambering a round until I was actually going to shoot is what I was taught growing up, and what I practice now.

But then, I'm one of those freedom hating libotards that dislikes accidental discharges.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:53 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a DAO thing. DAO pistols are IN THEORY as safe as they can get due to firing pin blocks, etc. ASSUMING everything is operating properly. Which to "traditionally trained" firearms enthusiasts sometimes comes off just a little TOO trusting of the technology to ensure effective risk management. The safest weapon is an unloaded one. Next up on the level of safety is a loaded magazine, and an empty chamber. NEXT up on the continuum, loaded magazine, and one in the chamber.
posted by mikelieman at 8:01 AM on April 27, 2012


(CNN) -- George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer accused of wrongly killing Trayvon Martin, will not immediately have to turn over donations to his website, a Florida judge said Friday.

Zimmerman collected about $204,000 in donations through the website, but did not disclose the contributions during his bond hearing last week, according to Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asked Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to increase Zimmerman's $150,000 bond. But the judge said he would delay ruling on the request, in part because he does not know if he has the authority to do so.

Lester said he is also concerned about revealing the names of donors.

"I'm not going to make a snap decision," Lester said.

Zimmerman's family testified last week at his bond hearing that they did not have the kind of resources that would have been necessary to meet the prosecution's suggested $1 million bond.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2012


Do we know anything about the judge? Sounds rather pro-Zimmerman, if his biggest concern after all that is revealing the names of donors. So what if he did?
posted by msalt at 9:12 AM on April 27, 2012


Why would they need to reveal the names of donors? I don't see anything wrong with the judge taking the time to make sure he does it right. George isn't going to spend much time in jail anyway.

Not chambering a round until I was actually going to shoot is what I was taught growing up, and what I practice now.

I agree with this. I did get a little frothy when describing George, but the point I was getting at was that some views of George have him just being your friendly neighborhood watchman who happened to have a gun on him.

I will could be wrong, but I have a weird feeling this case is going to have a touchy-feely ending somehow. Like a few years from now Trayvon's Parents and the Zimmermans will all be in a photo together.
posted by cashman at 9:22 AM on April 27, 2012


> Like a few years from now Trayvon's Parents and the Zimmermans will all be in a photo together.

I'd like to see some kind of eventual act of real forgiveness.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:31 AM on April 27, 2012


I'd like to see some kind of eventual act of real forgiveness.

I'd like to see some kind of eventual act of real apology and contrition.
posted by holdkris99 at 9:44 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, yes. All of that.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2012


Do we know anything about the judge? Sounds rather pro-Zimmerman, if his biggest concern after all that is revealing the names of donors. So what if he did?

You think a judge is "pro Zimmerman" because he is taking his time to fully consider his ruling on a motion before him? That's a unique perspective.
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on April 27, 2012


Do we know anything about the judge? Sounds rather pro-Zimmerman, if his biggest concern after all that is revealing the names of donors. So what if he did?

Well, those donors' contributions are their private business. The donations are legal and there's no reason they should become the subject of public inquiry. Suppose you contributed to the legal defense fund of some unpopular defendant, is that the public's business?

I didn't follow the bond hearing, so I don't know whether Zimmerman and/or his attorney misled the court, or much care. He's not showing any signs of being a flight risk and that the actual problem bail is designed to address. The misuse of bail as a kind of pretrial economic punishment is one of the major flaws in the US criminal justice system.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:46 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


The misuse of bail as a kind of pretrial economic punishment is one of the major flaws in the US criminal justice system.

That may well be, but it doesn't excuse Zimmerman's apparent dishonesty.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:36 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know Zimmerman's family said they wouldn't be able to make bail if it was $1million as the defense wanted but I don't know that I'd call that dishonest precisely.
posted by Justinian at 4:04 PM on April 27, 2012


His parents were asked directly about the money from the website on the stand but said they didn't know anything about it. For some reason Z wasn't asked.
posted by unSane at 4:30 PM on April 27, 2012



I know Zimmerman's family said they wouldn't be able to make bail if it was $1million as the defense wanted but I don't know that I'd call that dishonest precisely.


Maybe the oath in Florida is the Truth, enough of the Truth as convenient, and nothing but as much of the Truth you feel like telling.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:41 PM on April 27, 2012


I'm not saying it shouldn't have been brought up, I'm saying I'm not sure having $200,000 means you're lying if you say you can't make a $1,000,000 bail. That's still way short. You could post a 10% bond at a bail bondsman with it but that's not the same thing.

But I don't know what the actual testimony was. If Zimmerman on the stand said "I have no money", then that's dishonest. If he just said $1,000,000 bail was too much, that still could be true. Or maybe he was never asked and never said anything about it one way or another. His family may not even have known about the money.

In any case, it seems like they volunteered the information on the money so I doubt this will be a factor in the trial. If the prosecution had discovered it themselves before the defense brought it up that might be a different thing. This seems like a big non-issue as to whether or not he murdered Travyon Martin.
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2012


Ok, unSane says Zimmerman was never asked about it. Still should have told his lawyer about it before the hearing rather than after, but he didn't lie on the stand.
posted by Justinian at 4:55 PM on April 27, 2012


In the hearing, O'Mara was asked about the website, but said he didn't know how much money was there, or who was controlling it. O'Mara clearly told Zimmerman not to say anything until afterward. One of Zimmerman's previous lawyers said something similar (that he would advise his client not to tell him something so that the lawyer didn't know it to have to tell it). Nothing illegal about that, from what I understand.

It'll be interesting to see what happens as a result of this, but from putting up the spray-painted words on the African American center on his website, to keeping quiet about the 200 grand, to lying about following Trayvon, to lying about how old he thought Trayvon was, to the previous assault of a police officer, to the domestic violence thing with his girlfriend, anger management classes - I think he should go on the stand and explain what happened that night.

I think this is why Serino wanted to go at Zimmerman. He sensed (and said) that he could catch Zimmerman in a lie.

To me, Zimmerman was negligent and killed someone. It's like he got drunk behind the wheel of an SUV and ran over someone's child. He didn't set out to do it, he is surely sorry it happened, and he's not a clint eastwood vigilante, but he fucked up royally and should do some time behind bars. I understand that he has already plead not guilty, but I would be interested to see what his response would be to being asked if he thought he deserved to spend some time in jail. Weirdly enough I think he knows he should spend some time in jail for what he did.

In a hilarious transition, this reminds me of the Joe Budden incident. Are you guys familiar with that? He had some disagreement with Raekwon, and one of Raekwon's 'friends' got into Joe's studio and punched him in the eye. Think Joe (if it was in FL) would have never gotten arrested if he'd shot the guy in the chest?
posted by cashman at 5:28 PM on April 27, 2012


But I don't know what the actual testimony was. If Zimmerman on the stand said "I have no money", then that's dishonest. If he just said $1,000,000 bail was too much, that still could be true.

A pretty complete transcript (minus some commercials) can be found on CNN's website (part 1, part 2, part 3). I just skimmed it but I don't think George himself testified on his finances. I guess the relevant parts are this discussion with Zimmerman's wife:

O'MARA: Another condition or another concern the court would have is a bond amount. I would ask you then realizing that one option is for the court to grant a monetary bond, if you could advise the court of your financial circumstances so I'll ask you a couple of questions.

Are you working presently?

S. ZIMMERMAN: No, I'm not.

O'MARA: And how do you -- what do you do with your time?

S. ZIMMERMAN: I am a nursing student.

O'MARA: OK. Is that a full-time endeavor presently? S. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, it is.

O'MARA: OK. How long have you been doing that?

S. ZIMMERMAN: Well, I am four weeks away from my graduation.

O'MARA: OK. So you're not earning any income presently?

S. ZIMMERMAN: Correct.

O'MARA: Do you own the home that you live or lived in?

S. ZIMMERMAN: No, sir.

O'MARA: Other major assets that you have which you can liquidate reasonably to assist in coming up with money for a bond?

S. ZIMMERMAN: None that I know of.

O'MARA: I discussed with you the pending motion to have your husband, George, declared indigent for cost, have I not?

S. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, you have.

O'MARA: Are you of any financial means where you could assist in those costs?

S. ZIMMERMAN: Not that I'm aware of.

----
and with his father:

O'MARA: Another issue that needs to be considered by the judge is the financial means that George and to a certain extent his family, has available to him. How can you assist financially in securing a bond for George's release?

R. ZIMMERMAN: Well, I am a disabled veteran and don't have a great deal of income. My wife is retired. We have some savings but very little.

O'MARA: Thank you. Do you have any major assets, for example a home that you live in?

R. ZIMMERMAN: We have a home. We have a mortgage on the home.

O'MARA: If a condition of his release were to be that you might need to secure that home such that you couldn't sell it during the time of George's release and that any equity that might exist in that home, would be secured to be surrendered to a bail bondsman if he failed to appear, would you take on that responsibility?

R. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

O'MARA: In effect would you take on what we might call a second mortgage against your home to secure George's release?

R. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

----
and his mother:

O'MARA: I asked your husband some of these questions, so I'll go through them quickly. But one condition the court has to consider is financial ability to pay bond. And if I might, just (inaudible) for a moment -- your husband testified that you're retired, that he's a disabled veteran and you do not have much savings. Is that correct?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, that's correct.

O'MARA: But you do have a house that you own, correct?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

O'MARA: And that there is some equity in that home, is that also correct?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

O'MARA: Do you have any idea about the amount of equity that exists in that home? G. ZIMMERMAN: No. No, sir.

O'MARA: Whatever it may be, would you be willing to pledge that in some form or fashion to secure George's release realizing that you could lose it if George did not come back to trial?

G. ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir.

----
I have absolutely zero experience in this matter, but I'd be moderately surprised if a judge would revoke bail based on this. In the first place, he was in jail at the time, so it's not exactly a given that he can follow a Paypal account. In the second place, as anigbrowl points out, it doesn't really change anything regarding either his danger to the community or his likelihood to appear--if anything, the fact that he could have accessed $200,000 of 'free' money but instead his family was willing to vouch for him with their own property for most of the sum indicates a likelihood that he will appear. Also, as Justinian alludes to, while it may be common in America to expect people to lose 10% of a colossal number to a bail bondsman, that frankly sucks as policy (and has been harshly criticized on this very website), and it's not unreasonable for a witness to interpret $1 million as unpayable if they have nowhere close to that in assets. Also, it seems that O'Mara came forward with this information itself, which would surely be relevant in determining whether bond should be revoked.
posted by dsfan at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2012


So basically, the prosecution is shoddy for not asking George directly about the paypal account. I agree that George is not a flight risk, because the prosecution appears to be sloppy as hell, and George has little to run from at this point.
posted by cashman at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2012


(1)(a) All information provided by a defendant, in connection with any application for or attempt to secure bail, to any court, court personnel, or individual soliciting or recording such information for the purpose of evaluating eligibility for, or securing, bail for the defendant, under circumstances such that the defendant knew or should have known that the information was to be used in connection with an application for bail, shall be accurate, truthful, and complete without omissions to the best knowledge of the defendant.

It's not the prosecuction's duty to request disclosure of everything material. It's the applicant's duty in be accurate, truthful and complete without omissions to the best knowledge of the defendant.

"Forgetting" that he's running a revenue-generating website doesn't count as "complete without omissions" to me, and displays yet more about Zimmerman's character. I believe he thinks he's SMARTER than the system, and this is just another example of him attempting to "game" the system.
posted by mikelieman at 4:54 AM on April 28, 2012


And when you think about it, isn't "Trayvon Martin attacked me first!" the same excuse as "My ex-wife attacked me first!", which he's used successfully enough to avoid the domestic violence charges.

He simply went with what worked in the past, and while Dear Old Dad was working the 'back end' of the system, everything broke his way.

Now that Dear Old Dad is out of the equation, and the Prosecution isn't being tampered with, he's learning a whole lot about how the un-Entitiled live.
posted by mikelieman at 4:57 AM on April 28, 2012


His dear old dad was a magistrate (which isn't even a full-fledged judge) in another state before retiring to Florida. How many strings do you think the guy really was able to pull?

"My ex-wife attacked me first!", which he's used successfully enough to avoid the domestic violence charges.

I don't know that there were specific "charges" associated with it, just a petition for a restraining order. His defense at the time was that his partner was hitting him in the face, and eventually he hit her back and said "how does it feel?" He wasn't defending himself from specific charges, just providing grounds for his own restraining order against her.

If you're trying to prove that his claims of self defense in the Trayvon Martin shooting were some kind of an ad hoc contrivance, this aint gonna work. You've painted a picture in your mind of a stiuation that not only can't be compellingly proven by any evidence, but that can quite clearly be rebutted by known evidence.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:07 AM on April 28, 2012


I think the guy is insane and doesn't UNDERSTAND that HIS ACTIONS aren't everyone else's fault.

He's like a 5 year old in the back of the car, "SHE HIT ME FIRST!" "HE ATTACKED ME" "HE ( the Police Officer ) ATTACKED MY FRIEND, AND I DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS A COP!"
posted by mikelieman at 5:16 AM on April 28, 2012


His dear old dad was a magistrate (which isn't even a full-fledged judge) in another state before retiring to Florida. How many strings do you think the guy really was able to pull?

His son fought a police officer while defending a friend who who underage in a bar, and received no punishment besides taking an anger management class. What do think are the odds Trayvon would have received that result given the same facts?
posted by msalt at 10:49 PM on April 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dear old Dad doesn't even necessarily have to directly pull any strings. Who knows better how to game the system than someone who was part of it for their whole career? I strongly suspect this is why nobody knew where George was during the period when a grand jury was being considered, and why he suddenly popped into view when that was off the table.
posted by localroger at 5:38 AM on April 29, 2012


His son fought a police officer while defending a friend who who underage in a bar, and received no punishment besides taking an anger management class. What do think are the odds Trayvon would have received that result given the same facts?

A few details / corrections:

The law enforcement officer was an undercover member of the University of Central Florirda police task force on underage drinking. He was undercover, and according to witnesses, did not properly identify himself as a law enforcement officer prior to the altercation. The charges against Zimmerman were almost immediately dropped to "resisting arrest without violence", and then dropped altogether in lieu of the anger management course.

The failure of the UCF agent to identify himself is backed up by a subsequent incident just a few weeks later, when another undercover officer got into an altercation at a UCF tailgate party. A scuffle ensued, he pulled out his gun and shot towards his assailants, at which point a uniformed Orlando PD officer shot him dead. Why? He had no idea it was an undercover officer.

Zimmerman's incident was not deemed serious enough to deny his application to join the Sheriff's Department Citizen training course. (or whatever it was called)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:29 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


A scuffle ensued, he pulled out his gun and shot towards his assailants, at which point a uniformed Orlando PD officer shot him dead. Why? He had no idea it was an undercover officer.

OH SNAP
posted by localroger at 7:23 PM on April 29, 2012


A few details / corrections on ShutterBun's few details / corrections

The failure of the UCF agent to identify himself is backed up by a subsequent incident just a few weeks later, when another undercover officer got into an altercation at a UCF tailgate party. A scuffle ensued, he pulled out his gun and shot towards his assailants

Incorrect. The officer (Mario Jenkins, a Marine Corps Veteran) shot multiple warning shots in the air, according to reports, and also shot Michael Young to get him off of him.

at which point a uniformed Orlando PD officer shot him dead.

Incorrect again, the dead undercover officer was perceived to have his gun pointing at the person he was scuffling with.

Jenkins then tried to shoot the uniformed officer that shot him (Dennis Smith)!
The man with the gun was UCF Officer Mario Jenkins, and the man on the ground was Michael Young, who authorities say grabbed Jenkins in a bear hug from behind as the officer tried to control another tailgater after a scuffle.

Jenkins, 29, who grew up in Tarpon Springs and was a Marine Corps veteran, was part of a team investigating underage drinking at the tailgate party before UCF's Sept. 25 game with Marshall. He was wearing a green shirt and a baseball cap.

He got into a scuffle when he was grabbed by Young, Lamar said. He fired shots in the air and shot Young to get him off his back.

Smith, a bicycle patrol officer, had been told shots were fired. He arrived on the scene to see tailgaters fleeing and Jenkins aiming his gun at Young on the ground. Smith drew his gun, and thinking Jenkins was turning to shoot him, shot Jenkins twice, Lamar said.

Before falling, Jenkins, mortally wounded, fired twice back at Smith but narrowly missed as Smith fired a third time.
At Zimmerman's hearing, the prosecution brought up Zimmerman's statement after the undercover officer identified himself. It was something to the effect of "I don't give a fuck". In Jenkins case, the events that went on are far beyond "he didn't identify himself, just like in Zimmerman's case". It is a different situation. He'd shot in the air, shot someone, and then shot at a uniformed police officer and almost killed him. Zimmerman made it clear that he did not care that the guy was a police officer.
posted by cashman at 8:17 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was trying to follow up on some information saying Corey should be required to release the evidence in this case to the public, because she missed a deadline, but I fell down a rabbit hole of madness and conspiracy theories so I'll just wait until a mainstream outlet or reuters/ap puts out something on it.

I also think it's Zimmerman screaming help. I don't know if I want to listen to that 911 audio again, but I haven't seen anything come out after Cutcher's account of it being Trayvon screaming to say it was Trayvon, and even though the police were said to have corrected a witness, I think it was indeed George. To me this case is more and more like someone driving drunk, killing a kid. I think Zimmerman is sorry, and I think he knows he should spend some time in jail for what he did.

As far as Trayvon, as Decani relayed her story in that other thread, I don't think he did anything egregious or wrong. We're all familiar with the fight or flight concept, and after fleeing and not wanting to, as Decani says, lead a stranger (with a gun) to your house, he took action to protect himself. Zimmerman initiated the whole situation.

Trayvon's parents hopefully know the arrest was the end of the case. This isn't a 17-year-old pretty white girl, it's a 17 year old black male. When all the "Letters from Black parents to their kids" articles came out, I wasn't quite sure what was up with that. Now I get it - it was an understanding that the case was going to end up a certain way, and that the only actions you can take to stop future events like these involve trying to intimate to your child that they have to live by special rules if they want to live to be an adult.
posted by cashman at 8:52 PM on April 29, 2012


Illdoc.
posted by cashman at 8:10 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


shutterbun: The charges against Zimmerman were almost immediately dropped to "resisting arrest without violence", and then dropped altogether in lieu of the anger management course.

This documents rather than refutes the idea that Zimmerman got special treatment. There's no dispute that he struck the officer. "dropped altogether" is your spin on pretrial diversion; I could also call it a guilty plea, with leniency given for a first offense.

With all your fierce defense of Zimmerman, even you can't say with a straight face that you think Trayvon would have gotten this deal with the same facts.
posted by msalt at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I realize you weren't addressing me, but in general I wish people would draw a clearer distinction between a fierce defense of due process and the rule of law and a defense of Zimmerman himself. I think Zimmerman has at the very least a moral culpability for what happened (his criminal responsibility is what's at issue in the trial) but I'll fiercely defend his right to a fair trial and possible not-guilty verdict in exactly the same way that I would do and have done for terrorist suspects at Gitmo, jaywalkers, murderers, weed smokers, shoplifters, rapists, and hedge fund managers. In other words: Everyone gets a trial and a not guilty verdict if the prosecution can't prove their cases regardless of how sympathetic or unsympathetic they are.
posted by Justinian at 12:19 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Illdoc.

Glad he finally weighed in, and I like what he had to say. It is rather remarkable when you think about how much faith in the system blacks have continued to have in the system despite enduring centuries of abuse from it.

I know Fox News and its adherents like to portray every black person who criticizes The System as a founding member of the New Black Panther Party who wants to kill whitey, but echoing Smooth's points, the vast majority of us have only ever really wanted to be treated just like anyone else. That's it. No overthrowing the system, no special privileges.

This has been true since the days of slavery on through to Jim Crow and the days of lynchings then during the Civil Rights movement and now with the Trayvon Martin case.

draw a clearer distinction between a fierce defense of due process and the rule of law and a defense of Zimmerman himself

Justinian, I'm grateful for the alternative viewpoints on the killing of Trayvon Martin and surrounding events that you, Shutterbun and a couple of other folks have provided in these threads. I'm confident that I speak for many others when I say that I hope our ardency on behalf of Martin and his family doesn't come across as antipathy towards you and the points you bring up.

But here's something that may help you better understand where we're coming from.

In one of the (sadly many) threads we've had on the lightly punished and poorly-followed-through killings of unarmed young black men, I commented that it was sad and depressing to think that I could be minding my own business, eating dinner with my family, and police could rush in, shoot me in my head, claim they thought I was threatening them with a weapon, and many people who consider themselves fair and tolerant would speculate at length about how I must have done something that caused them to kill me.

SYG laws seem to grant this same "the decedent must have done something that justifies his killing" privilege to private citizens, and so once again, I, and many others, must face the fact that dead though we would be, someone would defend our killers with arguments that seem to approach victim blaming.

And while I'm grateful for the alternative takes and admonishments not to get carried away in our advocacy for Martin and his family, I think much of your concern is misplaced: very few people, if any, are calling for George Zimmerman to be summarily executed. We want a trial. We want all the evidence brought to light. We want to know more about some of the seemingly questionable post-killing actions pulled by the Sanford PD. We know that the trial will be a hard road. We know from similar cases in the past that even with strong evidence, Zimmerman is not likely to be punished as severely as Martin would have been had their roles been reversed. Indeed, our expectations have been set by many, many similar cases.

Everyone gets a trial and a not guilty verdict if the prosecution can't prove their cases regardless of how sympathetic or unsympathetic they are.

Amen to this. Again, this is why we want a trial. If there's a not guilty verdict here, it's important that other prosecutors see what happened and why. When my son transitions from cute little black kid to threatening black male, I want the system to be in much better shape than it is today. If we hadn't raised our voices, there wouldn't even be a trial to instruct future prosecutors (and defenders).
posted by lord_wolf at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Lord_wolf: I agree with you about SYG laws. They strike me as highly problematic for many reasons, including the ones you bring up. Whatever the intention behind the law, in effect they are going to lead to some classes of citizens being murdered without the justice system being able to bring the perps to justice. This isn't the wild west and I don't see what society gains by not requiring people to flee from confrontations in the street if they can do so safely.

Castle laws, while similar, don't feel the same to me. Maybe because if you've broken into someone's home you're a lot less likely to turn out to be an innocent victim and it's usually a lot more clear whether the law applies. (Did the homeowner chase the dead guy out into the street? Murder charge. And so on.)
posted by Justinian at 1:42 PM on April 30, 2012


Zimmerman Lawyer Starts Social Media Effort -- "George Zimmerman's attorney has launched an all-out social media campaign on behalf of his client, accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin. That social media effort includes a Facebook page, a website and a Twitter account on behalf of Zimmerman."
posted by ericb at 2:08 PM on April 30, 2012


We're all familiar with the fight or flight concept, and after fleeing and not wanting to, as Decani says, lead a stranger (with a gun) to your house, he took action to protect himself. Zimmerman initiated the whole situation.

I'm not sure how Martin was supposed to know Zimmerman had a gun before Zimmerman drew and used it, so I'm uncertain that this theory deserves much credence. If it were true, you'd have to wonder why Martin didn't also call 911 - there's the old trope that 911 is a joke, but Martin presumably knew he was in a nice upscale gated community as opposed to some ghetto neighborhood, and thus had a greater expectation of the police showing up. The whole idea of trying to lead his pursuer astray seems to require a great deal of projection.

My own guess is that he just wasn't all that familiar with the neighborhood since he was only visiting, and was trying to navigate his way back to his Dad's house as opposed to just knowing the route from habit.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:27 PM on April 30, 2012


I put with a gun in parentheses for that exact reason. That he was getting away from someone chasing him, and we (not Martin) know the guy was armed and ready to fire. In other words, as an audience, we know Trayvon had every reason to try to get away from George Zimmerman.

The whole idea of trying to lead his pursuer astray seems to require a great deal of projection.

Decani posted that in the previous thread. It was her story. Her real life story. No projection.
posted by cashman at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2012


I'm not sure how Martin was supposed to know Zimmerman had a gun before Zimmerman drew and used it, so I'm uncertain that this theory deserves much credence.

You seem to be assuming he didn't flash it until just before shooting Martin. Of course, you have no evidence that this is true, just like there is no evidence he did. Your statement, if you wanted to pretend you're being even-handed about this, would be "Martin could only have known Zimmerman had a gun if the latter had flashed it at this point in the incident." But I don't believe your are being even handed. You're mounting a defense case for Zimmerman.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:35 PM on April 30, 2012


Given the history of lynching blacks in the south, I find it incredible that people think Trayvon Martin needed to SEE A WEAPON before considering his attacker to be a threat to his life and safety.
posted by mikelieman at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2012


That he was getting away from someone chasing him, and we (not Martin) know the guy was armed and ready to fire. In other words, as an audience, we know Trayvon had every reason to try to get away from George Zimmerman.

In a movie or TV, suspense arises from the audience knowing something a character on screen does not. In real life, there's no rational reason for such unknown information to influence a person's decisions. You are, quite literally, analyzing the situation as if it were on TV.

You seem to be assuming he didn't flash it until just before shooting Martin. Of course, you have no evidence that this is true, just like there is no evidence he did.

It's on the proponent of a theory to come up with some evidence for it. This is a basic rule of both logic and legal procedure, because there's no logical way to prove a negative proposition. I could come up with any outlandish theory to explain Zimmerman's actions and say 'you can't prove it didn't happen.' And you couldn't. But as the person proposing the outlandish theory, it's my job to offer some evidence for why you should believe it.

But I don't believe your are being even handed. You're mounting a defense case for Zimmerman.

I suppose you missed the 10+ comments upthread where I've said I think he's likely guilty of murder and that there's a good chance of his being convicted. I'm not mounting a defense case for him, but observing glaring holes in some of the prosecution theories people are offering up. A logically flawed case is going to collapse in court because a defense lawyer will poke holes in it. You win cases based on what you can prove, not what you can imagine. Unless new evidence comes to light, can we prove that Zimmerman ever flashed the gun at Martin in advance? No, so constructing an imaginary sequence events following from that gets us nowhere.

Given the history of lynching blacks in the south, I find it incredible that people think Trayvon Martin needed to SEE A WEAPON before considering his attacker to be a threat to his life and safety.

Nobody has made that claim. The question is whether it's more likely that Martin tried to neutralize Zimmerman to prevent an imaginary home invasion rather than trying to evade him and get back to safety. You seem oblivious to the fact that the idea of a pre-emptive attack on Zimmerman by Martin actually supports Zimmerman's defense. If I was prosecuting Zimmerman, the last thing that I'd want the jury to think is that Martin took the initiative and tried to put Zimmerman out of commission. That's the defense case, and would justify Zimmerman's shooting of Martin, regardless of the fact that Zimmerman might have provoked Martin's actions. The only situation in which someone is automatically guilty of murder is if they were engaged in the commission of a felony when the homicide took place, and Zimmerman isn't charged with any other felony and there's no evidence that he was committing one.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:47 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


You seem oblivious to the fact that the idea of a pre-emptive attack on Zimmerman by Martin

I'm having a little trouble understanding how the victim launches a pre-emptive attack. The moment Trayvon Martin saw this stranger following him, without legal authority of any kind, given the historical treatment of blacks who are chased in the south, he had a reasonable fear for his safety.

Given that Trayvon Martin is dead, his fear was completely justified.

And this "imaginary home invasion threat"? That's parenthetical. That's a reason why Trayvon Martin, being hunted by George Zimmerman wouldn't go home. Of course, under Florida law, Trayvon Martin had no duty to retreat from his attacker, and run home.

George Zimmerman, every single step of the way, WENT LOOKING for trouble. Unfortunately, the only thing he found that night was an innocent black kid, who he then murdered.
posted by mikelieman at 4:07 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I could be minding my own business, eating dinner with my family, and police could rush in, shoot me in my head, claim they thought I was threatening them with a weapon, and many people who consider themselves fair and tolerant would speculate at length about how I must have done something that caused them to kill me.

I suspect that arguments that "you must have done something" stem not from victim-blaming or racism, but rather that the converse is unthinkably awful. Everyone knows that police are capable of all kinds of mistakes, negligence, and even occasional monstrous malevolence, but they don't just burst into people's homes and shoot them at the dinner table, do they?

Obviously, ones background and personal experience with the police is going to affect how they judge a claim like that. There are probably some people who would say "yep, I believe it. That kinda shit happens all the time," while others will say "no fuckin' way. There's just GOT to be more to it than that." Any claims the police make about a percieved threat, etc. should be looked at with the utmost scrutiny, which is not to say they are guilty until proven innocent, simply that they had better be able to back up their story. As it turns out, there are several facets to this particular incident which do indeed tend to back up Zimmerman's story, and thus far nothing but speculation to refute it.

Scrutinizing the events (or even advocating for the accused) should not be classified as "victim blaming." Victim blaming would be (in the case of lord_wolf's scenario) "well, he shouldn't have been eating dinner at that time" or "he shouldn't have been living in that neighborhood."
posted by ShutterBun at 4:09 AM on May 1, 2012


I'm having a little trouble understanding how the victim launches a pre-emptive attack. The moment Trayvon Martin saw this stranger following him, without legal authority of any kind, given the historical treatment of blacks who are chased in the south, he had a reasonable fear for his safety.

Given that Trayvon Martin is dead, his fear was completely justified.

I'm not sure how you can draw that conclusion, or how you don't think it doesn't support anigbrowl's position. If Zimmerman was following Martin (which, again, is a perfectly legal activity on a public street), with no intent on physically harming him, and Martin subsequently launches an attack on Zimmerman which puts him in reasonable fear of great bodily harm, then my understanding of Florida law (actually, of self defense law pretty much anywhere in the United States, except for whether he had an obligation to reasonably try to escape) is that Zimmerman would be perfectly within his legal rights to use deadly force to defend himself. That would not subsequently "justify" an assault by Martin. Evidence of a preemptive strike by Martin would be a disaster for the prosecution and make a murder conviction very unlikely.

Now, I don't know this is what happened. In honesty, my guess is that it's not the most likely scenario, and Zimmerman will be convicted of some form of homicide. But I'm a little troubled by the implications of some of what people are claiming above. I don't relish the idea of people like George Zimmerman walking around armed. But I'm equally unenthusiastic about the idea that if someone perceives that I am following them in public, then they can initiate an attack from which I would not be permitted to defend myself.
posted by dsfan at 5:29 AM on May 1, 2012


No, so constructing an imaginary sequence events following from that gets us nowhere.

I appreciate your explanation of what you're trying to do, but I think you're leaning too far toward criticizing implicating scenarios and too easily accepting as fact exculpatory ones. And, to be fair, all we have are "imaginary sequences" to give to the jury. They weren't there.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:59 AM on May 1, 2012


Evidence of a preemptive strike by Martin would be a disaster for the prosecution and make a murder conviction very unlikely.

Wait, wait, the argument is that Martin would have had a reasonable fear for his life and attempted to use deadly force to protect it. This would be legal activity and Zimmerman's using deadly force would be illegal activity in that circumstance, no?
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:02 AM on May 1, 2012


But I'm equally unenthusiastic about the idea that if someone perceives that I am following them in public, then they can initiate an attack from which I would not be permitted to defend myself.

But that's exactly what the law allows. There isn't a requirement that the activity is illegal, only that they perceive a threat.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Zimmerman was following Martin (which, again, is a perfectly legal activity on a public street)

Let's examine this. Because Zimmerman wasn't just "Walking down the street behind Martin", as this implies.

This is Florida. NO-ONE without a car walks anywhere, unless it's walking the dog. And Zimmerman wasn't just "Following Martin Down The Street, as you would in New York going down a block from 51st to 50th.

He was driving slowly in a car following him, and then left the car to continue following on foot.

The whole "Someone is following me in his car at night ( which is more suspicious than walking home from the candy store ) and then gets out of their car to follow me -- in an environment where NO-ONE WITH A LICENSE AND A CAR WALKS makes Zimmerman's act suspicious on its face to any reasonable and prudent person.

Trayvon was right to fear for his life the moment he noticed a stranger in a car -- without any apparent legal authority -- was following after him.
posted by mikelieman at 8:40 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


But that's exactly what the law allows. There isn't a requirement that the activity is illegal, only that they perceive a threat.

Wrong. That a reasonable person would perceive a threat in the same circumstances. Different standard entirely.
posted by unSane at 8:43 AM on May 1, 2012


Trayvon was right to fear for his life the moment he noticed a stranger in a car -- without any apparent legal authority -- was following after him.

You don't really need legal authority to follow someone on a public street.
posted by Justinian at 9:09 AM on May 1, 2012


Because Zimmerman wasn't just "Walking down the street behind Martin", as this implies.

He wasn't even walking down a street. It was a pathway between the backyards of the condos. It couldn't be any clearer that he was following Martin; he was walking away from his car, not in the direction of his house, without a dog, and with a loaded gun.
posted by desjardins at 9:10 AM on May 1, 2012


It's interesting; if Trayvon were female, whether black or white, there would be absolutely no debate about whether he (she) should have felt threatened or not. A guy getting out of his car, in the rain, in the dark,* to walk behind you down a path for no apparent reason? I would be fucking terrified.

*I don't see these two factors often mentioned, for some reason.
posted by desjardins at 9:14 AM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wait, wait, the argument is that Martin would have had a reasonable fear for his life and attempted to use deadly force to protect it. This would be legal activity and Zimmerman's using deadly force would be illegal activity in that circumstance, no?

I don't see how that conclusion follows, to be honest. Let's assume you (and mikelieman who argues something similar) are right that if a person is being followed in public under the circumstances described, this constitutes sufficient justification to use force--I'm not sure, but let's assume it. I still don't see the relevance, because Trayvon Martin is not charged with assault, George Zimmerman is charged with murder. So it's not really that interesting to me what Martin did or didn't feel was reasonable. I mean, break down what you're saying: a person does a legal activity in public (i.e. following another person), the followed person is in fear and attacks the follower, so the follower commits murder if he uses deadly force in retaliation? That seems intuitively strange to me--a person who is attacked while doing something that's legal is not entitled to defend himself?
posted by dsfan at 9:15 AM on May 1, 2012


That seems intuitively strange to me--a person who is attacked while doing something that's legal is not entitled to defend himself?

Trayvon is allowed to defend himself if he perceives what a reasonable person would call a threat.

That Zimmerman didn't do anything illegal isn't material; Trayvon has a right to defend himself from reasonably perceived threats. The law makes no distinction about whether the threatening activity might otherwise be legal.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:26 AM on May 1, 2012


I'm sorry, 'someone following you' is not a threat that justifies a violent response until you have taken reasonable steps to prevent them following you, which would include establishing why they are following you, asking them to stop following you, and calling the cops if they refuse. You can special plead all you like but 'beating someone up because they won't stop following you' is not justifiable self defence, and if you are convinced of Zimmerman's guilt, it's not exactly helping your case.
posted by unSane at 10:22 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, 'someone following you' is not a threat that justifies a violent response until you have taken reasonable steps to prevent them following you, which would include establishing why they are following you, asking them to stop following you, and calling the cops if they refuse.

The SYG law requires no such provisions.

And Trayvon's instincts were correct - Zimmerman got out of his car with every intention of complicating Travyon's life. Zimmerman did indeed intend for Travyon to be interrupted in the course of his private business, and was concerned that the cops wouldn't respond in time to do it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:43 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


'beating someone up because they won't stop following you'

My personal take on it is not that Trayvon Martin attacked George Martin because he was following him, but that an altercation came about because Z was following him, which I think is an important distinction.

I believe that, as several others have pointed out, Martin was quite understandably skeeved out by a stranger following him at night in the rain in a neighborhood he wasn't familiar with. Here's an experiment: try following a young black male walking alone in your car and see what kinds of reactions you provoke him in. I'm not even being facetious or sarcastic. I think it would give some folks here insight into what Martin's mindset might have been upon spotting Z's truck --- as supported by the conversation relayed by the girl he was on the phone with moments before he was killed.

(Following on Mental Wimp's points about some folks being overly accepting of exculpatory evidence while being overly critical of incriminating evidence, it seems like the info she supplied about that night's events is seldom acknowledged by people looking for ways in which Z's actions can be defended.)

Anyway, per the girlfriend, Martin asked Z why he was following him, and, contrary to Z's reports, Z responded with, "What are you doing here?" and then she says there was a sound that made her think a scuffle had started ("pushing" is the term she is alleged to have used).

We will likely never know who laid hands upon the other first, nor what tone and body language either man used when they first exchanged words. But I find it easy to imagine both men saw the other as being threatening in tone and stance when/if they said what the girlfriend reports they said.

Going back to the "what are you doing here?" question, if that's what Z actually said, I think it's important to understand just how frustrating and insulting it is for black people to hear that phrase. I've heard some variant on it hundreds of times in my life in situations where I've had every right to be where I was and the person asking had no legal standing to ask it...but I also knew that if I didn't answer or gave an "uppity" answer, security/the police would be summoned shortly.

I also know that my instinct would not be to lay hands on the person who asked me that question. Like I said, we'll likely never know who laid hands first since the Stand Your Ground is effectively Make Sure You're the Last Man Standing, but it seems more plausible to me that the 28 year old man with the gun is the one who escalated the situation from verbal to physical, not the 17 yr old kid with Skittles and iced tea trying to get back to the house with a 14 yr old left by himself.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:54 AM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The SYG law requires no such provisions.

The SYG law demands that your fear for your life be reasonable. I think it would be extremely hard to invoke SYG in a case where one person is simply following another.

Zimmerman got out of his car with every intention of complicating Travyon's life. Zimmerman did indeed intend for Travyon to be interrupted in the course of his private business, and was concerned that the cops wouldn't respond in time to do it.

None of those things invoke SYG either. 'complicating someone's life' and being 'interrupted in the course of his private business'? Really? That's your best shot?
posted by unSane at 10:55 AM on May 1, 2012


The SYG law demands that your fear for your life be reasonable.

And Trayvon had no reason to think that his life would be in danger, clearly.

desjardins said it. If this wasn't a black male, then the people bending over backward to not see a rather clear line of reasoning wouldn't be doing so. But how can a black male ever be in fear for his life? He's the one that is dangerous and scary!

You have in this very thread a dude who says he is taller and bigger than trayvon, who would have been terrified if he'd been in trayvon's position. You had in the other thread Decani, who told a story of being followed, and how she was afraid and did not want to lead the follower to her door. And these are adults! Trayvon had just turned 17. When 9-11 happened, Trayvon was 6 years old. This was a kid. Yes, Trayvon had a reasonable reason to think his life would be in danger.

You are, quite literally, analyzing the situation as if it were on TV.

Nah, you got caught up on the word audience. Change in in your head to "observers" if you're having trouble. Trayvon definitely had a reasonable reason to think his life was in danger, being followed in a car and on foot, in the dark, by some unknown person.
posted by cashman at 11:21 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The woman in the other thread is Danila, not Decani. Just chiming in to make that small correction.
posted by bardophile at 11:27 AM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


And Trayvon had no reason to think that his life would be in danger, clearly.

The wording of the statute is 'imminent death or grievous bodily harm'. If you think someone following you is reasonable grounds for fear of that, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by unSane at 11:35 AM on May 1, 2012


You don't know what to tell me, because you're not talking to me. You're talking to that strawman you're dragging around.
posted by cashman at 11:42 AM on May 1, 2012


I think Decani is a guy, but whatever, carry on.
posted by desjardins at 11:49 AM on May 1, 2012


How is it a strawman? As far as I can tell the argument is that Trayvon, if he attacked Zimmerman because he was following him, was justified in doing so and that Zimmerman therefore brought the attack upon himself, so that his own appeal to the SYG statute fails and is not available as a defence.

If that's not your argument, in what circumstances do you believe it is acceptable to use physical violence against someone whom you believe is following you but who has not offered any violence to you or broken the law in any way?
posted by unSane at 11:51 AM on May 1, 2012


Well, I think it highly likely that Zimmerman tried to detain Martin (these guys always get away) and that Martin, within his rights, resisted physically and that began the altercation. If that is true, then Zimmerman was engaged in unlawfully detaining someone and is no longer eligible for SYG or even self-defense. We may never know, though.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:54 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the argument is, is is not reasonable under SYG to initiate conflict with someone, and decide you need to defend yourself by shooting them dead if the conflict starts to turn against you.

Are you saying that this would be reasonable?

I think the courts should throw out this SYG law on the grounds that states don't have the power to override federal law (and take away individual's rights) by legalizing murder in particular cases.
posted by msalt at 11:58 AM on May 1, 2012


I have had the experience of being followed.

About 20 years ago I lived in a semi-urban neighborhood near a mall and didn't own a car. One Sunday morning I was walking from my apartment to the public library and after making a couple of turns I noticed I kept seeing the same guy. Both of us were white; at the time I was about 25 and the guy was around 35. I reacted about the way Trayvon seems to have according to his gf, stepping up the pace and taking another turn.

This was an area dominated by strip clubs, bars, and a mall which wouldn't open for a couple of hours so there was nobody around. This was also before cell phones were common so I had no way to call anyone.

Just before taking my next turn I realized that the stranger had closed within about six feet of me. I turned on him and said, trying to sound like I wasn't half as scared as I was, "Excuse me?"

Turned out he was a panhandler. I gave him two bucks and watched him scoot.

Here's the thing: When you have attracted the attention of a strange person, you must account for the possibility that their intentions are violent. There is no such thing as innocently following a stranger. I had no weapon, so I had to think about what I would do if I turned around to find myself facing a knife or a gun. All those thoughts were in my head when I said "excuse me," and I can guarantee that if the guy had been all screwed up with rage and frustration the way it seems Z was it might have ended very badly. I can guarantee that if he had moved any closer at that moment I would have either took flight or hit him, depending on which seemed more likely to work.

It is plain on the basis of the facts we have that this is all Z's fault; at every turn he had the option of stopping because he was the one doing the following, not the one being followed. At the point confrontation became inevitable it would have been insane for Trayvon not to consider the possibility that Z had violent intentions and to be prepared to meet violence. Z created this hair-trigger situation all on his own with no help from Trayvon. At the point he turned on Z if Trayvon wanted to live, considering the possibility that Z was preparing to stick him up or jump him, he had about one second to decide whether to flee, stand his ground, or strike pre-emptively.

Trayvon might not have made the best of those three decisions, but it was Z who made it necessary for him to choose.
posted by localroger at 11:59 AM on May 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


If that's not your argument, in what circumstances do you believe it is acceptable to use physical violence against someone whom you believe is following you but who has not offered any violence to you or broken the law in any way?

By law whenever I have a reasonable fear of grievous bodily harm.

Zimmerman was not just "following". He was targeting Trayvon.

Trayvon had no way to know Zimmerman just wanted him to stand around so the cops could go through is his pockets and ask a bunch of BS questions in the rain. Trayvon could reasonably assume that Zimmerman was interested in beating the shit out him of him and taking his money.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:02 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


His dear old dad was a magistrate (which isn't even a full-fledged judge) in another state before retiring to Florida. How many strings do you think the guy really was able to pull?

How do you explain -- and justify -- the police testing Trayvon for drugs and alcohol but not Zimmerman?

I haven't been able to find the timeline after the shooting spelled out. Did Zimmerman leae the scene after the shooting, before the police arrived? Did he contact his father? How did he get to the police station (after apparently receiving medical treatment)? I suspect he saw or called his dad and they worked out a strategy before going to the station, but I don't really know.
posted by msalt at 12:05 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trayvon could reasonably assume that Zimmerman was interested in beating the shit out him of him and taking his money.

I don't think the word 'reasonably' means anything close to what you think it means. I guess we'll have to agree to differ, but your chances of having something like that stand up in court are close to nil.
posted by unSane at 12:08 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


He remained at the scene and was taken to the police station by responding officers, whether or not he called anyone will be determined, I assume, using his cell phone records.
posted by holdkris99 at 12:11 PM on May 1, 2012


I guess we'll have to agree to differ

I guess so.
posted by cashman at 12:12 PM on May 1, 2012


How do you explain -- and justify -- the police testing Trayvon for drugs and alcohol but not Zimmerman?

Yes, this. I may have missed it somewhere in the two threads, but this question has been posed multiple times and I have yet to see reason proffered.
posted by holdkris99 at 12:13 PM on May 1, 2012


He wasn't under arrest, so they could not force a test. I would like to know if they asked though.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:13 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


(and testing Trayvon was standard procedure for an autopsy, not a specific decision by the police)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:19 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think the word 'reasonably' means anything close to what you think it means. I guess we'll have to agree to differ, but your chances of having something like that stand up in court are close to nil.

Because Trayvon, walking in an unfamiliar area, in the dark and the rain, having done nothing wrong, sees some guy not just following him but actively stalking him and he's supposed to assume its benign ? How does that make sense ?

And it turns out Trayvon was right - Zimmerman set out from the get go to make trouble for Travyon. He didn't want Trayvon to stand in the rain and share lollipops and laughter. Let's be clear here - Zimmerman wanted trouble to visit Trayvon. He said as much. He wanted this "suspicious man" harassed, and was frustrated - "They always get away" - when it promised to not happen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


holdkris: He remained at the scene and was taken to the police station by responding officers, whether or not he called anyone will be determined, I assume, using his cell phone records.

But apparently only after being treated for his head injury first, given the police station video. Seems like a crucial sequence in there, given his apparent alibi -- head bashing on the sidewalk is really his only plausible explanation for fearing GBH. Where was the alleged shocking photo of his head taken, and by whom? (That photo could be of any short haired male since photography was invented.)
posted by msalt at 12:33 PM on May 1, 2012


I certainly think anyone could reasonably view someone following them at night to be a threat. I don't understand people arguing otherwise. I'm just not sure it matters for Zimmerman's trial.

On another note, it squicks me a little when people call George Zimmerman "Zimmerman" but Trayvon Martin "Trayvon". Like it's a way of humanizing Martin while dehumanizing Zimmerman.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 PM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Court of public opinion is serious business.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:35 PM on May 1, 2012


furiousxgeorge: Zimmerman wasn't under arrest, so the police could not force a drug and alcohol test. I would like to know if they asked though.

Which just begs the question. Why not arrest him, which would solve that problem?

The SYG law allows for a pre-trial hearing at which a judge tosses the charges, if certain conditions are met. It doesn't say anything about not arresting someone in the first place.
posted by msalt at 12:38 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which just begs the question. Why not arrest him, which would solve that problem?

Unless they thought Zimmerman was under the influence, they can't arrest him just to test him. For whatever reason, someone didn't think there was probable cause to arrest him for the shooting at the time, and you can't arrest anyone without that.
posted by desjardins at 12:43 PM on May 1, 2012


it squicks me a little when people call George Zimmerman "Zimmerman" but Trayvon Martin "Trayvon". Like it's a way of humanizing Martin while dehumanizing Zimmerman.

Or, it might just be that "Martin" and "George" are common, non-distinctive names, while Trayvon and Zimmerman are immediately recognizable. No one's going to think you are referring to Bob Dylan by his birth name.
posted by msalt at 12:43 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hardly think they're confusing in this context. Hey, we're just talking here so it's not a big deal. It just squicks me. If you want to keep doing it have at it.
posted by Justinian at 12:45 PM on May 1, 2012


Yeah, I was going to say, if you're scanning a sentence, Trayvon jumps out as a NAME in a way that Martin does not.
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on May 1, 2012


Unless they thought Zimmerman was under the influence, they can't arrest him just to test him. For whatever reason, someone didn't think there was probable cause to arrest him for the shooting at the time, and you can't arrest anyone without that.

Sure. Call me simple, but his admission that he had just shot an unarmed man to death -- with the death weapon there in his hands -- would seem like probable cause under anyone's standards, certainly for manslaughter charges.
posted by msalt at 12:46 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with humanizing the victim?
posted by mikelieman at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2012


Nothing. Dehumanizing the defendant, on the other hand...
posted by Justinian at 2:00 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe the prosecution should subpoena the NSA's archived digital audio recording of the conversation between Trayvon and his girlfriend.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:26 PM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


And, to be fair, all we have are "imaginary sequences" to give to the jury. They weren't there.

Well we have evidence in the form of Zimmerman's 911 call and subsequent admissions. we know that he was suspicious of Martin, complained about how 'these assholes always get away,' was following him, and shot him (along with some other data, but I'm presuming there'll be a lot more evidence to chew over at trial so I'm not going to recite it all). That's enough; it's up to Zimmerman's defense team to show that something changed and forced Zimmerman to defend his own life.

Wait, wait, the argument is that Martin would have had a reasonable fear for his life and attempted to use deadly force to protect it. This would be legal activity and Zimmerman's using deadly force would be illegal activity in that circumstance, no?

No. We don't know what Martin's reasonable fear was, if any; if he saw the gun and thought Zimmerman was about to shoot him, that would count, but the problem is that we haven't any evidence for that so far, eg Martin didn't mention seeing a gun on the phone to his girlfriend (that I know of). But even if that happened, it's still legal for Zimmerman to use deadly force in return. You're not obliged to put up with someone trying to kill you, no matter who started it, unless you were engaged in the commission of a felony. It's not a felony to follow someone.

I know it's not very intuitive.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:23 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not a felony to follow someone.

But it is certainly provocation. See my last post.
posted by localroger at 8:09 PM on May 1, 2012


September 2011 - person gets followed to their car, metafilter says:

Call the police now! (19 favorites)
Be wary, make a scene if you feel threatened, call the police (55 favorites)
Do not retreat to a lonely area (7 favorites)
I've tried to kick (creepy followers) in the balls before, held up my keys, etc (3 favorites)
Seriously, that's scary (being followed)
Don't be afraid to confront your follower and make a scene (4 favorites)
Report the follower, lest something bad happen. (6 favorites)
I was followed, my breast grabbed, I knocked the follower to the ground with one punch. this person following you, even if they didn't do anything illegal, did something wrong and things that are often the precursor to something illegal. (26 favorites)
I know from multiple experiences how terrifying it is to get followed (2 favorites)
While he may not have done anything illegal, it doesn't mean he won't do something illegal given the chance. (10 favorites)
If a person is freaking you out, he is freaking you out. You protect yourself first. You do what you have to do. (77 favorites)
I'm a huge dude, and if this had happened to me, I would be freaking out. (4 favorites)

There are plenty of people right here on metafilter, who view getting followed by a stranger at night, a threat worth taking action over. So can we please quit acting like Trayvon was walking through a mall and Zimmerman just happened to be walking the same direction toward the food court. It is reasonable to have urgent fear of great bodily harm when you start getting followed.
posted by cashman at 10:11 PM on May 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes, but it's not worth trying to kill someone over. And if you did try, the person would be entitled to fight back in self defense. In law, it doesn't really matter who started it - largely because claims about such things are typically unprovable.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:08 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, but it's not worth trying to kill someone over

Are you seriously contending that Martin was trying to kill Zimmerman?
posted by holdkris99 at 5:09 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you seriously contending that Martin was trying to kill Zimmerman?

I don't think anyone believes that. However Zimmerman's defence is presumably that he was in fear of his life, so he's going to have to argue that Martin attacked him fairly violently -- the head bashing thing etc -- certainly more than was required for Martin's own self-defence from any perceived threat due to Z following him.
posted by unSane at 6:24 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


shutterbun: The charges against Zimmerman were almost immediately dropped to "resisting arrest without violence", and then dropped altogether in lieu of the anger management course.

Here's what Zimmerman himself wrote (confirmed by his atty) at the time:

“2 felonies dropped to 1 misdemeanor!!!!!!!!!!! The man knows he was wrong but still got this hump, Thanks to everyone friends and fam, G baby you know your my rock!”

from Zimmerman's Myspace page
posted by msalt at 9:50 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. That is a must read.
posted by desjardins at 10:55 AM on May 2, 2012


Wow, indeed.

As mentioned in the article ...

Miami Herald: George Zimmerman’s Crude Myspace Page From 2005 Uncovered -- "While it includes photos of an ethnically diverse group of friends, the murder defendant’s 2005 web presence includes disparaging remarks about Mexicans."
posted by ericb at 11:34 AM on May 2, 2012


"The man knows he was wrong but still got this hump"

I'm not settled on exactly what he's saying here.
posted by cashman at 11:37 AM on May 2, 2012


Washington Post:
[Trayvon] Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said Wednesday that prosecutors could use Zimmerman’s MySpace comments against him.

“It’s not just speculation and innuendo. He has a history and a habit of profiling people,” Crump said. “He thinks certain things about certain racial groups.”

A statement posted on a Zimmerman defense site run by O’Mara concedes that the comments “will cast Mr. Zimmerman in a less-than-favorable light” and that they could become evidence in the case. The statement says there will be no comment on the MySpace statements for that reason, but it does confirm that the posts were by Zimmerman.
posted by ericb at 11:40 AM on May 2, 2012


> "The man knows he was wrong but still got this hump" I'm not settled on exactly what he's saying here.

I think "the man" is the proverbial Man (ie. the cops, law, courts, boss, etc) and that even though Zimmerman believes in his absolute innocence he's saying that The Man still has to pin something on him because that's what The Man does.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:44 AM on May 2, 2012


Man, Zimmerman's legal team surely all reached for a bottle of their preferred stomach soothing and/or mood altering liquid upon the revelation of that Myspace page.

This case could end up being a blueprint for future legal proceedings in more ways than one.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:49 AM on May 2, 2012


"The man knows he was wrong but still got this hump" I'm not settled on exactly what he's saying here.

Some are interpreting it to be Zimmerman boasting about "escaping criminal charges."
"Zimmerman’s MySpace page depicts him as someone who had a negative attitude towards Mexicans, and who took pride in his ability to avoid serious legal punishment for his actions.

In 2005 Zimmerman was charged with two felony counts based on allegations that he assaulted a law enforcement officer. Those charges were dropped, and evidently reduced to a misdemeanor charge. On his MySpace page, Zimmerman boasts of his legal victory .... Zimmerman also brags about escaping a domestic assault charge. In that post Zimmerman uses derogatory language towards his ex-girlfriend ..."
In essence, today he's copping the same attitude, yet for a different crime (i.e. murder).
posted by ericb at 11:53 AM on May 2, 2012


This case could end up being a blueprint for future legal proceedings in more ways than one.

Related ...

Zimmerman's Lawyer Launches Social Media Campaign
George Zimmerman's attorney has launched an all-out social media campaign on behalf of his client, accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

That social media effort includes a Facebook page, a website and a Twitter account on behalf of Zimmerman.

"We understand that it is unusual for a legal defense to maintain a social media presence on behalf of a defendant, but we also acknowledge that this is a very unusual case," says Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara on the new site, George Zimmerman Legal Case.

The American Bar Association's standards of professional conduct does not deal with social media, a spokesman for the ABA told msnbc.com, but "it's certainly going to be on everyone's radar screen" now.

Stephen A. Saltzburg, a member of the ABA's governing body, the House of Delegates, and former chairman of the ABA's criminal justice section, said "generally speaking, lawyers are not supposed to be making public statements that could compromise a fair trial."

Whether the Zimmerman social media effort will do that would be up to a judge, Saltzburg said.

"Social media is kind of a new thing. I suspect judges in highly publicized cases are going to think about trying to order lawyers and defendants to stay away from social media in order not to taint the jury pool."
posted by ericb at 11:57 AM on May 2, 2012


In that post Zimmerman uses derogatory language towards his ex-girlfriend ..."

Oh for god's sake. If disparaging your ex is any kind of evidence in a murder case (except, I suppose, murder of that ex maybe) then we're all fucked.
posted by Justinian at 12:10 PM on May 2, 2012


“I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book,” Zimmerman wrote. “Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!”

-- disparaging your ex

He had a restraining order on him, and apparently acknowledged hitting her. That's a bit different.
posted by msalt at 12:23 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, acknowledging domestic violence is definitely different. Where did he do that, though? I see where he is happy that the charges against him were dropped (or similar... the article isn't clear) but I don't see him saying anything about hitting his girlfriend. Where is that?
posted by Justinian at 12:37 PM on May 2, 2012


Zimmerman's Lawyer Launches Social Media Campaign

1. Stalk a black guy
2. Shoot him
3. Profit!
 
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you seriously contending that Martin was trying to kill Zimmerman?

No. As I've explained repeatedly, Zimmerman's defense is going to be that he believed Martin was trying to kill him. And if that belief was reasonable, then he could be acquitted. It would be up to Zimmerman's attorneys to identify evidence justifying such a belief.

This is why Zimmerman's public story is that Martin had got on top of him and was slamming his (Zimmerman's) head into the ground. It's up to his defense team to persuade the jury that that's what actually happened. But if they can, that would be sufficient reason for him to have fired a gun in self-defense.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:30 PM on May 2, 2012


Martin had got on top of him and was slamming his (Zimmerman's) head into the ground.

And this argument from Zimmerman makes starkly plain the fact that Stand Your Ground is really Make Sure You're the Last Man Standing for Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Even if we buy that Martin was on top of Zimmerman slamming his head into the ground -- and I think it's questionable that he was -- it's plausible to believe that Martin was doing so because he (Martin) had spotted the gun and was trying to incapacitate Zimmerman because he (Martin) reasonably feared for his life.

Ridiculously, in this scenario, due to SYG and the fact that Martin isn't around to tell his side of the story, the steps Martin was taking to save his life end up becoming the justification for Zimmerman to take it.

What an utterly absurd fucking law and fucked up mindset in the legislators and the law's advocates among the citizenry that we have such a thing on our hands. It would be laugh out loud funny if it weren't so sick and tragic.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:55 PM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ridiculously, in this scenario, due to SYG and the fact that Martin isn't around to tell his side of the story, the steps Martin was taking to save his life end up becoming the justification for Zimmerman to take it.

Look, that has always been the case with self-defense laws. If two people get into a deadly fight with no witnesses - which is one of those things that happens more often than we'd like to accept - you simply don't get to have the nice tidy resolution we'd all prefer. The only thing that the Florida law does different is the idea that it's OK to 'stand your ground' instead of running away if at all possible.

I happen to agree with this; if someone is physically assaulting you and you have the ability to fight back, then I think it should be legal to do so. In some states you're not allowed to defend yourself to the maximum possible extent unless your back is against the wall, so to speak. If there's an option of running away to a place of safety, you're supposed to take it. Now, the SYG law was sponsored by the NRA and of course it's meant to pander to gun owners and the idea that you should be able to draw and fire a weapon just if someone looks at you crossways. As I've said above, I don't own a gun and never have, so that context doesn't appeal to me, because it encourages people to overstate threats to themselves.

But depending on what exact defense Zimmerman's teams offers, the SYG law may not even matter. That would depend on exactly when Zimmerman drew his gun. I don't want to seem indifferent about it, but the legal problem it presents is a very old one, and fundamentally intractable.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:39 PM on May 2, 2012


The question is whether it's more likely that Martin tried to neutralize Zimmerman to prevent an imaginary home invasion

Regarding Trayvon going home, let's look at old advice ["If someone is following you, don't go home."] and current advice ["if someone is following you on foot or in a vehicle...don't go home while the threat exists"], on government (.gov) websites.

If you think you are being followed, change directions... Don’t go home. (Michigan)
If someone is following you, don’t go home (California)
If you suspect someone is following you, make a detour [don't go home] (North Carolina)
If you think someone is following you, don't (go) home (Florida)
Don't (go) home if someone is following you (Louisiana)
if you think someone is following you, don't head home. (Maryland)
That one is actually straight from the National Crime Prevention Council. Remember McGruff the blurry 80's crime dog?

And then fight or flight kicks in. He'd already tried get away from Zimmerman. Trayvon (I often call kids by their first name and adults like Obama and Romney by their last) told his girlfriend somebody was following him and he didn't know why, so he correctly identified Zimmerman as a pursuer. He tried to get away. He did what crime prevention advocates suggest - don't go home. And in my opinion, the fight part of fight or flight became a reasonable and necessary choice to this kid who was 16 the month prior. Reading through bunches of that crime prevention literature, those crime prevention professionals make it clear that once you realize you've been targeted, it is time to protect yourself. Yell, scream, and if you need to fight, one of them said use any weapon you can find. Trust your instincts. To me, Trayvon's actions are entirely understandable. He was a 17 year old kid walking home minding his own business, talking to his girlfriend, with candy in his pocket.
posted by cashman at 10:11 PM on May 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, acknowledging domestic violence is definitely different. Where did he do that, though? I see where he is happy that the charges against him were dropped (or similar... the article isn't clear) but I don't see him saying anything about hitting his girlfriend. Where is that?

Shutterbun: His defense at the time was that his partner was hitting him in the face, and eventually he hit her back and said "how does it feel?"
posted by msalt at 10:11 PM on May 2, 2012


I don't want to seem indifferent about it, but the legal problem it presents is a very old one, and fundamentally intractable.

Nah, the solution is pretty standard. Be a rich white guy who can get a good lawyer. The legal mumbo-jumbo isn't the biggest concern.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:18 PM on May 2, 2012


Actually, rich white women is probably better. Nobody pretends armed men are allowed to stalk them to their homes when they walk home.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:24 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only thing that the Florida law does different is the idea that it's OK to 'stand your ground' instead of running away if at all possible.

That is a huge difference. That you have the obligation to withdraw if possible means that swaggering egos are infinitely less likely to lead to someone ending up dead.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:20 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding Trayvon going home, let's look at old advice ["If someone is following you, don't go home."] and current advice ["if someone is following you on foot or in a vehicle...don't go home while the threat exists"], on government (.gov) websites.

That tells you nothing about how likely a given course of action by Trayvon Martin was. It's possibly relevant to what he should have done, but not especially informative as to what he did do. If I'm Zimmerman's defense lawyer and you raise that, I'm going to ask whether the same sources of advice counsel that you should call 911, and doesn't the fact that Martin didn't do so undermine the argument that he really feared Zimmerman.

Now, you could say that calling 911 is a joke, but recall that Martin was staying in a wealthy gated community, where 911 would presumably not be a joke. To be frank, I think that if he'd told Zimmerman to back off because he had called 911, it's pretty unlikely that he would have been shot. Failing that, the more logical thing to do would be to return to the 7-11 and have them call the police for him. None of the advice sources you give advise getting into a physical confrontation with your attacker.

(The only thing that the Florida law does different is the idea that it's OK to 'stand your ground' instead of running away if at all possible.)

That is a huge difference. That you have the obligation to withdraw if possible means that swaggering egos are infinitely less likely to lead to someone ending up dead.


I'm not so sure about that. About half the states have such laws and cases of this kind are actually fairly isolated. Personally, having been mugged and assaulted on a number of occasions, I don't see why it should be the legal responsibility of the assaultee to run away instead of fighting off an illegal assailant. Your point is true as it relates to fights and cranky people of the 'get off my lawn' variety who spend their spare time itching for the opportunity to dish out some payback. But you have to balance that against the fact that a great many assaults are criminal in nature to start with, and most people feel that they should not be obliged to defer to the criminal at the time of the assault and hope for a subsequent capture by the police.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:06 PM on May 3, 2012


If I'm Zimmerman's defense lawyer and you raise that, I'm going to ask whether the same sources of advice counsel that you should call 911, and doesn't the fact that Martin didn't do so undermine the argument that he really feared Zimmerman.

Maybe he didn't call 911 because he didn't want to get shot. Sadly ironic. It's dangerous to be a black male and encounter the police.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:31 PM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


anigbrowl, To remind you, mikelieman's my response was to the "imaginary home invasion" statement that you wrote, where you tried to make it seem like it was a bizarre and farfetched thing to imagine Trayvon wouldn't want to go home when someone was following him.

Instead, we see he was doing precisely what law enforcement professionals advise.

You seem to keep doing this.
posted by cashman at 1:47 PM on May 3, 2012


Why the fuck are you people doing this to each other? Chill out and wait for the case to develop.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:50 PM on May 3, 2012


Why the fuck are you people doing this to each other? Chill out and wait for the case to develop.

I dunno, this thread is much, MUCH better than comment threads on other sites. It's been relatively civil, no?
posted by holdkris99 at 2:10 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, everybody's been, I think, very civil and even the folks presenting opposing views have been helpful: I've had to grit my teeth and admit that Justinian, ShutterBun, anigbrowl and a few others have made some strong points that foreshadow tactics the defense will likely successfully employ, and I really appreciate being made to confront those hard truths now instead of being blindsided by them as the case develops and plays out in the courts.

Emotions run high occasionally, but for the most part this has been an excellent thread, and I wish the national discourse -- as I've seen it on various news and newspaper sites and on television -- matched what we've got going on in here better.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:27 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why the fuck are you people doing this to each other? Chill out and wait for the case to develop.
posted by Burhanistan


You have posted 14 comments in this thread. If you are as fed up as you indicate by your last one why don't you find something else to occupy your time instead of leaving a drive by irrelevant post?

By my calculation, there have been at least 2386 comments about the Trayvon case on metafilter (from the 2 major threads) and you have made 62 of them. Telling people to chill and wait for the case to develop is unproductive and isn't contributing to the conversation.
posted by futz at 2:45 PM on May 3, 2012


Instead, we see he was doing precisely what law enforcement professionals advise.

Actually, in all those links they advise going to a place where there are lots of people, and/or calling the cops, not confronting the pursuer (if that's what happened). The scenario envisaged is that the person being followed is going home alone. Trayvon Martin was seventy yards from his father's fiancee's house and as far as I can tell they were at home with his dad's fiancee's son (hopefully someone can correct me if that's wrong).

None of those links suggest confronting the pursuer in the dark.

So he wasn't doing precisely what the LEPs advise and I bet dollars to donuts he had no exposure to what the 'proper' thing to do in that situation was at all.

My own guess, which is worth nothing at all, same as yours, is that he saw a Hispanic guy following him, maybe took him for a wannabee gang member (to paraphrase Zimmerman) possibly looking to roll him.

Zimmerman for his part clearly had his dander up about the recent spate of burglaries and home invasions which, if you read the details, were pretty frightening and involved people he knew. He jumped to a conclusion about Trayvon Martin based on his matching the profile of the culprits in the most general way possible, and Trayvon Martin's (quite innocent) behaviour cemented his suspicions (classic confirmation bias).

By the time they met they were both jumpy as hell and each saw the other as dangerous and malevolent. Neither knew if the other was armed but probably suspected they were. I really doubt that Zimmerman was stupid enough to try to stop Martin -- he had enough LE training to know he had no grounds, and the cops were on their way anyway -- what was the point? So I think it's most likely that Martin did confront him in some manner -- even if it was just 'what the fuck do you think you're doing?'. What happened next, who knows... probably pushing and shoving that escalated. I dunno if Zimmerman even has a real clear recollection of it all by now.

Clearly the confrontation escalated and turned into a fight in which Martin got much the better of Zimmerman, who at that point had convinced himself that Trayvon Martin was (a) a criminal and (b) older than he really was. Consequently Zimmerman panicked and shot him.

The reason I put it like this is because this is two people both acting pretty reasonably, which is what people do most of the time.

I really think the case will come down to who was on top of whom in the fight. If I'm wrong and Z was on top, and shot Martin from that position, I think he's in a tough position. It's hard to believe you're fearful for your life when you're sitting on top of them with a round in the chamber.

But if he was underneath, and there's evidence that bears out his line that Z was cracking his head on the pavement, I think he walks away a free man.

So the forensics will be crucial, and we know absolutely nothing about them at all.
posted by unSane at 3:37 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What do we think the repercussions of a not guilty verdict are? I don't know enough about Florida politics to know if this case is enough to have the SYG law reconsidered.
posted by Justinian at 3:59 PM on May 3, 2012


anigbrowl, To remind you, mikelieman's my response was to the "imaginary home invasion" statement that you wrote, where you tried to make it seem like it was a bizarre and farfetched thing to imagine Trayvon wouldn't want to go home when someone was following him.

I'm objecting to the idea that it would be more rational for him to get into an altercation or fistfight with the person following him there on the street, than to go home. I think people very often have the instinct to go home, and it because this instinct is so widespread that law enforcement professionals make a point of suggesting otherwise - like people's instinct to throw water on fire, which can actually make things worse if the fire is caused by hot oil or electricity.

I entirely agree that Martin would be skeeved out by the experience, especially if it had not happened to him before, but as unsane says, that's a far cry from imminent fear of death/GBH. Imminent specifically means thinking you're going to die right now, not being scared that you're in an increasingly dangerous situation. I'm being pernickety about this because there are a lot of legal cases that turn on precisely such details of timing.

Instead, we see he was doing precisely what law enforcement professionals advise.

C'mon man, that's ridiculous. You're focusing on the 'not going home' part, while completely ignoring the other LEO advice about things like avoiding confrontations, calling 911, heading for a well-lit public place and so on. Nobody in law enforcement is going to advise you to get into a shoving match with your apparent pursuer. My own theory is that Zimmerman tried to lay hands or somehow restrain Martin, who (naturally) retaliated. Unlike unsane, I'm skeptical that Zimmerman suddenly wound up in imminent fear of death - his description of how badly Martin was beating him doesn't seem to square the with the apparent superficiality of his injuries. But that's why it'll turn heavily on the forensic evidence.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:21 PM on May 3, 2012


Actually, in all those links they advise going to a place where there are lots of people, and/or calling the cops, not confronting the pursuer (if that's what happened).

There is absolutely no evidence that Trayvon Martin confronted Zimmerman. This is a self-serving idea planted by Zimmerman's dad, who was not there. The only evidence to the point is the statement of Trayvon's female friend, who reports talking with him on the phone right to the moment the confrontration began, which is a strong indication that Martin did NOT confront Zimmerman.
posted by msalt at 4:23 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


No repercussions because Travyon's parents have way more grace than anyone could be expected to have. Things have already died down in Sanford after the arrest. Any trial wouldnt be until next year. For Zimmerman to get convicted, it would have to be an open and shut case. ...just for there to be a chance. You can hear this very thing in public enemy songs from decades ago. All i hope for at this point is a full and complete (within reason) picture of what happened that night that most of us agree on.

As far as trayvon not going home, i'll just let it go. Why refute something just to have the topic switched again. Its silly. Agree to disagree.
posted by cashman at 4:30 PM on May 3, 2012


There is absolutely no evidence that Trayvon Martin confronted Zimmerman.

Zimmerman's testimony is evidence. You may not believe it, but it is evidence. The lead investigator explain the decision not to charge Z by saying "The best evidence we have is the testimony of George Zimmerman, and he says the decedent was the primary aggressor in the whole event, everything I have is adding up to what he says."
posted by unSane at 4:32 PM on May 3, 2012


Your point is true as it relates to fights and cranky people of the 'get off my lawn' variety who spend their spare time itching for the opportunity to dish out some payback.

This is the vast, vast majority of actual incidents. Brave, macho guy with gun fighting off hoody-wearing bad guy in a dark alley is apocryphal, mostly.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:01 PM on May 3, 2012


Of course Zimmerman's testimony is evidence. I have not seen it any where, have you?

I also haven't seen that lead investigator's statement -- is he the guy who was said to have wanted to bring charges? -- but what he says is hearsay and also self-serving, since he was defending the choice to not bring charges.
posted by msalt at 6:33 PM on May 3, 2012


For Zimmerman to get convicted, it would have to be an open and shut case.

I don't think that's true. SYG is a pre-trial hearing before the judge, right? Very different than a jury trial. I'd like to hear more about the judge.
posted by msalt at 6:34 PM on May 3, 2012


I also haven't seen that lead investigator's statement -- is he the guy who was said to have wanted to bring charges? -- but what he says is hearsay and also self-serving, since he was defending the choice to not bring charges.

Enjoy your game. I'm not playing.
posted by unSane at 6:58 PM on May 3, 2012


Enjoy your game. I'm not playing.

How is msalt's comment anymore of a game than yours? No one has seen or heard any testimony from George Zimmerman accept his apology thing.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:10 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because msalt accepts uncritically as evidence anything which confirms his viewpoint but dismisses as self-serving hearsay what the lead investigator says that the suspect told them. If you really think we don't basically know what Zimmerman's story is at this point then we have nothing to talk about.
posted by unSane at 8:19 PM on May 3, 2012


The Orlando Sentinel has a timeline of what Zimmerman is saying from a source presumably either in the police department or Z's defence team.
Here, according to that source, is the sequence that Zimmerman provided:

Zimmerman spotted Trayvon, called a nonemergency police number and began describing the teenager. While he was doing that, Trayvon came toward his vehicle and began to circle it.

Zimmerman, though, never described that to the dispatcher.

At one point, about halfway through the four-minute call, he told the dispatcher, "Now he's just staring at me. … Now he's coming towards me. He's got his hand in his waistband. … He's coming to check me out."

Trayvon then disappeared, Zimmerman later told authorities, according to the source, and while Zimmerman was still on the phone, he parked his vehicle, got out and began trying to find Trayvon on foot.

Zimmerman can be heard huffing and puffing on the call to police.

"Are you following him?" the dispatcher asks.

"Yeah," Zimmerman said.

"We don't need you to do that," the dispatcher says.

Zimmerman later told investigators he could not find Trayvon, so he turned and was walking back toward his SUV. A short time later, Trayvon approached him from the rear, and the two exchanged words, he told authorities.

Trayvon threw the first punch, he told police. It knocked Zimmerman to the ground, and the teenager then got on top of Zimmerman and began beating his head against a sidewalk, police have said in recounting Zimmerman's version of events.

At an April 20 bond hearing in Sanford, Dale Gilbreath, an investigator for Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, testified that Zimmerman told authorities he was frightened because Trayvon circled him while he sat in his SUV.

Gilbreath described that as one of the inconsistencies in Zimmerman's story — because getting out of the vehicle and looking for the teen is not the act of someone who is afraid.

Gilbreath did not testify that Zimmerman claimed the circling happened while he was on the phone with the dispatcher.

Gilbreath also testified briefly about Zimmerman telling police that Trayvon had his hand over Zimmerman's mouth during the fight.

Several audio experts who have analyzed the 911 tapes for the Sentinel and other news outlets have said they believe it is Trayvon's voice — not Zimmerman's — crying out for help. However, Gilbreath testified that similar identification attempts by law enforcement were fruitless.
posted by unSane at 8:44 PM on May 3, 2012


Having read that report from the Orlando Sentinel, I really don't see how Zimmerman's account holds up under close examination.

Zimmerman's story has Martin acting like some grinder-thug straight out of The Wire, contrary to the profile one might build from everything Martin's friends and family and the public record says about him. I really can't wait to hear why Zimmerman said nothing to the dispatcher about Martin circling his car.

I'm starting to think that not only does SYG promote the practice of leaving no one alive to tell tales, it's also like some kind of medieval "trial by combat." If you're the one who's alive when the dust settles, it must mean that you were telling the truth and that the gods favor you. The other person being dead is proof of their nefariousness. This case finds new ways to break my heart every week.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:51 PM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


As flawed as "Stand Your Ground" may be, I don't think it will play as much a part in the actual trial proceedings as the initial media reports would have us believe. I suspect, based on Zimmerman's previous alleged statements, that it will be a simple self-defense case.

One issue of interest is that there has thus far been no mention of any pre-mortem injuries to Trayvon which may indicate that he played any defensive role in a physical struggle. (and no, I'm not suggesting that this is not proof there weren't any, it's just a point of interest)

I really can't wait to hear why Zimmerman said nothing to the dispatcher about Martin circling his car.

Very tempting to consider, but keep in mind that at this point it's all hearsay, and even if verified, it's a case of "why didn't you mention...?" as opposed to "why did you say this...?" An omitted detail from a call to police is merely a point of curiosity, not necessarily a groundbreaking omission.

I agree though, this (and the other) thread are important discussions, and respectably civil, which (as far as I'm concerned) is a big reason why Metafilter exists in the first place. It's not just a place for people to agree with each other. It's for reasoned discussion on topics of interest.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:11 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


msalt accepts uncritically as evidence anything which confirms his viewpoint but dismisses as self-serving hearsay what the lead investigator says that the suspect told them.

Where did the lead investigator say this? There was a report that some key police official wanted to press charges on the night of the incident. Is that person different than the lead investigator? If so, we have two inadmissible police sources that contradict each other.

The Orlando Sentinel has a timeline of what Zimmerman is saying from a source presumably either in the police department or Z's defence team.

Well, that's a pretty huge difference, don't you think? {unnamed} police source vs. someone on Zimmerman's defense team? Though neither is qualified to give testimony at trial. If that's your citation for what the lead investigator says, it's weak to nonexistent.

If you really think we don't basically know what Zimmerman's story is at this point then we have nothing to talk about.

As I said, we have the testimony of Trayvon's female friend who was on the phone with him at the time of the confrontation. IANAL but I believe her testimony is valid evidence. Granted, we have not heard her speak directly as far as I know, only through Trayvon's family, if you want to argue that. But they have much less at stake; they're not at risk of losing their job or their son's freedom (which is already gone.)
posted by msalt at 12:33 AM on May 4, 2012


Testimony is not what you think it is.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:11 AM on May 4, 2012


If that's your citation for what the lead investigator says, it's weak to nonexistent.
Two weeks ago, during an exclusive interview with the Sentinel, Lee disclosed certain details of the investigation and during that session, attended by Serino and others, Serino said his investigation turned up no reliable evidence that cast doubt on Zimmerman's account – that he had acted in self-defense.

"The best evidence we have is the testimony of George Zimmerman, and he says the decedent was the primary aggressor in the whole event," Serino told the Sentinel March 16. "Everything I have is adding up to what he says."


msalt, we don't have *any* testimony at this point. We have bits of evidence and much of it -- forensics etc -- is completely missing. I understand that you doubt Z's account, but why not leave it at that? Go and read through the Wikipedia article and you will see we know a huge amount about what Z is likely to say on the stand.
posted by unSane at 4:48 AM on May 4, 2012


I think by the time the trial (if there is one) rolls around, Zimmerman's story will be his own personal pledge of allegiance, that he has memorized and doesn't deviate from, and he will say "I don't know" to any question he can't answer with it.

To me, Zimmerman has already testified with his police testimony. That 5 hour interview by police, and his re-enactment is his main testimony to me. So it will be interesting, assuming the defense does not yet have access to it, to see how much he talks between now and then, or how much information comes out.

But nothing is going to get Zimmerman convicted, because in this society, the worst thing people can imagine is getting punched by a black man, like we have superhero strength, no feelings, and no ability to feel pain. I actually saw a journal article a few days ago where the findings were that people perceive black patients to feel less pain, and perceive white patients to feel the most pain (with hispanic patients in the middle).

To me it is clear Trayvon defended himself from the guy following him and hit Zimmerman first. Even if we had watched Zimmerman shove Trayvon (as his girlfriend, whose story I wonder about, says she heard), it would be impossible to prove Zimmerman did such a thing first. And since Zimmerman is the only witness to the start of the fight, what he says goes. And that single point makes it end of story really. He said/He dead.

Say hi to Oscar Grant, Trayvon.
posted by cashman at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


To me it is clear Trayvon defended himself from the guy following him and hit Zimmerman first.

Well, that's a pretty tortured use of the word 'defend' there, but I basically agree with your scenario.

If Z says anything which contradicts his original story to police -- which was the basis on which they let him go -- he's in trouble unless the forensics completely clear him. He's also in deep shit if the forensics contradict him, or if there are witnesses the state is keeping under wraps (although we should know about them pretty soon in discovery).
posted by unSane at 9:25 AM on May 4, 2012


Well, that's a pretty tortured use of the word 'defend' there

I don't think it is, and in fact its so common as to be a cliche ("the best defense is a good offense), but lets not go down that road. I'm kind of tired of arguing over this stuff.

Do you guys think Corey was wrong for her "The first thing I did was prayed with the family" bit?
posted by cashman at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2012


unSane: Thanks for that link. That is one interview where Serino -- in the presence of his boss who has since been suspended for his role -- supported his boss' decision not to charge. However, there are several reports that Serino's position was difference on the night of the incident, including this one from Reuters (who I trust more than the Sentinel):

Sanford police released Zimmerman without charge, but Martin says Serino told him he would challenge Zimmerman's account. "The detective's words were, 'I want to interview him again to catch him in a lie,'" [Martin's dad] said. A law-enforcement source, who had been informed of the case by investigators, told Reuters that Serino was eager to bring a charge but encountered resistance from the office of the prosecutor, State Attorney Norman Wolfinger.

"Chris (Serino) would have made a recommendation for manslaughter, but Norm Wolfinger's office wanted it to be a slam dunk," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They don't want to hear that this is wrong or that is wrong with the case. That's the way this county does business." Wolfinger on Monday broke a long silence about the case, denying reports he quashed police intentions to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter.


Of course you also have the Special Prosecutor, who also strongly implied big doubts with Zimmerman's story in her charging him with second degree murder.
posted by msalt at 10:26 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is anyone on the planet still considering what Bill Lee says to be in any way credible?
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 PM on May 4, 2012


I bet he has some good golfing advice. Maybe some tips on investing money, or perhaps how to set your dvr to tape multiple shows at once.
posted by cashman at 8:15 PM on May 4, 2012




Gah!
posted by Burhanistan at 2:13 PM on May 11, 2012


I mean....goddamn. He went and put the Skittles there. That demonstrates stupefying levels of callousness.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:14 PM on May 11, 2012




If I hadn't seen this comment in the target seller news story, I would have been prepared to give up entirely on humanity: "Even though I fully believe Zimmerman was justified in shooting, Trayvon was still a human being and does not deserve that kind of disrespect in death," wrote one firearm owners association website member.

In other SYG news, Marissa Alexander just rec'd a 20 year sentence.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:29 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


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