This just in: stay home tonight. Zimmerman has been released.
George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, a Florida jury decided late Saturday.
The fact that Zimmerman fired the bullet that killed Martin was never in question, but the verdict means the six-person jury had reasonable doubt that the shooting amounted to a criminal act.
The verdict caps a case that has inflamed passions for well over a year, much of it focused on race and gun rights.
The six-person jury — all women — had three choices: to find Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder; to find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter; or to find him not guilty.
The jurors deliberated for 16½ hours total, including 13 on Saturday alone, before delivering their verdict.
When he learned his fate, a subdued Zimmerman had little visible reaction. His face was mostly expressionless. He turned and shook one of his attorney’s hand before sitting back down. His parents, Robert and Gladys Zimmerman, were seated nearby, but Martin’s parents were not in the courtroom.
The problem, according to this writer — http://www.slate.com/blogs/crime/2013/07/10/george_zimmerman_trial_trayvon_martin_s_shooter_is_probably_going_to_walk.html — is simply that it was not possible to reach the high standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Even if we all suspect that we know what happened there, we don’t know what happened there, so we can’t reject Zimmerman’s version of events, and that allowed Zimmerman to walk. (As with the OJ Simpson case, a civil trial for wrongful death — in which the “preponderance of the evidence” (“more likely than not”) standard applies, will probably be forthcoming. (And then Zimmerman will declare bankruptcy as soon as the judgment is levied against him.)
Convenient that this only seems to happen when someone with more social power kills someone with less of it!
To me, the basic truth is this: if Trayvon Martin had shot George Zimmerman under similar circumstances, even without corroboration, he would not be walking free. He’d have been lucky to even make it out of the scene of the shooting alive. He’d have been essentially forced to cop a plea. If he didn’t, he’d be convicted and probably sentenced to die — despite using the same damned defense with no less right to credibility.
This helps move the U.S. back into the Django Unchained world of worry about slave revolt, where for our “master class” the main goal in life is to keep the downtrodden from having guns and the secondary goal is to make sure that if they do have guns they don’t get past the hired guards. This summer just got a whole lot more perilous for everything.
On the (now-rejected) manslaughter option:
On the lack of empathy across races:
Analyzing the verdict and finding Florida guilty:
The jury instructions:
(The notable thing here is that rather than justifiability of a homicide being raised as an affirmative defense — which is hard if
More to read on the verdict:
I find the former likely true — but the latter one unpersuasive.
A cop’s take on the verdict — VERY MUCH WORTH READING: