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The Zimmerman 10: The Reasons the Not Guilty Verdict is Wrong
The Common Sense Dictionary
A decision by a judge or jury that conflicts with the law, facts presented and any reasonable notion of fairness.
A man with a sordid history who has displayed questionable character admits that he followed an unarmed teenager while he himself carried a loaded pistol, initiated a confrontation with that same juvenile that results in the shooting death of the young man and pleas self-defense as a justification for using deadly force. The case goes before a jury who acquits him of charges of 2nd degree murder and manslaughter .
An unlawful verdict
1. The verdict conflicts with precedent.
The courts use precedent to assure that similar situations are construed alike to provide consistent and fair outcomes. The verdict here defies precedent established in prior rulings that used the ‘stand your ground’ law to provide justification for deadly force. The jury’s decision goes beyond a law that has been accused of giving too much leeway to the defendants, those who are charged with a crime.
The Tampa Bay Times investigated 73 deaths (this case included) in which the people who brought about the deceased grisly ends successfully plead the ‘stand your ground’ defense.* The “Times” defined a determination of justification when cases were dismissed or the charges dropped thereby not going through the complete trial process. Also, justification was determined when the defendants were acquitted, found innocent or granted immunity.
This pundit examined the results as published by the “Times.” A significant number of the 72 deaths other than that of Trayvon Martin had two key elements in common. First, the deceased were located on or near the homes, businesses or other property owned or lived in by the defendants in more than 1/3 of the “justified” deaths. And second, the deceased were clearly in the process of committing a crime when the defendants killed them in roughly 45% of the deaths. Often, these groups of circumstances overlapped. Trayvon Martin nor George Zimmerman, the killer, were at the shooter’s abode.
One instance of 72 previous to the Trayvon martin tragedy involved a defendant who was away from his property and decided to to pursue an unarmed person who was not engaged in criminal or threatening behavior. This was the 2009 case in which Charles Podany killed Casey Landes.
One key difference separates the admittedly suspicious circumstances that surrounded the Podany/Landes case from George Zimmerman. Mr. Podany called 911 but unlike Zimmerman he had an excuse however slight to follow the vehicle in which Casey Landes was a passenger. The defendant called 911 to report a truck driving too fast. The dispatch told him to get the truck’s tag number. This decision led him to encounter Landes where he soon found trouble.
The priority of precedent was simply not followed.
*results of individual cases are located at http://www.tampabay.com/stand-your-ground-law/fatal-cases
2. The verdict conflicts with the law’s intent.
The courts’ interpretation of the controversial ‘stand your ground’ law has lacked consistency. Legal scholars look to the intent of the law as it was written and by whom it was authored when such confusion exist. Dennis Baxley (R) Marion County, duly elected representative of Florida’s 23rd district and a key sponsor of the ‘stand your ground’ legislation is on record as having said “Nothing in ‘stand your ground ‘ authorizes (you) to pursue and confront." Pursue and confront is precisely what George Zimmerman did.
The statutory language of this controversial law reads in part:” A person who is not (italics added) 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….”
That person as described in this case was actually Trayvon Martin:
-He was not engaged in unlawful activity. Florida, to the admittedly limited knowledge of this pundit with regard to Floridian statutes, does not forbid people to walk on a public sidewalk or street. Nor does it prohibit the possession of skittles and iced tea.
-He was attacked verbally and by the menacing presence of a stranger stalking him as he attempted to reach his family’s house.
-He reacted with force when confronted with the threat of an unknown suddenly appearing assailant.
The verdict given actually denied the victim of threats and danger to assert the defense that the language of the law gives him a right to use. The verdict instead gave the right to use force to the offender rather than the defender. A scenario as such certainly was not the intent of this law.
The gated community at Twin Lakes: the scene of the crime.
3. The facts
The episode whereby an individual who carries a concealed weapon while he lies in wait looking for someone and proceeds to follow that someone shares an eerie similarity to what takes place in the event of an armed robbery. The pistol packing thief comes to the situation already armed and anticipates another’s arrival to the scene. The same is true of the fortified kidnapper and rapist.
The perpetrator then confronts the ambushed victim. A defense may or may not be deployed by the surprised target who suddenly discover being followed by a complete stranger. George Zimmerman behaved in the exact manner as the aforementioned societal predators. (see #4) Trayvon Martin reacted in the way that is allowed as described in the text of the ‘stand your ground’ legislation. (see #2)
Zimmerman was more akin to the armed robbers of the world and their nefarious kind than one who defended himself from an assault. The verdict here sets the precedent in which a would be armed robber can claim self-defense for shooting the victim who attempts to thwart a crime by fighting back.
4.George Zimmerman displayed criminal intent.
The theory taught by traditional legal doctrine holds that every crime has two elements. The first is the action of the accused. The second is the accused state of mind. The Latin term “mens rea” is used by legal professionals to describe the state of mind. The two, action and state of mind, work in concert.
The interpreters of fact (e.g. the jury or in case of a bench trial the judge) determine a person’s mens rea by reading that individual’s behavior rather than trying to read that person’s mind. George Zimmerman exhibited examples of behavior that could reasonably be interpreted as intent to do harm. (see #’s 2&3)
Bernie de la Rionda, a prosecutor in the case, told the jury that Zimmerman decided to follow with a loaded gun in his possession. The prosecutor further informed the jury that Zimmerman must have figured that the gun gave him an advantage in the event of a confrontation. Furthermore, he continued to follow the victim after the 911 dispatcher discouraged him from doing so. (see #1 key difference between Zimmerman’s case and that of Charles Podany)
The gun, its concealment, Zimmerman’s decision to follow Trayvon Martin along with his infamous recorded statement “these a_____ always get away” point towards someone who was looking for trouble: and he found it via Trayvon Martin’s untimely death.
5. George Zimmerman's actions are inconsistent.
George Zimmerman appeared to consider himself in charge of the neighborhood security. He would have people believe his purpose was to watch and protect his neighbors. However, his tools indicated that he was better prepared for a street war than a street watch. He had the war chest but did not have the watch list.
Zimmerman had on his person a loaded gun on the evening that he killed Trayvon Martin. He also had a cell phone, one that he apparently often used.(see #7) The more recent cell phone models come equipped with cameras. He did not see fit use that option on the tragic night in question. A good security option would include capturing a photo of a suspect for purposes of identification. Instead, Zimmerman decided to use the sights of his gun rather than the lens on his phone.
Binoculars, pen and paper (for writing descriptions)are common citizen security devices. Zimmerman doesn’t appear to have enlisted these items in his quest to secure his gated community. Also, he was apparently unaware of his “neighbors” that Trayvon martin was visiting. He should have introduced himself to all concerned given that developing relationships within the community is known to help that cause. He also reportedly made a statement to police that showed he was not entirely familiar with his neighborhood.
The shooter’s approach to community safety indicates that he favored confrontation over cooperation. (see#4) George Zimmerman, on the night of Trayvon Martin’s murder, did what someone does who expects to get into a fight. The facts of this scenario suggest he was looking for a fight instead of looking at foul play.
6.Too many lies
George Zimmerman’s words contradict one another much as his self-appointed role as neighborhood watch captain clash with his unruly behavior. He has provided conflicting versions of the incident to the Sanford (FL) police, deceived the court and given misleading information about Trayvon Martin.
-One Story- Two Plots
Zimmerman described the incident to police the day of and the day after he killed the unarmed teen, Trayvon Martin. According to his written statement the deceased hit Zimmerman in the face which caused him to fall backward. However, his account of the incident changed while doing the reenactment of it with police the very next day. He then claimed he stumbled forward as a result of the impact.*
George Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court at his bond hearing.They claimed destitution even as their fundraising website had already generated better than $200,000.Also, they primarily spoke of this money in code speak while in the presence of police.
The killer misspoke about Trayvon Martin’s behavior. He first accused the young man of acting suspicious as he spoke with the 911 dispatch operator. Zimmerman branded Trayvon as a criminal although he did not identify the “suspicious” behavior. The best he could come up with after having time to ponder it was that the unarmed teen was looking at the homes as he walked past. This he included on the written statement. The murderer’s most galling depiction was to refer to the youth as the suspect. He deems the youth walking home in the rain as a suspect but he’s the one carrying a loaded gun when he doesn’t face any immediate threat.
* "Does George Zimmerman's Story Add Up?" by Mark Follman Thur 21,2012 Mother Jones online- Here the author points out discrepancies in George Zimmerman's version of what happened.
7. Red Flags
George Zimmerman fell far short of the model citizen mode yet he liked to believe security was his calling. The past includes events that indicate he was more likely to disturb the peace than to protect the peace. The following list examines the red flags that reveal his lack of credibility, moral shortcomings and guilt.
46 and Counting
The 46 occasions in which Zimmerman called 911 since 2004 are well documented. The behavior here suggests an obsession that could lead to trouble. And, on the 47th time it did.
George Zimmerman was arrested for the assault of a police officer. He was arrested but not convicted. As such, his arrest can be excluded from the eyes of a jury in many (if not all) states. Arrest at times may be eliminated from someone’s record.
Veronica Zuazo, a former fiancée filed a restraining order against him in August 2005. She alleged domestic violence as the reason. This too may have been excluded. Still, it happened.
A former co-worker told the New York Daily News that George Zimmerman was fire from a previous security job for being too aggressive. According to the said witness, Zimmerman once literally picked up an inebriated women and (again literally)threw her out of a party. Where was this witness at trial?
8. The Duck Test
The “duck test” is a time honored tool used by the disciplines of law, philosophy and the sciences to determine the identity of a subject. It states the following: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then… it’s a duck!
Here, the subject looked upon are two people and how they related to the events that took place in Twin Lakes of Sanford, FL on the evening of February 26 2012. Trayvon Martin responded to what he correctly perceived as a threat. (see#’s2 and 3) George Zimmerman engaged in hyper aggressive behavior unwarranted by the circumstances that he described. (see #’s 3 and 4) The choices Zimmerman made (see #’s 5,9 and 10) and his less than stellar character (see #’s 6 and 7) demonstrates his mindset bent towards ill will. This place became a murder scene and the assailant committed murder. The quacks are deafening.
9.The Avoidable Factor
George Zimmerman was clearly in the best position to prevent the tragedy that occurred on that fateful evening. Indeed, the only reality he did not directly control was the unarmed teen’s lawful presence (see #2) in the community at that time. The shooter is responsible for every other act that took place thereafter.
He left home with gun in tow. (See #’s 3and 10) This pundit has never heard any explanation given by Zimmerman as to why he left the house with his gun. Perhaps he always feels threatened regardless of whether any reality supports such fear. The fact remains that many of the defendants who successfully argued justification were on their property and/or preventing the deceased from the commission of a crime when the deaths occurred. (see #1) George Zimmerman was neither.
It isn’t about his right to own a firearm but rather the abuse of the said right. He could have kept it home. This would have avoided a shooting. However, when a gun owner is looking for trouble or an excuse to shoot, it can be found wherever they look.
Citizens who see someone or something that they deem suspicious are empowered to contact the authorities to report instigator and incident. They are not advised to jump in the fray and play cops and robbers. Similarly, Zimmerman could have contacted authorities and left it at that. Instead, he pursued, initiated confrontation and killed Trayvon Martin.
The assailment could have simply called 911 dispatch services. Trayvon then would simply walk back to the home was visiting, follow this later with a walk across a stage for his high school graduation, and eventually stop walking so much upon the purchase of his first car. It was not to be for George Zimmerman walked all over that future.
The demise of young Trayvon Martin was unnecessary. To say an event need not have happened suggest that it was avoidable. To say a tragedy was avoidable implies another outcome was possible. To say another result was possible hints that choice was a factor in the outcome that occurred as much in the outcome that did not occur.
A decision was involved in every act that led to Trayvon Martin’s too early death. The key decisions were as follows:
George Zimmerman’s decides to leave home with a loaded gun in his possession.
George instantly decided a young black male walking through his community must be a criminal.
George Zimmerman decided to stalk the young man which gave the deceased reason to fear for his safety.
George Zimmerman decided to initiate a contentious atmosphere where none had previously existed.
George Zimmerman decided to forego every opportunity to avoid conflict although he was ordered to do so.
George decided to do all of the above knowing he carried a concealed weapon.
George Zimmerman decided to pull the trigger.
And, of course one other decision comes to play: the jury should have decided George Zimmerman is guilty of murder.