From what we know, second-degree murder charge for Zimmerman sounds reasonable

I’m not an attorney, but it seems to me we can deduce at least two things from the just-announced charge against George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin:

1. The special prosecutor didn’t buy Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense. Here’s what FindLaw says about Florida’s second-degree murder laws:

To prove second degree murder, a prosecutor must show that the defendant acted according to a “depraved mind” without regard for human life. Florida state laws permit the prosecution of second degree murder when the killing lacked premeditation or planning, but the defendant acted with enmity toward the victim or the two had an ongoing interaction or relationship. Unlike first degree murder, second degree murder does not necessarily require proof of the defendant’s intent to kill.

That doesn’t strike me as the kind of charge that would be filed if the prosecutor believed Zimmerman was being beaten by Martin and feared for his life, as Zimmerman’s supporters have portrayed the lead-up to Martin’s death. In fact, it seems to be the most serious charge Zimmerman could face, given that premeditation seems out of the question in this case.

2. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law did not factor into the charge. The purported connection between that self-defense law and the lack, until now, of charges against Zimmerman has sparked protests, a left-wing boycott campaign against companies affiliated with a conservative legislative organization, and a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s similar law. But, while Zimmerman’s attorneys may cite the law in his defense, it appears not to have swayed the prosecutor. Don’t expect the law’s detractors to retract their claims against it.

I haven’t commented on this case before now, because all we’ve had to go on was a series of reported “facts” that seemed to change every day, from the relative sizes of Martin and Zimmerman to things Zimmerman said that allegedly demonstrated a racial animus. The main effect of speculation based on these fleeting “facts” has been to distract from the tragedy of a young man’s unnecessary death and to spin off an entirely new, and perhaps equally unnecessary, controversy.

But it seems to me that the most salient, agreed-upon fact was that Zimmerman was in his vehicle with a gun — and, while he might not have known if Martin was armed, he:

a) knew Martin was not in a vehicle (putting Zimmerman at an advantage in terms of safety and mobility); and

b) voluntarily got out of that vehicle and thereby initiated the encounter between the two of them.

For me, those points weigh heavily against Zimmerman’s self-defense claim, even if he later wound up on the wrong end of a fistfight. So, for now, I think the prosecutor got it right in filing this charge. But we should all wait and see the evidence and testimony at trial before deciding whether Zimmerman is guilty.

(Note: Because of the sensitive nature of this story, all comments will go through moderation; I will check them periodically this evening.)

– By Kyle Wingfield

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85 comments Add your comment

independent thinker

April 11th, 2012
7:05 pm

Amen – Kyle got it unbiased and correct -let justice prevail.

BADA BING

April 11th, 2012
7:12 pm

I want to see Zimmermann’s middle school pictures before I form an opinion.

Atlanta Gator

April 11th, 2012
7:17 pm

Rather than second-degree murder, which requires recklessness that rises to the level of “depraved indifference” to human life, the more likely conviction would be the lesser-included charge of manslaughter, which only requires “culpable negligence.”

It’s time for everyone, but especially the media talking heads, the social activists and professional race-baiters on both sides, to restrain their obnoxious commentary and the justice system do its job. The prosecutor did the right thing by putting this case in front of a judge and jury, composed of 12 white and black citizens, so that everyone can see that justice was done—-regardless of the ultimate outcome.

Paul VanGogh

April 11th, 2012
7:19 pm

Am relieved at this announcement. For I had apprehension that Geo Zimmerman, with the help of well to do backers, would be gone. That NRA-content people would fund him so far underground….

And I had been apprehensive that no charges would be filed. Because of technicalities. Thus no more would come to light. Now, a court trial will bring a lot out. (Voice experts eg.) Whether he is convicted, at least I am now comforted that some truth will come out. Some barbs will land with the police dept in S’nfd. People are gonna’ show their colours an’ maybe a lot of blacks shake the dust of that town from their feet.

I don’t have to wait till all the facts are certified by a Seminole County court; truth is a probabilistic thing (Karl Popper) and too much is known /for me to be la-de-da, thinking I will some day have a good hold on whether somun’ in a car was forced into a self-defense deal.
Know?, well how about havin’ a good hunch about this….
//cheers

Wade Hampton

April 11th, 2012
7:20 pm

Censorship “filter(s) out the news to print, marginalize(s) dissent, (and assures) government and dominant private interests” control all information dissemination. It’s done through a set of “filters” to remove what’s unacceptable and “leav(es) only the cleansed residue fit to print” or broadcast.

It raises the dilemma James Madison posed that “A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”
.
Draft dodgers like Romney would agree…….”Can’t have them wirty dords or…………..the truth”.
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How disappointing the AJC has become……….when they censor.

Atlanta Gator

April 11th, 2012
7:25 pm

And before anyone starts talking about “racist” Florida, let’s remember: this is not 1960 Mississippi. No investigator or prosecutor is going to risk their personal reputation and professional career to cover up anything for Zimmerman. Let the evidence and the law determine the outcome, and trust your fellow citizens on the jury to do the right thing, given the facts and the law. Both Zimmerman and Martin are the sons of American parents, so let us not lose sight of that. Both deserve equal justice under the law. No more, no less.

Not Blind

April 11th, 2012
7:26 pm

We need to see some pics of Zimmerman’s face and head after the alleged altercation. You would think that he would have been happy to oblige reporters if his eyes were swollen shut.

Nonetheless, in this situation the whole white vs black race ruckus is synthetic. Zimmerman is what he looks like, hispanic.

@@

April 11th, 2012
7:36 pm

But we should all wait and see the evidence and testimony at trial before deciding whether Zimmerman is guilty.

Too late for that.

Presumption of innocence is a fundamental right of the accused in many democracies and republics. Somebody needs to remind alot of Americans of that fact.

Kerfuddled

April 11th, 2012
7:41 pm

Trial by jury is far superior to trial by public opinion.

Let justice prevail. Let opportunists be relegated to the periphery.

Mike

April 11th, 2012
7:42 pm

would the nation have stood up and rallied if the victim was White or Hispanic? Zimmerman will likely get a bum deal because if he does not more protests will follow.

Don't Tread

April 11th, 2012
7:45 pm

A grand jury serves as a citizen check against the abuse of government power. So how exactly does a prosecutor “cancel” a grand jury (and more interestingly, why)? Did the prosecutor not think that the grand jury would arrive at the “correct” outcome?

R.W

April 11th, 2012
7:47 pm

Let the rioting begin. They all got what they wanted by pure pressure and would not allow any other option to be looked at no matter what was seen on t.v or other witnesses. Totally feel that there was a better solution than how it was handled, but they only show one side of the story that Al Sharpton and his clan want everyone to see or else. Mark my words. If this guy gets off, it will be Rodney King all over again. This race card has got to stop. Look at the statistics people, if it looks,quacks, and swims like a duck than it probably is. Just saying.

papason100

April 11th, 2012
7:49 pm

Zimmerman unfortunately did not use discernment when he decideed to pursue Trayvon. Im all about our 2nd Amendment rights being a Police Officer and Private gun owner myself. But anyone that uses deadly force has to know the consequences of your actions. When he decided to pursueTrayvon he then lost his ground of “self Defense”. He called 911 and should have left it at that but chose otherwise. Hopefully the courts will give him a fair trial and prove wether he is innocent or guilty but I understand why he is being charged The fact his attorneys have pulled out is a little
weird….

Judge Smails

April 11th, 2012
7:54 pm

From what I can tell, they decided to charge Zimmerman ONLY after the so called “Black Leadership” applied the right amount of pressure on the DAs office.

Why weren’t there charges filed two weeks ago?

Matthew

April 11th, 2012
7:55 pm

Zim will not get a fair trial.

Where’s Al and Jesse’s liberal media here?
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/buster/assault/videotaped-baltimore-street-beating-879234

NotDagnar

April 11th, 2012
7:59 pm

So he killed the tiger in self defense. Of course if he hadn’t poked the tiger in the first place, none of it would have happened.

Pizzaman

April 11th, 2012
8:02 pm

The only thing good about the circus announcement, that special prosecutor is really full of herself, was her statement that this would be tried in a court of law, not in the press or in the streets. We all need the truth. Guilty or innocent, Zimmerman deserves his day in court.

MarkV

April 11th, 2012
8:08 pm

Kyle,
Good summary of what we can responsibly say about the case at this time.

kerryb

April 11th, 2012
8:08 pm

What did Zimmerman say that demonstrated a racial animus? It’s widely known that NBC doctored what you heard on the 911 tape to make it sound like he said something he did not.

Rafe Hollister

April 11th, 2012
8:09 pm

That is what the trial is for, to determine guilt or innocence. Prosecutors are always confident, remember Casey Anthony, was presumed guilty and probably is, but the evidence was lacking, according to the jury. The jury, operating in a calmer time and evironment may have a different interpretation of the evidence than a prosecutor, whom I am sure felt a great deal of pressure to at least arrest Zimmerman.

If I was Geo Zimmerman I think I would have hired Casey Anthony’s attorney. Every case and jury is different, but nothing like been there and done that.

Jimmy62

April 11th, 2012
8:19 pm

My opinion… I’m no lawyer, but it does seem Zimmerman was in the wrong and should probably serve some time, though it’s not for me to decide what charge. Whatever happened in between, he shot and killed someone who was just walking through a neighborhood.

The unfortunate part is that this has become such a big racial issue even though race had NOTHING to do with it.

kerryb

April 11th, 2012
8:21 pm

In 2008 Eve Carson, a white female from Athens, Georgia was an exceptional student at the University of North Carolina. She served as President of the Student Body and was a Moorehead-Cain Scholarship recipient. She majored in Political Science and Biology, Pre-Med. Eve gave back to her community, she was a peer educator for underprivileged youth, was selected to be a North Carolina Fellow and she was murdered. Slaughtered by four blasts of ammunition to the head and body by two young black males (ages 17 and 21), because they wanted her car and her ATM card. The final killing shot tore through her hand and into her head as she made a sad attempt to protect herself; obviously aware the bullet to her skull would be fatal. Was she profiled? You bet she was. Eve was profiled as a Rich, Blue -Eyed, Blond Haired, White Girl. Were there protests, marches and outraged politicians speaking out for her? Did Barack call her family? Why is it about race only if the victim is black? Why aren’t we outraged when ANY kid is murdered? As a nation, have we been silenced by a politically correct whip? Lets’ be outraged about all murders, all racism, every injustice.

_________________________________________________________________
In my opinion it looks like George Zimmerman is going to be railroad to appease the protesters like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton (aka Angels of Death) because they only show up after someone dies.

katherine

April 11th, 2012
8:23 pm

I feel that the state of florida only put 2nd degree murder charges on zimmerman to please the public. Read the description of florida second degree murder. How will he get a fair trial. I don’t really car what any person, monster, or animal did, they deserve a fair trail. The media has made it impossible with strude glimpses they have portrayed. Racist people of all colors are taking advantage of this sad situation. Fact, a 17 year old kid was killed. Fact, we don’t have all the facts and the country needs to let the law handle it not themselves. Fact, racist people need to all be put in a dark cave.

Jays girl

April 11th, 2012
8:25 pm

I agree with your assessment of this incident. Without factoring in any explanations, motives, racism, victim or perpetrator’s history; we know that Zimmerman initiated the conflict. Even when a dispatcher told him not to follow Trayvon, he began a foot pursuit fueled by his statement that “these guys always get away”. He acted recklessly and thus became the agressor. These are facts we know based on the audio tapes that cannot be disputed. The Stand your Ground Law does not and cannot apply

ld

April 11th, 2012
8:31 pm

The verdict is going to anger about half of those that have been paying attention–no matter what it is.

Sweetlizgator

April 11th, 2012
8:31 pm

Now we can truly begin the justice process. There has been an arrest and now the Justice System gets to do what the Justice System does. Facts will be presented in a court of law and he will have be judged by his peers and then we will see what happens. He maybe convicted…he may not but it will be decided in an open court.

Grace

April 11th, 2012
8:36 pm

Zimmerman was about the be arrested at the scene. The lead detective on the case knew his story was b.s but a call came down from someone even higher that lead to him not being charged at all. The same as in the past when Zimmerman was arrested on 3 different occasions but NEVER charged. One of the charges was assaulting an officer. It’s rumored that his daddy, the judge was the reason he was never charged in the past. Just 1 conviction would have lead to a felony which would have prevented Zimmerman from legally owning a gun. I hope his dad & the others who dropped previous charges are all investigated.

Vote for Obama cause he's black

April 11th, 2012
8:38 pm

He should be charged if evidence warrants the charges.He should be tried in criminal court,not the court of public opinion or because the NAACP,Al Sharpton,or blacks in America who were not there and have absolutely no knowledge of what it takes to bring charges by the prosecutor’s office.

how is there a racial divide?

April 11th, 2012
8:39 pm

bottom line..if you confront a person whom you feel is a threat and kill that person…youve better be 1000% sure in your actions…if youre wrong you go to jail…am i missing something? you cant kill on a hunch….ask any police officer.

Ted Sheckler

April 11th, 2012
8:54 pm

Zimmerman will never be allowed to a fair trial. The media has already convicted him and Al Sharpton and the New Black Panthers are out for blood. The media is to blame for creating higher racial tension in this country than we have seen in quite sometime.

Mama Says

April 11th, 2012
8:55 pm

Kyle,

I will say this in the most unbiased way I can.

A review of known facts, which were oddly and notably absent in today’s news conference, indicate that Zimmerman saw someone he thought suspicious and acted in a manner consistent with a person responsible for neighborhood safety.

Notice I said known facts.

If Zimmerman is charged with 2nd Degree murder as you said it would indicate that the evidence pointed to a certain mindset. That mindset goes against all the things things we do know.

Basically Zimmerman is being charged on the basis that every accusation made by the black civil rights groups is absolutely correct. The prosecutor believes he acted with a depraved mind. I ask you how is it depraved to act in the capacity of your neighborhood watch and follow someone you think needs to be checked by police.

The rest of the story is either political cover or simply ignoring the facts. We know that a witness saw Zimmerman on his back being beaten by Trayvon. We know that Trayvon suffered one gunshot wound to the chest ( supporting the fact that he was on top of zimmerman). We know that police documented injuries to Zimmermans head. We know that Zimmerman lost Trayvon after being told to stop following him. We therefore have to know that at a minimum Zimmerman was not acting with a depraved mind, he was acting as a security watchman and he shot someone killing them.

The prosecution should go all the way and charge felony murder or admit they have no case.

Of course they could have simply told us the facts that constitute probable cause. Instead we learned that this prosecutor thinks her office works hard and that the sweet beautiful Martin parents have been in her prayers, hardly the language of the neutral and impartial special prosecutor she was suppose to be.

Again if they think he murdered the kid then charge him with real murder.

You should also tread lightly on your assumption that people who inquire as to what others are doing are the ones in the wrong, they use to be called concerned citizens and maybe just maybe you should consider he impact of that logic on all legal matters. What if I follow a DUI suspect, did I instigate a confrontation ? What about mall security who follows suspected shoplifters-are hey starting something. What about a suspected child molester in a park ? Are you starting something with him by keeping an eye on him until police get there ?

You putting the responsibility directly on the ” good ” citizen and basically saying that if hey are fast enough to escape the police response time, they– the predator is free to roam unmolested by society.

Again I am not saying Zimmerman is innocent I am saying the charge does not fit the incident, and for that we all should be upset, black and white alike.

Lisa

April 11th, 2012
9:06 pm

My condolences go out to the Martin as well as Zimmerman families, and all else who have been impacted by this tragedy. My prayer is that there really will be a fair trial. Crucifying Zimmerman will not bring back Travon. May the jury and judge have wisdom and carry out justice, whether that means finding him guilty or supporting his innocence.

May any religious leaders calling for condemnation double-check what the bible says, and try to bring healing to hurting people mourning the loss of a young life. May those that might be tempted to inflame racial tensions not exploit a dead young man, but instead be peace-makers. Zimmerman turned into a symbol of what people hate–but he is a human being that deserves a fair trial–that is what makes this a great country. May the trial be a testimony of America’s fairness.

If you have a strong need, dear reader, to see this man punished and made an example of then examine your heart more carefully. The facts have not gone through a legal process yet. If you already believe he needs to be destroyed for what happened–before he’s gone to trial–then this has nothing to do with him. Go find that person you’re mad at and work it out.

All I know for sure is this is so sad a 17 year old’s life has ended. Who can argue with that.

EAP

April 11th, 2012
9:15 pm

KerryB – I completely agree and will take this a step further…if Zimmerman was a black man, Jackson, Sharpton et al would have turned a blind eye, as would the media. Such a double standard in the black community and left wing media talking heads.

Lynn

April 11th, 2012
9:22 pm

If Zimmerman had allowed the police to do their job after he called them, the young man/boy would be alive today. The police arrived only 4 minutes after Zimmerman killed Trayvon. By our standards here in Atlanta, that is nearly a miracle.

wayxbulldawg

April 11th, 2012
9:27 pm

Zimmerman might as well get comfortable in his jail cell. The fear of a riot will insure that the jury will vote to convict.

Tater in AFG

April 11th, 2012
9:30 pm

This trial will make the Casey Anthony trial look like a Sunday School picnic.

mountain man

April 11th, 2012
9:37 pm

Kerry B @ 8:21

Yes, Eve Carson was brutally murdered by blacks – the perpetrators were then convicted and are serving sentences of life in prison without possibility of parole (they should have been given the death penalty – you can thank the SCOTUS for that not being a possibility for one of them).

Courtney Lockhart (black) shot and killed Lauren Burk when she tried to escape him while naked – he was tried, convicted and given the death penalty.

Michael Thorpe shot Jennifer Ross in Savannah during a robbery (Jennifer was a suite-mate with my stepdaughter at Mercer). She died of her wounds. He reportedly said he shot her because “THE B*TCH SHOULDN’T HAVE BALKED”. When he was sentenced to life in prison plus 40 year, he shot the judge the bird.

Each of these cases generated NATIONAL ATTENTION and resulted in maximum sentences for the perpetrators.

Are you seriously comparing these cases to a neighborhood vigilante pursuing a 17-year-old black kid mistakenly thinking he is a burglar, and then shooting him?

Dutch

April 11th, 2012
9:37 pm

Zimmerman is being tried by Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the New Black Panthers and other race baiters who need racial division to justify their existence. The state of Florida wasn’t going to do anything with this case until they stirred up their minions.

Happens

April 11th, 2012
9:41 pm

Have to agree with Ted…Without the media, racial divide in the country wouldn’t be what it is today!
I just hope Al and Jesse march when an AA attacks another black or someone not of his color.

Dusty

April 11th, 2012
9:43 pm

One of the first “rules” I ever learned about the Justice System was this: “Everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty”.

At this point, nothing has been proven but I fear for justice. As a figure designed by sculpture, justice is shown as a blind-folded woman holding a scale in both hands weighing the balance.. I think her blind fold has been ripped away and she no longer conceives the truth without prejudice.

So it goes with this case.

Abdi

April 11th, 2012
9:48 pm

I’m from Uganda. The biggest thing j have noticed from this media frenzy is that that most of you American black people are the most complaining knee jerk reaction group, not all but most. In my country we try to get all fact ln before jumping to conclusions. Its almost like the black people here have a couple of black men, Jesse, Ali Jackson that order them what to do. This American culture is a sheep culture, that goes for white black etc. I thought America was land of individualism. I do not want my children to be influenced by sheep thought. I am surprised by this.

Jim Standish

April 11th, 2012
9:49 pm

You stated he turned himself in at 9:06 but he had done that before the press conference

gimmedollar

April 11th, 2012
9:56 pm

True. He was told to stay in his car. If he felt threatened, he should have remained in the car. Better yet, he should have driven off.

td

April 11th, 2012
10:01 pm

Jays girl

April 11th, 2012
8:25 pm

That is not the events Zimmerman portrayed. He said that he went back to his truck after the 911 operator said to not follow him. You are spouting the Al Sharpton version.

Sweetlizgator

April 11th, 2012
10:05 pm

Abdi – There would have been no facts to get had there not been an outcry for FACTS, That was the whole point!! This case was closed and done but Trayvon’s parents felt there was something wrong and sound the alarm to ask that it be it looked into and let the facts fall where they fall.

td

April 11th, 2012
10:08 pm

Grace

April 11th, 2012
8:36 pm

Zimmerman was about the be arrested at the scene

Those are not any facts I have heard. Zimmerman went to the police station and was interrogated for several hours before being released. The information I have heard is that after the interrogation the investigator presented the facts to the ADA and he decided to release him.

crabapplejoe

April 11th, 2012
10:09 pm

The prosecution will try to stack the jury with as many blacks as possible who will enter the jury room already convinced that Zimmerman “murdered” a “child”. The few whites/hispancs on the jury will hear Jesse and Big Al screaming through bull horns “no justice, no peace”. The New Black Panthers will put out a bounty on any juror who does not vote to convice…..meanwhile Eric Holder’s “Justice Department” will look the other way. Spike Lee and Rosie will threaten to tweet the addresses of any jurors who don’t vote to convict. The white/hispanic jurors will think about their loved ones at home and do what they have to do to live the rest of their lives in peace…….and Zimmerman will be the sacrificial lamb to this political/racial farce. Just as in the OJ case, evidence is going to be irrelevant….only the outcome matters and only one side will be demanding “justice”. Thomas Wolfe wrote a fictional account of this case 25 years ago……”Bonfire of the Vanities”…..check it out.

Chris Brown

April 11th, 2012
10:13 pm

I shuddered when I saw Eric Holder praise Al Sharpton. Can this Obama presidency get anymore irresponsible? Wake up America!

wideopen

April 11th, 2012
10:14 pm

Obama and the Black Panther Punks have created racial tension….Islam will be involved soon. Holding out for the Klan…Thank you for looking for Hope. You voted and gave everyone No Hope! Hope Zim walks…and the Klan makes a trip to Florida. Tired a racial pressure from people who think they deserve more and demand respect without working for it. Stand up for American values!

AJANI

April 11th, 2012
10:21 pm

I have lived in America for 15 years, this is my home. But I agree with you, being raised in Cameroon, worked in Togo for many years earning my way to USA. I work hard in this country starting as valet man for Omni Hotel, Ted Turner operations. I know own a transportation service in the metro Atlanta area. So many of the American black people talk of discrimination from whites and the struggle. I have the same skin, actually my skin is darker, much darker. Since my start in this country back in ‘97 I have dealing with more harassment from the black American people. I have so many stories about their disgusting comments and arrogant attitude. Before I came here, people told me to be carefeul of the white people, they will be dangerous and want to hurt you. It’s so silly. The whites treat me with great respect, I don’t think they even see skin color. They treat me as they would treat anyone with manners and respect. I deal with an occasional jerk, but they are being jerk across the board. The American blacks, not all, but most, have an attitude with me because I’m African. I have such a different opinion of why American blacks struggle in the country, now that I have seen their attitudes first hand. I will open my business soon, and contribute to this great land of opportunity. I do not want my children attending school near Omni Hotel, but Gwinnet County instead.