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12 July 2013

Focusing On All The Wrong Things In The Zimmerman Trial






One huge problem with this case has been the focus on irrelevant issues – some of which are actually completely contradicted by the evidence.


1. ‘George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin’


There is no evidence of this.  The prosecution failed to produce any evidence that George Zimmerman, hereinafter referred to 'GZ,' acted out of racial animus and such a claim was conspicuously missing from the prosecution’s closing argument today.  Also, the FBI investigated the case, interviewed many witnesses, and determined that RACE PLAYED NO ROLE in the tragedy although one could argue that, if there were any racial animus that night, it was on the part of Trayvon Martin, hereinafter referred to as 'TM,', who called GZ both a ‘creepy ass cracka’ and a ‘nigga’ (please excuse, I hate the word, but must include it for accuracy purposes).
 

2. 'The word 'punk' is 'code' for black'


Do Sid Vicious & Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols and Joe Strummer & Mick Jones of The Clash know that they are black?


3.  ‘GZ disobeyed an order by the police’


* The civilian dispatcher, Sean Noffke, testified that he did not give GZ an order and, in fact, he, like his fellow dispatchers, was trained not make comments that sound like commands

* Noffke also testified under cross that, as a result of his asking GZ which way TM was going, GZ could have reasonably interpreted this as being asked to follow Martin

* It is also not a crime in Florida to disregard a comment made by a civilian dispatcher
 

4. ‘GZ got out of his car’
  

Neither a crime when on public property nor negligence.


5. ‘GZ followed TM’


Again, anyone can follow anyone on a public street unless the 'followee' has obtained a restraining order against the follower and even there, the RS only places time, place, distance, and manner restrictions on the person enjoined.


6. ‘GZ wasn’t really injured’


* Under Florida’s self-defence laws, one doesn’t have to be injured AT ALL to use deadly force

* No one is required to refrain from defending himself while another is engaged in or attempting to commit a felony



A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony;


* See also FL 782.02 and 776.041


7. ‘TM is dead through no fault of his own’


* If you believe that TM assaulted GZ, then he IS dead as a result of his own actions
 

8. ‘GZ could have left’


*  And, TM could have left without throwing the first punch and then battering GZ

*  Under Florida law, there is no duty to retreat and withdraw rather than use deadly force

* TM was straddling GZ so how the latter was supposed to leave the scene is unanswered
 

9. ‘GZ was armed and TM wasn’t’


* One’s fists can be considered weapons and can result in severe bodily harm or death, as was proved by the murder of a Utah soccer referee, who was punched once in the face by a teenage player: tinyurl.com/ceskwlx
 
* GZ was legally carrying a weapon

* There is no requirement under the law that the same weapon be used by the assailant, i.e., only a knife can be used to repel a knife attack; only fists can be used to defend against grievously bodily harm or death.  Under Florida law - and in most jurisdictions in the United States - a woman, for example, can use a gun to ward off an attacker who is using his fists.

* A homeowner can kill an intruder whether or not he has been threatened

* Those that attack cannot feign surprise if they are met with superior firepower


10. ‘But, Stand Your Ground!’


* SYG is NOT at issue in this trial.

* The defendant’s case is a classic self-defence and GZ forewent the SYG defence when he waived the hearing on it


11. ‘Black men NEVER get to use SYG!’

 

 
12. ‘GZ is a man and TM was a boy!’


* As if ‘boys’ don’t commit murder, rape, and assault every day in this country

 




13. 'You are ignoring the 'content of her testimony' and focusing on the 'colour of personality!!!'


*   Who cares about her illiteracy, drinking, pot smoking, driving while under the influence (and thanking God for safely getting her home without hitting anyone), 'court nails,' flippancy, obstinacy in understanding that she would be required to testify another day, inability to 'read cursive,' or her 'colourful personality?

*  No one...except those, who are attempting to undertake the 'Clean-up in Aisle 9' train wreck of a testimony.

*  She couldn't read the very letter that she claimed to have written on direct because it was 'written in cursive.' So, who wrote it for her?  Did she copy it from something provided by the prosecution or TM's family?  Why did she lie about it under oath?

*  How can one not read something in the same cursive in which you claimed to have written it?  Perchance, was it written by the prosecution and/or family team?

*  She lied about her age.  While women are often granted permission to lie about their ages in social situations, it is a crime to do so under oath or lie about it to the police.

*  She lied about the reason that she did not attend TM's visitation.

*  She changed her testimony from the original interview conducted in front of TM's parents and their counsel.

*  She laughably claimed that the pejorative 'creepy ass cracks!' wasn't racist.

*  She claimed that she knew how wet grass sounded.

*  She dodged-and-weaved in an effort to refuse to fully answer the defence's attorneys.

* The jury will be instructed that, if they find a witness to be incredible and/or lying in one part of his or her testimony, then they can, if they so choose, assume that the witness is lying in any part or all of his or her testimony.


13.  ‘GZ carried a gun with a bullet in the chamber!’


* Now, the ignorant descend into complete asshattery

* How else do you propose he carry his weapon?  The round is SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE CHAMBER.  That’s the whole point of carrying a concealed weapon.  If you had to stop and load it, the weapon’s purpose would be defeated
 

14.  ‘What about TM’s right to stand his ground, huh?’


* Florida’s SYG grants immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.  It is a technical defence.



(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).


* If TM had injured or killed GZ and survived, he could have attempted to claim the SYG grant of immunity, but he would have had to prove that he met force with force and reasonably believed that his need to use force was necessary to prevent his death or the infliction of great bodily harm to his person.  TM would have had to prove that he acted justifiably at a SYG hearing.  In the GZ case, he waived this claim of immunity under SYG by not asking a judge to hold a hearing and make a decision whether SYG applied and his actions justifiable.
  
Again…


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.


* Where did GZ use ‘force’ against TM BEFORE the latter hit him?

* How could TM have reasonably believed that he needed to use force to prevent death or great bodily harm when there was a four minute period in which he could have easily made it to the safety of the home of his father’s girlfriend?  Rachel Jeantel testified that he had made it to the house, but ‘his daddy wasn’t home.’  Whether this means that he was incapable of gaining access to the home because he lacked a key or just that his father, to whom he might have sought protection, was elsewhere is not clear.  What is clear, however, is that GZ never made it to the home and there were neighbours, who were home at the time and could have offered shelter while the boy telephoned 9/11.  None of this happened.  Instead, TM decided to confront GZ with force.






'My point is that GZ in fact did make many bad decisions – including ignoring the dispatcher.'

 
*  Bad decisions are not necessarily crimes.  Moreover, there is no evidence that he 'ignored' the dispatcher.  According to his statements made to the police that night and days later - all made without the presence of counsel, I might add - he was walking back to his truck (and the paths taken by both parties and the location of the truck tend to support this) when he was accosted by TM.

*  Let's go to the audiotape:


Dispatcher: Just let me know if he does anything ok

Zimmerman: How long until you get an officer over here?

Dispatcher: Yeah we’ve got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.


Then (sound of truck door opening/closing):


Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a Left … uh you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Shit he’s running.

Dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running?


Then:

Dispatcher: Are you following him?

Zimmerman: Yeah

Dispatcher: Ok, we don’t need you to do that.

Zimmerman: Ok

Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name?

Zimmerman: George…He ran.


Then:

Dispatcher: Okay do you live in the area?

Zimmerman: Yeah, I…[unintelligible]

Dispatcher: What’s your apartment number?

Zimmerman: It’s a home it’s 1950, oh cr-p I don’t want to give it all out, I don’t know where this kid is.

Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes then?

Zimmerman: Yeah that’s fine.

 
* TM made a very bad decision that night.  He chose to assault a man with a gun.



'And despite the ‘fists are deadly weapons’ narrative being pushed, GZ suffered relatively little injury'


Under Florida’s self-defence law, he didn’t have to sustain ANY injury.

And, one is certainly not required to be beaten within an inch of one’s life before defending one’s self.

What is the law of self-defence in Florida?


Florida Statutes (Fla. Stat.)

Title XLVI.  Crimes.


Chapter 776: JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE



The use of deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.

 
Let's assume, too, for the sake of argument that it was GZ who initiated the first physical contact.  Would such a fact pattern preclude GZ from defending himself and using self-defence later at trial?

No.




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.


* BTW, the ‘fists (can be) deadly weapons’ is NOT a ‘narrative.’ It is the law, which is why the 17 year-old who killed Ricardo Portillo with one punch is facing homicide charges.



'Lots happened up until the point that a bullet got fired into TM’s chest.'


True, but the only things that happened that are relevant are those that either prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury finds the evidence to be equal or even 95% in the favour of the prosecution, it will be instructed that it must find for the defendant on it.

It’s not the defendant’s burden to prove his innocence.  The prosecution must prove 1) GZ is guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter; AND, 2) GZ did NOT act in a justifiable way that rises to self-defence under the law.



'I think perhaps had he not faced a 2nd degree murder charge, GZ might even himself be able to acknowledge the mistakes he made here.'


Possibly, but, again, there is a difference between a mistake and a crime.

It also didn’t help to have the ‘Leader of the Free World’ and his Attorney General weigh in on this case and then spend taxpayer money on ginning up the racial animosity. 

As an aside, don’t you find it instructive that Obama and Holder felt completely within their rights to weigh in on both the Skip Gates and George Zimmerman cases, but took the ‘ongoing legal matter’ dodge when Dr Gosnell’s gory crimes were on trial?



'I’m thinking he feels pretty awful…and I think he should.'


Even soldiers feel remorse about those that they kill. I would probably feel bad for the family if I killed someone, who was harming me, in self-defence.



'He played cop…plain and simple. A really bad choice.'


No, he played ‘good neighbour.’



'I find his police statement to be too thought out and CYA.'


None of his statements vary very much. I think that you are giving him too much credit. You are assuming that he was not impacted by the event and had the time and presence of mind to come up with a story that was consistent with witness accounts and the forensic evidence while waiting the 1 minute for the police to arrive.



'The quotes he attributes to TM during the confrontation sound like bad Hollywood script writing.'


TM’s tweets read like bad Hollywood script writing. Should we ignore the fact that he was quite capable of making such a statement based on his own writings?

BTW, from a strictly legal matter, it is irrelevant whether there is a verbal threat to kill made before a legal self-defence is waged.



'In short, I think he effed up that night, badly and with terrible consequences.'


Even if true, that doesn’t make it second-degree murder or manslaughter. If TM hit GZ in the face, as is alleged, this is a classic self-defence case.



'I don’t think he set out with malice to kill the kid.'


As I’ve always said, the investigation in this case was hijacked by politicians and the legal case was overcharged.

If GZ set out to maliciously kill TM, he wouldn’t have called the police first.



'Yes, I know he’s 17…and I’ll get corrected that’s ‘technically an adult’…but still, a 17 year old kid.'


No, 17 is not technically an adult, although 17 year-olds are often tried as adults depending upon the crimes alleged and the facts of the case.

The problem is that, from a legal standpoint, it is irrelevant. GZ had no way of knowing whether TM was 17 or 18 or 15 or 20. The area was quite dark and no one has alleged that GZ either inquired of TM’s age or inspected his identification. It is also irrelevant because an adult is not prevented from defending herself because her assailant is a teenager or even younger. If a 10 year-old is beating you with a bat or about to pull the trigger on your wife, you can blow the little bastard away.

Now, removing my legal hat, it is always a tragedy when anyone dies. I don’t think that GZ intended to kill TM and I don’t believe that TM recognised the possible dangers of his actions (assault & battery). I believe that it was a dark, rainy night. TM was probably walking between the houses to seek protection from the rain under the eaves. I also think that GZ was doing what any neighbourhood watchman or plain neighbour would do after seeing a stranger walking between houses on a rainy night in a neighbourhood that had been targeted repeatedly by criminals.

Both made decisions that I’m sure they’d love to take back, if they could. If TM had understood that assaulting someone could lead to him being shot through the heart, he probably would have acted differently. If GZ had known what would have happen to both TM and himself as a result of the events of that night, I’m sure that he would have kept on driving to Target.

Alas, hindsight is always 20/20...




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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said all around ma'am. It's refreshing to see someone actually pick apart the case with reason and intelligence, and expose it to us of lesser stamp.

Anonymous said...

First off, I think your analysis is spot on.

Secondly, I think a big problem in America right now is that teen boys live in a world where casual fisticuffs are looked upon as "boys being boys." This leads to situations like this one where a kid thinks he's going to pound on some guy but ends up being the guy who shows up with fists at a gun fight.

We probably should be teaching our young people, boys especially, that the world is changing. There's no such thing as a "fair fight" and that they need to focus on using words in confrontations not fists or knives or whatever, because the other person might just have a gun.

Anonymous said...

You didn't even mention the thing that is most exculpatory to GZ. Trayvon Martin pounded the back of Zimmerman's head into the ground so hard that he cut the back of GZ's head. That is an extremely dangerous thing to do. That act is life threatening, even more so than breaking GZ's nose with a punch. You can cause unconsciousness or permanent brain damage in a very short time doing that

Predictable-History said...

I was addressing the points that the Left kept bringing up.