Category Archives: Trayvon Martin

Technically Justice/Still a Travesty

 
 
I am sad. I am so sad that Trayvon Martin got no justice after this long and formally correct trial. And we could all see that he would not get justice because the prosecution did not present their case in as powerful a way as the defense. They did not have a picture of events at that “T” when Zimmerman and Martin finally met that reflected the fear that Trayvon Martin was feeling. They did not present any alternatives to the image of Zimmerman on the bottom and Trayvon on the top throughout the entire confrontation even though the evidence of the eye witnesses was hardly clear in this regard. They did not stress the evidence from Rachel Jeantel about the fears Trayvon expressed to her as he was being followed. And they did not make us keep paying attention to all of the events of that terrible dark, rainy evening, as opposed to just what happened at the “T”. For example, what if Zimmerman pulled his gun when Trayvon disappeared temporarily for those 4 minutes we measured out with silence during the trial and what if Zimmerman followed him onto the grass? What if Trayvon got trapped on someone’s patio behind those short bushes that delineated each patio? What if the only way he could get home was by passing Zimmerman again. What if he waited four minutes hoping George would leave and when he finally took his chances on continuing his journey home he was presented with a Zimmerman who was holding a gun. That might explain the punch and the desperate fight that followed. This could have happened. It is just as reasonable as any other set of events because no one except George Zimmerman really knows what happened.

As a result, Zimmerman got off on a technicality and that technicality involves the way the law defines self-defense. I will let this go after writing this article because it will not do any good to dwell on it. But I will feel sad forever about what this family and this young person lost and I will hope that George Zimmerman does eventually arrive at some remorse and that that remorse becomes a part of his character.

The racial part of this is unimportant to me in a way. The fact that we are talking so much about Trayvon’s race proves that we are so not color blind, but I would be sad if this happened to any child in America who set out to a convenient store and ended up dead. A friend of a family member implied that if his boys were in this situation and they attacked the man who was following them and were killed he would accept that this person did not commit murder because he had to defend himself, but I would submit that he is wrong; he is lying to himself, and he would defend his son/s as long as he had breath in his body. It is, however, also transparently true, however much we might like to deny it, that such a white teen would probably not be presented with such a situation even if he was wearing a hoodie. That’s racism. But racism is not why I believe Zimmerman should have been convicted of murder. An innocent young person is dead and it was considered inappropriate for this teen to defend himself with his fists, but perfectly acceptable for this grown man to defend himself with a gun.  If there is no law to cover this situation, then perhaps we need a new law. The self-defense statutes in Florida and probably elsewhere are responsible for this travesty, and the prosecution, with its lackluster performance also bears some blame for this travesty.

The George Zimmerman Trial

 
 
The George Zimmerman trial is fascinating. I can’t get anything done because I don’t want to miss the machinations of the defense lawyers and the prosecution lawyers as each tries to help prove that the witnesses are either trustworthy or lying, whichever will help their case. No one was around when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin that dark, rainy night. One person heard the cries for help but, although she called 911, she did not leave the safety of her upstairs room to venture out to look at what was happening, and no one blames her for this. She was right to stay where she was safe, and when she heard that single gunshot I’m sure she was glad that she had stayed put. She could tell the cries were coming from a male, but since both of the people involved were males this is not helpful. She seemed to think that George Zimmerman was on top. A second person, John Good, who lived in a nearby residence did come outside and he saw the two men mid-confrontation. He said that Trayvon Martin was on top in a stance from Mixed Martial Arts known as “ground and pound” and that his fist was moving up and down as if he was punching the person on the bottom, but he did not see an actual hit. He also said that the screams for help were coming from George Zimmerman on the bottom. But on closer questioning he could not say for sure who was screaming. He just assumed that if the screams were traveling towards the pavement the sound would have been different. Neither of these “eye witness accounts” was terribly helpful as neither person was around when the shot was fired. The second person, the male witness went back inside to call 911 before Trayvon was shot.

 
 
What are these lawyers trying to decide? The defense lawyers are trying to prove that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in self defense because he was afraid for his life. The prosecution lawyers are trying to prove that this scenario is not an accurate representation of the events of that evening and that George Zimmerman is guilty of murder or manslaughter. If you are out going to a convenient store on a dark stormy night and you notice someone is following you and you keep thinking that they are gone, but then they pop up again and again, wouldn’t you feel scared, wouldn’t you feel threatened? I would be petrified, but I am a girl and a chicken. Still, judging by the conversation that Rachel Jeantel reported having on the cell phone with Trayvon as he traveled back and forth to the convenient store, Trayvon was getting nervous about being followed, nervous and mystified. Why was someone following him? As Travon got closer and closer to the house he was staying in he was still aware that this guy was behind him. Trayvon seems to have hid and then circled back to confront his stalker. Is this considered a crime? It’s not a great plan if you ask me. Trayvon was almost home safe. But if you’re 17 and you have had to stand up to high school guys to prove you are tough so they won’t mess with you, then confrontation might seem like a reasonable plan. Did Trayvon confront George Zimmerman using his words, or using his fists? No one saw that part except George Zimmerman, but we can’t just take his word for it. He has too much at stake. Is it illegal to confront a stalker using your fists? Well, it might have been if Trayvon had killed George Zimmerman or seriously injured him, but several experts have testified that Zimmerman’s injuries were not life threatening and, in fact, proved to be not all that serious. Ironically Zimmerman has had some training in Mixed Martial Arts, but did he end up  being unable to defend himself with his fists? If only he hadn’t had that gun with him.

 
 
If you missed the very bizarre testimony of the ME on Friday, try to make it a point to find some video footage of Mr. Shiping Bao being interviewed. Usually a medical examiner is quite professional and gives just the facts, but Mr. Bao did not make the job of the defense attorney easy and it was the same defense attorney who questioned Ms. Jeantel. Almost anyone could probably handle people who speak non-standard English better than Mr. Don West. Still he stays with his agenda until he is able to accomplish his goals. It is so uncomfortable to watch and yet it is such good TV. As I said in the beginning, it is fascinating.

I believe that the prosecution is done with its case and on Monday the defense will begin. How on earth will the jury ever decide this one? Trayvon should not be dead, but can they prove that what George Zimmerman did was done in self defense or if he is guilty of murder? I think this will end in a hung jury. There were only two people present and one is dead and one isn’t, but apparently Trayvon may have been the aggressor in that final and fatal confrontation. If someone is following you are you supposed to try to stay calm? That might have awful consequences. What I really want to know is if it is legal or illegal for someone from a neighborhood watch program to follow someone they feel is exhibiting suspicious behavior and to follow them with a gun? I would like to think that there are laws against this, but this is not, apparently, a question this trial will answer.

 

“On Friday afternoon, defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued for a judgment of acquittal before Circuit Judge Debra Nelson, outside of the presence of the jury. Once the state concludes a case, the court may enter a judgment of acquittal if the judge finds the evidence the state has presented is insufficient to warrant a conviction.

The judge denied the judgment for acquittal motion.”

 

 

The Trial of George Zimmerman

 
 
 
Today begins the court trial of George Zimmerman in the matter of the death of Trayvon Martin. Two teams of lawyers have been preparing for quite a while. I know we were supposedly waiting for the “Stand Your Ground” matter to be adjudicated, but it seemed as if George Zimmerman, for some unexplained reason, was never going to trial. I was beginning to think he had friends in high places who were keeping him out of the courts.

It’s a difficult case. I don’t think I have seen another one like it. People who belong to Neighborhood Watch groups usually are careful to protect their own safety even as they patrol a neighborhood to watch for crime and violence. They do not usually get as involved in these crimes as George Zimmerman did in the thefts occurring in his housing development. George Zimmerman, however, seemed avid to apprehend these thieves and frustrated that the responders to his 911 calls were too slow to catch whatever strangers he suspected of these crimes.

On the night that Trayvon was shot and killed we know that Zimmerman called 911 to report someone suspicious in the neighborhood. We now know that someone was Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old talking on his cell phone and walking back from a convenience store with his iced tea and his Skittles. George Zimmerman has told us that he did not know Trayvon was 17; he thought he was around 25. We know he followed Trayvon in his car. We know that he was talking with the 911 operator and that he was told not to follow the “suspect”. We know he ignored these directions and that he left the relative safety of his car. We know that he left that car with a gun tucked into his pants to follow Trayvon Martin. After that the only things we seem to know for sure are that Zimmerman’s head was bleeding from some kind of cut or contusion and that Trayvon Martin had been shot and was dead.

Is George Zimmerman a murderer? Is he just a vigilante? Is being a vigilante a crime? Should he have to spend time in jail? I am so angry that a teen-aged boy was shot just going out to the store for something to drink and some candy that I would have a terrible time being unbiased. Although Zimmerman’s team of lawyers keeps digging up transgressions from Trayvon’s past and trying to suggest that he was not a “good” boy, these things really have nothing to do with what happened that fateful night in Sanford, Florida. Fortunately, the judge decided not to allow these kinds of character defamation as evidence in this case. Still will it be possible to choose a jury of people who haven’t already made a decision about Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence?

This should prove to be an interesting and emotional week and, although I am sure that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, I am not sure that he is a criminal. If someone is following you is that menacing? Maybe all of us would not defend ourselves as strongly as Trayvon did, but is it wrong to defend yourself when menaced? If Trayvon was beating up this stranger who was following him, was the stranger right to shoot him? Hopefully these are the questions that the trial will explore.

I am very sorry, though, that Trayvon will not have a chance to grow up and outgrow some poor choices that it sounded like he was starting to make in his young life. We will never know if he possessed the strength of character to escape the cultural pattern that was beginning to suck him in, and if he would have been able to become someone who might have discovered that he had something valuable to contribute to us all. He was so young. 

And as for George Zimmerman, I have to wonder if he has learned any lesson from this terrible event in his life. I imagine he may have had some time to think about the fact that he possibly was guilty of a form of profiling, and that no one person should try to be police, judge and jury all rolled into one. If he is convicted, he will have even more time to think about these things. Maybe he can also find some way to make a valuable contribution to us all.

I know I will be watching this trial. Will it have the power of some recent televised trials? Will it be the talk of the week? I know these events have been polarizing, but we haven’t really concentrated on that aspect. We’ll see this week what kind of support George Zimmerman has out here in America.

Trayvon Martin – I Don’t Understand

I could not be living in America this week without forming some kind of personal view of the Trayvon Martin killing in Sanford, Florida by neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin who lived in the Miami Gardens Area of Miami-Dade County was in Sanford staying with his father’s girlfriend, Brandy Green, who he had visited on other occasions. He had been to a store where he purchased Skittles and Iced Tea and he was walking back to his temporary home on a February Florida evening and apparently talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone. He had probably never heard about George Zimmerman or the neighborhood watch group but he happened to be walking by the Retreat at Twin Lakes neighborhood where George Zimmerman lived. This is a gated condo community with a diverse mix of homeowners and renters and Trayvon often played football with other kids from the community when he was visiting Sanford.
George Zimmerman, 28, is the man who shot Trayvon Martin, 17, and he is not in police custody. He is hiding out somewhere and everyone seems to be protecting him. If any one of us shot someone I believe we would be under arrest. I do not understand why Zimmerman is not in police custody. As a neighborhood watch captain he had been told that he was not to approach whoever he was watching. He had been told that he was not supposed to carry a gun. He was told that very night by the 911 operator that he did not need to keep following his “suspect”. George Zimmerman, who had wanted to be a policeman, clearly got carried away with his role and, despite a really incomprehensible “stand your ground law” overstepped his authority.  
Are we upset that Trayvon was not meek enough when confronted with someone who was following him? Zimmerman was not a policeman, he could have been a sexual predator for all Trayvon knew. Are we upset that Trayvon defended himself, that he aggressively defended himself? This seems to me a normal survival instinct that is perhaps educated out of us as we mature. We eventually learn that not overreacting, even when angry, might work out better in cases where we are presented with an authority figure or someone who believes they are an authority figure. I wish Trayvon had not been quite so aggressive in his response to George Zimmerman (if he actually was as aggressive as they say) because then he would be alive. But we do teach our children about stranger danger. It is great that people like George Zimmerman but this is not a popularity contest and it doesn’t really matter who is nicer, Trayvon or George.
Haven’t we lost enough promising young black men? In my community we hear about another young life extinguished, the life of someone who could have had a great future, or even a fine peaceful life. There are reasons this happens over and over again and although we have studied and talked about the problem we have not yet found the way to end it.
If I was presented with a George Zimmerman following me in his car on a February evening would I be nervous? Yes I would. Would I fight? Probably not. I am a female who has not been trained to fight. Do I admire someone who sticks up for him/herself? Yes I do. I do not think that Trayvon Martin did anything to warrant his death. I do believe that George Zimmerman, however remorseful, overstepped the boundaries of his very unofficial role in law enforcement. I cannot imagine what other evidence will be available at this late date. If George Zimmerman is not tried in a court of law then the justice system in Sanford, Florida needs a serious overhaul. If they don’t deal very honestly with this young man’s death it looks like there will be repercussions.

http://www.tampa.com/news/humaninterest/trayvon-martins-killing-shatters-safety-within-retreat-at-twin-lakes-in/1221799