Sunday, July 14, 2013
Reflections on the George Zimmerman Trial
That's what a jury decided late on Saturday night. The decision touched off a firestorm on social media, and it got so bad that I did the rare act of closing out of Twitter.
From a purely legal standpoint, the system worked. In my estimation as well as the opinion of several legal experts, there was simply no way that anyone could have convicted George Zimmerman based on the evidence that was presented in court for the of which he was accused. The only thing that the Zimmerman legal team had to do was create reasonable doubt, and they successfully did that.
I have no idea what happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman on that night. Neither do you. That is what created the reasonable doubt.
From an emotional standpoint, it's a different story.
Whenever a young person dies, it's a tragedy. Trayvon's death seems particularly tragic because he was just walking home. He was shot and killed while walking home. He wasn't doing anything wrong except walking home. It makes it that much more tragic.
Take this tragic end of a young life and add in the fact that George Zimmerman is not a particularly endearing person. If he wasn't endearing before, the website he setup to solicit funds for his legal defense featured a photo from a vandalized black cultural center and a whole other narrative started to develop.
None of this changes the law. The law is the law. Emotion is emotion.
The problem is on a more grand scale. The problem isn't the verdict, but it's the laws that made the verdict possible. I think laws like "stand your ground" make people like George Zimmerman more brave than they perhaps normally would be.
As I look at the evidence, Zimmerman, gun or not, should have stayed in his car as the police dispatcher asked him to do. That dispatcher told Zimmerman that they did need him to follow Martin. He should have listened. I don't believe Zimmerman's account of events. It doesn't make sense for Martin to simply jump him. In my mind, I think Zimmerman confronted Martin and a fight ensued. I think Zimmerman realized that he was in over his head and that's when it happened. Martin was dead.
The problem is I can't prove it. It's just my opinion, and in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. My opinion means zilch.
George Zimmerman is not guilty because the State of Florida was a witness or two short of painting a full picture of what happened on that evening, and Martin isn't alive to testify.